We're incredibly spoiled here, in a very tasty way. On any given morning, a Triangle foodie can easily wake up with a clear, locavore conscience, starting with a gulp of fairly traded coffee. She can then chow down on a regionally inspired gourmet meal and end her day with a pint of home-brewed beer. This week's specials have all that and more.
The Triangle restaurant scene continues to support Haiti's earthquake victims. On Feb. 23 at 7 p.m., Durham's Counter Culture Coffee hosts a "Tuesday Night Throwdown" latte art competition at Copa Vida Coffee (2816 Erwin Road, 383-4900, www.copavidacoffee.com) to raise funds for the Haiti relief efforts of Partners In Health.
Each espresso-slinging, crema-swirling barista pays $5 to compete by carving latte foam into images of flowers, clouds, fleur-de-lis, etc. Judges will choose the most inspired work of art. All proceeds benefit the cause. Admission is free, so make sure to drop a few bucks into the donation jars.
The Art Institute (www.artinstitutes.edu/raleigh-durham) opened in Durham in July 2008, featuring culinary bachelor's and associate's degree programs. And with that came another grand opening—prepare to be some very lucky guinea pigs. The District at 410 (410 Blackwell St., 317-3200, email@example.com), a student-run restaurant, has opened in the historic American Tobacco Campus. Serving American bistro-style cuisine on Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the restaurant runs through each 11-week school term. This one ends March 26 and resumes April 15. All proceeds benefit the institute's scholarship program.
The Durham-inspired menu is full of ideas and fare cooked up by 12 students. The menus are tweaked each term and include starters like Highway 147 salad and Lucky Strike Tower Tartare and entrées like the Bull and Bird (tournedos of beef topped with fried quail eggs in potato fritters) and the Bleu Devil (herb-crusted chicken breast stuffed with a Viognier creme, basil oil and mashed potatoes).
"It's a restaurant experience in a classroom environment," says Chef Dan Taylor, the institute's culinary program director. "Everything the students have been doing up to this point is utilized in this spot. Teachers are there as facilitators, but it's the students' experience. We invite the public in to help them learn. It's a wonderful concept."
Students run the whole show, from the kitchen to the front of the house. Diners are encouraged to make reservations by phone, due to the limited seating capacity and hours of operation.
To get Raleigh Beer Week hopping, the Capital City kicks off with a celebration of home-brewed beer. Get your tickets now for Homebrewed Raleigh on Saturday, March 6, a beer fest featuring 12 of the best home brewers, presented by the Raleigh City Museum (220 Fayetteville St., 832-3775 ext. 23, www.raleighcitymuseum.org), Busy Bee Cafe (www.busybeeraleigh.com) and the blog New Raleigh (www.newraleigh.com). The event will be held at the Raleigh City Museum from 1 to 6 p.m. Tickets are $20 for museum members, $25 for non-members. The day will feature food, music and "painstakingly crafted, delicious beer." Call the museum for ticket information.