Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Durham Celebrates 25 Years of Success as a Visitor Destination

“That’s billions – with a B,” said Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau (DCVB) President and CEO, Shelly Green referring to visitor dollars spent in Durham over that last 25 years. Since 1990, when the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau (DCVB) started tracking metrics, 124 million visitors have experienced Durham and they spent $12.9 billion in Durham’s economy. The growth over that period, according to Green, is “pretty remarkable.”

The last four years coming out of the recession have seen steady growth. “Given the resources available, I am extremely proud of all that Durham has accomplished. The DCVB team is really skilled at spinning gold from hay,” Green said referring to Durham’s visitor growth measured against its investment promoting the destination.

DCVB benchmarks metrics annually that paint a picture of Durham’s performance as a visitor destination. The numbers are estimates for the past 25 years in total.
  • $24 Million Visitors to Durham
  • $12.9 Billion Spending by Durham Visitors
  • $139 Million Occupancy Taxes Collected 
  • $578 Million Local Tax Revenue Generated by Visitors
  • 14.7 Million Visitor Inquiries Generated
  • 15,764 Conventions and Groups Serviced
  • 102,905 Conventions and Meetings Held in Durham
  • 3.5 Million Convention and Meeting Attendees
  • 5,149,485 Hotel Room Nights Used by Conventions and Meetings
  • 1,172,662 Hotel Room Nights Booked by DCVB 
  • 21,833 DCVB-Assisted Stories in the Media 
These statistics become more meaningful when considered in the context of real examples of praise and accomplishments earned by the community. Durham consistently ranks highly on measurements of quality of life, business climate, education, healthcare, and more. Fueled by its ranking as the number one retirement destination in the US and its title as Tastiest Town in the South, as well as the combination of diverse population and an engaged and welcoming community, Durham’s pattern of growth looks assured. A searchable database of Durham’s accolades is online here.

“Durham is successful because it is a great community that prides itself on things like authenticity and being genuine. These things matter more and more to visitors and residents alike, and we are now benefitting from that trend,” Green said. “To look back on the last 25 years at today’s Annual Tribute Luncheon has been a tangible validation of our work at DCVB, and of the community we represent. I couldn’t be more proud.”

A video shown at the luncheon traced DCVB’s inception back to 1982 when discussions of the need for a destination marketing organization dedicated to Durham were first chronicled in municipal and economic development circles. Legislation in 1986 permitted the collection of an occupancy tax on hotel room sales beginning in 1989 when DCVB started out with a modest office in Brightleaf Square.  Included in the video were former board and staff members as well as President Emeritus Reyn Bowman who ran DCVB from its inception in 1989 through 2009 when Green took the helm.   Watch the 25 year retrospective video online here.

The Annual Tribute Luncheon is produced by DCVB to celebrate Durham’s unique sense of place. Former honorees include Pastor Shirley Caesar, Dr. John Hope Franklin, Coach Mike Krzyzewski, Durham festivals, and acclaimed Durham chefs, among others.

Friday, April 11, 2014

This Week at the Durham Farmers' Market

Asparagus is back at the Market! This year, it is coming in a little bit later than we've grown accustomed to. The cool, wet weather kept it from sprouting early this year. If the weather stays springlike and doesn't get too hot, too fast, we can expect several weeks of fresh, locally grown asparagus at the Market!

Asparagus is a very thirsty crop. When it is first harvested, the end that is cut is dripping with water. From the moment that it is picked, it starts losing the moisture that is stored inside. So, once it is harvested, the race against dehydration is on! The faster that it can get from the farm to the eater, the better. It tastes fresher and sweeter, and there is a lot less waste from the end that has started to dry out.

Asparagus is also a very fast growing plant. Some farmers find that to get the best spears it needs to be harvested once a day. Through the week, as they harvest, they take great pains to keep it fresh and hydrated so that you get the most flavorful and nutritious asparagus possible. All of the asparagus available at the Market was harvested during the week that it is being sold and some of it is even harvested within hours of coming to the Market. It just doesn't get any fresher than that!

