Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Durham A Day: Shopping and eating

Continuing my report from a day of eating and food-trolling in Durham last week, we turn our sights to that great American sport - shopping. And eating. Maybe we should just make them one word: "shoppingandeating."

Parker and Otis, 112 S. Duke St., I first visited here years ago when it was Fowler's, an upscale food market and restaurant. It's still similar, although it's no longer a place to buy meat. Now it's a sprawling bistro (sandwiches/salads/baked goods/brunchy stuff) with the tables tucked in, around and through upscale kitchenware (think stacks of Le Creuset) and goofy food gifts on par with Seattle's Archie McPhee. It's a little chaotic (place your order at a counter, go find a table and your food will eventually come find you). The parking is confusing: It's on the side of the Bright Leaf Square parking lot, but it isn't officially a part of Bright Leaf Square, so good luck getting that parking ticket stamped. But still, for a certain kind of gourmet selection, it's a good place. Personally, I settled on a bottle of Bandol rose and a package of my personal favorite chocolate sin, salted caramels from Fran's in San Francisco. Did I need them? No. But need isn't what stores like P&O are really about.

Foster's Market, 2694 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd., Sara Foster has her food credentials firmly in place. She's a bona fide FOM (friend of Martha) with a whole list of comfortable, cozy cookbooks in place. The market is a comfortable, cozy place too. Again, it's part cafe and part store, with counter service and tables parked in, around and through. The shopping is less upscale, though. With Valentine's approaching, there are lots of candies right now, and there are always jams, jellies and other ingredients. My score: A jar of her famous Seven-Pepper Jelly. And just two driveways down busy Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard, you come to:

The Guglhupf, 2706 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd., What's Guglhupf? What isn't Guglhupf? It's a bakery. It's very busy, very popular cafe with two floors of packed tables and art dripping from the ceiling. It's an outdoor garden decorated with whimsical sculptures. The food leans toward mittel-Europe, with decorated plates of cake, including the popular fruit tart topped with several kinds of berries over a shortbread-like crust. What really struck me at 3 o'clock on a Friday afternoon: Who are all these people and why do they have the time to linger so long over lunch? Still, when there's a chocolate treble-clef sticking out of a puff of whipped cream on your plate, it feels very European, mittel or otherwise. Long live the Guglhupf.