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New Restaurants and Happenings

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On Wednesday, May 24 at 7 p.m., Zely & Ritz in Raleigh is hosting a "Belgium to North Carolina Beer Dinner" featuring some of the new beers from Europe and from micro-brews in the States. To whet your appetite, the third course features Emu Carpaccio paired with Koningshoven Dubbel and Quadruple Bock. The cost is $60 (not including tax and gratuities). Call 828-0018 or visit www.zelyandritz.com to make a reservation.

On Thursday, May 25, Panciuto, featuring Italian and Southern-inspired meals made with local ingredients, is set to open at 110 S. Churton St. in Hillsborough. Owner and Chef Aaron Vandemark says his restaurant plans to pursue relationships with Hillsborough area farms and use produce and meats from local farmers as often as possible. Panciuto, pronounced "pan-choo-toe," means potbellied in Italian. Vandemark chose this name to honor a great friend, Duke Edward, who had an impressively large spirit and potbelly. Panciuto will be open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday; for reservations and more information, call 732-6261 or visit www.panciuto.com.

On Friday, May 26, The Barn at Valhalla (off Highway 54 west of Carrboro) is hosting a "Zinfandel and Barbecue Wine Dinner." The barbecue--including spare ribs, Texas-style beef brisket, slaw, black pepper cornbread and beer baked beans--is being provided by Chapel Hill's The Barbecue Joint, and the California Zinfandel is from the renowned Four Vines Winery. The cost is $45 plus tax, and the dinner starts "somewhere around 6:30 or 7:30 p.m." For reservations, call the Chapel Hill Wine Company at 968-1884.

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On Saturday, May 27, the nonprofit The Community Chest is producing the second annual Taste of Durham Festival, which combines local restaurant food samplings and chef demos with international arts and culture and local and international music. Participating restaurants include Amelia Cafe, Bocci Trattoria, Bull City Steakhouse, Chamas Brazilian Steakhouse, Ciro's Pizza, Cold Stone Creamery, Devine's, Down Under Pub, Federal, Fishmonger's, Grasshopper, George's Garage, Kashmir, Loco Pops, Mount Fuji, Parizade, Pop's, Ted's Montana Grill, Texas Roadhouse, Rue Cler, Verde and Victoria's Sweets. The event, which happens 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., is hosted by Brightleaf Square, Peabody Place and surrounding areas. Admission is $4 in advance and $6 at the festival; kids under 12 are free. Advance tickets are available at www.tasteofdurham.org (where you can also get all the festival details) and at Morgan Imports in Durham and Triangle-area Harris Teeters. Coins for food and beverages and tickets for wine and beer tastings are sold separately.

On Sunday, May 28, Cinelli's on Six Forks in Raleigh is hosting an Italian wine dinner. Executive Chef Edward Watson is preparing a five-course meal specifically paired to Italian wines he has personally chosen. Epicure owner Sigrid Morton will be present. For reservations, call 844-8160.

On Tuesday, May 30, Jujube in Chapel Hill is hosting a six-course premium sake dinner with guest Henry Sidel of Joto Sake. The first course features shrimp toasts with fresh shiitakes and cucumber jam paired with Shichi Hon Yari Junmai. The cost is $55; call 960-0555 for reservations.

Chefs from the five AAA Four Diamond award-winning restaurants in the Triangle are hosting the second annual AAA Four Diamond Dinner Series, a series of five Thursday dinners, one at each award-winning restaurant. The dinners include five courses plus hors d'oeuvres, with each chef preparing a dish for each dinner, and all courses matched with wine. The dinners will begin at 6:30 p.m., and the price is $95 per person. Call the individual restaurant to make reservations. The remaining schedule is: June 1, Four Square Restaurant in Durham (401-9877); Sept. 21, Il Palio Ristorante at the Siena Hotel in Chapel Hill (918-2545); Oct. 5, Carolina CrossRoads Restaurant at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill (918-2777); Nov. 2, Second Empire Restaurant in Raleigh (829-3663).

On Saturday, June 3 from noon to 6 p.m., Meadowmont Village is hosting Festival of the Vino. Admission includes wine samples from eight area wineries, live music, live gourmet cooking demonstrations and a souvenir wine glass. Tickets are $15 in advance and $17 the day of. Advanced tickets can be purchased at Studio 91 on Meadowmont Village Circle or through the festival's Web site, visit www.festivalofthevino.com. Proceeds benefit The Arc of Orange County. For more information, call 933-3700.

On Saturday, June 3 from 1-5 p.m., SEEDS is presenting its annual garden party in the SEEDS Demonstration Garden at 706 Gilbert St. near downtown Durham. In addition to all sorts of events for kids, music, puppets, dancers, garden art for sale, plants, and a tree raffle, Amy Tornquist of the Nasher Museum Cafe, a SEEDS board member, will offer locally prepared food straight from the SEEDS garden, and Loco Pops, who buy the herbs for their Mexican popsicles from SEEDS, will offer their summer treats. For more information, call 683-1197 or visit www.seedsnc.org.

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