Mooncake Time, Dining Deals & More

Fresh mooncakes at Ming's. (Photo courtesy of Ming's Chinese Cuisine & Bar)

Enjoy fresh-baked moon cakes on Oct. 3, Moon Festival Day, when the moon is at its fullest and brightest.

Ming’s Chinese Cuisine & Bar in Palo Alto will celebrate the Lunar fest with free mooncake-making demonstrations, 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. Oct. 3. A lion dance will be performed that same afternoon at the restaurant at noon and 1:15 p.m. Stop in for a taste of specialty Moon Festival dishes, or buy some mooncakes to tote home.

Sip fine wines and nibble on gourmet treats while you shop. You can do just that at “Wine & Dine Around,” 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 10 at San Jose’s Santana Row.

Participating shops and restaurants will host in-store receptions with refreshments and shopping discounts available only to ticket holders. Among those participating will be Taryn Rose, Cole Haan, Ted Baker, Footcandy, and The Blues Jean Bar.

Tickets are $25, and available at the concierge office. Price of admission includes a commemorative wine glass, and a chance to win two tickets to see David Foster at HP Pavilion in San Jose. A portion of the proceeds benefits Hospice of the Valley, the oldest non-profit hospice in Santa Clara County.

The South Bay’s own Saratoga Chocolates has opened a second store in addition to the original one in Saratoga, of course.

The new San Francisco shop, 3489 – 16th St., took over the old Joseph Schmidt space. Look for bonbons such as Marzipan le Orange, Mojito, and Grapefruit Honey.

In downtown San Mateo, 231 Ellsworth restaurant has added a new four-course tasting menu that’s available nightly.

The prix fixe is $64 per person; with wine pairings, it’s $99 per person.

Key lime pie. (Photo courtesy of Marie Callender's)

Craving pie? Head to Marie Callender’s for its pie sale going on now through Oct. 31. Whole pies are only $6.99, a savings of up to 55 percent. How tempting is that?

Choose from more than 30 varieties, including apple, banana cream, and lemon meringue. Cheesecakes and fruit pies are excluded from the sale.

If oysters are more your style, sign up for a tour and tasting at Hog Island Oyster Company’s farm in Marshall, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 6., when it will host a special event with Stubbs Vineyard.

Learn the history of oyster growing in Tomales Bay, and the perfect way to shuck an oyster. You’ll get to taste plenty of sweet bivalves and Chardonnay, too.

Tickets are $40 for members of Marin Organic; $45 for non-members. To reserve a spot, call (415) 663-9667.

For more oyster fun, McCormick & Kuleto’s Seafood Restaurant in San Francisco is hosting its 16th annual “Shuck & Swallow Oyster Challenge,” 5 p.m. Oct. 6.

A dozen teams, whose members are Bay Area restaurant employees, will compete in this free event to shuck and eat as many oysters as possible in 10 minutes. The current record is just under 200. Goodness!

Afterward, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., enjoy an oyster and wine pairing. Tickets to that are $30. Net proceeds will benefit the Marine Mammal Center.

More seafood mania gets underway 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Oct. 11 with the ninth annual Crabby “Chefs Seafood Festival” at Spenger’s Fish Grotto in Berkeley.

Enjoy an “Iron Chef”-like cooking competition, and an assortment of food booths selling clam chowder, cracked crab, and crab cakes. There also will be live music. A mobile Pacific Seafood retail store will be selling fresh seafood to prepare at home. A portion of proceeds from prepared food sales will go to the Berkeley Cal Recreational Sports Development Fund’s Camp Scholarship Program.

Dine at Il Cane Rosso in San Francisco’s Ferry Building on Oct. 11 for a good cause.

A three-course meal will be served family-style for $50 per person. All proceeds will benefit Soul Food Farms in Vacaville, a family farm that was recently devastated by fire.

Two seatings are available — 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. For reservations, call (415) 391-7599.

Also at the Ferry Building on Oct. 4, experience the seventh annual “Sunday Supper.”