In my opinion, fresh asparagus is one of the highlights of eating locally grown and in-season foods. Most asparagus available commercially (year round) in the United States was grown in Peru or China. That means, it has to travel thousands of miles to get to a grocery store and spends weeks in refrigerated trucks, barges, and storage before being displayed at the grocery store. By then, the top is often rubbery and the bottom half dried out and woody. After so many weeks in storage, it barely has the sweet, asparagus-y flavor that makes freshly harvested asparagus so special. And, to top it off, the rise in asparagus production in Peru is doing terrible ecological damage: Peru's Asparagus Boom Threatens Water Table

To celebrate the asparagus season, Katie Coleman, owner of Durham Spirits Company will be our Chef in the Market tomorrow! She'll be making several recipes that highlight this wonderful vegetable. Cooking, tasting and recipes will be available on the Market's Central Lawn starting at 10am.

In other, non-asparagus, yet equally exciting news...
1. There will be the first few strawberries at Market tomorrow. Come early to get them!
2. Spinach will be at the Market in abundance for the next couple of weeks! This is one crop that does not like the hot weather, once it gets hot, there won't be anymore spinach until the late fall. So, don't miss this window.
3. The Wednesday Market opens this week! You can re-stock all of these wonderful spring vegetables and meet our new vendors. The Wednesday Market hours are 3:30-6:30pm, weekly! See you at the Market,

Erin Kauffman
Market Manager
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Upcoming Events
 Tomorrow: Chef in the Market, Katie Coleman from Durham Spirits Company. Recipes featuring ASPARAGUS! 10am-Noon on the lawn.

Tomorrow: Storytelling by Cynthia Raxter, 9am-Noon. Cynthia will be telling tales about growing up on the farm in western NC. Fun for kids of all ages!

Wednesday: WEDNESDAY MARKET OPENS! Hours 3:30-6:30pm! Meet our new Wednesday vendors and see some familiar faces too. Storyteller, Cynthia Raxter will be back telling stories, bring the kids!

Next Saturday: Durham County Beekeepers will be bringing their demonstration hive. Watch the bees at work and learn about honey production!

Fresh this Week....
FRUIT: Strawberries! (just a few)
VEGETABLES: ASPARAGUS! Arugula, Asian Greens, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Claytonia (Miners Lettuce), Cilantro, Cress, Collards, Daikon Radish, Dried Shiitake Mushrooms, Fennel, Dried Herbs, Jerusalem Artichokes, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Mache, Micro Greens, Oyster Mushrooms, Parsley, Pea Shoots, Popcorn, Radishes, Reishi Mushrooms, Rhubarb, Salad Mix, Scallions, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Sweet Potatoes, Greenhouse Grown Tomatoes, Turnips, Turnip Greens, and more
MEATS AND EGGS: Pork, Beef, Lamb & Mutton, Bison, Chicken, Duck, Goat/Chevon/Cabrito, Veal
Duck Eggs & Chicken Eggs
CHEESES: Fresh and aged COW and GOAT milk cheeses.
PLANTS: Vegetable Seedlings: Kale, Collards, Broccoli, Cilantro, Lettuce, Spinach. Fruit Plants: Strawberry, Raspberry, Blackberry, Figs. House Plants, Bedding Plants.
FLOWERS: Ranunculus, Hyacinth, Anemones, Poppies, Tulips, Stock, Mixed Bouquets
SPECIALTY ITEMS: Gluten Free Baked Goods, Raw & Creamed Honey, Pasta, Flour, Cornmeal, Grits, Baked Goods including Pies, Breads, Cookies & Pastries, Fermented Foods, Beer, Wine, Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Preserves, Wool
CRAFTS: Pottery, Woodwork, Photographs, Hand-dyed Clothing and other items, Handmade Clothing, Goats Milk Soaps, Body Butters, Lotions, Yarn, Roving, and much more...


