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Sweet New Bakery, Wine Time & Meal Deals

With shades of “Willy Wonka,” the new SusieCakes bakery opens Jan. 23 in Greenbrae in Marin County with a fun surprise.

The Los Angeles bakery, which welcomes its first Northern California location, will be hiding 10 “golden tickets” in its signature frosting-filled cupcakes on opening day.

Each golden ticket is redeemable for a special reward, such as attendance to a baking or cake decorating class; a 6-inch or 9-inch specialty layer cake; five dozen mini cupcakes; or one dozen cupcakes. Winners will also be entered in a grand prize drawing to receive a 9-inch specialty layer cake monthly for an entire year as part of the “Cake-of-the-Month Club.”

So if you buy a cupcake on Saturday, be sure to bite carefully.

Are you a natural redhead? Then, Sent Sovi of Saratoga has a special offer for you for its first wine dinner of the year.

Jan. 28, the restaurant will host a wine dinner spotlighting Testarossa Winery of Los Gatos, which specializes in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

And did you know that “testarossa” means “redhead” in Italian? Yup, so the restaurant is extending a 20 percent discount off the normal $100 price per person for the dinner to any natural redheads who mention that fact when they make a reservation and are able to prove it when they show up for the dinner.

Get your ‘do in check and prepare to dine on such dishes as dayboat scallops with caramelized scallop jus and sprout petals; and slow-cooked beef ribeye cap with whole grain mustard spaetzle.

Like crab? Like pork, too?

Then, you won’t want to miss the “Crab and Whole Hog Dinner,” Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. at the Americano Restaurant in the Hotel Vitale in San Francisco.

The event, which will be held in the heated patio tent, will feature guest artisan ham purveyor, Massimo Spigaroli, from Italy. The dinner, overseen by Chef Paul Arenstam of the Americano, is an all-you-can-eat buffet of Dungeness crab, pork, side dishes, salads, desserts, and local white wines.

Price is $85.

Through March, the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, will be featuring distinguished California wines in its ENO tasting room. Each Friday, Saturday and Sunday mid-afternoon, a representative from each featured winery will be on hand to answer questions about the wines.

Tasting fees range from $25 to $35 per person, depending upon the vintner. Flights of cheese and chocolates can accompany the tasting for an additional charge.

January spotlights Stage Left Cellars; February showcases Far Niente, Nickel & Nickel, and Dolce wineries; and March focuses on St. Francis Winery & Vineyards.

Throughout the year, Quince in San Francisco will host a series of “In Residence” intimate, informative dinners with guest chefs and vintners from around the world.

Tonight, the series kicks off with the wines of Azienda Agricola Bastianich in Italy, owned by famed New York restaurateur Joseph Bastianich of Babbo and his mother, chef and restaurateur Lidia Matticchio Bastianich of Felidia.

Price of the six-course wine dinner is $195 per person.

Jan. 25, Quince will spotlight Vietti, a leading producer of Barolo in Piedmont, Italy. The six-course dinner will feature handmade pastas and Piedmontese specialties. Price is $395 per person.

Feb. 7, the night begins with special treat — a semi hands-on cooking class for 16 guests in Quince’s kitchen with guest chef, Benedetta Vitali, owner of Trattoria Zibibbo in Florence. Guests will get to learn how to make fresh pasta, as well as a variety of regional dishes from Florence.

Afterward, those 16 guests will be joined by another 30 diners for a wine tasting and a four-course dinner. Price for the cooking class, wine tasting and dinner is $185 per person. Price for only the wine tasting and dinner is $150 per person.

Reservations for these special dinners can be made by calling Molly Magliano, director of special events and private dining, at (415) 775-8500, ext. 31.

At Marché in Menlo Park, it’s all about squash on Jan. 29-30.

The restaurant will feature different squashes in each of five courses served that night. The squashes come from farmers Fred and Jill Hempel of Baia Nicchia Farm in Sunol. Both will be on hand those nights to answer questions about their produce.

The squash tasting menu, $70 per person, will include such dishes as goose breast prosciutto with butternut rugossa  mostarda, apple relish, leek and bread crumbs; and Kikuza agnolotti with duck confit and Perigord black truffle.

For a meal deal, Poggio in Sausalito is offering two different dining options, each for under $20 per person.

The popular bollito misto has returned this winter, Feb. 2-6. A selection of up to five tender, slowly simmered meats is wheeled to your table in a special heated cart. Choose from brisket, tongue, capon, oxtail and housemade cotechino sausage. Accompanying the meats are four different sauces to mix and match with. Price is $19 per person.

Poggio also is bringing back “Porchetta Mondays” through the winter. A whole sustainably-raised, milk-fed pig is deboned, then stuffed with housemade rosemary sausage. The pig is spit roasted over an oak-burning fire for four hours. The crispy-skinned pork is served with fagioli all’uccelletto made from Iacopi Farms butter beans, tomatoes, garlic and sage cooked on the floor of the oven to catch all of the drippings from the pork.

Price is $16 per person; add a quarto of Chianti for $7.50.

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