Hot Picks 11.04.21

The latest cool thing to take over Sand City’s Art Park (seen above as the site of a roaring cornhole league) is a monthly night market that will feature food, drinks, activities, local artisans and more.

Dine at Rancho Cielo

The thought of a dinner prepared and served by students might cause some reservation. But these are Drummond Culinary Academy students under the direction of Chef Estevan Jimenez. And their dishes speak of culinary finesse. Words like rillette, salsa Tartufata, frangipane tart, thyme-roasted chicken, quince compote and pan de muerto beckon from the menu. When presented with a simple Brussels sprout, they dress it with Baker’s bacon (yes, bacon does make anything better), toasted pumpkin seed (‘tis the season), herbed goat cheese and maple, which is enough to make sprout haters swoon. With three courses of this, it’s no wonder these Friday night dinners sell out quickly. Sometimes you crave something draped with preserved lemon brown butter. And some diners have been craving it for months – public dinners here are finally back. [DF]

Four seatings each Friday, at 5pm, 5:30pm, 6pm and 6:30pm, starting Nov. 5. Drummond Culinary Academy, 710 Old Stage Road, Salinas. Prix fixe menu is $38 per person. Call 444-3533 for reservations.

Friday Night Market

A little music, some food, drinks with friends and the opportunity to peruse crafts by local artisans. Name a more perfect plan for a Friday night – we’ll wait. Night Market 831 hosts its debut market on Nov. 5 in the Sand City Art Park. This concept, inspired by global night markets and bazaars, grew out of Amy Sheehan’s pandemic downtime. With the bigger events that she and her husband Dan produce on hold (big as in Cali Roots big), Sheehan had a chance to think about her “dream list” of events. On that list? A night market. “It feels really fun and sort of different,” Sheehan says. “It’s a way of providing the space to have community gather.” There will be food (Tacos Don Beto, Oli’s Cheesesteaks, more), drinks (Nitro Cycle, Post No Bills) and craft booths (Small Kind Soaps, Johnny Wicks candles, etc.). There will also be an interactive component at various booths (like a candle bar via Johnny Wicks) to keep attendees engaged. [TCL]

5-9pm Friday, Nov. 5. Sand City Art Park, 525 Ortiz Ave., Sand City. Free.

Poets and Strangers

Old Capitol Books’ fancy new location means a new space for the monthly open mics. And so the bookstore invites poetry fans to First Fridays, a monthly event, in the back lot. The Alvarado Street space is cozy though, which is why you need to either click “buy a ticket” or “apply for a free one,” on the bookstore’s webpage. A message from the organizers: “We know that you’ve been fantasizing about standing around in empty parking lots. Late at night. To read poetry. With strangers. (So have we.)” [AP]

9pm Friday, Nov. 5. Old Capitol Books, 482 Alvarado St., Monterey. Free with RSVP. 747-1322,

Diamond Drag

Happy Sunday! They’ve been here before but it’s not like they are here everyday. Nor do you treat yourself and your friends to a mimosa brunch everyday. The Diamond Drag Show Champagne Brunch at the Paper Wing Theatre & Supper Club is back and presents talented performers from Los Angeles and the Bay Area – “delightful, brassy darling queens” – who promise to perform, crack jokes and host while you drink and dine. The spot offers your favorite brunch delicacies, like chicken and waffles. If you can find time to bite in between laughs, that is. [AP]

10am-2pm, Sunday, Nov. 7, Paper Wing Theatre & Supper Club, 711 Cannery Row, Suite i, Monterey. $10; does not include food. 905-5684,

Harvest Noon

All the grapes have been combed from the vines and are in the process of becoming fine wines. Even though fall lasts until Dec. 21, the end of the wine grape harvest feels like a changing of the seasons, as the days get shorter, the air gets cooler and we might even get a little bit of rain. Puma Road is celebrating this annual milestone at its River Road winery with music from Tom Faia and Kate Miller, food from Salinas-based Zio Brand Meats and, of course, wine. Tickets include lunch and two glasses of wine. [DS]

Noon-2pm Sunday, Nov. 7. 32075 River Road, Soledad. $20-35. 675-3548,

Jazz at Sunset

What better way to end a weekend, or begin a week, than to have your eyes greet the golden rays of a California setting sun as you melt to the sound of jazz drummer David Morwood’s brushes shuffling across the canvas skin of his snare drum. Add a glass of local Pinot Noir and make room for a descending saxophone solo and you suddenly find you’ve ascended from the library room at La Playa Carmel to Cloud Nine, where there is no tomorrow or yesterday, only the sweet present. Not bad for a free weekly jazz set. [CN]

4-7pm Sunday, Nov. 7. La Playa Carmel, Camino Real and 8th, Carmel. Free. 293-6100.

Turkey Day Tips

Let the countdown to Thanksgiving and the big meal begin. Determined to make the perfect mashed potatoes this year? Or maybe you want to tackle smashed potatoes this time around? Well-known local chef Brandon Miller (Stokes Restaurant & Bar; Mundaka; Il Grillo; Chef’s Stash) is here with an assist through Everyone’s Harvest, the nonprofit that brings weekly farmers markets to Marina, Salinas and Pacific Grove. Miller is the featured chef for a Thanksgiving “Tricks & Tips” Zoom cooking demonstration. Miller will walk participants through “Mashers vs. Smashers,” demonstrating how to make restaurant-quality mashed potatoes as well as lip-smacking smashed new potatoes. He’ll also present a “Carving 101” segment on how to expertly carve a turkey, along with some other tricks of the trade. [PM]

4-5pm Tuesday, Nov. 9. Free. Zoom link:; Meeting ID: 820 7520 3760; Passcode: 062396.

Space Night

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in outer space? Who hasn’t, honestly – there are few places that capture the imagination quite like space. But how often do you get to spend an evening with an astronaut? The Carmel Public Library Foundation and Carmel Unified School District Partnership for Public Service are teaming up to make this happen. American astronauts Stephen Nathaniel Frick, Daniel Wheeler Bursch and James Hansen Newman (apparently having three names is an astronaut thing) will share stories about their work and journeys. [TCL]
6-7:30pm Wednesday, Nov. 10. Carmel High School Performing Arts Theater, 3600 Ocean Ave., Carmel. Free. Register to attend in person or virtually:

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