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Painting the town red 

Dishes for the Chinese New Year

Wearing red, giving out money in red envelopes and watching a dragon dance are all part of the Chinese New Year. This year the celebration starts on Feb. 7. Red, the color of fire, is said to ward off evil spirits. What better way to celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Rat then watching Ratatouille with some Chinese take out?

One spot for take out is 88 China Bistro. Of course you can eat in as well. Be aware the Bistro 88 offers two menus: one Americanized, the other Cantonese. Owner Kim Xiao and her husband and chef Chung Lam are from Canton (hence the Cantonese menu) and are planning to prepare some special dishes for the two weeks of Chinese New Year.

88 China Bistro, 1620 E. 4th St. 704-335-0288. www.88chinabistro.com.

Cantonese, Mandarin, Hunan, Sichuan. Most of us can give at least a cursory flavor characteristic description of these Chinese cuisines, but Taiwanese? Charlotte's official outpost of gourmet Taiwanese cuisine is Tomi Restaurant, owned by the Chang brothers, Kevin and Ben. They will be serving a seafood rice bowl traditionally eaten by the Taiwanese during New Year's. This will be offered from the end of January until the second week of February. Kevin also noted that if you want the New Year's Taiwanese steamed fish dish, you just need to call ahead.

Tomi, 7741 Colony Road, 704-759-1288.

A few Chinese eateries will hold special events:

Owner Tony Koos of Dragon Court Chinese Restaurant will again host a Dragon Dance on the weekend of Feb. 9. This corresponds to his dim sum trolley which perambulates throughout the dining room on weekends. Koos said fish, fried oyster and sea cucumber all "promote" prosperity for the coming year.

Dragon Court Chinese Restaurant, 4520-40 N. Tryon St., 704-596-0228.

On Sunday Feb. 10, Dim Sum Chinese Restaurant will host a dragon dance at 1 p.m. The restaurant will offer their regular menu and the push cart will also be circulating.

Dim Sum Chinese Restaurant, 2920-B Central Ave. 704-569-1128.

Other Upcoming Food Events:

The Boy Scouts of America Troop 33 Annual (and CL award winning) Barbecue will be held Feb. 1 and 2, the Friday and Saturday before the Superbowl, at the scout hut, 6100 Sardis Road, across the street from Sardis Presbyterian Church. This meat is cooked onsite (follow the billows of smoke). If you have never been to a charity type barbecue event, this would be the one to go to. They sell 10,000 of meat and sell out quickly, often by Friday night.

The Matthews Farmers Market is experimenting with winter hours. The event held Jan. 5 was so successful that much of the produce was sold out by 8 a.m. Thus for future winter markets a bell will sound at 8 a.m. to give everyone a running start, so to speak. Upcoming dates: Feb. 2 and 16, March 1, 15, and 29. Hours: Saturday from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. For the list vendor and produce available: www.matthewsfarmersmarket.com.

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