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Wine and garden dine, plus burgers on the move 

Cue Kool & the Gang, because it's Ladies Night at the two locations of The Wine Merchant ( Nov. 12 in Raleigh (1214 Ridge Road, 828-6929) and Nov. 20 in Cary (4240 N.W. Cary Parkway, 469-1330). Even without the Gang, these events have lots of cool stuff for the fair gender: free wine tasting, complimentary hors d'oeuvres, door prizes and sale prices on everything in the store. The fun starts at 7 p.m. Reservations are required. No men allowed.

Wine has a much larger presence—about five times as much—in the relocated and reopened 3Cups (227 S. Elliott Road, Chapel Hill, 968-8993,, thanks to wine guy Jay Murrie, who joined partners Lex Alexander and Badi Bradley earlier this year. Murrie worked at A Southern Season for eight years (as its wine manager and wine buyer for five) and is the beverage director for Lantern.

In its new, larger space, 3Cups has filled its event calendar with free coffee cuppings, coffee brewing workshops and wine socials. The latter, as defined by Murrie, is "an attempt to reinvent the longstanding and laborious wine dinners where we all eat and drink too much without gaining much insight about either the food or the wine." I'd define it as the middle ground between a free wine tasting and a swanky wine dinner. The winemaker, distributor or expert will be on hand to educate and discuss, and there will be paired food, often prepared by a local artisan. There's a small admission fee: $10 to $20. 3Cups begins these at 6 p.m. Nov. 13 with Phoebe Lawless of Scratch Seasonal Artisan Baking (, and continues with April McGreger of Farmer's Daughter Brand ( at 5 p.m. Nov. 20.

The Piedmont Interfaith Network of Gardens, a partnership that supports community gardens and hunger relief, is hosting a free garden dinner with locally grown food at 5:45 p.m. Nov. 15 at Anathoth Community Garden (, which is at Cedar Grove United Methodist Church (5218 Efland Cedar Grove Road, 732-8405, The dinner is the final event in a day celebrating church-sponsored community gardens. The event is free but reservations are required.

If burgers are your religion, you need to check out OnlyBurger (, a traveling temple motoring around Durham. It's a partnership between Sam Poley, formerly of Restaurant Starlu, and Tom Ferguson, who owns the Durham Catering Co. "OnlyBurger will be bringing the goodness to the people." They don't serve only burgers—also fries, soda and water—all out of a truck. If you remember fondly some of Chef Sam's burger creations from Starlu, you're salivating right now. But first you have to find them, and to do that, check out their Twitter updates (, or visit their Web site.

And finally, check the calendar: The favorite foodie holiday is almost here. You can bet our area restaurants and food purveyors already have their Thanksgiving plans mapped out, so it's not too early to make yours too. (See this week's Locavore Cooking.)

Know about a fun food happening in the Triangle? Send it to Now Serving at

Correction (Nov. 17, 2008): The 3Cups wine guy is Jay Murrie.


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