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It’s that magical time of the year in the Okanagan for all those who love food and wine experiences but who may still be reeling from the post-Christmas bills – it’s Wine & Dine time! This year is the 13th Annual Wine & Dine Thompson/Okanagan, running from January 23rd through February 11th, 2015. This event is presented by the BC Restaurant & Foodservices Association and the Wines of British Columbia. Over 40 restaurants from Kamloops through Osoyoos are participating, offering set 3-course menus for $15, $25 or $35 per person, and featuring BC VQA wine pairing options.WandD_logo_date

The launch event was hosted by the Delta Grand Okanagan Resort in Kelowna, featuring menu previews from eight participating restaurants and a dozen Okanagan wineries. It was a sold-out event with just over 300 people in attendance. Unlike previous years where the restaurants featured at the launch arbitrarily chose the food on offer, this year they all had to feature something that would be available on one of their Wine & Dine set menus; I thought this was a great way to entice people to visit their restaurants during the event. Speaking with some attendees, they revealed that one of the main reasons they participate in Wine & Dine is to be able to try restaurants they have never before visited. If they enjoy their experience with the more affordable set menus, they are likely to make return visits at other times throughout the year.IMG_9792IMG_9721IMG_9751IMG_9767

The restaurants featured tonight were: 19 Okanagan Grill + Bar, Grand Bay Café, Krafty Kitchen + Bar, Match Eatery & Public House, Olympia Greek Taverna, Ricardo’s, Smack DAB & Social 242 Lounge & Grill. The wineries featured were: Bench 1775, CedarCreek, Dirty Laundry, House of Rose, Lake Breeze, Moraine Estate, Okanagan Crush Pad, Sage Hills, Tantalus, The View, Volcanic Hills & Wild Goose. I was quite impressed with all of the dishes that were on offer and I did have a hard time picking favourites. I would say that my top 3 picks (in no particular order) were:

Grand Bay Café at the Delta Grand with their 48 degree Salmon with Chorizo Cioppino Sauce and Fingering Chips, paired with the Narrative White from Okanagan Crush Pad.IMG_9765IMG_9770

Smack DAB at Manteo Resort with their House made Pork Pâté on a crisp flatbread with apple cider gelée, pickled mustard seeds, micro radish and cornichons served with a devilled egg. This paired quite nicely with the Autumn Gold from Wild Goose Winery.IMG_9739IMG_9742

19 Okanagan Grill + Bar at Two Eagles Golf Course with their pork belly slider with a horseradish slaw. I paired this with the Windfall white blend from Lake Breeze Winery.IMG_9752IMG_9759

All of the restaurants participating in Wine & Dine Thompson/Okanagan and their menus are available on the website. Information is also available on the Facebook page. If you’re on Twitter or Instagram, use #okwineanddine. Reservations are certainly recommended at many of them due to the popularity of this program.

A big thanks to Christina at Impact Events for the invitation to the media launch and to the BCRFA and BC Wine Institute for Wine & Dine itself, along with the event sponsors: Delta Grand Okanagan Resort, Sysco, GFS Food Services, Black Press, Global Okanagan & Groupon.