Sam Ratto wants to make the chocolate business more transparent. That's why he and his partner Chris Heavener and wife Starr Sink are calling their new Raleigh chocolate factory Videri (www.viderichocolatefactory.com). The name references North Carolina's state motto: esse quam videri, which translates as "to be rather than to seem."
"When you walk in you can see everything," Ratto says of the warehouse space located on West Davie Street. A viewing wall, for instance, gives customers a glimpse of the bean grinder and winnower—a "space-age machine" Ratto likens to a Dyson vacuum that separates cacao beans from their husks.
Videri quietly opened its doors at the end of December and celebrated a grand opening last weekend. The factory produces five chocolate bars from organic beans harvested in Central and South America. "All products are organic certified, it's just not on our label yet," Ratto says. The company is waiting on paperwork before that branding is official.
Videri's creations include a 70 percent classic dark chocolate and a 55 percent milk chocolate bar, in addition to dark chocolate varieties topped with sea salt, crushed pink peppercorns and organic candy canes (Videri's seasonal offering).
Chocolate bars currently are available for purchase only at the factory, which is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday or by appointment. A box of chocolate—two bars, totaling 3 ounces—rings in at $7.99.
Videri offers seating inside and outdoors on its patio. The facility is BYOB; Ratto encourages folks to bring a drink and enjoy it with Videri's chocolate and wireless Internet.
The space is also available to host private events. For more information, visit the factory's website.
At 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 25, Gabrielle Hamilton will read at Flyleaf Books (www.flyleafbooks.com) in Chapel Hill from her memoir, Blood, Bones, & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef, which is being released in paperback that day.
The book follows Hamilton's experience in various kitchens that have influenced her, from her mother's space to her own at Prune in New York City. For more event information, visit Flyleaf online.
Triangle Restaurant Week (www.blvd.tv/trw), now in its fifth year, is scheduled for Jan. 23-29 (dependent on participating restaurants' hours of operation). More than 80 Triangle restaurants have signed on for the event, offering three-course prix fixe meals. A few spots will provide $15 lunches, and all will offer $20 or $30 dinner options, depending on the individual restaurant. Prices are per person and do not include beverages, tax or gratuity.
New venues include the Fairview Dining Room at the Washington Duke Inn in Durham, Maximillians Grill in Cary and Mantra Indian Cuisine & Bar in downtown Raleigh. Reservations are not required but are encouraged; call individual restaurants or visit www.opentable.com. A full list of participating locations is available on Triangle Restaurant Week's website.
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