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New restaurants and happenings

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Get ready, ladies (and gentlemen)—the sixth annual Festa della Donna at A Southern Season (University Mall, 201 S. Estes Drive, Chapel Hill, 929-7133, www.southernseason.com) kicks off March 1 and will culminate March 11 when the first recipient of the Southern Season Culinary Arts Scholarship is announced. The Festival of the Women is a national Italian holiday celebrated on March 8. According to Italian custom, it is a day when all "good" men honor the special women in their lives by presenting them a mimosa flower.

Events this week include a scholarship luncheon March 2 at noon with Tressa Cooper from Earth and Vine Provisions ($25), and on March 8 at 7 p.m., a wine dinner celebrating women in wine ($60).

Free demonstrations are scheduled Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday noon-4 p.m. Among those scheduled this week are Alicia Polack, owner of Khaya Cookie Company in Cape Town, South Africa, whose company provides a steady income and a sense of pride and dignity to its workers; Ann Varkey of Kerala Curry in Pittsboro, who brought the traditions of Kerala, India, to the South; and Laurey Masterton of Laurey's Catering & Gourmet Comfort Food in Asheville and author of Elsie's Biscuits: Simple Stories of Me, My Mother, and Food. Check A Southern Season's Web site for the complete schedule.

Others might be more interested in examining their relationship with pulled pork. The N.C. Museum of History (5 E. Edenton St., Raleigh, 807-7900, www.ncmuseumofhistory.org) is the place to be Friday, March 2, at 7 p.m. A part of the museum's Newcomer Series, North Carolina Barbecue will be hosted by UNC-TV's Bob Garner—and there'll be a barbecue tasting. Call 807-7968 to register; deadline is Feb. 28. Cost: $10.

Take the mystery out of bread making in classes at La Farm Bakery (Preston Corners, 4248 Cary Parkway, Cary, 657-0657, www.lafarmbakery.com). They're taught by French-trained master baker Lionel Vatinet. Learn how to make spring holiday breads like Irish soda bread and hot cross buns Wednesday, March 7, and Italian loaves of focaccia and ciabatta Thursday, March 8. Classes are from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Cost: $65.

 The Tenth Annual Community Dinner celebrating diversity is Sunday, March 4, at 1 p.m. at McDougle Middle School Cafetorium (900 Old Fayetteville Road, Chapel Hill). Many local restaurants, including Mama Dip's Country Kitchen, and diverse community groups help prepare the menu. There will be entertainment reflecting the cultural patchwork of the region.

On the wine front, the Chapel Hill Wine Company (2809 Homestead Road, 968-1884) will host a free wine tasting featuring some of the past month's blind tasting winners for California Cabernets on Tuesday, March 6, from 5-7 p.m. It will also host a free olive oil and wine tasting Saturday, March 3, from 1-5 p.m. featuring high-end, flavor-infused olive oils from Pazzo! restaurant.

Chocoholics with a charitable spirit can get a chocolate soufflé at Il Palio (1505 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, 929-4000, www.ilpalio.com) in the month of March. Ten percent of the $10 pots of chocolaty goodness will go to the Junior League of Durham and Orange Counties.

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