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Plus: Chapel Hill Wine Company and Chapel Hill Creamery's even features Spanish wine and locally made cheese; gormet popcorn now available at The Mad Popper; and great local food on The Biscuit blog.

Triangle Restaurant Week encourages diners to try new places 

If you've wanted to try a new (or new-to-you) restaurant in Raleigh, this week is a great opportunity. More than 20 Raleigh restaurants signed up to participate in the first Triangle Restaurant Week (www.trirestaurantweek.com), to encourage folks to dine at places they may not have experienced. So the restaurants, which include Porter's City Tavern (pub food), Frazier's (eclectic/new American), Dos Taquitos (Mexican), SONO (Japanese) and Riviera (tapas), are serving fixed-price meals through May 18. Dinner is $15 per person and lunch is $12 per person. Each meal includes an appetizer, main course and dessert; beverages and tips are not included in the price.

Organizers hope to expand the concept to other parts of the Triangle in coming years. "The eventual goal is to promote culinary tourism where the Triangle residents will travel across town to try a new restaurant," said organizer Damon Butler. For a full list of restaurants, check out Triangle Restaurant Week's Web site. To make a reservation, contact your restaurant of choice; there are no special tickets required.

Chapel Hill Wine Company (2809 Homestead Road, 968-1884,) welcomes Chapel Hill Creamery (615 Chapel Hill Creamery Road, 967-3757, www.southerncheese.com/Pages/chapelhill.html) for a combo event featuring Spanish wines and locally made cheese (from local Jersey cows) from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 17. For information, call the wine store.

A new gourmet popcorn store is open in Durham. The idea for The Mad Popper (105 W. N.C. Hwy. 54, Suite 259, 484-POPS, www.themadpopper.com) popped up when Triangle transplants Kambria Harris and Stephany Heckman met. Harris had worked in a gourmet popcorn store and thought the Triangle could use one. Heckman had an MBA and longed to start her own business.

They flavor their popcorn with favorite flavors such as butter, caramel and cheddar cheese, and more unusual ones, including banana pudding, green apple and Carolina barbecue—all for sale in bags and tins ranging from $3.50 to $44. They also sell popping kernels and bottled beverages.

If you don't want to leave your chair, you can still take a bite out of The Biscuit (readthebiscuit.com), a food blog based in Chapel Hill. Blogger and UNC undergraduate Alex Kowalski (aka The Biscuit) explained his approach in his first post, back in February: "Food dominates my thoughts and usually dictates how my day evolves. Being from Boston, I came down to [a] much smaller town ... expecting a lackluster restaurant scene, but finding great food here was a surprise. I hope you can follow me on The Biscuit as I show you why this area packs a punch when it comes to eating." Recently, The Biscuit has been tied up with exams, so posts have been light. But he did try out his namesake at a local fast food joint, and has plans to tackle a 6-pound burrito. Check him out.

Know about a fun food happening in the Triangle? Send it to Now Serving at food@indyweek.com.

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