Thanks a lot, Durham

I was so beguiled by the bounty I literally forgot I had a family.I was standing inside Big Bundts, owned by Kristen Benkendorfer.  It’s in that striking brushed silver ADF building on Broad Street, where Hummingbird Bakery used to be.  I’d visited before and the brownie Bundt bite had already made me a true believer.  The bites are tiny, adorable little cakes; decadently moist and deeply chocolate.  They’re about 2-3 bites for any sane person, but I nibble on one for hours—it’s either pace myself or eat my weight in them.Well, I’d already asked for three of them, as they’re sold 3/$5.  But then I spied some cupcakes, which looked exactly like Hostess cupcakes.  You know, cream-filled chocolate, frosted with more chocolate, and a white swirly on top?

I ordered two of them as well.

I was floating through the parking lot with cheesy Carrie Bradshaw/Sex in the City visions filling my head: lounging on a stylish sofa in my gorgeous New York flat, hair and makeup perfect, wearing $7,000 couture pajamas, while attractively devouring my treats, which for daydream purposes contained zero calories and were as healthful as a kale smoothie.

Glamorous Fantasy


Embarrassing Reality

Then I got to the jeep, where Petey was waiting.  I crashed back to reality, “Oh crapola! Not only do I have a Petey, The Kid’s coming for dinner!”

So, they ate, and of course, loved my cupcakes.

But the confectionary-induced amnesia reminded me again, how lucky we Bull City denizens are to live and eat in such an amazing food town.  In honor of tomorrow’s day of national gratitude I thought I would offer a partial list of favorite food-connected businesses (to list every culinary tidbit of Durham that I’m thankful for would make War and Peace look like an abridged instruction manual for a fork).Dog House.  They sell the best dogs in town.  The food is consistently superior and the employees always friendly.  Plus; crinkle fries and pink lemonade.

For thoughtful, faithful, delicious Southern food, we’re lucky to have Amy Tornquist’s Watts Grocery.  Chef Amy takes no shortcuts, and both celebrates and elevates our culinary heritage.  They also have a stellar brunch, serving churros and homemade chocolate sauce that’re so good they practically reduce me to tears (or at very least, seconds).Over on 9th Street is Elmo’s Diner, which never disappoints.  Their sweet potato pancakes are the best flapjacks I’ve ever eaten.  Somehow they make something as simple as a spinach salad extra tasty.

Five points has an embarrassment of tasty riches. The Cupcake Bar’s rotating menu ensures that every visitor can find a flavor that makes them as happy as a kid at an amusement park.  Plus, they have Mexican Coke, ice-cold chocolate milk, and their miraculous frosting shots.

Boy am I glad I finally visited Dame’s Chicken and Waffles.  Somehow they turn the volume on flavor up to 11.  They’re constantly rocking, so unless you have more patience than a tree farmer, go online and make a reservation.Every time I walk into The Parlour ice cream shop I feel like I’m six-years-old at my own birthday party.  It’s a simple yet sophisticated pleasure that makes even the grumpiest among us grin like a demented game show host.

The Durham co-op has become a city institution.  I love everything about this place.  But I’m especially grateful for the pea shoots in produce, the seven-grain bread in the bakery, and the spinach/chick pea salad in the prepared case.For the second year in a row, Petey and I will dine at C&H cafeteria for Thanksgiving.  The food’s great, Petey can get a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for less than eight bucks, and I can get something other than turkey (here’s hoping they’ll have veal Parmesan again).  Plus they’ll put one of their delicious, homemade desserts in a to-go box for me.

This is truthfully just a tiny slice of the places and people that make the Bull City so very special.  And I know my feelings aren’t unique.  So, the next time you’re in one of your well-loved businesses, let them know how much you appreciate them.

You’ll make their day, I promise.Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Thanks for your time.

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