For the past 16 years, Vimala Rajendran has served weekly community dinners from her home in Chapel Hill, asking only for donations to help cover the cost of food. She encourages folks to bring Tupperware for leftovers, uses local ingredients and often donates money raised to local or global charitable causes. (See 'Vimala cooks. Everybody eats.' a previous story about Rajendran.)
After years of prodding from her diners, Rajendran plans later this month to open Vimala's Curryblossom Café (431 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, www.curryblossom.com) in the Courtyard of Chapel Hill.
Dinner will be served in the spirit of the meals for which Rajendran is best known. A native of southern India who has lived in the Chapel Hill area for 25 years, Rajendran will draw on recipes and traditions from both places to present fare like grilled tandoori chicken alongside pulled pork and greens.
"It's important to emphasize that it will not just be Indian cooking," she explains. Though most of Rajendran's menu will include seasonal local food, one item will hail straight from her home in southern India: Monsoon Malabar coffee specially roasted by Jessee's Coffee & Bar in Carrboro (401 E. Main St., Carrboro, www.jesseescoffee.com). The café will feature the brew each day for an afternoon tea, between the rush of lunch and dinner hours. Also expect homemade chai tea, chai pound cake and cardamom brownies.
Join author Sheri Castle at 8:30 a.m. on May 15 at the Carrboro Farmers' Market (301 W. Main St., www.carrborofarmersmarket.com) for the next installment of the Carrboro Culinary Series, the Strawberry Jamboree. In addition to information about how to store and freeze strawberries, Castle will share simple recipes that offer "new ways to approach strawberries" beyond classics like shortcake and jam. Demonstrations will feature a chilled strawberry soup paired with key lime shortbread, plus strawberry and balsamic crostini.
Also on May 15, plan to check out the latest in fowl housing at the Fifth Annual Hen-side the Beltline Tour d'Coop. This year's event will showcase 20 coops with a number of new faces and shelters participating. "Some of the coops are more simple, like an addition to a existing shed, while others are more elaborate, almost like a child's playhouse," explains Rick Bennett, one of the event's organizers. People keep chickens for a variety of reasons. Some want a way to humanely collect eggs, others a means to expose children to the source of their food. Bennett built his coop for the fresh eggs but says he really delights in the silly things that chickens do. "They really make you laugh," he says.
The tour runs from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. To receive a map of the homes on tour, take a canned food item or cash donation on Saturday to one of five ticket sites: Dr. Steven B. Andreaus, 1637 Glenwood Ave.; Ornamentea, 509 N. West St.; Cup A Joe, 2109-142 Avent Ferry Road; Whole Foods Market, 3540 Wade Ave.; or Seaboard ACE Hardware, 802 Semart Drive. Proceeds benefit Urban Ministries of Wake County. For more information, visit hensidethebeltline.blogspot.com.