’Tis the season for giving, so why not give yourself a gift that keeps on giving — to others? When Chez Genèse opened in October in the antiques district on South Elm Street (for breakfast and lunch only), it began serving la vraie cuisine française. But, above all else, it also sought to serve those who are less fortunate: “It is our goal, as a team, to come alongside incredible individuals who (due to intellectual or developmental disability) may have the odds stacked against them in the workforce, to help develop and celebrate their own interests and potential,” chef Kathryn Hubert writes on the back of a menu, the front of which I drooled all over. My advice? Start with une verre of Languedoc rosé ($6) and the charcuterie board ($14) — jambon, saucissons (little sausages), smoked salmon and, of course, fromage: the creamy tomme de Savoie or, perhaps, a bold chèvre or Roquefort (your choice). If it’s rainy, why not order a classic and comforting bowl of soup, the creamy red-potato-and-leek ($5) or a soupe au poulet ($6) that’s rich in the way only the French seem to attain? Daily plats du jours ($11-12) are stick-to-the-ribs, hearty French country fare — sausage with lentils, lamb stew with turnips or, on Fridays, bouillabaise! Baguette or croissant sandwiches, along with pizzas and tarts, complement five traditional salads on the lighter side. Et les desserts? Ooh la la! Bon appétit, salut and Joyeux Noël. Private evening events available. Info: chezgenese.com — D.C.B.
Saved by the Bell
No, not the kind that rings in a schoolroom, but the sort that accompanies the Salvation Army’s ubiquitous red buckets this time of year — and the focal point of Jacob’s Bell. The Yuletide tale by Triad author John Snyder is set in 1944 and flashes back to the 1920s and ’30s to reveal the journey of Jacob, a wealthy Chicago businessman, who suffers a fall from grace. But winding up as, of all things, a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army, the book’s protagonist ultimately finds redemption and as any good Christmas tale should include, love. Available at the usual suspects, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Walmart and more. Info: johnsnyder.net.
Remember in December
Or specifically, on December 15, the date on which Wreaths Across America encourages U.S. communities to place wreaths on the gravestones of their fallen military heroes. You can participate in the Gate City’s version of the program, Wreaths Across Greensboro, by sponsoring a wreath (or several) and attending a ceremony at Forest Lawn Cemetery (3901 Forest Lawn Drive) that will include a shuttle to the veterans’ area, hot chocolate and coffee. For more information go to wreathsacrossgreensboro.com.
Show Ho Ho!
Meaning Winter Show at GreenHill (200 North Davie Street). Starting December 1 with Collector’s Choice Fundraiser, a preview of the exhibit that offers ticketholders first choice of 500-some works by North Carolina artists in advance of the public opening on December 2. You’ll wonder as you wander among the paintings, drawings, sculptures, and works in glass, fiber and ceramics at the wealth of creativity springing from our state’s red clay. Can’t make either date? Not to worry: Winter Show runs through January 18, adding a little springtime to the short dark days of the season. Tickets (for Collector’s Choice): greenhillnc.org.
Sounds of the Season
Jazz and jingle were made for each other, especially in a swank environment Check out Greensboro’s newly renovated Carolina Theatre (310 South Greene Street) on December 18th for a concert of seasonal tunes, courtesy of Piedmont Triad Jazz Orchestra. Boasting “new versions” of all genres, from sacred to secular, PTJO’s lineup will inspire toe-tapping, hand-clapping, head-bobbing, be-bopping, and more. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.
Blades of Glory
Break the ice, quite literally (but not an arm or a leg), by channeling Hans Brinker, or better yet Olympians Joey Cheek and Dorothy Hamill, when you spin around the WFMY News 2 Piedmont Winterfest skating rink in LeBauer Park (208 North Davie Street). From now through January 27 you can rent a pair of skates for just $10 and practice your best Salchow or camel — or simply glide around without taking a spill. And speaking of gliding, how about some cool runnings on the ice slide? For information on public skate times, children’s rates and group rates (think: skating party à la Peanuts Gang) go to piedmontwinterfest.com.
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever,” wrote Romantic poet John Keats. So why not spread a little seasonal joy with the gift of art? All month, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to attend the Center for Visual Artists’ Holiday Invitational, held through January 4 at the Cultural Center (200 North Davie Street). Opening on December 1, gift seekers can peruse art and fine, handmade wares as they sip craft beer, and on December 7, mingle with the 50-some local artists who created the items. Additionally, there will be craft-making sessions, among other events, throughout the season. Best of all, the beneficiaries are, not only the loved ones on your Christmas list, but the working artists and CVA’s educational programs that bring art to makers of all ages. Info: greensboroart.org.
By now it’s the stuff of Gate City legend, but what would the holidays be without the Running of the Balls? It might be too late by the time you read this to register for the race through Greensboro’s festive Sunset Hills, whose residents celebrate the season of light with thousands of illuminated orbs suspended from the neighborhood’s towering old oaks. But there’s nothing stopping you from cheering on the competitors on December 15, and enjoying hot chocolate, tasty eats, music and camaraderie — while supporting a cause that makes the lives of others merry and bright: the Northwest North Carolina Food Bank. Info: therunningoftheballs.com.
One of the beauties of the holiday season is the combination of Christmas-y and secular concerts. Granted, some radio stations have been playing carols since Halloween (it seems), but, hey, the FCC doesn’t require you to listen to it. And for the discerning listener, there is plenty of live music to choose from, traditional and otherwise, to make the season bright. So get out there and roast some dang chestnuts.
• December 4, High Point Theatre: Some years back I wrote a column on the five best voices in country music, those who were so operatic and polished that it was almost demeaning to call them “country.” Coming in at No. 2 was John Berry. He does a Christmas tour each year, which, come to think of it, is not country at all. You will walk away with goosebumps.
• December 7, Blind Tiger: Greensboro may rightfully claim two of the finest blues guitarists on the planet, ever since Eric Gales met a local girl and moved here (the other being Bob Margolin). But, just as with John Berry, Gales is hardly confined to a specific genre. In fact, there are those who question whether he is actually from this planet. He does stuff that’s otherworldly — upside-down and left-handed.
• December 9, Greensboro Coliseum: While most national touring acts shut it down for much of December, that’s when the Trans-Siberian Orchestra cranks it up. Their holiday show is so in-demand, there are actually two ensembles. Seriously. If you’ve never seen them, they will make you look at Christmas music in a whole different way.
• December 11, Ramkat: Could it have really been 20 years since Lucinda Williams set the alt.country world on fire with Car Wheels on a Gravel Road? Apparently so, since she’s doing a 20th anniversary tour behind it. After all these years that CD is still in regular rotation in my life, just as clever and fresh as it was in 1998. Can’t wait to see her again live.
• December 31, Westover Church: I’ve loved Dixieland jazz since grade school, and there weren’t then and aren’t now any finer purveyors of the style than the Dukes of Dixieland. Sending you to a show in a church may be a first, but you’re gonna have to just get over it. See you there.