National Coffee Day and 10 More Major Food Dates to Remember
September 29, 2011
Maybe you've noticed: People freak about their beans.
But I've yet to see any wild orgies or celebrations coalesce in public places around National Coffee Day. (Yes, brace yourself: It's today, Thursday, Sept. 29.)
Fortunately Janet McAthie, the kinetic energy behind Carmel Valley Coffee Roasting Company, tells me she is celebrating with $1.50 brewed coffee—any size, including the 20-ounce—and $3 double shot espresso drinks at CVCRC's handful of Carmel locations (Ocean Avenue, Crossroads, Barnyard, Mid-Valley), and its East Village Coffee Lounge (373-5601).
I just called McAthie to see how many cups she's had to celebrate.
"I am jacked up as high as possible," she said. "I need some food."
While this holiday admittedly snuck up on me—I'm more of a lemon ginger tea guy—below follow 10 biggies that definitely will not.
Nov. 3-5, 2011
Big Sur Food & Wine Festival
Dozens of restaurants from the increasingly foodie-fied South Coast (think Restaurant at Ventana, Big Sur Bakery and Deetjen’s) join forces with dozens of top wineries from Paso Robles to Santa Lucia (like Garys’ Vineyards, Talbott and Testarossa) for waves of winemaker dinners, grand tastings, an opening gala at Highlands Inn and new events like a pork paradise party at Henry Miller Library called Swine and Wine. 831-869-1341, www.bigsurfoodandwine.org/>
Nov. 11-12, 2011
Harvest Wine Dinner and Best of the Blue
This year Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association’s Great Wine Escape Weekend transforms into a two-step event. Nov. 11 brings in an indulgent wine dinner collaboration between a range of local growers and Chef Levi Mezick at breathtaking 1833. Nov. 12 delivers a three-hour post-harvest wine hallelujah at Del Monte Aviation Hangar starring scores of wineries gourmet food trucks and demos and art that honor the offshore “Blue Grand Canyon” for how it shapes the unique climate that breeds blockbuster wines. 831-375-9400, www.montereywines.org>
February, date TBA
Big Sur Chanterelle Festival and Cook-Off
Festivalgoers chomp entries like chanterelle pot pies and deep-fried Scotch eggs wrapped in a chanterelle duxelle against a backdrop best described as redwood heaven. Anticipate panel talks, exploratory hikes with experts, local wines and an increasingly expanded roster of satellite events, though the cook-off remains the tender and juicy heart of the event. (831) 667-0800, www.tastebigsur.com>
Pebble Beach Food & Wine
April 12-15, 2012
Celeb-chefs like Daniel Boulud, Masaharu Mortimoto, Charlie Trotter and Jacque Pepin not only teach, but team up on absurd meals and provide nibbles at the two grand tastings, which include 200 wineries. Mind-blowing dinners are almost as common as the vertical tastings and high-powered wine panels. This sucker’s quickly become worthy of comparisons to the world’s best tasting fests. 866-907-FOOD, www.pebblebeachfoodandwine.com>
Cooking For Solutions
May 18-20, 2012
Celebrated super-sustainable chefs like Alton Brown, Suzanne Goin, Rick Bayless and Thomas Keller have made regular visits to demonstrate the best sourcing and cheffing via tented demos, glorius farm trips and a grand tasting that give us hope that there is a savvier way to eat consciously, and it tastes even better. While tickets go quick for Friday’s Aquarium-filling gala, more and more free-with-admission farmers market-style fairs welcome more people to the educational party all weekend long. (831) 644-6886, www.montereybayaquarium.org>
Castroville Artichoke Festival
May 19-20, 2012
The Artichoke Capital of the World gets vigorous with the delicious thistle—fried, stuffed and marinated treatments are but the beginning—with the help of a skate park, cook-offs, ag art, live bands, demos, wine tastings, a classic car show and even a 5K/10K through the artichoke fields to work up an appetite. 831-633-2465, www.artichoke-festival.org>
Carmel Valley Art and Wine Celebration
June 9, 2012
Join sixty-plus local artisans in the charming Carmel Valley Village for an afternoon of wine tasting, artwork, food and live music presented by the Carmel Valley Chamber of Commerce. www.carmelvalleychamber.com>
Monterey Wine Festival
June 8-11, 2012
The longest-running wine powwow in the land visits annually with 20 top local restaurants in tow, plus at least that many gourmet food tables and more than 70 wineries tipping 300 different wines from all over the West, plus demos, wine gurus and an oyster bar. The most popular component over the last two years: a West Coast Clam Chowder Cook-off that draws chefs from across the state to compete in traditional and creative categories. www.montereywine.com>
Gilroy Garlic Festival
July 27-29, 2012
Stuffed in mushrooms, starring in scampi, charming escargot and filling the assembled nostrils, garlic claims the warm weekend here with the help of the Garlic Recipe Contest and Cook-off, live bands on three different stages and acres of chefs, vendors and gourmands. 408-842-1625, www.gilroygarlicfestival.com>
Aug. 4-5, 2012
Watsonville Strawberry Festival
A strawberry pie-eating contest, carnival rides and main stage music acts make the Strawberry Festival in Watsonville feel like a county fair, only more flavorful. Creative applications, cooking demos and tastings showcase the strawberry’s sweet and super versatility. www.mbsf.com>