Enticing Events to Savor

The fun bar at Aquarius restaurant. (Photo courtesy of Matthew Millman)

How’s this for one cool looking bar?

You’ll find it at the new Aquarius restaurant in the newly renovated Santa Cruz Dream Inn in Santa Cruz.

The modern American bistro is headed up by Chef Philippe Breneman, formerly of the Ventana Inn and Spa at Big Sur, who’s all about sustainable seafood and seasonal, organic produce. Look for California white bass with udon noodles, lychee glaze and miso-truffle broth; and seared Pacific cod with white corn succotash, smoked bacon, and mache.

The 2,900 square-foot restaurant features wraparound windows to take advantage of the views of Monterey Bay. A whimsical canopy of handmade surfboards and teardrop-shaped latticework lamps hang from above to give the restaurant a carefree attitude.

Leave it to Napa Valley’s celeb chef, Michael Chiarello, to know how to throw a shindig.

Aug. 9 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., he will host a “Mid-Summer Zin n’ Ribs Party” on the lawn outside his Bottega restaurant in Yountville.

Meet celeb Chef Michael Chiarello. (Photo courtesy of Phil Harvey)

Chiarello, a finalist on this season’s “Top Chef Masters” on Bravo TV, will sign cookbooks and wine bottles at 11:30 a.m., then host a 1 p.m. cooking demonstration.

The menu includes Chiarello’s signature barbecued honey espresso ribs, and Chiarello Family Vineyard’s Zinfandel.

Tickets are $30 per person for those ages 21 and older; $15 per person for those under age 21. Proceeds benefit Clinic Ole, and the Land Trust of Napa County’s Connolly Ranch.

For more fun with chefs, head to San Francisco’s Union Square, Aug. 6-9, for “SF Chefs. Food. Wine.” The multi-event extravaganza features a bevy of the Bay Area’s best chefs and sommeliers heading up cooking demos, wine seminars, food panels, grand tastings, and special gala dinners.

Tickets range from $40 to $700 for individual events and multi-day passes.

Chef Ross Hanson and his wife of Restaurant James Randall. (Photo courtesy of Laura Ness)

The town of Los Gatos invites you to try its many highly regarded restaurants during “Sizzling Summer Restaurant Week,” Aug. 5-12.

Participating restaurants will feature special three-course prix-fixe menus for $25, $35 or $45. California Cafe, Cin-Cin Wine Bar & Restaurant, Crimson, Forbes Mill Steakhouse, I Gatti, Nick’s On Main, Restaurant James Randall, Tapestry, Three Degrees, Trevese, Viva, and the Wine Cellar are among those who will be participating. Reservations can be made through the restaurants directly or through OpenTable.

If you’re a fan of “Top Chef” and in the Los Angeles-area, you’ll be interested to know that “Top Chef” contestant Stefan Richter, whom fans loved to hate, is expected to open his first restaurant, Stefan’s at LA Farm in Santa Monica, on Aug. 6.

With custom-made leather couches and hand-made furniture from Italy, the restaurant promises casual sophistication with a dinner menu spotlighting unique tapas.

For those who want to imbibe without worrying about a designated driver, the Taj Campton Place in San Francisco has a sweet deal.

Come to the Aug. 4 Wagner Family California Wine Dinner ($165 per person), the Aug. 18 Silverado Napa Valley Wine Diner ($160 per person), or the Sept.  15 Spring Mountain Wine Dinner ($160 per person), and stay the night in a deluxe guest room for $99.

The special wine dinners and the special room rate continue through the fall.

Aug. 4 is the final event in the “Moveable Feast” series of seasonal suppers that benefit CUESA, which manages the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco.

Chefs Paul Arenstam of Americano Restaurant will cook the meal at his dining establishment with help from Chef Chris Cosentino of Incanto. The meal will feature fruit and veggies from Dirty Girl Produce.

Tickets are $80 per person exclusive of wine, or $100 per person with wine.

Absinthe in San Francisco now offers a three-course, prix-fixe weekday lunch for $16.

It comes complete with a soup or salad, sandwich, and sweet treat at the end of the meal.

Throughout the month of August, bring in a new or good condition backpack to Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto in Berkeley, and receive a $10 dining certificate good for lunch or dinner.

The backpack drive is being organized with the The Berkeley Boosters/Police Activities League, which will distribute the collected backpacks to kids in need.

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