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Taste Carolina's R-Line Gourmet Food Tour

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While chomping on an egg biscuit at Mecca Restaurant downtown on a lazy Saturday morning, I overheard "Small Paul," owner Paul Dombalis' 1-year-old grandson, tell his mother that the R-Line is "blue and takes you all around downtown." Even baby scenesters know how cool the hybrid electric R-Line is, circulating to all the Raleigh hot spots without leaving a carbon footprint.

This Saturday, Taste Carolina (237-2254, www.tastecarolina.net) kicks off the first R-Line Gourmet Food Tour. Book a ticket online for $39.50 ($41.50 with online registration fee) and zip around the capital city's gourmet destinations. The diverse lineup includes Dos Taquitos Centro, 18 Seaboard, Zely & Ritz, The Cupcake Shoppe, Busy Bee, The Mint, Spize Cafe and Foundation. Goodies from Escazu Artisan Chocolates and Annelone's Authentic German Bakery will also be featured. What's best about the experience, says Taste Carolina co-founder Lesley Stracks-Mullem, is the time to chat with chefs at each stop.

"The tours are during off-hours, when most restaurants are closed. The chance to experience the personal connection with every restaurant makes it really special," she says, adding that this tour will have somewhat of a "party bus" atmosphere.

Also this weekend, the Triangle gets a taste of glitzy gourmet when Food Network superstar and celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis visits McIntyre's Books in Pittsboro (2000 Fearrington Village Center, 542-3030, www.fearrington.com) on April 10 and Barnes & Noble in Cary (760 S.W. Maynard Road, 467-3866) on April 11. She will sign copies of her newest book, Giada at Home: Family Recipes From Italy and California, at 2 p.m. on both days. Attendance at the Cary event is limited to 450. Distribution of the wristbands for admission begins at 9 a.m. the day of the event.

Chef Ashley Christensen is welcoming spring on April 11 with Stir the Pot at Poole's Diner (426 S. McDowell St., 832-4477, www.poolesdowntowndiner.com). The event benefits the Southern Foodways Alliance's documentary film initiative. Christensen teams up with Chef Sean Brock of McCrady's in Charleston, S.C., on Sunday for a five-course dinner paired with wine, compliments of local connoisseur Eliza Olander. The event kicks off at 6:30 p.m. with cocktails and bar snacks. Dinner is $150 per person, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the alliance. Seating is limited; call Poole's for reservations.

To be wowed by the innovative food stylings of rookies, sample student-crafted confections at A Sweet Treat: Wake Tech's Annual Pastry Show and Culinary Salon on April 13. The event, held at the Raleigh Convention Center (500 S. Salisbury St., 996-8500, www.raleighconvention.com), includes a Cake Decorating Challenge, pitting students from around the state against each other, with some help from professional pastry chefs. Catered hors d'oeuvres will be on hand from local restaurants including Angus Barn, 42nd Street Oyster Bar and Mez.

Tickets are $10 and may be purchased at the door or in advance at www.waketech.edu or by calling 866-5839.

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

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