Dine out season

Restaurant Week, the dining discount extravaganza, is heading back to cities across the West Coast with promises of prix-fixe deals and gourmet treats this month.

Whether you're hankering to try Absinthe's brasserie lunch or Zingari's Italian fare, San Francisco's Dine About Town has you covered with prix-fixe lunches ($19) and dinners ($37) at more than 100 restaurants Jan. 15-31. Get details and make reservations at www.dineabouttown.com.

Vancouver’s big Dine Out festival combines dinner deals with gourmet events.
Vancouver's big Dine Out festival combines dinner deals with gourmet events. (Brad Kasselman/Tourism Vancouver)

Heading south? San Diego's restaurant week runs Jan. 19-24 at 180 hot spots from La Jolla to the Gaslamp Quarter, with three-course prix-fixe dinners for $25, $35 or $45. Lunch deals include two-course prix-fixe menus for $10, $15 or $20. Find details and a list of participating restaurants, from Brian Malarkey's Searsucker to Roppongi, Tapenade and Cucina Urbana, at www.sandiegorestaurantweek.com.

Try an "experiential tasting menu" for $85 or opt for a prix fixe lunch ($15-$25) or dinner ($25-$45) during dineLA Restaurant Week, which runs Jan. 20-31 at cities across the Los Angeles basin. Herringbone LA, Mud Hen Tavern and Allumette have joined the list of returnees this year, bringing the total number of restaurants to an astonishing 300. But the most enticing development this year may well be those multicourse tasting menus. Check out who's doing what at www.discoverlosangeles.com/dineLA.

Heading north to British Columbia? The 2014 Dine Out Vancouver Festival, which runs Jan. 17-Feb. 2, includes not only prix-fixe dinners ($18 and up), but special events ranging from the Snowshoe Fondue at Grouse Mountain to a film feast that includes a screening of "Jiro Dreams of Sushi," followed by a Jiro-inspired feast at Market by Jean-Georges. The latter is so enticing, we're looking up airfares right now. Vancouver's hotels are enabling that flight of fancy with room deals priced at $78, $108 and $138 per night. Check it out at www.dineoutvancouver.com.

New year, new oil

The French may shriek over their Beaujolais Nouveau each year, but it's California's Olio Nuovo -- the first olive oil of the season -- that thrills us. Petaluma's McEvoy Ranch just released its 2013 Olio Nuovo, a bright green Tuscan-style oil that goes straight from mill to market. McEvoy's is not the only new release, but some producers have it in such limited quantities that they're only making it available to members of their clubs.

McEvoy Ranch Olio Nuovo
McEvoy Ranch Olio Nuovo (Contributed)

Normally, oil rests for two months or so in stainless-steel tanks, so the sediment can settle. But Olio Nuovo goes straight into the bottle, and its grassy flavor is so distinctive, you'll want to use this intense green oil to finish dishes -- pasta, white beans or grilled fish or meat -- not cook with it. Find McEvoy bottles ($24 for 375ml, $46 for 750ml) at the San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace, specialty shops and at www.mcevoyranch.com.

-- Jackie Burrell