A little bluebird of happiness has Raleigh atwitter, and it has nothing to do with the Internet. PieBird Raleigh (618 N. Person St., 508-7612, piebirdraleigh.com) opened last week on the edge of the historic Mordecai and Oakwood neighborhoods.
"So many people wanted a neighborhood place," said owner and baker Sheilagh Sabol Duncan.
After she was laid off a couple of years ago, Duncan used the extra time to craft pies—a skill she acquired during childhood—and offered them to neighbors who then urged her to open a store. Two years later, Duncan is opening in the former Conti's Italian Market. The exposed brick walls and cool-hued tables are accented by a fireplace and, of course, the nostalgic warmth of pie.
Chef Kristine Ashwood, formerly of Pittsboro's Hilltop and Fearrington Village, works the kitchen with Duncan to offer inventive daily flavors, satisfying both sweet and savory appetites. Local spins on classics include the Tar Heel, a chocolate pie laced with pecans, bourbon and N.C.'s official State Sweet Potato, topped with maple whipped cream and candied bacon upon request. Lunch and dinner specials are offered, too. On the menu are shepherd's pie (ground lamb inside, parmesan mashed potatoes on top) and various pot pies, such as a spicy madras curried chicken or vegetable served with mango chutney and cucumber raita. A full bar rounds out the options (liquor license on the way). PieBird is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
If you have a sweet tooth plagued by a gluten intolerance, a new community-supported bakery can help satisfy a craving once deemed hopeless. Pittsboro's Abilicious Bakery (548-0761, www.abiliciousbakery.com) offers a subscription of gluten-, soy- and nut-free bread and baked goods, as well as dairy-free and vegan varieties. Weekly packages range from $16 to $72, depending on size and amount. Pittsboro Farmers' Market is the pickup location for April. Buy goods individually at Angelina's Kitchen or the Pittsboro and Chatham Mills Farmers' Markets. For more information about the subscription, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
April offers four lectures for food geeks. Tonight, UNC-Chapel Hill hosts food writer and Southern Foodways Alliance founder John T. Edge at 6 p.m in the Pleasants Family Room at the Wilson Library. At the free lecture he will discuss the South's history of BBQ pitmasters. More info is available at www.uncsouth.org. Local legend Andrea Reusing of Chapel Hill's Lantern launches her book, Cooking in the Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes. Catch her at Flyleaf Books (752 Martin Luther King Blvd., 942-7373, flyleafbooks.com) on April 9 at 2 p.m. (See related story.)
Acclaimed author Barbara Kingsolver accepts the Lifetime Environmental Achievement in Fine Arts award at Duke University on April 9 at 2 p.m., with a reading to follow. The fiction writer launched into foodie fame with Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, detailing her family's endeavor to home-source their food for a year. More details on the free event are at www.nicholas.duke.edu/leaf. Agro-movie celebrity Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm visits Chapel Hill April 13 at 5 p.m. to present Local Food: Talk & Taste. The lecture includes dinner catered by Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe and Carolina Inn. RSVP: sustainability.unc.edu.
If you love movies and eating (and who doesn't?) check out the food-centric films at this year's Full Frame Documentary Film Festival (fullframefest.org) in Durham April 14–17. A Matter of Taste: Serving Up Paul Liebrandt is a brilliant film that goes into the kitchen to document the rise and fall—and rise—of one of America's most promising chefs as he tries to earn three stars from The New York Times. Gourmet magazine once called Ferran Adrià the "Salvador Dali of chefs." In El Bulli—also the name of Adrià's renowned restaurant—we see how he and his fellow chefs perfect an adventurous menu that has made the eatery famous. And for a reality check on where your food comes from, The Harvest/ La Cosecha chronicles the hardships of young migrant workers trying to balance fieldwork and family life. Check out the Indy's coverage of the festival in next week's issue.
Finally, good luck getting tickets for the spring World Beer Festival in downtown Raleigh's Moore Square on April 9—www.allaboutbeer.com says they're sold out. The emphasis this year is on the art of beer, with special seminars scheduled along with the usual beer tastings.