Making a Splash 

Take the plunge at a chili cook-off; soup's on at Soup Sunday; and cruising for brews.

Need a reason to do something fun and silly for a good cause? You can't go wrong with the 9th annual Polar Bear Plunge at Mud Island River Park on Saturday, February 2nd. The event's motto is "freezin' for a reason," and participants will take a quick dip in the Wolf River to raise funds for the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.

For the second year, the event also includes a chili cook-off. The cooks take their chili seriously, showing up onsite at the crack of dawn to check in, hold a head-cook meeting, and then cook the chili from scratch, which means starting with raw meat that hasn't been marinated. While chili powder is allowed, commercial chili mixes and "fillers" such as beans, macaroni, rice, and hominy aren't.

Registration for the cook-off is $40 plus an additional $25 if your team wants to participate in the salsa and "cook's choice" contests.

For more information about the event and to register, visit specialolympicsmem.org.

To support another good cause, many local restaurants will dish out bowls of soup at the 19th Annual Soup Sunday on February 10th at the FedExForum. The event benefits Youth Villages, and besides the all-you-can-eat soups, it also features breads and desserts. Participating restaurants include the Dixie Café, the Germantown Commissary, Huey's, the Half Shell, Flying Saucer, Flying Fish, Jarrett's, Charles Vergos Rendezvous, Houston's Restaurant, Paulette's, and Folk's Folly Prime Steak House. The Memphis Doctor's Dance Band will provide entertainment, and a large children's play area will be set up for the young soup connoisseurs.

Advance tickets are $18 for adults and $4 for children. Tickets purchased at the door are $20 for adults and $5 for children. Family passes ($35 in advance and $45 at the door) and VIP Souper Party tickets are available as well. The VIP tickets include the food, plus adult beverages and specialty items at Opus restaurant. Free parking is available at the Ford Parking Garage at FedExForum.

For tickets, visit youthvillages.org or go to any of the following ticket outlets: Davis-Kidd Booksellers, all Bank of Bartlett branches, Huey's, the Half Shell, Wild Oats Natural Market, and the Youth Village offices.

Soup Sunday, February 10th from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., FedExForum

For the first time this spring, the Flying Saucer will offer a Spring Brews Cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas from May 3rd to 8th. The five-night Western Caribbean cruise will feature seminars and beer tastings with Julie Bradford, editor in chief of All About Beer, Sam Calagione, author and founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, and Adam Avery, president and brewmaster of Avery Brewing Co. According to Shannon Wynne, owner of the Flying Saucer, it is rare to have these beer experts together at one event. Some of the featured beers are limited editions and sure to wow hops enthusiasts.

Reservations are available through Cruise Holidays in Southlake, Texas. Rates range from $849 to $1,299 per person, are based on double occupancy, and include accommodations, all meals, entertainment, beer seminars and tastings, port fees, taxes, and gratuity. Airfare to and from Fort Lauderdale is not included in the price. Reservations must be made by February 29th.

For more information about the cruise and to make reservations, call (817) 421-7447 or e-mail dreammaker@cruiseholidays.com.

If you want to avoid the Valentine's dinner rush, try these pre-February 14th options.

On February 6th, the Brooks Museum will have a Valentine's 1st Wednesday celebration with an artist's talk by Clare Torina, a tour of the permanent collection, a chocolate tasting by Brushmark chef de cuisine Andrew Adams, and a screening of the movie Chocolat at 7 p.m. Appetizers will be available in the rotunda, and the Brushmark will offer items from a Valentine's menu. Tickets are $20 per person. For more information, to make dinner reservations, and for tickets to the event, call 544-6225.

1st Wednesday: Take Heart, Brooks Museum of Art, 1934 Poplar (544-6200)

Although not themed as a Valentine's dinner, Majestic Grille's Osborne Wine Dinner may be a good opportunity to impress your sweetheart. On February 6th, the Majestic will offer a four-course dinner with a wine tasting led by Jim O'Fallen of Osborne Wines. The Spanish-inspired menu by chef Patrick Reilly will start out with tapas, followed by paella Valencia, pork loin stuffed with figs and almonds, and rich chocolate pots with warm churos. Cost for the dinner is $55 per person plus tax and 20 percent gratuity.

Majestic Grille, 145 S. Main (522-8555)

In conjunction with a book signing by Alexandra Stoddard, who will discuss her latest work, Happiness for Two, Davis-Kidd Booksellers' Brontë Bistro will offer Cupid's Corks & Courses on February 12th at 6:30 p.m. The special dinner will include a three-course meal with wine pairings, dessert, and coffee.

Cost for the dinner is $50 per person, tax and gratuity included. Brontë will donate $10 from every dinner to the Junior League of Memphis.

Brontë Bistro, 387 Perkins Ext. (374-0881)

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