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Risotto, steak, gnocchi, tostados, beer and wine -- Dine Around starts today

Chef Tristan Reia decided to be a little showy at last night's Dine Around launch party.

He was serving velvety risotto to hungry party-goers from a hollowed out wheel of fragrant parmesan reggiano cheese.

Not only was the risotto-from-a-cheese-wheel trick an eye-catching culinary novelty, but the dish was delicious -- al dente Italian rice in a creamy, cheesy, white wine sauce.

</who>Tristan Reia, the chef at Il Mercato Social Kitchen in West Kelowna, serves risotto from a hollowed out wheel of parmesan reggiano cheese at the Dine Around launch party last night at Metro Hub in downtown Kelowna.

"Yes, it's an attention-grabbing feature," said Reia with a laugh in reference to the risotto-cheese wheel combination.

"People love it. By the way, this risotto is a perfect pairing with the Long Road Chardonnay from Black Swift Vineyards that we have on the menu."

The menu Reia is talking about is the special offerings the restaurant he works at -- Il Mercato Social Kitchen in West Kelowna -- has on for Dine Around, which runs today to Feb. 9.

Dine Around is the annual three-week foodie extravaganza that sees 70 restaurants in the Interior put on three-course lunches and dinners for prices ranging from $25 to $65.

There's also wine and beer pairing suggestions for most of the dishes.

See the full list of participating restaurants and menus at DineAround.ca.

"2023 is the biggest Dine Around yet," said Christina Ferreira of Impact Events, who coordinates Dine Around for the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association.

"It's so nice to see everything back with no barriers. We did have Dine Around in 2021 and 2022, but we didn't have launch parties those years because of the pandemic. But we're back with a bang this year with both the launch party and the full dine-and-stay programming."

Dine Around is deliberately held in late January-early February in an effort to spruce up winter and encourage people to dine out in the traditionally slow period between New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day.

To kick off the 2023 edition of Dine Around, the party thrown last night featured 10 food stations, wine and beer booths and live music at Metro Hub in downtown Kelowna.

Scores of people attended the stand-up reception to eat and drink in style and find out more about Dine Around's extended format.

In addition to the special deals at 70 restaurants, the 'stay' component of Dine Around sees various hotels offering overnight packages that include dining options either at the hotel or nearby restaurants.

In Kelowna some of the participating hotels are the Coast Capri, Hotel Eldorado, Manteo Resort and Prestige Beach House.

</who>Winemaker Stephanie Stanley, left, chef Sid Singh and general manager Heather Courtney manned the booth for Garden Bistro at O'Rourke Peak Cellars at last night's Dine Around launch.

Also at last night's launch, Garden Bistro at O'Rourke's Peak Cellars from Lake Country was touting its Dine Around offerings.

The winery's restaurant has a $35 three-course menu featuring Alsatian tarte or seasonal soup to start, smoked pork shop or slow-cooked chicken thigh as the entree and French apple cake for dessert.

Add on paired wines from Peak for $25, including Glacial Till Pinot Gris, Terraces Dry Riesling and Block 11 Riesling.

Garden Bistro chef Sid Singh was innovative at the launch serving a sampler of the all three courses on a single skewer -- bacon from the tarte, smoked pork from the entree and apple from the dessert -- while Peak winemaker Stephanie Stanley and Peak general manager Heather Courtney poured glasses of the Dry Riesling.

</who>Vice & Virtue Brewing chef Alex Seeback served up roasted squash with salsa macha and The White Lie Pilsner at the Dine Around launch.

A swish around the room also saw Dine Around-inspired eats and drinks from Vice & Virtue Brewing, Sandhill Wines, The Placery at the Hyatt Place Hotel, El Taquero, Northern Lights Winery from Prince George and Infusions at Okanagan College.

Here's a sampling of some of the participating restaurants and hotels in different communities.

Central Okanagan

97 Street Pub, Old Spagetti Factory, The Modest Butcher at Mount Boucherie Winery in West Kelowna, Bernie's Supper Club, Cactus Club, Gulfstream, King Taps, Mid-Town Station, Basil & Mint, Fairfield Inn & Suites, The Cove Lakeside Resort in West Kelowna

</who>Israel Camarillo shows off the pulled pork sope and vegan chorizo tostados El Taquero was serving up at the launch.

South Okanagan

Match Eatery at the casino, Earls, 15 Park Bistro at Watermark Beach Resort in Osoyoos, Zia's Stonehouse in Summerland and The Bear, The Fish, The Root and The Berry at Spirit Ridge Resort in Osoyoos

Vernon

Earls, Cactus Club and Match Eatery at the casino

Kamloops

Atlas Steak, Barside Lounge, Match Eatery at the casino and Moxie's

</who>Vegan chorizo tostados by El Taquero.



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