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Plus: Food Truck Showcase in Chapel Hill/Carrboro; Jahan International Market and Persian Tea Room; Blue Sky Oil and Vinegar

Urban Ministries' fifth annual Empty Bowls fundraiser 

Sometimes even Now Serving has to play a little catchup, so forgive us if you've heard about these. Thank us if you haven't.

For serious tea lovers, Jahan International Market and Persian Tea Room (630 Weaver Dairy Road, Suite 102, Chapel Hill) opened in January in the shopping center that's home to The Pig and Bagels on the Hill. Also a cozy café, it offers Middle Eastern pastries, cheeses and $3 bottomless teas (closed Mondays).

Olive oil devotees should know about Blue Sky Oil and Vinegar (400 S. Elliott Road, Chapel Hill, 933-9916, www.blueskyoilandvinegar.com) in the Galleria shopping center. It bumps our area's gourmet credibility up yet another notch. I've recently returned from a European farming sabbatical, and this is the first time I've encountered an olive oil tasting in the Triangle. (If there are others, do tell.) Think wine tasting with a savory finish. Co-owner Glenda Keenan says the sleek food boutique offers single-origin extra virgin olive oil and barrel-aged balsamic vinegars "on tap."

Keenan confirmed what I learned in a Portuguese olive grove: a "product of" label applies to where the oil was bottled, not the olives' origin. No policy requires otherwise. Many California oils, for example, are actually composed of olive varieties from multiple places. This causes a weaker quality and a loss in smooth acidity and necessary pungency to make it good. "For small-batch farmers, this is a huge insult," Keenan said. Get tickets now ($35) for the store's next dinner, a Mexican-inspired event, on March 31.

The Urban Ministries of Durham dishes out hand-crafted artisan bowls filled with homemade soups at its 5th Annual Empty Bowls fundraiser on Thursday, March 3, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Durham Armory, 212 Foster St. The event benefits the Community Café, an Urban Ministries program that serves hot meals three times a day to the hungry. Last year's fundraiser yielded $28,000, helping the café provide 500 to 600 meals per day. Event tickets are $15 for soup only and $30 for soup and a bowl made by local artists; children age 6 and under free (without bowl). Restaurants donating soup will compete for Judge's Choice and People's Choice, including Blu, Guglhupf, Thrills From the Grill, Toast, Revolution, Watts Grocery, China Palace, Papa Mojo's Roadhouse and Whole Foods Durham. Revolution won both categories last year with chicken masa soup. Judges include Frank Stasio, host of WUNC's The State of Things; Summer Bicknell, Locopops owner; and Jennings Brody, owner of Parker and Otis. For tickets, visit www.umdurham.org.

Where Franklin Street curves toward Carrboro, food trucks gather for an almost-monthly Food Truck Showcase. Isabel Guzman, owner of Captain Poncho's Tacos truck, organizes the event at Al's Garage (100 S. Merritt Mill Road). The first two, held late last year, were successful, albeit cold. "We had die-hard customers come out in the snow and wind—that wind was killer," Guzman says. So she is waiting until spring. The next event is March 19 from 4 to 7 p.m. featuring Captain Poncho's Tacos, ParlezVous Crepe, Only Burger, Will and Pop's and Blue Sky Dining.

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