A Guy Named Carlos, A Lot of Crab, & A Cheesy Time

A wall sconce at Maria Maria. (Photo courtesy of Robby Skog Photography)

Musician great Carlos Santana opened a fifth locale of his Maria Maria restaurant late last year in Danville.

Serving “Nuevo Mexican” cuisine, it features dishes such as chicken and mole tortilla casserole ($15), grilled skirt steak with nopales salad $(19), and mixed wild mushroom fajitas ($15).

No telling how often you might spot Santana, himself, there. But he did put in an appearance earlier this week to meet and greet media.

Cheesemaker Allison Hooper and friend. (Photo courtesy of Ms. Hooper)

Cheese aficionados will want to head to the Pasta Shop in the 4th Street Market Place in Berkeley, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m, Jan. 15.

Allison Hooper, author of “In a Cheesemaker’s Kitchen,” will be on hand to sign copies of her book, discuss the world of cheese, and offer tastes of her luscious creations.

Hooper, of Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery, will be joined by other artisan cheesemakers at this free event, including those from Bellwether Farms and Cowgirl Creamery, who also will be offering samples of their cheeses.

To coincide with this event, Cafe Rouge, next door to the Pasta Shop, will be offering special menu items made with Vermont Creamery cheeses.

Time for crab in Mendocino County. (Photo courtesy of

The 11th annual  “Crab & Wine Days” gets underway with a load of vino and crustaceans, Jan. 22-31, when the bucolic coastal county of Mendocino hosts a bevy of gourmet dinners, family-style cioppino feeds, and a crab cake cook-off.

Don’t miss the Jan. 22 “Cioppino Dinner” for $35 per person at the Pentecost Hall in Fort Bragg. The family-style meal includes bowls of the hearty seafood stew, salad, dessert, wine, beer, coffee and homemade bread.

Also not to be skipped is the “Crab-Cake Cook-Off and Wine Tasting Competition,” where the public will get a chance to sample the entries being judged. Tickets are $75 per person.

Proceeds from those two events benefit the Mendocino Coast Clinics, a non-profit community health center for those in need.

For a full list of crabby events, click here.

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