ON THE PLATE Beginning in February Popular Queen Anne cantina Peso's Kitchen & Lounge is challenging Broadway's Galerías in the nouveau Mex game. Their "new Mexican" menu features fashionable offerings that are at least as much Seattle as Tijuana. Blackened rockfish with serrano ham and gulf shrimp sauce ($13.95), shrimp-and-crawfish cakes with ancho remoulade ($7.50), and endive-arugula salad with D'Anjou pears ($6.50) are among Peso's high-concept takes on south-of-the-border cuisine. Menu prices vary. Dinner served after 4 p.m. 605 Queen Anne Ave. N., 206-283-9353. QUEEN ANNE Through Feb. 15 Few people know that truffle hunters often use dogs instead of pigs to bag their fungal prey. Fewer still know that the Italian region of Umbria is where "the prized black truffle" (tartufo nero in its native tongue) primarily resides. Festa Regionale, the ongoing culinary roundelay at Il Fornaio, is celebrating the ugliest of mushrooms with a special Umbrian menu that includes earthy entrées—sausage–porcini mushroom risotto ($14.95), salmon sautéed with artichokes and white wine ($21.95)—topped with shavings of tartufo nero. Open from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. Pacific Place (Sixth Avenue and Pine Street), 206-264-0994. DOWNTOWN SEATTLE Feb. 7 Four courses, four microbrews, less than $40! Collins Pub is fully prepared to couple Fish Tail's Monkfish Belgian-style trippel with fruit cobbler at their Fish Tail brewing dinner. Also expect crawfish salad, mussels en file, and char-grilled pork chops. $35. 7–10 p.m. 526 Second Ave., 206-623-1016. DOWNTOWN. Feb. 9 Nell's Restaurant is creating a union between its five-course tasting menu and the wines of Tablas Creek—where the farming is organic and the vine clones are imported—and Beaucastel (located in the Rhône Valley). Hors d'oeuvres will kick off the evening; with beacoup de truc francais sure to follow. $75. 6:15 p.m. 6804 E. Greenlake Way N., 206-524-4044. GREEN LAKE Feb. 15 Close your eyes and it's Kansas City. The cobblestone streets of Pike Place will come alive with thick smoke and extremely tangy sauces at the Market's annual barbecue and chili cook-off. Organized by the Pacific NW BBQ Association (didn't know there was one, did you?), the event should include a beer garden and a great deal of meat. Free. 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Pike Place Market, 206-528-2550. PIKE PLACE MARKET Feb. 21 We at Food Files love gnocchi, so the arrival of Father Gnocchi is like the Rapture. Those who appreciate the Italian potato dumplings will enter into the Gnocchi Kingdom, and those who have lived without knowing the pleasures of gnocchi will be left to their own questionable devices. To honor Verona's annual winter carnival, where Father Gnocchi is a regular guest, Piatti Ristorante is welcoming The Big F.G. (as his friends call him) for a special Seattle appearance today. The restaurant will also feature three special gnocchis—spinach, squash, and pesto—through February. Menu prices vary; seeing Father Gnocchi is free. 1–1:30 p.m. 2800 N.E. University Village, 206-524-9088. UNIVERSITY VILLAGE THE GRAPEVINE Feb. 5 Be among the first to enjoy a new series of Masala of India wine dinners featuring worldly wines and—what else?—fine Indian cuisine. Reservations required. $30. 6:30 p.m. 539 N.E. Northgate Way, 206-417-1118. NORTHGATE Feb. 6–7 Oregon is coming to Seattle's Earth & Ocean in the form of Sokol Blosser's Winery. A prix-fixe menu will be paired with the perfect punny beverage: Lucky No. 9 American white wine will accompany Wild Boar Ragout, and Sex, Lies & Apricots will top off the whole affair. $40 dinner and $20 wine flight. 