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Peach Day at the N.C. Farmers' Market 

Hey fellow office drones, let's all sneak out for lunch on Thursday, July 24, and head over to the State Farmers' Market (1201 Agriculture St., Raleigh, 733-7417, It's Peach Day! I cannot imagine why the organizers chose a weekday to host this important event, but they did. Festivities, including a peach dessert contest, an appearance by the N.C. Peach Queen and free peach ice cream, are 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. If you can't make it for the peaches, Watermelon Day is Thursday, Aug. 7 (another weekday, argh), and Gourd Day is Saturday, Aug. 9.

Yes indeed, it's high produce season here in the piedmont. Tomatoes are having a banner year, I hear. To fully experience the many varieties of 'maters grown around these parts, get yourself to the Carrboro Farmers' Market (301 W. Main St., Carrboro, 280-3326, at any time from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, July 26, for Tomato Day. On display in the market's gazebo will be more than 50 varieties, both whole and sliced, with descriptions of each (sweet, acidic, tart, earthy). There will also be recipes and maps pointing to which vendors sell which varieties.

Or, you could head over to Tomatopalooza (, which is exactly what its name implies: an heirloom tomato tasting. It's from 1 to 4 p.m. at the residence of Jimmy Holcomb: 7207 Harmony Church Road in Efland. This is the sixth annual event organized by Craig LeHoullier, who is known as the N.C. Tomato Man ( and Lee Newman. Guests are encouraged to bring their garden tomatoes to be sampled and/or a dish to share. LeHoullier and Newman hope to gather about 200 varieties.

If you want to see what chefs can do with all that bounty, consider attending one of the Tomato Feast Dinners at Zely & Ritz (301 Glenwood Ave., Suite 100, Raleigh, 828-0018, This event is so popular that the first three dates sold out. So they've added two more: Thursday, July 24 and Tuesday, July 29. The restaurant's partner, Coon Rock Farm, grows more than 40 varieties of tomatoes, and several will be featured in the five courses prepared by Chef Sarig Agasi. Here's a sample: heirloom tomatoes with Chapel Hill Creamery fresh mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil and sweet balsamic vinegar; and lamb kebab and tomato skewers with grilled eggplant, squash and onions. LeHoullier speaks at each dinner. Dinners start at 7 p.m. Cost is $49 per person (beverages, tax and gratuities not included), or $75 per person with wine pairings (tax and gratuities not included). Reservations are required.

In Durham, Chef Tyrone Irby, who is known as The Fit Chef (, gives a free seminar, "The Essentials of a Healthy Lifestyle," from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 26, at Ideas! Coffee House (5607 Highway 55, Suite 105, Durham, 405-4140, Irby aims to provide practical information, including tips about how to eat and cook healthy. After the seminar will be a question-and-answer session, followed by a free food reception catered by Irby's Up in Smoke Catering Co.

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