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New restaurants and happenings 

Hard to believe, but it's time again for the Taste of Durham food festival. It's celebrating its third year Saturday, May 26, from 11 a.m. for 7 p.m., but will be at a new location: outdoors at Imperial Center Surrounding Winchester Place, 4309 Emperor Blvd. (near the Sheraton Imperial Hotel at Exit 282, Page Road, off Interstate 40).

The buffet of food choices will include offerings from the Bocci Trattoria and Pizzeria, Bull City Bakery, George's Garage, Pomodoro Italian Kitchen, Cajun Charlies, Spice and Curry Indian restaurant, Parizade, Grasshopper Asian Kichen, Carmen's Cuban Café, The Melting Pot and more. There also will be wine and beer tastings.

The music offerings are broad and deep, covering jazz, blues, funk and more. The 17 bands include salsa from Bio Ritmo, the New Orleans funk of the Jamie McLean Band (he played guitar with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band), Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes (also a New Orleans band), the Brazilian world-groove of Nation Beat, the Asian-African fusion of Floating Stone, Chicago blues via the Triangle of Tiny and Whitey, Raleigh's funky Children of the Horn, and the jazz sounds of Raleigh's Bradshaw Quartet.

There also will be dancers, chef demonstrations, and special activities such as an ice sculpture contest and Mardi Gras Parade.

General admission tickets are $4 in advance and $6 at the festival; free admission for children under 12. Tickets are available online and sold at Harris Teeter stores and Morgan Imports in downtown Durham. Coins for food and beverages are sold separately. Visit for more details.

For the first two years, the festival was held in downtown Durham, but it's been moved to accommodate more people, more parking and more venues, says organizer Kim Ruskan. It took nearly three years to launch the first Taste of Durham, she says, and finding a proper location was the biggest challenge. Ruskan, who heads a nonprofit called The Community Chest that stages the event, says she tried to find other downtown sites this year, but during times of considerable construction and downtown redevelopment, she had to look elsewhere.

"Farm to Fork: A Celebration of Local Foods and Local Farms" concludes Wednesday, May 23, with a reception at 5 p.m. to benefit the Center for Environmental Farming Systems at N.C. State followed by a lecture by Carlo Petrini, author and founder of Slow Food International. Contact Lisa Forehand, 513-0954, or visit for more information.

Weathervane at A Southern Season (201 S. Estes Drive, Chapel Hill, 929-9466, welcomes John Ash, wine aficionado, who will host a wine dinner Thursday, May 24. Tickets for the 7 p.m. dinner are $60. Select wines from Ash's new winery, Sauvignon Republic Cellars, will be paired with four-courses prepared by Weathervane General Manager and Executive Chef Patrick Cowden. For info and reservations, call 929-9466.


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