Free Cupcakes, New Sushi Digs, Howard Bulka’s Pizza Joint, Gingerbread Time & More

Kara's Cupcakes celebrates its third anniversary. (Photo courtesy of Kara's)

Kara’s Cupcakes celebrates its third anniversary Nov. 1 by giving away a free cupcake with any purchase at its original location, 3249 Scott St. in San Francisco.

The offer is good only that day, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and only at that location.

The diesel-powered “Karavan,” the cupcake bakery’s mobile van, also will be on site, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. that day to offer samples of Blue Bottle New Orleans-style iced coffee.

For all you Peninsula types who have been waiting with hunger pains, word is that Howie’s Artisan Pizza is expected to open in November at the Town & Country Village in Palo Alto.

OK, so Chef Howard Bulka, formerly of Marché in Menlo Park, thought he’d be open by summer. You know how those things go.

When the doors open, you’ll be able to indulge in New Haven-style pizza with toppings like pancetta and egg, artisan salads, veggie pesto melts, and Straus Organic soft-serve drizzled with olive oil and fleur de sel or in a peppermint brownie sundae.

Chef Howard Bulka's new pizza joint is just weeks away from opening. (Photo courtesy of the chef)

The earth-tone interior will feature exposed timber-framed ceilings, cork walls, bamboo counters, hand-forged iron fixtures, and unusual olive oil-filled glass panels that partition the dining room.

The restaurant will be open daily, 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Learn more about Chef Bulka in my interview with him earlier this year.

Are you the type who likes to arrive fashionably early?

Then head to Santana Row in San Jose, where you’ll be able to enjoy a $30 three-course dinner Sundays through Wednesdays, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. “The Fashionably Early Dining” promotion, which runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 16, includes soup, salad or appetizer, plus a choice of entree, and dessert.

Choose from nine participating restaurants: Amber India, LB Steak, Pizza Antica, Straits Restaurant, Village California Bistro, Roux Louisiana Kitchen, Yankee Pier, Rosie McCann’s Irish Pub & Restaurant, and Thea Mediterranean.

Guests who purchase two “Fashionably Early” entrees also will receive two tickets to the holiday classic, “A Christmas Story,” playing Nov. 21-Dec. 30 at the San Jose Rep. Just present your itemized dinner receipt to the Santana Row Concierge to pick up your tickets while supplies last.

The annual “Pinot Noir & Mushroom Dinner,” Nov. 14 at Parcel 104 in Santa Clara, will serve up four courses with paired wines.

Price is $104 per person. Diners can take advantage of a special room rate at the Marriott, too, for $79.

Additionally, Parcel 104 has a new Monday-through-Friday “Happy Hour,” 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Enjoy $1 draft beers and select $4 appetizers.

As a kid growing up in San Francisco, Ebisu, 1283 Ninth Ave., was practically my neighborhood hang-out. I waited in many a long line there, and learned at an early age that the best place to set yourself down was the sushi bar. Family-run, it was always fun, boisterous, and thoroughly delicious.

Well, Ebisu is the one who’s all grown-up now. San Francisco’s Tekton Architecture has given the popular restaurant a sleek, simple yet elegant make-over.

Ebisu's new look. (Photo courtesy of Sharon Risedorph)

(Photo by Sharon Risedorph)

Bamboo, Douglas fir, sustainably harvested koa wood, recycled 125-year-old barn siding, and other sustainable materials were used to create a warm, organic vibe.

Cedar benches outside and in the foyer are available to take a load off while you wait for a table. Sorry, that part hasn’t changed. But Ebisu remains worth the wait.

To get in the sweet holiday mood, Pastry Chef Patti Dellamonica of One Market in San Francisco is hosting a cookie decorating party, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 7.

It’s part of the Lark Creek Restaurant Group’s month-long “Gingerbread Wishes” program, which benefits the Greater Bay Area Make-A-Wish Foundation.

