Raleigh's Enoteca Vin restaurant—one of our area's best—has shut its doors. I found this out via the always-prescient Raleigh blogger Varmint (www.varmintbites.com), who is also tracking the mysterious fate of Vin's sister business, the Carolina Wine Co. "Let's hope that the closing of Vin is an anomaly, and not a sign of more things to come," he writes. Indeed.
On a happier note, Sitar India Palace has expanded from its longtime home in Regency Plaza in Durham. In that location, Sitar was always the little business that could, keeping on even as an entire shopping center withered around it. Now it's jumped across U.S. 15-501 Business, landed in a larger location, 3630 Durham Chapel Hill Blvd. (490-1326), and changed its name to Sitar Indian Cuisine. Otherwise, same décor, same owners, same menu. Bravo Sitar!
Now that it's February, many area restaurants, bakeries, wine shops and food artisans have finalized their delicious plans for Valentine's Day. Restaurants could be extra-busy because the holiday falls on a Saturday this year. Place your orders and make your reservations, pronto.
Consider the multi-course aphrodisiac menu planned at the Carolina CrossRoads restaurant, which is conveniently located inside a hotel (211 Pittsboro St., Chapel Hill, 933-2001, www.carolinainn.com/dining.htm), in case the menu works wonders and you need to dash upstairs. Cost for a three-course meal begins at $55 per person and goes up if you want more courses or need wine pairings to juice the "18 items known to be aphrodisiacs." This deal is available throughout February.
As we venture further into tough economic times, bracing for more closings, layoffs and bad news, it helps to keep our eye on things that remain constant, like food and community.
This year, Durham blogger and Web-wünderkind Beck Tench devoted a portion of her New Year's resolutions to nurturing these constants. During 2009, she plans to spend each month trying something new, blogging about it, and inviting others to join her. Her February project is to eat dinner with family and/or friends at a table every night. It's called Twenty-eight Tables (28tables.wordpress.com), and you're welcome to participate.
The effort, which is free, asks participants to consider some questions as they go along: Who to eat with? What tables to use? Will the TV be on? Will the effort create any permanent change?
To officially join, sign up via the link above, and choose either the blogging or nonblogging option. "If you live alone, you are 100 percent encouraged to creatively define family, friends and/or table," Tench writes. Even if you don't succeed every night, the point is to try. For those who choose to blog along, "it's okay if you don't make it every night or for the whole month as long as you blog about it," she writes. But either way, "promise to always be upfront and forthright" about your experiences.
Know about a fun food happening in the Triangle? Send it to Now Serving at email@example.com.