Good Eats for Valentine’s Day, Super Bowl, Black History Month, the Olympics and More

Romance is definitely in the air this month. And what could induce more starry eyes than dining with a view of the crashing waves of the Pacific?

The Highlands Inn in Carmel is making it a little easier on the pocketbook, too, with its new “Starlit Dinners” at its Pacific’s Edge restaurant.

Sunday through Thursday through Feb. 28, enjoy a three-course dinner for $45 per person. Executive Chef Mark Ayers changes up the menu frequently to take advantage of locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. Choices may include dishes such as seared scallops, and tender beef seasoned with heady rosemary and served atop creamy mashed potatoes.

For hungry Super Bowl Sunday fans, Urban Tavern in San Francisco will be serving complimentary gumbo, 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Feb. 7.

It’s free with the purchase of a beverage at the bar.

Peter B’s BrewPub in the Portola Hotel & Spa in Monterey invites you in to watch the big game and a chance to win one of four free memberships to its “Mug Club Membership Program.”

What’s that, you ask? It’s a membership that affords you a personal 25-ounce beer stein — hung from the bar at Peter B’s and readily available for your use — and $4 (25-ounce) beers, which are regularly $7 for non-Mug Club members.  In addition, Mug Club members will receive exclusive invites to taste and sample new beers upon their release.

Sprinkles Cupcakes is going bipartisan for the Super Bowl. Feb. 6-7, you can buy a box of 12 cupcakes ($46) decorated with football sugar decorations. Each box contains six Red Velvet and six vanilla cupcakes. Half bear the name of the New Orleans Saints; the other half, the Indianapolis Colts.

Not to be outdone, Kara’s Cupcakes, is offering a special four-pack of cupcakes for Valentine’s Day.

For $13, you get a package of four Sweet S’mores cupcakes decorated with sugar hearts, along with a signature note card with the caption, “I Heart You.” The first 100 customers to purchase the “Sweet Package,” Feb. 13-14, receive a Kara’s  Cupcakes tote. Additionally, Kara’s has just introduced new gluten-free cupcakes.

Not only is Feb. 14 Valentine’s Day, it’s also the start of the Lunar New Year. Catch free lion dance performances, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 13 and 12:30 p.m. Feb. 14, at Ming’s Chinese Cuisine and Bar in Palo Alto.

Moreover, February is Black History Month. 1300 on Fillmore in San Francisco is celebrating with a four-course prix fixe for $65 or $95 with paired wines (all by African-American-owned wineries).

The special menu by Executive Chef David Lawrence, available through Feb. 28, includes dishes such as cassoulet of duck confit with bourbon-braised pork bell, and Dungeness crab citrus salad. The featured wines also will be available at the bar in a wine flight.

The Pub at Ghirardelli Square invites you in to watch the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics on Feb. 12. Dress in Olympic-inspired garb to win a chance at prizes. Gold, Silver and Bronze shots will be on the menu.

Chef Michael Chiarello’s swank Bottega in Yountville has introduced a fun, new dining option — the chef’s table.

The marble table is next to the kitchen. Parties of six to 12 get the entire table, while parties of four get a communal experience. The chef’s table dining option lets guests interact with the chef and wine director to create a five-course dinner. If you’re lucky, Chiarello, himself, will be your maitre ‘d, too.

Prices, courses and ingredients vary nightly. But typically, it’s $70 per person with another $30 per person for wine pairings.

Feb. 12, the Ferry Building in San Francisco hosts the “Food from the Heart Valentine’s Day Event,” 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Napa Valley vintners will be pouring wines ($4 a glass) and vendors will be offering specialty small bites ($2 to $6). There will be live music and tango dancing.  Proceeds benefit Slow Food’s Terra Madre and School Gardens Projects.

To make a sweet holiday even sweeter, La Ciccia in San Francisco will donate 25 percent of sales of food and wine on Valentine’s Day to UNICEF’s Emergency Response Fund to Haiti. The restaurant, which specializes in Sardinian food, will offer its regular menu plus a host of specials that night.

If you don’t have a date for Valentine’s Day, Parties that Cook guarantees you’ll have a great time anyway with its “Valentine’s Cooking Class for Singles” at the Dacor Kitchen in South San Francisco, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 11.