Enjoy a reception in the galleries of the Ferry Building, followed by a seated five-course dinner in the grand hall. Among the participating chefs are Craig Stoll of Delfina, Bruce Hill of Bix and Picco, and Staffan Terje of Perbacco.

Tickets for only the reception are $75. Tickets for the reception and dinner are $200. The event benefits CUESA, the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture, which manages the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

Charles Phan has added another eatery to his growing mini empire: an Out the Door at 2232 Bush St. in San Francisco. Like the other ones in the Ferry Building and Westfield San Francisco Centre, this one, too, serves up fast-casual Vietnamese lunch and dinner dishes such as green papaya salad with tofu ($7), daikon rice cakes ($7), and chicken pho ($9).

But the new Bush Street branch also serves breakfast items, both Eastern and Western. Enjoy everything from steamed chicken buns ($3) to chicken porridge ($7) to poached farm eggs with beef brisket, caramelized onions and crispy potatoes ($13).

Indulge in the “Weekly Beast” menu at One Market in San Francisco.

Friday night and Saturday night of each week, Chef Mark Dommen will offer a different whole animal menu. On it, an array of dishes will be offered that spotlight different cuts from one animal. The dishes will be available à  la carte or as a five-course, $49 prix fixe.

Tonight is the kickoff with goat. Dishes include goat neck ragu with potato gnocchi, roasted goat rack/loin with polenta, and spit-roasted goat leg with Moroccan spices.

In the weeks to come, look for Duroc pig, Muscovy duck, and lamb.

Items for $10 or less at McCormick & Schmick's. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

For those watching the wallet — and who isn’t these days — McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant in San Jose is offering “10 under $10” — 10 dishes available for $10 or less.

Look for an assortment of sandwiches, wraps, pastas and salads that won’t break the bank.

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  • We wandered down Clement Street last night and all the bakeries had moon cakes for sale. As usual you provide a list of culinary alternatives to distract me from my work. Thanks for all the great ideas.

  • What a great list of interesting events and great deals! Thanks!

    I don’t think I have ever had a moon cake, but I want to try one this year…

  • Silly question, but whatexactly is a moon cake? I don’t think I’ve ever had one.

  • Kelly: Read all about mooncakes on Wikipedia,, which also shows a nice close up of one of the confections. A mooncake is a round, baked confection, with a pastry-like exterior and a very dense, creamy interior. The filling often includes either lotus seeds, or a salted duck egg yolk. To be honest, they’re not to everyone’s liking. But if you ever get a chance to try one, definitely look for those freshly made at a bakery, rather than the prepackaged ones that have been sitting on store shelves for awhile. The difference in taste is like night and day.

  • I wish I was in the Bay Area so I could attend the free demo of mooncake making. I’ve never seen them being made! The Wine & Dine event sounds good too.

  • Great deals! I especially like the last McCormick $10 one! Unfortunately they’re not offering it at the one in SF. They do have a great $1.95 happy hour here though and I can’t complain about that!

  • I love Marie Calender’s pies. Chocolate cream is my favorite. I haven’t had a pie from there in years! I remember those pie specials. I need to head out there. Thanks for the tips!

  • Ah, yes, it’s Moon Festival tomorrow…my parents would be calling my grandparents tomorrow night! 😀

    But check this out:

  • You have given me cravings I have no way of satisfying – MOONCAKES!

  • I’ve never heard of moon cakes. I’ve learned something new today!

  • Yum! Mooncake! I always look forward to the Harvest Moon Festival because I love the mooncake! My favorite: Red bean!

  • Delicious !!! I love MOONCAKES !!!!! Brought me back memories !!!!

    Thank You For sharing your info and tasty mooncakes !!!! 🙂

  • Wow thank you for mentioning the McCormick deal in San Jose! I work in Downtown San Jose and have been to McCormicks a few times, but now that there are 10 dishes for $10, I will definitely go more. It’ll cost me almost $10 at most places nowadays anyway. Thanks for keeping us informed on all the bay area food happenings!

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