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by Brian Clarey

Did you take my advice last week and make early Valentine’s Day reservations for this weekend? Didn’t think so. But before you start dialing, I’ll tell you that the Grove Winery has a few seats left for the Sunday night Valentine’s wine dinner. Good luck with that.

Southern Tier Brewing announced that its beers — which include an IPA, a double IPA and a summer brew called Hop Sun — are now available in North Carolina.

Asheboro is seeking chili cooks for its Old Time Chili Cook Off, which will be held April 16 in Bicentennial Park. Cook must be prepared to make 120 gallons of chili and pay a $25 registration fee to win the $600 grand prize. Rules and regulations are available online at www.oldtimechilicookoff.com or may be obtained by emailing oldtimechili10@hotmail.com or calling Cindy Wilkins at 336.430.8372.

And in downtown Winston-Salem, Soup’s Place has expanded its hours to create Soups After Dark, a nightclub atmosphere, happening Thursdays through Saturdays.

On Wednesday, Greensboro’s Sushi Republic on Tate Street holds a Japanese beer tasting at 6:30 p.m.

On Friday, Winston-Salem’s Whole Foods Market holds Sushi 101, a lesson in sushi-making with house chefs at 6 p.m.

All weekend long Total Wine & More will be sampling sweet wines at all three Triad locations. And the Fresh Market in Greensboro will be sampling wines as well as meat and seafood, as usual.

On Saturday, Whole Foods holds Chocolate Fest beginning at 11 a.m. with samples of gourmet chocolate, which is running in conjunction with its Kiss a Fish promotion, that has more to do with lobster and less to do with actually kissing fish.

And Tuesday sees another installation of downtown Winston-Salem’s Big Eat, wherein area restaurants offer signature dishes for half price on Tuesday nights until spring. This week I suggest Bib’s Downtown, which last week offered pulled pork egg rolls with hush puppies and a side for $5.

Got room for one more? McDonald’s Director of Culinary Innovation Daniel Coudreaut told a San Antonio newspaper that when he goes to the Golden Arches, he gets a Big Mac, fries and unsweetened tea or water.

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