5–10:30 p.m. 1112 Fourth Ave., 206-264-6060. DOWNTOWN SEATTLE Feb. 11 Small winemakers—including Syncline, Yakima Cellars, and the Betz Family—get their due at David LeClaire's Northwest Boutique Winery Showcase. The passionate promoter of local viticulture events is pushing handcrafted wines and the Washington Wine Ambassadors Program, both of which will surely enter into the discussion at this fund-raiser for FareStart, graciously hosted by the Library Bistro. Just as artisan wines come in limited supply, this shindig has an attendance cap of 125, so RSVP N-O-W. $25. 5–7:30 p.m. 1007 First Ave., 206-526-1992. DOWNTOWN SEATTLE Feb. 12 There's nothing like meeting the winemaker. Do so at Daniel's Broiler, whose "Meet the Winemaker" series features DeLille Cellars maven Chris Upchurch as its February guest. The event includes tasting, natch, and all tasted wines will be available at Daniel's during the dinner hour. Free. 6:30–8 p.m. 809 Fairview Pl., 206-621-8262. SOUTH LAKE UNION BACK TO SCHOOL Feb. 7 Temper, shape, and dip . . . legally! Learn how to make chocolate do your bidding with pastry chef Jessica Campbell as she teaches the dark art of truffle-making. Yarrow Bay Grill gives it up with white-chocolate basil, Grand Marnier, and dark chocolate so finger-licking good you might not be able to save any of those sweet morsels for February 14! $39. 11 a.m.–1 p.m. 1270 Carillion Point, 425-889-9052. KIRKLAND We love the deviled eggs at Dish D'lish, Kathy Casey's Market deli counter. Catch the self-proclaimed diva of dining in person at Queen Anne Books, where she plans to "dish" about being the food queen of all local media. Free. 1–2:30 p.m. 1811 Queen Anne Ave. N., 206-283-5624. QUEEN ANNE Feb. 8 You could go out, or you could just eat in. The Boat Street Kitchen is just the place to get you to that moonlit night with their Valentine's dinner cooking class promising simplicity, ease, and sizzling food sure to please! Don't let love pass you by. $69. 3–6 p.m. 2238 Eastlake Ave. E., 206-323-7132. EASTLAKE Feb. 10 Tofu got you down? As delicious and nutritious as this vegetarian staple can be, it can also be very hard to prepare—or, for the meat-eating population, to swallow. Behold! A class taught by those experts from Union Bay Café that can instruct you on how to shimmy and shake (and, yes, bake) that bland tofu sitting in your fridge. $44. 6:30–9:30 p.m. Cook's World, 2900 N.E. Blakeley St., 206-528-8192. LAURELHURST What could be better than surprising your valentine with tantalizing treats made with love—and the help of the Rain City Cooking School? Stoke the fires of romance with salmon Wellington with champagne cream sauce and molten chocolate cakes—sure to broaden your food repertoire. $50. 6:30 p.m. 1883 145th Pl. S.E., 425-644-4285. BELLEVUE Feb. 18 As Atkins mania sweeps the nation, Szmania's in Magnolia responds with a low-carb cooking class. Your assignment: veal stuffed with wild mushrooms, chicken with squash and snow peas, prawn rolls with chili sauce, and apricot-almond flan. Being trendy never tasted so good. $55. 6–9 p.m. 3321 W. McGraw St., 206-284-7305. MAGNOLIA Feb. 23 Horrible puns are just a small part of the excitement as the Calcutta Grill (part of the Golf Club at Newcastle) kicks off its inaugural cooking class series with the tagline: "Fore-go the same old meals!" The classes themselves look intriguing; tonight's course, titled "Save Room for Dessert," will be followed by such promising prospects as "Dances with Olives: Mediterranean Feast" and "Roll in for Sushi Night." $75. 6 p.m. 15500 Six Penny Lane (Newcastle), 425-793-5566. NEWCASTLE
Advance registration or reservations are recommended for most events. Prices exclude tax and gratuity unless otherwise noted.