Learn how to cook six dishes, then savor your creations. After the event, an email list and photos are sent to guests so they can connect if interested. Price is $75 per person. Tickets are available here. Guests are asked to bring a bottle of wine to share.

At Medjool Restaurant and Lounge in San Francisco, enjoy “Five After Five,’‘ $5 wines and $5 tapas, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. nightly, in the lounge and at the bar.

Dishes include butternut squash fritters with romesco sauce and spicy Moroccan tagine meatballs with tomato sauce.

San Jose’s Ristorate Fratello celebrates its 10th anniversary this week through Feb. 6 with handmade anise and almond biscotti by Biscotto Bruni for all diners.

The restaurant also has added a new menu item — fettuccine allo scoglio ($19.95), spaghetti with salmon, Manila clams, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, crushed red pepper and spinach in a saffron sauce.

It’s “Whole Hog” time at Oliveto in Oakland. Through Feb. 6, Chef Paul Canales will create dishes using every bit of the hog. This feast, now in its 11th year at the restaurant, features dishes such as Piedmontese braise of pork shoulder; and warm antipasti of pork tongue, artichokes and aged black truffles. The hogs come from the Niman Ranch pork collective.

Foreign Cinema in San Francisco salutes Bay Area cooking doyenne Marion Cunningham’s 87th birthday on Feb. 11 with a roster of favorite Cunningham dishes served that night.

Feb. 9, noted food politics author Michael Pollan joins the owners of Saul’s Restaurant and Delicatessen in Berkeley to ponder the future of deli cuisine in the forum, “A Referendum on the Deli Menu.” The 6:30 p.m. event will take place at the deli.

Find out if foot-high pastrami sandwiches can co-exist with our sensibility of local and seasonal. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Proceeds benefit the Center for Ecoliteracy.

Lastly, Chef Bruno Chemel, late of Chez TJ in Mountain View, has opened his own restuarant on California Avenue in Palo Alto. Baume, named after French chemist Antoine Baume, showcases Chemel’s contemporary French cuisine done up with molecular gastronomy.

The menu is prix fixe-only, with five courses for $78, ten courses for $108, and fifteen courses for $148. Wine pairings are $55 more.

Look for such inventive dishes as carrot sphere and spiced cucumber; and slowly poached striped bass with daikon, yuzu, miso and dashi broth.

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  • Mmmmm so many good events as always. I was totally drawn in by that gorgeous image of the scallop. I can practically taste it.

  • I’m going to forward this post to hubby and see if he gets the hint. Some wonderful ideas here.

  • I’m seeing lot of events for Valentine’s day…and all can be potentially delicious.
    Hilarious but here isn’t this special day on this date 😉

    All the best,


  • I want those scallops…followed by some sprinkles cupcakes.

  • I’m totally bummed that we’re gonna miss the Food from the Heart event next weekend since we’ll be out of town! It sounds like so much fun! We’re definitely gonna check out Medjool’s 5 after 5. What a great deal! I love that place!

  • Highlands inn is our very favorite get away spot!! It is amazing and the food is equally as wonderful oh and the Wine list.. YUM

  • I wish to have a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner too, but coincidentally it falls on the same day as Chinese New Year. So, everything will be extremely expensive to dine out at any place here in Malaysia.

  • Sounds great! I’d love to know more about African-American owned wineries. Maybe you can write an article/blog on that? or send me some names…

  • Whew! That was a long list!

  • Otehlia: One of my fave African-American-owned wineries is the Napa Valley’s Brown Estate Vineyards.
    Their Zinfandels are so lush, with an almost cocoa/chocolate taste to them.

    Little Inbox: I know what you mean. Valentine’s Day AND Lunar New Year on the same day — it’s crazy. Wonder if that calls for a Chinese banquet meal with champagne and lots of chocolate for dessert? 😉

  • Waw!! The food looks tasty & superb!! Just look at these 2 grand first dishes!!

    I so want to taste the scallops dish!! It looks divine!

  • As usual I’ve missed the window in which you can get a reservation at any place one would want to eat, so I really need to get on it and figure out how I’m going to make up for it at home…

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