Produce availability depends on weather conditions 

This Week at the South Durham Farmers' Market

This  Week at the Market
  • Saturday 8 am-Noon Greenwood Commons 54110 Hwy 55 Durham, NC 27713
  • Community Cooking Club: Melina's Pasta with Pesto
  • Food Truck: Le Farm Bakery
  • In Season: floral arrangements, green onions, radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes, bok choy, potatoes, lettuce.
Local Pasta Made Fresh

Topped with fresh tomato sauce or simply drizzled with olive oil, a bowl of fresh pasta never fails to satiate and soothe. And, at the South Durham Farmers’ Market, we have an assortment of delicious ravioli and fettuccine made locally by Melina’s Fresh Pasta with farm fresh ingredients.

After learning to make handmade pastas in Bologna in 2010, Carmella Alvaro was inspired to start a business in Durham that would share the rich culinary experience of fresh, traditional pasta. So, she started Melina’s Fresh Pasta with just a small food processor and some rolling pins. She now sells at six farmers’ markets in the area, and her business has expanded into her remodeled garage to accommodate a giant 60-quart mixer, a machine for cut pasta, a walk-in freezer and, most recently, a pasta extruder for making fusilli and other decorative shapes.

She inherited her love of cooking and good food from her parents, who immigrated to the United States from Calabria (the toe of Italy’s boot) and settled in Syracuse, New York. They grew a garden of their favorite vegetables from Italy, foraged for mushrooms and cured their own sausage from local meat. On the way to soccer practice as a child, Carmella remembers her father collecting dandelion greens for dinner. They are immensely supportive of their daughter’s venture. Last year, her mother planted a large crop of basil, so that Carmella would have enough to last through the winter.

From her parents, she has developed a deep appreciation for the importance of quality ingredients, and she constantly seeks out local sources for her fillings and sauces. (You should definitely try her local beet and goat cheese ravioli!)

Coincidentally, Carmella was originally interested in bread making and took a class at the local La Farm Bakery, whose food truck will be joining us tomorrow.  She ultimately decided that baking bread was too precise of a practice. She prefers experimenting with her recipes and finds pasta a more forgiving medium.

Join us this weekend and try her ravioli creations yourself! The Community Cooking Club will be serving samples with their own zesty pesto variations.

StoryCorps & WUNC Seek Stories of Durham and American Tobacco

As Durham's American Tobacco Campus nears its 10th anniversary as a true live/work/play destination, the interest in its past life is growing. What happened to the people who worked there, and where are they now? What was it like working there? What were the tensions and dramas of factory life?

As part of the American Tobacco Campus' anniversary celebration, NPR's StoryCorps in conjunction with 91.5 WUNC, whose radio studios are located at American Tobacco, will collect answers to these questions, and more, in a month-long story gathering process from April 17-May 16, 2014. This oral history will be recorded as another way of preserving the important history of one of Durham's most famous landmarks.

Structural historic preservation is valued in Durham through numerous adaptive reuse architecture projects like Brightleaf Square and Golden Belt,the interest in oral history is strong here, too. The Museum of Durham History has a facility for people to record and to listen to personal narratives from local residents about Durham's past. Learn more about that project here.

To participate in this project, please contact American Tobacco via email and provide a name, email address and phone number. Describe memories or stories up to 200 words along with photographs or other visuals. StoryCorps’ MobileBooth, an Airstream trailer outfitted with a recording studio, will be parked at the American Tobacco Campus to record the stories. Reservations can be made by calling StoryCorps’ 24-hour, toll-free reservation line at 1-800-850-4406 or visiting StoryCorps online. Additional reservation slots will open on April 18.

Learn more fascinating stories about all of Durham's history online.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Durham Becoming a BBQ Mecca

Durham, NC's oldest restaurant is a BBQ spot called Bullock's, and up until a few years ago, the second oldest was, too. BBQ runs deep in Durham.


Today it was announced via Twitter that Durham is one step closer to welcoming another BBQ restaurant - this one owned and operated by world-famous pitmaster, Ed Mitchell.

Named Ed Mitchell's Que, this spot is tucked into the Diamond View Three building in the shadow of the Durham Bulls Athletic Park across the street from the American Tobacco Campus on Blackwell Street. It will join 11 other dedicated BBQ restaurants in Durham, and dozens of others in town that offer up 'cue on their menus alongside other dishes. Durham is a town serious about its food and was named the Tastiest Town in the South by Southern Living magazine last year.

