My two best friends and
I live within a few blocks of each other. It's exceedingly convenient for impromptu soirees and risk-free imbibing - well, we don't have to worry about arranging a safe ride home, anyway.
We're always thinking about fresh ideas when it comes entertainment, and during one household gathering, fuelled by several bottles of wine, sparked the concept of a "progressive dinner."
Dinner parties are a substantial undertaking for the host and, let's be frank, have become somewhat commonplace and tedious. Wouldn't it be great fun, we theorized, to go from house to house and enjoy a different course - appetizer, main and dessert - at each one? The close proximity of our homes, coupled with the fact that each host wouldn't be saddled with such an onerous chore, made for a stellar idea.
Great inspirations are one thing - putting them into practice is another. Every time we find ourselves around the table with an open bottle of wine, the subject comes up. Yet, somehow we have yet to formulate concrete plans and get everyone to agree to them.
So I laughed when I heard a pair of marketing gurus were organizing an eerily similar event involving Kelowna restaurants. Dubbed the Okanagan Dinner Crawl, co-ordinators Christina Ferreira of Impact Events and Alison Love of Spatula Media and Communications describe it as similar to a pub crawl, but with a culinary twist.
Diners will be led through the streets of a particular neighbourhood, with no idea where they're going or what's on the menu - but they can expect to visit three different restaurants and enjoy a course at each one.
Ferreira and Love say the Dinner Crawl is modelled after similar events in the U.S. and encourages diners to have a sense of adventure by trying new restaurants and potentially discovering new favourites. It's also intended to be a social event as participants will have a chance to meet other like-minded foodies.
The inaugural Okanagan Dinner Crawl is scheduled for Monday,
March 4, in Kelowna, and while details are sketchy, that's all part of the fun. Tickets are $55, which includes dinner, taxes and gratuities - drinks are extra. Pre-registration is required at
tickets.com. Dinner Crawls are also planned for other cities throughout the Okanagan.
Speaking of good eats, don't forget the 11th Annual Wine & Dine Okanagan promotion runs from Jan. 16 to Feb. 3, and showcases local British Columbia Restaurant and Foodservices Association (BCFRA) members.
Taking advantage of what is traditionally a slow period for the restaurant industry, participating eateries offer patrons their choice of a three-course dinner menu at a fixed price of $15, $25 and/or $35 per person, complete with B.C. wine suggestions (wine is an extra cost).
It's a great opportunity to enjoy a fine meal with fine wine at a value price, and each year, the event is a resounding success for restaurateurs and diners alike.
Visit bcrfa.com for a list of participating restaurants and their splendid menus.
While we're on the subject of food and wine, Mission Hill Family Estate Winery is again offering a stellar line-up of culinary demonstrations and cooking classes through January and February. Participants can get their hands dirty in an extended interactive session in the winery's demonstration kitchen and culinary theatre, or sit back, relax and watch the culinary team do all the work and enjoy the spoils, while still learning some tips and tricks.
The Cook Like a Chef Professional Series - on Jan. 19 - is a four-hour hands-on interactive session with the chefs, followed by a sit down, three-course, wine-paired dinner. Participation includes dinner for you and a guest so you can show off the fruits of your labour.
If you're a proponent of the 100 mile diet, then the Dynamics of Food and Wine - Meet Your Maker I and II may be up your alley. This two-part series, offered Jan. 24 and 29, brings you face to face with the farmers and food artisans of this rich region.
Other Dynamics of Food and Wine demos include focuses on Indian, Thai, Italian, Swiss and the "wet and wild West coast." But if you can't decide on just one locale, consider signing up for Around the World in Five Courses on Feb. 26. Jet setters will enjoy unique fare from Scandinavia, South America, Korea, New Zealand and Austria.
For information on all culinary classes visit missionhillwinery.com. To reserve space book online or call 250-768-6483.
CedarCreek 2010 Platinum Chardonnay
Winemaker Darryl Brooker delivers the wow factor in a wine that is full of bright tropical fruit, nuts, spice, citrus and mineral. There's none of that in-your-face oak that has driven so many away from Chardonnay, just pure fruit with a kiss of the barrel for depth. Superb.
Winery Location: Kelowna
Red Rooster 2011 Pinot Gris
A solid Gris with a lovely bouquet of melon, honeysuckle, pear, citrus rind and spice. Lean on the palate with bright fruit flavours with a solid core of acidity. Hot tub anyone?
Winery Location: Naramata Bench
Julianna Hayes' Grape Expectations runs weekly in The Okanagan Sunday. Reach her at