As Durham entrepreneur David Stemmle explains it, acid and fat are “the two things that make everything taste good.” Well, he adds, “that and salt.” As an example, he cites salad dressing, but you could include many condiments or sauces.

You could also include Headstart Gourmet‘s “compound butter,” Stemmle’s creation that’s now sold in Whole Foods Markets throughout the South, at A Southern Season and online (824-3993,

Stemmle dreamed up the idea while working in the kitchens of Four Square restaurant and the long-gone Cafe Momo. Compound butter is room-temperature butter mixed with lemon and parsley, or other spices and seasonings.

Stemmle went one step further and combined the concept of compound butter with the concept of beurre blanc, which, according to my handy Food Lover’s Companion, is a “classic French sauce composed of wine, vinegar and shallot reduction into which chunks of cold butter are whisked until the sauce and thick and smooth.”

He’s crafted three flavors so far: raspberry honey mustard beurre rouge, lemon thyme garlic beurre blanc, and spicy orange creole sauce. They are sold in tubs in the specialty food section and sometimes the seafood department. Stemmle runs the business end of Headstart Gourmet from his house and makes his product offsite in a commercial kitchen.

Compound butter sounds kind of professional-kitchen-fancy, and it is, but Stemmle offers this bottom line: “You can put it on anything and it’ll make it taste better.” For inspiration, check out the demo videos and recipe ideas on his site.

Chapel Hill’s beloved Ethiopian restaurant Queen of Sheba has reopened in a new home in Timberlyne Shopping Center (1129 Weaver Dairy Road, Chapel Hill, 932-4986, Frieshgenet Dabei, who also owned the Blue Nile in Durham, was forced to shutter Queen of Sheba’s former spot on North Graham Street to make way for the Greenbridge development. Since then, she has been cooking at private parties and selling Ethiopian fare on her Web site, Abyssinia Market ( Now you can taste her injera (a crepe-like flat bread), watt (stew) and tibbs (pan-fried meat) at lunch Monday through Friday, and dinner Monday through Saturday.

A Cupcake Bar (816-2905, is a custom-order bakery based in Cary that delivers throughout the Triangle. Owners and sisters Katie Braam and Anna Branly have backgrounds in social work and marketing, respectively, and have been bakers “forever.” They opened their business earlier this year, and added a twist: They have a drink-inspired line of cupcakes to complement the more traditional offerings. So, in addition to vanilla, chocolate and red velvet, they whip up mojitos (lime rum cupcakes with mint buttercream), strawberry daiquiris (strawberry cupcakes with rum frosting), Shirley Temples (ginger cupcakes with orange grenadine frosting, with a cherry on top) and chai teas (chai spice cupcakes with honey buttercream).

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