The NC barbecue landscape has been earning significantly increased attention in the last few years as diners nation- and world-wide have come to love an respect the dish. Now Durham is going to be a more direct focal point with this new restaurant. "Mitchell is a titan in the field of BBQ. That he is bringing his talent to Durham is a great commentary on the overall dining scene," said Sam Poley, Director of Public Relations for the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau (DCVB). "And it's especially good news for those who like to eat great food," Poley added.

Mitchell attends BBQ competitions around the world, and is a widely considered one of the very best in the business. Director of the Southern Foodways Alliance John T. Edge, a well-respected authority on food authenticity, named Mitchell the #1 Pitmaster in NC back in 2002. Mitchell has gained additional notoriety by appearances on the Food Network's Throwdown with Bobby Flay where he was victorious in the competition with the renowned NY chef, and on CNN's Eatocracy.

Known for his talent for flavors, textures, and technique. Mitchell is also known for his big personality and story telling.  He's an engaging character who has already made an impact on Durham.  Mitchell was the culinary driving force behind The Pit, a Raleigh restaurant that opened a second location in Durham in November last year. Mitchell is now focusing on his own project that is due to open very soon.

Find Mitchell's restaurant on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter. See a list of Durham restaurants that either specialize in, or highlight BBQ, on their menus online.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Sam’s Quick Shop to Open Sam’s Bottle Shop April 10

April is NC Beer month, and so it is a lucky coincidence that one of Durham's beer destinations is opening a second location.  On Thursday, Sam's Bottle Shop will open on Highway 54 near the intersection with Hope Valley Road in South Durham.

Opened as a restaurant in 1948, the business changed its original location on Erwin Road in 1974 to Sam's Quik Shop, and has earned a spot in the hearts of the Durham community and beyond for its vast selection of beer. Now the business is adding a second store to serve its customers, and grow its spectrum of offerings, too.

Durham's growth, and the community's interest in food and drink, set the stage for this expansion. The continued attention of the media on Durham's community of restaurants, the rapidly-growing community of artisan food producers, and the engaged consumer public that makes provides the demand these businesses are filling, are all contributing factors to the growth personified by the opening of Sam's Bottle Shop.  The store will ultimately have a an inventory of more than 1,600 different beers, kegs, and more. The new location will host educational tastings, food and beer pairings, and private events.

Owner John Boy Jr. invites the community to celebrate the new store with a grand opening on April 10, 2014 at the new two-story location at 1112 W NC HWY 54. "I'm fortunate enough to carry on the family business and work with beer. It is our goal to educate our customers about beer and through our regular tasting events, bring the brewery to the consumer," he said.

Several NC Breweries have brewed beers especially for this event including an oak & smoked imperial stout brewed by Oskar Blues in Brevard, NC. There will also be the release of two collaborative beers brewed for the opening made by North Carolina’s Olde Hickory Brewing Company out of Hickory, NC and Foothills Brewing out of Winston Salem, NC. The grand opening will feature food truck KoKyu Ondo, on-site from 5pm – 9pm.

Discover more food and drink events in Durham on the Durham Event Calendar to see why Durham is the Tastiest Town in the South.

Friday, April 4, 2014

This Week at the Durham Farmers' Market

**Summer Hours (8am-Noon) Starts Tomorrow Morning**
Wednesday Market Reopens April 16th

Tomorrow morning is the big day - the official start of the Durham Farmers' Market 16th season and the beginning of the Market's Summer Hours! Starting in the morning, the Market will be open every Saturday from 8am to Noon throughout the spring, summer and fall.

Before the Market was open during the wintertime, we shut down during the cold months. Then, the first Saturday of April was our big opening day. It was a return of fresh vegetables, pastured raised meats, great artisan foods and handmade crafted items to downtown Durham. Now the Market is open all winter and we get to enjoy local food with ease all year long. But, that doesn't mean that opening day is and less exciting. There are lots of things that are happening tomorrow to get excited about...

