Restaurant Week fires up starting Jan. 17

This month, some 200 restaurants in San Diego County cooperate in multi-course meals of their best specialties at prices far less than the usual menu numbers in a “Restaurant Week” event Jan. 17 to Jan. 22. This was kicked off last year with great success.
Tables filled up so fast, the participating restaurants repeated it later in the year.
Jim Barrasso, the affable owner of Firefly Grill and Winebar on El Camino Real in Encinitas, loves this promotion. “We get an opportunity to get a lot of new customers through the door at a price point that is very attractive. Once they have one of our personally prepared entrees, we have a customer that will come back,” he said.
It worked so well for Barrasso last year, that this year he is extending the date.
At Firefly, Restaurant Week is Jan. 17 to Jan. 31, with a choice of entrée to include: Monkfish Picatta, Chili Rubbed Skirtsteak or a Chicken Medley. Appetizer and dessert are included, all for $30. Carefully chosen wines are suggested for each menu item and wine pairings are packaged for a nominal extra charge. Firefly is always the innovator with its special Weekend Tasting Menu, an exciting four-course pre fixe offering that changes every weekend. Optional wine packages accent each course. Barrasso and Executive Chef Aaron Dailey personally craft each wine to a menu item that weaves in beautifully with the food. A recent wine list started with a Monterey Chardonnay, moved into a Pinot Noir for the fish course, continued with a Cabernet for the beef and climaxed with a 10-year-old Tawny Port from Portugal to enhance the Almond Sponge Cake. Truly a wine lover’s delight!
Late last year, Firefly hosted a Caymus Napa Valley Wine Dinner that saw Chef Aaron do a Salmon Roulade that paired with a Caymus ’07 Cab.
The main course was a Roasted Lamb Loin capped with the Caymus “Special Selection” ’07 Cab that made my Top 10 Tastes for 2009.
Find out more about Restaurant Week by visiting www.sandiegorestaurantweek.com, and check out what else is new with Firefly at www.fireflygrillandwinebar.com.

The millennial market for wine
Consumers 21 to 30 years old are a huge force in moving products these days. Traditional media has lost this generation to such new-age media as Twitter, Facebook and text messaging. This has not fallen through the cracks for vineyards, wineries, wine shops and special events.
In Paso Robles Wine Country, their association has created CRAVE, a marketing strategy to educate this vast market, estimated to be 40 million people.
This market comprises about 19 percent of the wine buying public as we speak. Upbeat, friendly, to-the-point information at specially crafted events, focused on college towns, have paid off for Paso. “Word-of-mouth” has taken on a new meaning with this millennial generation of networkers who are connected socially every minute of the day.
International products have shifted important dollars over to “social media” on the Internet for easy-to-prove documented exposure to this audience. Twitter, a social media site, was last reported to be “home” to some 30 million registered users and is growing by millions per month.
Wine Bytes
— Pinot Days comes to Los Angeles, an all Pinot Noir Grand Tasting and an important event for this varietal, from Jan. 14 through Jan. 17. The Sunday show is public and at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica from 1 to 5 p.m. For ticket info, visit www.pinotdays.com.
— A Flora Springs Vineyard Wine Dinner is being presented by West Steak, Seafood and Spirits in Carlsbad, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Jan. 18. This premier winery will have its owner, John Komes, in attendance. Five delicious courses for $75 per person. RSVP at (760) 930-9100.
— The Wine Loft at the Forum in Carlsbad is kicking off this year’s $10 Tuesdays all this month from 5 to 7 p.m. Your choice of any four wines off the tasting list for just $10. Call (760) 944-1412.
— La Costa Wine Company has a wine/cheese pairing from 5 to 8 p.m. Jan. 22 for $20 per person. Four half glasses of wine with a perfect cheese pairing. The shop now features cheeses for sale from around the world. Call (760) 431-8455 for details.
— Wine Steals in San Diego’s Hillcrest, Point Loma and in Cardiff, has an exclusive on its wine of the month, the 2006 Tolosa Pinot Noir from the Edna Valley, California. Price is just $19.99. In Cardiff, the number is (760) 230-2657.

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