Celebrating the “foodiest” place in America: Durham, N.C.

Big news for North Carolina in the new year: Durham has been named one of The New York Times’ places to go in 2011. Why? For the restaurants of course. Here’s what they had to say:

35. Durham, N.C.
A downtown turnaround means food worth a trip.

A decade ago, downtown Durham was a place best avoided after sundown. But as revitalization has transformed abandoned tobacco factories and former textile mills into bustling mixed-use properties, the city has been injected with much-needed life. In the heart of downtown, a crop of standout restaurants and cafes has recently sprouted around West Main Street, where low rents have allowed chefs and other entrepreneurs to pursue an ethos that skews local, seasonal and delicious.

The farmers’ market favorite Scratch Bakery has a brand-new storefront for its seasonal homemade pies that include chestnut cream pie and buttermilk sweet potato pie. At the cafe-cum-grocery Parker and Otis, the menu features sandwiches made with freshly baked bread from nearby Rue Cler and locally roasted java from Durham’s Counter Culture Coffee. And at the sophisticated Revolution, squash tamales, mascarpone gnocchi, and tuna with wasabi caviar rotate through the seasonal menu. 

Durham restaurants: Chefs of the Triangle by Ann ProsperoI can vouch for that Counter Culture Coffee–it’s the only stuff I drink! And if this NYT article is enough to whet your appetite for local eateries in the Triangle, check out Chefs of the Triangle by Ann Prospero. With stories of 34 leading local chefs, Ann delves deep into the history of Revolution’s executive chef Jim Anile and Rue Cler’s French-trained chefs John Vandergrift and Chris Stinnett (both mentioned above in the NYT article). The best part? Sixty exclusive recipes straight from these geniuses. And to celebrate Durham’s national recognition as the “foodiest” place in America by Bon Appetit magazine, we thought we’d share one with you today. Bon appetit!

Coq au Vin

from Rue Cler’s Chef John Vendergrift and Chef Chris Stinnett

Serves 4 to 6


  • Small bag of pearl onions
  • 3- to 4- pound chicken, cut in pieces
  • 1 cup flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 6 strips bacon, diced
  • 4 stalks celery, diced to the same size as pearl onions
  • 4 cups red wine
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened


Peel pearl onions by cutting a small x in the root end of each. Pour boiling water over onions and soak for 2 minutes, then drain. Cut off root ends with a paring knife; the papery skin will peel right off. To save time, peel onions up to 2 days ahead, then chill.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Dust chicken with flour and add salt and pepper. In a braising pan or pot, heat oil over medium heat and brown chicken. Remove chicken, add bacon, and render until brown. Add pearl onions, celery, and carrots and brown in fat with bacon for 4 to 5 minutes. Deglaze with red wine and place chicken back in over vegetables.

Bring to a boil and add chicken stock, thyme, and more salt and pepper. Bring to a boil again. Cover with foil and place in oven for one and a half hours. Remove from oven and check tenderness of chicken; if not tender, return to oven in 20-minute increments. Remove from oven, let rest 10 minutes, and remove chicken from pot. Add butter and stir to thicken. Adjust seasonings. Replace chicken and serve with crusty bread.


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