For $20 on Nov. 7, each guest will receive a cookie decorating kit that includes three freshly baked star-shaped cookies, icing, sprinkles and candies. Guests can replenish their strength from all that cookie decorating with complimentary non-alcoholic beverages and finger sandwiches. Additional cookies are available for $5 each. All proceeds will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Additionally, throughout November, each Lark Creek Restaurant Group restaurant will offer a star-shaped cookie on the dessert menu for $10. It will be served tableside with a decorating kit. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the cookie sales will benefit the foundation.

The restaurant group has raised more than $32,000 since 2007. The restaurant group was inspired to work with the foundation after Lark Creek Chief Financial Officer Jon Gologorsky’s niece, suffering from leukemia, was granted a “wish” through the foundation to have a garden in her backyard that she could see from her bedroom window.

To celebrate its first Michelin star, Luce Restaurant in San Francisco’s InterContinental is serving up a four-course “Michelin Star” prix fixe, Nov. 1-21.

The special prix fixe, $60 per person or $90 per person with wine pairings, features Luce’s signature dishes plus a complimentary glass of sparkling wine.

If butchers are the new rock stars, then it will be a veritable Woodstock at  “Primal Napa,” 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 7 at Chase Cellars’ Hayne Vineyard in St. Helena.

Watch a demonstration of the breaking down of a pig, cow, goat and lamb.

A bevy of butchers and chefs will be preparing heritage meats from Hudson Ranch over hardwood fires. Among those participating are Chris Cosentino of Incanto in San Francisco, Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats in San Francisco, Staffan Terje of Perbacco in San Francisco, and Taylor Boetticher of Fatted Calf in San Francisco.

To round out that meaty meal, Jeremy Fox of Ubuntu in Napa will be serving grilled veggies.

Tickets are $65 for the wine and meat tasting. A $100 VIP ticket will get you all that, plus barbecued oysters, grilled artisan cheeses, reserve wines, and cocktails by San Francisco’s Alembic.

Enjoy a huge taste of Italy at Donato Enoteca in Redwood City, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 7, when Italian wine importers will be pouring more than 100 different Italian wines paired with bites from Chef Donato Scotti.

“Enoteca 100” is $50 per person. A VIP ticket also is available for $70, which gets you into the event an hour earlier.

Morning is a rousing good time at 1300 Fillmore in San Francisco, which just extended its gospel brunch to every Sunday, with house band Future Perfect alternating Sundays with other musicians.

Lemon meringue tart for brunch at 1300 Fillmore. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

Chef David Lawrence’s  prix fixe brunch, $39 per person, includes a Bellini or Mimosa; coffee or tea; a bread basket of corn bread, scones and chive biscuits; and a choice of entree and dessert.

Seatings are available at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

For a sweet fix, head to the Thursday farmers market at the San Francisco Ferry Building to find a new Arlequin booth by Executive Pastry Chef Luis Villavelazquez of Absinthe Brasserie Bar & Grill and Arlequin Cafe, both in San Francisco.

The offerings will change weekly, but will include such unusual treats as Nutella, custard, and maple-bacon-filled beignets; fig fromage blanc scone with honey glaze; and huckleberry filled cocoa nib cupcake with violet frosting. The booth will be open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Thursday.

Through Nov. 19, enjoy a selection of specialty drinks and appetizers at Quattro at the Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley in East Palo Alto — and help a good cause.

A portion of proceeds will go to BUILD, an organization that benefits eight high schools in the Bay Area, through entrepreneurial efforts.

The historic Cliff House celebrates its centennial with a Nov. 4 gala that includes gourmet bites, cocktails, live music, a history exhibit and a one-of-a-kind auction of period-inspired ball gowns fashioned from recycled menus, photos and memorabilia.

Tickets are $175.

Northern Sonoma County invites you to its 11th annual “Wine & Food Affair,” 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., both Nov. 7 and Nov. 8.

Eighty Sonoma County wine producers will be serving wine and food. Guests will receive a cookbook to take home, which contains recipes for all the dishes served.

Tickets are $60 for both days; $40 for Nov. 8 only; and $25 for designated drivers for Nov. 7 and Nov. 8.

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