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New restaurants and happenings 

On Sunday, Jan. 21, hear Triangle farmers who traveled to Italy last fall tell their "Tales of Torino." Fifteen farmers represented our area at Slow Food USA's global conference "Terra Madre," a weekend-long biannual event for food communities and others involved in the preservation of food traditions and biodiversity. Introductory remarks will be offered by Lantern's chef Andrea Reusing, and there's an informal dinner afterward at Panzanella. It's at Carrboro's Century Center (100 N. Greensboro St.) from 4-6 p.m. (www.slowfoodtriangle.org).

January resolutions to try something new and different are great motivations for trying new or relatively new restaurants. Open since late 2005, Skipper's Fish Fry and Market in Apex (303-2400, www.skippersfish.com) promises the biggest fish sandwich in the area along with other New England-style seafood on their ever-expanding menu, plus Steamer Tuesdays for oysters, little neck clams, snow crab legs and peel-and-eat shrimp. Also popular are Cajun Wednesdays thanks to the shrimp étouffée, jambalaya, and red beans and rice. Ever Which Way (6464 Tryon Road, Cary, 233-5332) opened last fall and, judging by their menu, offers all manner of dish in any number of ways in your choice of settings—cozy fireside or lively, family style. From spicy island shrimp to BBQ quesadillas and grilled steaks sauced with béarnaise to vegetarian and vegan pasta entrées, these folks have got you covered. And keep your eyes peeled for South, soon to open in Raleigh's North Hills shopping center, offering updated Southern classics (shrimp and grits, fried chicken, biscuits, mint juleps—you can guess the comfy-yummy repertoire), the latest member in Raleigh's Urban Food Group, which also boasts Frazier's, Porter's City Tavern and the midtown Raleigh hotspot Vivace. Updates can be found at www.urbanfoodgroup.com.

As we expand our horizons by trying new and different we are lucky in the Triangle to have such a wide variety of tastings. Chocolate, wine, coffee, tea—the offerings are plentiful and often. One spot where we can find all of the above is 3 Cups of Chapel Hill (968-8993, www.3cups.net) where, on Feb. 1, you can find "Wine Class: House Reds" with sommelier Damon Hayes. Learn how to choose a go-to red for your house to have on hand for drop-in guests. A few days later, Jonathan Wallace's "6 Keys to Tasting Chocolate" class at 7 p.m., Feb. 6, in the same location. The folks at 3Cups beg you to plan ahead and reserve your spot in class.

And while we're planning ahead, Raleigh's fondue fave, The Melting Pot (878-0477, www.meltingpot.com/raleigh) reports that they are already filling up with reservations for Valentine's Day. That's probably true for many places celebrating the holiday of love, so think ahead.

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