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Bennu Cultural Renaissance Series teaches vegetarian cooking on a budget


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Sometimes, the weekend can't come soon enough. With summer around the corner, several Triangle venues are making it even easier to jumpstart relaxation on Thursdays.

Foster's Market (2694 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd., Durham, 489-3944, is welcoming the return of its Thursday on the Porch series. Starting May 28, Foster's in Durham will host a cookout featuring unique menu items; the first Thursday has lemon miso spare ribs and ginger plum duck on the menu. Pair that with beer and wine specials, and you've got yourself a party. Thursday on the Porch runs 5 to 8 p.m. through Oct. 1.

In Cary, Herons at the Umstead Hotel and Spa (100 Woodland Pond, 447-4200, has begun its Thursday Evenings on the Terrace Summer Cocktail Party. Sommelier Justin Tilley and mixologist Sara Vannice alternate between summer-inspired wine or cocktail themes. For $18/ person, mingle and enjoy a wine or cocktail flight, live music and lake views. The party happens 5 to 6:30 p.m. through August.

  • Photo courtesy Bennu Cultural Renaissance Series

Between home gardens and the fresh produce popping up at farmers' markets, it's time to get creative with your veggies. For a bit more guidance in the kitchen, check out the vegetarian cooking classes at the Bennu Cultural Renaissance Series (2011 Poole Road, Raleigh, 827-6209,, which start May 21. Learn how to use herbs and spices to bring out the flavors of your favorite veggies while keeping within a tight budget. Classes are $80 for a five-week session on Thursdays evenings; the cost includes all food.

And what's a real summer without a hearty burger? Head over to the Raleigh Times (14 E. Hargett St., Raleigh, 833-0999, and sink your teeth into one of the top 50 burgers in the U.S., according to the Food Network's 50 states burger map. The Times grinds its own meat, so the half-pound burger is exempt from state law and can be served up medium rare.

Looking further ahead, Saturday, May 30, the Hinnant Family Vineyards and Winery (826 Pine Level-Micro Road, Pine Level, 919-965-3350, hosts the Epicurious Vino Challenge fundraiser to benefit people with disabilities. Beginning at 6:30 p.m., nine local chefs (including those from Urban Food Group, Vinnie's Steakhouse, Catering Works, The Pound Cake Company and The Serving Spoon) compete in implementing a featured wine into a recipe. Tickets are $50 and guests will decide on the People's Choice, while sampling 18 wines and grooving to live jazz. Proceeds benefit local chapters of RHA Howell, a nonprofit serving North Carolina's disabled community. For tickets and information, contact Debbie Valentine (941-0530, or the vineyard (which also features "Quench Your Thursday" evenings with tastings, live music and extended hours).

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