There’s kind of a letdown, a slump after the holidays, but an inexpensive special meal out on the town can really lift the spirits.
That’s why Wine and Dine Okanagan, organized by the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association and the B.C. Wine Institute, is such a great idea at this time of year.
It was launched last week and runs until Feb. 5, with more than 50 restaurants throughout the Okanagan participating.
Each of them, ranging from Bouchons to Earl’s; Cabana to the Keg, offer fixed price, three-course menus which are available online, for either $15, $25 or $35. B.C. VQA wine matches are suggested for each of the courses, but the wine is extra.
Executive chef Stuart Klassen from the Delta Grand Okanagan’s Grand Bay Cafe offers a sample here of the sort of delectable meal you will get when you participate in Wine and Dine Okanagan, and shares his recipe for a sustainably-caught, B.C. tuna appetizer as well.
It’s just one of the options available there as part of the promotion. Also pictured here is the seared lamb sirloin with merguez sausage, ratatouille quinoa, red pepper coulis, herb pesto and chickpea fritters.
I found myself drooling over some of the menus, but see if you can read them without doing the same! Go to: www.bcrfa and click on events.
There’s even a grand prize of a case of wine for one of those who participates in this year’s events, with ballots available at each location.
Cooking classes are another way to lift yourself out of the winter doldrums, and there are lots of them available around here. (For each of these suggestions, google them and go to the website for more info.)
Even better, class is back in session at RauDZ Regional Table, with award-winning mixologist, liquid chef Gerry Jobe teaching you a variety of extraordinary drink-mixing techniques, from the classics to prohibition, Tiki to Senses—eight Sundays altogether that go to March 4.
For cooking experiences, try The Chef in Stead where chef Martin Laprise, barbecue king extraordinaire, will even come to your home to do a custom class; or Wine and Thyme classes, beginning Sun., Jan. 22 with Sylvia Jurys.
Then, there’s Poppadoms cooking classes, with the exotic flavours of India; and the gourmet cooking, eating and wine-pairing experiences at Mission Hill Family Estate, led by Chef Matt Batey.
There’s literally something for everyone who likes to cook and eat.
And, if you’d just as soon teach yourself, but get the lift of some new ideas for local, seasonal eats to serve your friends and family, pick up a copy of my new book, Jude’s Kitchen, wherever books are sold, and even a few places they aren’t!
Stuart’s B. C. Albacore Tuna Carpaccio
1 lb. (454 g) B.C. albacore tuna loins
salt and black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp. (30 ml) oil
Divide tuna into four equal portions and season with salt and black pepper. Set aside. Pre-heat oil in a medium-size saute pan on medium-high heat, then set tuna in the pan, leaving plenty of space between each piece. Sear on each side for 30 seconds, then remove to a plate and chill in the refrigerator until needed.
2 medium-sized beets
4 c. (1 l) water
4 c. (1 l) rice vinegar
2 garlic cloves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) whole black peppercorns
1 tbsp. (15 ml) salt
Trim beets and put all ingredients into a pot and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer the beets until they’re knife tender. Remove and peel beets and cut them into small wedges. Return them to the liquid and let them cool until ready to use.
Black Pepper Oil:
2 tbsp. (30 ml) whole black peppercorns
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) salt
1/2 c. (125 ml) extra virgin olive oil
For two minutes, toast whole black peppercorns in the saute pan to release some natural oils. Put them in a mortar and pestle and grind them coarsely. Add the salt and oil and combine. Set aside.
Micro Greens Salad:
1 c. (250 ml) micro greens
8 sprigs of chives
Cut radishes in a fine julienne cut. Finely dice chives.
Combine with the greens and set aside.
Cut each tuna portion into one-centimetre thick slices and set on a serving plate. Arrange pickled beets around on the plate, then scatter the micro greens salad on top.
Drizzle the black pepper oil on the salad and finish with a pinch of salt.