It officially feels like summer out there, so it's time to slide up to an outdoor community table and share a meal with a friend.
Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe (www.curryblossom.com) in Chapel Hill utilizes its courtyard throughout the warm months to promote a sense of community that matches the welcoming spirit beckoning patrons inside. Owner/ chef Vimala Rajendran consistently captivates customers who stroll in for a locally sourced, beautifully crafted lunch or dinner, taking breaks between hand-packing samosas to greet old friends with a big hug and new faces with a smile and a sincere intent to get to know them.
"Food breaks down barriers, generates conversation and builds community," she says.
Rajendran's roots stem from food but sprawl over a foundation grounded in community and social justice. When she made the choice to leave an abusive marriage more than 15 years ago—with three kids and no green card—Rajendran began cooking out of her home and also turned to community television to "find a voice for myself and give a voice to the disenfranchised and oppressed." She helped start The Peoples Channel, community-supported media in Durham, Chapel Hill and Carrboro, where she hosted television shows and now serves as board president.
Tomorrow, June 9, the courtyard outside the cafe will host a live broadcast from 5 to 9 p.m. Rajendran says people can use it as a soapbox to say what they feel. "Free media is a luxury not tapped into enough," she says. All proceeds from the restaurant that night will benefit The Peoples Channel; they'll be serving an all-local special platter (with meat or without) based on ingredients from the Carrboro Farmers' Market.
For another way to get your al fresco dining fix with friends, snag tickets now for the Yum Yum Supper Club (yumyumsupper.com) on June 18 outside Motorco in Durham. Self-described as "a curated celebration of nearby food, people, and the changing seasons," the supper club hosts community dinners a few times a year in conjunction with local chefs and/or farms. This event kicks off with cocktails at 4 p.m. followed by a four-course dinner grown and prepared by Boxcarr Farms, with beer pairings by Fullsteam. Tickets are $36.25 and seating is limited. Visit yumyumsupper.com for more details.
If you're itching for more food trucks to add to your mobile eats repertoire, The Parlour (www.facebook.com/theparlourdurham) ice cream truck is rolling through summer with punchy flavors like ginger, Vietnamese coffee and vegan chocolate banana coconut, seasonal flavors like strawberry and inventive cookie sandwiches packed with bing cherry ice cream. And Cary's Bavarian Brathaus (www.bavarianbrathauscary.com) recently launched a truck serving homemade bratwurst and more.
Rhonda Jones of Durham-based home bakery Chez Moi (www.chezmoi-bakery.com) hopes to put her specialty rum and vodka cakes on wheels. Her humble baking beginnings started with an Easy-Bake oven as a kid and have matured into classy confections like an Appletini cake (with vodka) and a blueberry limoncello cake (coming soon). If you dig this grown-up street eats concept, visit her Kickstarter site.
Know about a fun food happening in the Triangle? Send it to Now Serving at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction (June 8, 2011): Tickets to Yum Yum Supper Club are $36.25 (not $45).