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Spize Cafe opens in Raleigh

"Ooh, that gave me a jolt!"

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You'll get a kick out of the creative ways our community is approaching food lately. Autumn ushers in a new set of surprises this year in the Triangle.

In downtown Raleigh, Spize Cafe (121 Fayetteville St., Suite 108, 828-5000, www.spizecafe.com) offered free tastings last week as a precursor to its grand opening. The café's pan-Asian menu lives up to its moniker (pronounced "spice"). As I contemplated which bowl to dig into first—including samples of tuna arugula salad and lemongrass pork with vermicelli noodles—a patron next to me took a bite and sat straight up in her chair. "Ooh, that gave me a jolt!" she exclaimed to no one in particular and proceeded to do a little jig in her seat. Not bad for a soft opening.

Owner Meechai Kowae hails from San Francisco, where he developed three Thai concepts. After visiting the Triangle throughout his years working in the technology field, he was drawn to the community aspect that the West Coast was slowly losing. Spize, open for both lunch and dinner, fits in well with Fayetteville Street's newly defined image, providing a fresh spin on Asian cuisine and using local ingredients as much as possible. With hearty, healthy salads and noodle dishes, the menu also includes interesting baguette combinations. Inspired by the fresh baguettes served in French-influenced Vietnam, Kowae gives them a kick: Try a cumin chicken with daikon and sweet chili mayo or a spicy eggplant and mushroom medley.

TriangleBlvd.tv, a WebTV network and the organizers of both the Triangle Restaurant Week and Downtown Raleigh Restaurant Week, amped up its food coverage this week by launching a new online cooking show: Carolina Cookin' with Buck Buchanan. Even if Buchanan's name doesn't ring a bell, your sweet tooth may recognize him. He's the man behind local Lumpy's Ice Cream (878-7700, www.lumpysicecream.com), sold at the Moore Square and North Hills farmers' markets and Whole Foods. This week, Buchanan, a trained chef, doles out slicing and dicing tips and a step-by-step demonstration on quick and delicious chicken marsala, peppered with off-the-cuff comedic bits.

In another online food project, UNC-Chapel Hill students from the school of journalism and mass communication launched their latest multimedia project—Powering a Nation: The Quest for Energy in a Changing USA. It's an impressive site, which features a section titled "The High Energy Diet," that includes an interview with author Michael Pollan discussing our nation's food system and its use of fossil fuel energy. Other noteworthy highlights are a great multimedia graphic presentation, "From Pasture to Plate," and an extensive Q&A about our nation's food choices. Check it out at poweringanation.org.

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

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