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May 27, 2007 06:45 AM

How was Taste of Durham?

I didn't go, but I read with interest today's N&O article:

"The Taste of Durham scenery changed from brick tobacco warehouses to brick office buildings Saturday after the festival moved from downtown to a corporate office park near the Wake County line. But few seemed to notice between bites."

Any Chowhound thoughts?

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  1. Did you see the list of participating restaurants? Buncha George's joints, plus such fine local dining establishments as Cold Stone Creamery, The Melting Pot, and Johnny Carino's. That list told me all I needed to know, which was: Don't Bother.

    Did anybody go to the local/slow food bbq cookout thing last week? I got waitlisted & didn't get to go, and this article really made me regret missing it:

    Some folks from Lantern pit-cooked a lamb & a goat, and the BBQ Joint folks did a pig, as did Ben Barker (!). Any reports?

    3 Replies
    1. re: rossgrady

      Yup, I was there. Wish I'd taken notes. There was more wonderful food than I could really take in, but here are a few highlights:

      The lamb was from Fickle Creek Farm, slow roasted and served up with corn tortillas and a wonderful fresh green salsa. mmmmm.

      Ben Barker and Glenn Lozuke's pig was of course delicious, with fresh slaw. Karen Barker's lemon pound cake with green tomato conserve was the first thing you found when you walked in the field! Yum.

      I'm embarrassed to say I don't know who made the watermelon gazpacho, I kept trying to blend in with the crowd so I could get more. It was perfection. Crisp, tangy, sweet, fresh.

      Beautiful pea shoot salad with a buttermilk dressing.

      Perfect little strawberry shortcakes with fresh cream.

      Scrumptious white sweet potato vichysoisse.

      Cheeses, cheeses, cheeses....

      Wish I'd paid more attention to each thing I tasted, but it was such a beautiful evening, with so many interesting people to meet and talk to. Carlo Petrini's informal speech was lovely, capturing the concept of eating close to the earth, being a part of the 'metabolism'. I'd only known Slow Food from the fringes, thinking it is sort of elitist, but I'd like to think that enough people are keeping a balancing perspective that it won't slip out of our hands the way the 'organic' movement did.

      It was great to see so many farmers out there with the people who love to cook their food. Very fun.

      The best part was the egg toss, though ; ) It was nice of them to let the grownups play, too.

      1. re: josephin

        The gazpacho was by Shane Ingram of Four Square. It was indeed good. The picnic was awesome. To add to josephin's list, I liked the grilled fennel with goat cheese spread. There was a lot of NC bbq but the one I liked the best was from the fellow up in the far corner. He doesn't have a resto yet but said he was scouting places in Carrboro to open one. I hope he does because it was every bit as good, if not better, than Allen & Son. He cooked with wood, of course. 3 Cups and Counter Culture also provided some wonderful iced tea and coffee. By the way, my son won both the pea shelling contest and the egg toss contest. We are looking forward to eating tomatoes from the heirloom tomato plants he got as prizes.

        I have a feeling this picnic will quickly grow in size in the continue to do it every year. Word will quickly get out.

      2. re: rossgrady

        i was there too...josephin posted about lots of the great stuff (those pig tails and the pig ear salad that Lantern had were pretty amazing too!) and honestly, I don't remember where a lot of the great food was from either...too busy eating!

      3. My wife went and was very disapointed. As Ross mentioned, it was a bunch of chains. I joked that, given the location, it should have been called Taste of RTP. She laughed out loud when she read the puff-piece in the N&O. It was as if she'd gone to a different festival than the person who wrote it had.

        That morning I was doing a demo at the Durham Farmer's Mkt. and ended up talking to one of the principles from one of the groups redeveloping downtown. He hopes that they'll be bringing it back downtown soon. Of course, if they don't do something to bring in real Durham restaurants, it doesn't really matter where they hold it.

        4 Replies
        1. re: detlefchef

          A Taste of RTP might be too many pills powders and potions for many of us. Any comments on why "real Durham restaurants" didn't participate?

          When I lived in Jackson MS the Zoo's annual fundraiser featured most of the best restaurants in town serving nibbles and bites. Is there an event like this in the Triangle?

          1. re: AreBe

            I think that's what Taste of Durham aspires to do, but I'm not sure how successful or comprehensive it is.

            When I went two years ago, it seemed like it had a lot of promise and filled a local need. Hopefully it will return to downtown Durham once there's space.

            In the meantime, the Tar Heel Barbecue Classic in Raleigh sounds like it's going to be a blast:


            p.s wife went to Saint Andrews and we were married in the downtown cathedral

            1. re: peetoteeto

              That's not 'til October! Shoot, Hog Days in Hillsborough is coming up in a little over two weeks (June15-16th)!


              1. re: bbqme

                Point well taken. Hog Days is a blast, especially now that I've abandoned my pesca-vegetarian ways....

        2. It was fairly lame, as others have mentioned. I went. I had seen the list of participants, and thought I shouldn't bother. I'm not sure why I did. The number of participants was way too small, and the proportion of chains was shameful.

          1 Reply
          1. re: abowes

            I went and really enjoyed it. Having only moved to the Triangle a year a go, I can't compare to previous years. They certainly had room for more vendors, so I hope that more locally based restaurants will participates. The line for the George's conglomerate was really long, I think they should have had multiple booths. We skipped many of the corporate booths (Honeybaked Hams etc), but still found plenty of goodies to nosh on. The music as really good. I think it's a festival with a lot of potential for developing into something really great. I'd love to see the likes of Locopops, Rue Cler, Piedmont, lots more barbeque etc next year.