Chili Cook Off (copy)

The results are in and they are definitive: Santa Lucia Preserve makes the best chili in Monterey County. Or maybe Garren Fisher does. Or the honor could go to Bernardus Lodge. Some might say Jeff Langan deserves the title. All were winners in the Carmel Valley Chamber of Commerce's 26th annual Chili Cook-Off. Santa Lucia Preserve (pro) and Fisher (amateur) were named by the official judges—chefs Fabrice Roux, Anna Steege and Jason Trujillo—in a blind tasting. Langan (amateur) and Bernardus Lodge (pro) won the people's choice, as voted by attendees. Bartenders took place in a margarita competition (this sounds like a great event), with Cantinetta Luca shaking up the best. 

Treehaus Mobile Cafe is bringing organic, sustainable superfoods to locations near you. The mobile concept come from Kate Balog and Conrad Becker, the duo behind local Treehaus Wellness. The all-organic menu includes four superfood smoothies: Harvest Sun (with orange, turmeric, carrot, ginger, chia seeds, cinnamon and dates), Earth Berry (mixed berries, cacao, spinach, chia seeds and dates), Winter Solstice (mint, cacao, coconut milk, dates and spirulina) and Honey Daisy (carrot, cucumber, orange and honey). Organic pour-over coffee and nitro cold brew coffee and tea are on the lineup too. To start, the Treehaus truck will be at Folktale Winery (in the parking lot by the Barrel Room) every Sunday from 8:30am-12:30pm, with plans to expand to other locations and times. Follow @treehausmobilecafe on Instagram for updates. As a bonus: Follow Treehaus Mobile Cafe on Instagram and tag them in a photo and win three superfood smoothies delivered to your workplace.

Popular pizza and pasta spot Gusto is expanding into breakfast service. Start the morning off with Italian-inspired brunch favorites. On the sweet side, there’s ricotta pancakes and brioche toast, on the savory side there’s frittata and lobster omelet. Breakfast is served 8-11am Saturday-Sunday.

Vegetarian meat alternatives are growing. Burger King rolled out a Whopper featuring the plant-based Impossible Burger at outlets nationwide and KFC is testing meatless fried chicken with Beyond Meat. The next wave of plant-based meats? Seafood. Ocean Hugger Foods is taking sustainable seafood to a new level with plant-based “fish.” Ocean Hugger offers alternatives to popular seafood selections: Ahimi is a tomato-based riff on ahi tuna and Unami reimagines unagi eel with eggplant. Both are vegan and Unami is also gluten-free. Get a taste of both—available in nigiri or rolled maki—at Sushi Fly in downtown Monterey.

Bring a taste of Montrio Bistro’s famed craft cocktails to your home bar. Montrio’s award-winning bar manager and mixology maestro Anthony Vitacca is now selling jars of his housemade Maraschino cherries that are perfect for upgrading your Manhattan at home. Made with organic Sweetheart cherries, Maraschino liqueur, bourbon, cinnamon, all-spice, cloves, vanilla, almond, lemon and brown sugar, “Ant-Man’s” housemade Maraschino cherries are sold in 12-ounce resealable mason jars for $35. Available at Montrio Bistro. Call 648-8880 for more information.

Grasing’s teams up with Hundred Acre for a tasting on Thursday, Sept. 26 in the rooftop lounge. Taste highly allocated and hard to find wines from the famed Napa winery and snack on small bites from chef/owner Kurt Grasing. 5-6:30pm, $100, tasting fee waived with bottle purchase. The tasting has sold out, but call 624-6562 for waitlist inquiries.

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History is on the menu at Tarpy’s Roadhouse on Thursday, Sept. 26. Explore Steinbeck-era food and lore with a four-course dinner—with wine pairings—from Executive Chef Gabriel Arguilles peppered with stories about Steinbeck’s Corral de Tierra from Susan Shillinglaw. The evening also includes a live auction and $5 from every ticket sold and all auction proceeds will benefit the Western Flyer Foundation, which seeks to restore the boat that Steinbeck and Ricketts chartered in 1940 to the Gulf of California. 6-9pm, $85 (inclusive), 647-1444 for reservations.

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The Annex has a rummage sale on Saturday, Sept. 28, from 10am-4pm with proceeds benefiting the Na Wahine O Kalani nonprofit’s scholarship fund for young female athletes. Shop the pop-up store for $5, $10 and $20 selections and enjoy complimentary music, small bites and bubbles.

Waypoint Bar + Kitchen’s monthly Dinner at Waypoint lands on Saturday, Sept. 28. Enjoy a three-course prix fixe dinner with choice of appetizer, entree and dessert for $55. Corkage is waived for the evening if you’d like to bring a bottle from home to pair with dinner. 6-9pm, $55, reservations required, 624-8910.

PigWizard hosts new mobile beer truck Tap Truck Monterey on Monday, Sept. 30, from 4-8pm. The truck will be pouring Alvarado Street Brewery’s Mai Tai PA, Contains No Juice Double IPA and Monterey Beer, plus Pacific Grove Brewing Company’sCalifornia Golden Ale and Boochcraft’s hard kombucha. Tap Truck Monterey uses a converted vintage truck to pour beer, wine and more for weddings and other special events. For more information, visit or follow @taptruckmonterey on Instagram.

Oktoberfest continues at Monterey’s Peter B’s Brewpub Oct. 1-2. Snag Oktoberfest specials—$8 25-ounce mugs (excludes specialty and barrel-aged ales) and $8 grilled bratwurst plate (with mashed potatoes, sauerkraut and grain mustard)—all night long, plus live music from Monterey International Duo from 6-9pm.

And Oktoberfest is in full swing at Trailside Café in Carmel Valley too. Look for schnitzel and bratwurst on the menu, plus special Oktoberfest-style beers from Munich on tap through Sunday, Oct. 6.

Looking to broaden your wine horizons beyond the classic Cabernet Sauvignon? Stave Wine Cellar’s next wine class on Wednesday, Oct. 2, will explore varietals like Syrah, Tempranillo and Sangiovese that should appeal to the Cab lover who’s in search of something different.  6pm, $50, 644-7997 to sign up, 21+ only.

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