Crema in its Victorian spot (from outside)

Crema, which also houses sister La Créme Monterey catering outfit, is as attractive inside as out, with plush seats looking out bay windows, chandeliers, two stories and well-appointed dining rooms.

If there's three things you're want to be as a coffee lounge and wine-sipping spot, cozy, adorable and delicious work pretty well.

Pacific Grove’s Crema Espresso and Wine Bar (375-1300) has been a surprisingly versatile hang-out in a sweet converted Victorian on Lighthouse in the old Pasta Mia for a while now. Cozy and adorable, in other words, were covered.

It was pretty tasty too, with an ambitious assortment of tapas and such to pair with the nice local-leaning wine list.

And as of last week, it has dynamic food and a new dinner menu going Thursday through Sunday until 9pm.

The slow-roasted prime rib ($19) and salmon-artichoke pasta ($15) I had were knockouts.

The short-rib picadillo empanadas ($6) and honey-thyme baked chicken ($17) look yum too.

But that's not all that's shakin'. Here are some other big nuggets to nibble:

Forks. Corks. Action! series launches tonight at California Market at Hyatt Carmel Highlands—and will ultimately include winemaker dinners, meet-the-farmer lunches and cocktail workshops. Tonight's installment ($85) stars four Hyatt standout chefs from across the country, three courses, a stacked silent auction and benefits MEarth student kitchen-garden.

• Pastry powerhouse Ben Spungin has left Bernardus and the decorated Cal Stamenov-led team at Marinus to take up with the big idea, big project, big festival group at Coastal Luxury Management. Bernardus itself, meanwhile, is in escrow. Noble House Hotels & Resorts—who has holdings from Napa to Telluride to the Keys—is coming to Carmel Valley.

• Speaking of Bernardus Lodge (658-3550), Chef Cal hosts a handy Holiday Entertaining Bernardus Style ($95) afternoon of wine, holiday cocktails and a 3-course family style meal designed to inspire your own productions. The meal, which takes place on Saturday, Nov. 9, features items like alder smoked Sonoma duck, Dungeness crab-avocado towers and hand rolled chocolate truffles.

Small, brand new, family-owned Kai Lee Creamery (402-0627) is open 11am-6pm daily in the American Tin Cannery. What it lacks in ambiance it makes up for with superior ice cream. My favorite five flavors among the rotating small-batch tastes are hard to pick but here they are: 5. Chai; 4. Caramel fudge; 3. Triple vanilla bean; 2. ACME Road Dog; 1. Ginger-honey.

Scheid Vineyards (656-WINE) fills the vacuum created by Monterey County Vintners and Growers with its own Holiday Party in the Hangar Dec. 6 at the airport.

• Coming off a marathon swim through the area’s best burgers should have me ready for “The Ship Sinker” challenge at new Bay of Pines (920-3564). Folks who sink a 20-ounce double bacon, double-patty burger in 5 minutes qualify for a contest to win $250 for the fastest time taking it down a second time. Only I’m floating the Master Cleanse boat instead.

• Because of ABC permit cycles running as long as six months, Lucky’s Roadside near the Auto Mall in Seaside—from owner Bill Lee and lead chef Marc Jones—won’t sit customers until 2014.

Cantinetta Luca (625-6500) introduces a new “back room” series with a Cioppino Night Nov. 13 ($23.95 in advance). Expect authentic excellence from Exec Chef Jason Balestrieri, plus salad and garlic bread.

• Every Tuesday or Wednesday at Lugano Swiss Bistro (626-3779), locals can do one of their five appetizers, soups or salads for $5, any of entrees for $10 and desserts for $3.

• The latest Independent Marketplace pop-up ($25, 649-0220)—which will tuck in next to where new Post No Bills bathrooms are being built—enjoys an “Indyan summer” theme and treats like grilled Local Catch Monterey Bay oysters, Companion sourdoughs, Garden Variety cheeses, cider pressing, Foodsmith pork pozole, Wild Plum baked squash polenta, apple cobbler cupcakes and a pie contest.

Beach House at Lovers Point hosts a breast cancer awareness night Tuesday, Nov. 12, with 10 percent of gross going to The Breast Cancer Assistance Group of Monterey Peninsula in honor of .


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