It's a new year, and I have a new best friend. Her name is Dolly Marcarelli (Hi Dolly! Call me!), and she just happens to make handmade chocolates.
Based in Durham, Dolly Mama Handmade Chocolates are crafted using local, hormone-free butter and cream, and as many local ingredients as Marcarelli can find (dollymamachocolate.typepad.com).
Marcarelli moved to Durham from Santa Fe, N.M., in 2005. She has a degree in marine biology and has worked in "front of the house" restaurant jobs for 20 years. She thinks chocolate has "the perfect alchemy of art, science, tradition and craft that continually inspires." Sing it, sister!
So she taught herself the art of candy-making and chocolatier-ing, and began selling her creations, which range from $3 toasted corn chile and pepita bark to $17 boxes of assorted confections such as truffles, kisses and Buddhas. She also takes special orders.
Marcarelli has a booth at the Durham Farmers' Market (501 Foster St., www.durhamfarmersmarket.com), now open year-round. Recently, two Durham stores began carrying her products: Parker and Otis (112 S. Duke St., 683-3200, www.parkerandotis.com) and Wine Authorities (2501 University Drive, 489-2884, www.wineauthorities.com).
If Marcarelli's business model sounds like a fun way to make money, you can sign up for a class offered by Wake County Public Schools' Lifelong Learning Program. "How to Operate a Home-based Bakery" is for anyone who wants to dive into a home-based baking biz.
Denay Davis of Cooking with Denay, a home-based baker specializing in pies, will teach a four-week course covering compliance regulations, recipe development, storage, safety, sanitation, advertising and marketing, branding and selling products online. The course is available online, repeating every month, or in person at Reedy Creek Middle School in Cary, repeating every quarter. The curriculum, instructor and fee ($145) are the same for both. For more information, check out www.cookingwithdenay.com.
A new year is also time to report on some new restaurants. In Chapel Hill, Carmine's Ristorante & Pizzeria (1800 E. Franklin St., 929-4300, www.carmineschapelhill.com) is open in the former Sal's Pizzeria spot in a corner of the Eastgate Plaza shopping center. But, oh, how that corner has changed. Instead of a dingy alley, it's been widened and spruced up along with the rest of Eastgate, and Carmine's even has several outside tables waiting for warmer weather. Carmine's offers a variety of regional Italian dishes as well as New York-style pizza, subs and salads. It's open for lunch and dinner every day.
Also new to me, if not brand-new, is Mint Restaurant (505 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, 929-6188, www.mintnc.com), which opened in September. (It's not related to The Mint restaurant in downtown Raleigh.) Mint serves northern Indian cuisine such as lamb vindaloo, chicken manpasand, various masalas and thalis for lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
Know about a fun food happening in the Triangle? Send it to Now Serving at firstname.lastname@example.org.