Imagine a morning in late November. A coming of winter morning ... consider the kitchen of a spreading old house in a country town. A great black stove is its main feature; but there is also a big round table and a fireplace with two rocking chairs ... just today the fireplace commenced its seasonal roar.
A woman with shorn white hair is standing at the kitchen window.... "Oh my," she exclaims, her breath smoking the windowpane, "it's fruitcake weather! ...Help me find my hat! We have thirty cakes to bake."— from A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote
The time-honored Winston-Salem based Dewey's Bakery is a destination Triangle folks are willing to drive distances for. In addition to their famous fruitcakes, Dewey's sells Moravian cookies and sugarcakes, pies, collector's tins and gift baskets throughout November and December. This year for the first time, the bakery will staff a holiday store in our area at the Cary Towne Center (468-9219).
If you had to work through this past Thanksgiving weekend and are looking forward to a belated celebration to usher in the full holiday season, here's your chance to try out one of the Triangle's adored establishments for your moveable feast. And you get to do this without the crowds and competition for seating times that diners found on Turkey Day. Spice Street in Chapel Hill (828-8200, www.spicestreet.com) is hosting all sorts of festive winter specials that attract the after-work crowd, as is the Raleigh Five Points cozy and family friendly Hayes Barton Café and Dessertery (856-8551), open Wednesday-Saturday for dinner. Other great places for your welcoming of winter's good things: Raleigh's revered Angus Barn (781-2444, www.angusbarn.com) and classic Vinnie's Steakhouse and Tavern (847-7319) are choices made by longtime locals and newcomers alike. In search of nouveau Southern cuisine? In Chapel Hill, try Top of the Hill Restaurant and Brewery (929-8676, www.topofthehillrestaurant.com) for brews such as Old Well White (a wheat beer), Ellie's Extra Special Bitter and Davie Poplar IPA, or Crook's Corner (929-7643, www.crookscorner.com) for wild persimmon-pudding, crispy fried oysters and world-famous shrimp and grits.
If you're fasting to clean out your system from Thanksgiving riches, maybe vicarious dining attracts you in preparation for Winter Solstice feasting to come. There's the just released Best American Food Writing 2006, edited by Holly Hughes and bursting at the seams with delicious writing by Michael Pollen, Mei Chin, Bill Buford, Molly O'Neill, John T. Edge and many others.
And speaking of vicarious enjoyments and of Angus Barn, award-winning Chef Walter Royal will appear on the Food Network's hit show Iron Chef America. Go ahead and put it on your calendar for Sunday, Dec. 10, at 9 p.m. The episode titled "Cora vs. Royal" is all about whose Southern cooking will reign supreme. The famed secret ingredient as well as the victor of the cooking battle will remain a secret until showtime.