First, and most importantly, we are finally having spring like weather! This week, many of our farmers were able to get our into their fields and start to planting spring crops, which is something that has been difficult to do this spring (and winter). Plus, the first Market of the new season will be warm, sunny and beautiful!

Tomorrow, you also get to meet our newest vendor! Understory Farm, will be coming to the Market for the first time! Understory Farm is Andrea Wood and Rob Jones. They specialize in growing oyster mushrooms all year round. They grow their mushrooms in a climate-controlled warehouse just outside of Chapel Hill. I had the opportunity to see their mushroom operation this winter and it was fascinating. Along with the oyster mushrooms, they also raise and wild harvest other types of mushrooms, offer mushroom growing kits, and spent substrate (that the mushrooms grew in) which can be used as a nutrient rich additive to your garden!

Along with Understory Farm, there will be some other new faces at the Saturday Summer Market. Big Spoon Roasters, Imagine That Gluten Free, and Melina's Fresh Pasta will also start selling at the Market this year! Not to mention, you'll see a bunch of other vendors that have taken some time off during the winter months.

With these new and returning vendors, the Market's setup with change a bit. To accommodate for more vendors, we will once again be closing Foster Street and it will be filled with Farmers' Market vendors. Vendors will extend around in a big square around the Central Market lawn (the lawn inside the Pavilion). Vendors will shift around to their new summer spaces. So, if you can't find a vendor that you are looking for, please stop by the information table (at the center of the Pavilion). We'll have maps and be able to direct you to the vendors that you are looking for.

Also, tomorrow, to mark the occasion, Chef Amy Tornquist, of Watts Grocery and Hummingbird Bakery will be our first Chef in the Market of the season! Amy plans to cook up some French toast with strawberry sauce and goat cheese crema. But, she also said that she could be inspired to make something else. So, we'll see! Amy will start cooking out on the Market's lawn at 10am. Stop by for a taste and some inspiration for cooking with local, seasonal foods. And, as Amy is cooking, the Spiritual Sound Brass band will be serenading the Market and the Park through the morning!

You'll also notice that our neighbors the Durham Craft Market are back on the east side of the Durham Central Park. And our neighbors, the Hunt Street Art and Food Truck Market will be over on Hunt Street in full force as well.

Tomorrow is going to be the kickoff to another great season at the Durham Farmers' Market. Thank you for being a part of it and making the Market what so vibrant and wonderful for the past 16 years!

See you at the Market,
Erin Kauffman
Market Manager
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Fresh this Week....
VEGETABLES: Arugula, Asian Greens, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Claytonia (Miners Lettuce), Cilantro, Cress, Collards, Daikon Radish, Dried Shiitake Mushrooms, Fennel, Dried Herbs, Jerusalem Artichokes, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Mache, Micro Greens, Minutina,  Oyster Mushrooms, Parsley, Pea Shoots, Popcorn, Radishes, Reishi Mushrooms, Rhubarb, Salad Mix, Scallions, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Sweet Potatoes, Greenhouse Grown Tomatoes, Turnips, Turnip Greens, and more
MEATS AND EGGS: Pork, Beef, Lamb & Mutton, Bison, Chicken, Duck, Goat/Chevon/Cabrito, Veal
Duck Eggs & Chicken Eggs
CHEESES: Fresh and aged COW and GOAT milk cheeses.
PLANTS: Vegetable Seedlings: Kale, Collards, Broccoli, Cilantro, Lettuce, Spinach. Fruit Plants: Strawberry, Raspberry, Blackberry, Figs. House Plants, Bedding Plants.
FLOWERS: Ranunculus, Hyacinth, Anemones, Poppies, Tulips, Stock, Mixed Bouquets
SPECIALTY ITEMS: Gluten Free Baked Goods, Raw & Creamed Honey, Pasta, Flour, Cornmeal, Grits, Baked Goods including Pies, Breads, Cookies & Pastries, Fermented Foods, Beer, Wine, Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Preserves, Wool
CRAFTS: Pottery, Woodwork, Photographs, Hand-dyed Clothing and other items, Handmade Clothing, Goats Milk Soaps, Body Butters, Lotions, Yarn, Roving, and much more...

Produce availability depends on weather conditions