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Winemaker Dinner, Lark Creek and More

WEB-EXCLUSIVE: Find out what's new in food and dining news.

Islands Restaurants throughout Orange County (islandsrestaurants.com) are ready for the NFL season on Mondays and Thursdays, with specials of cold brews, tropical cocktails  and bar snacks priced under $5. NFL Sunday Ticket Specials include buffalo wings, Islands hand-craft beers and bloody (hail) Marys.  

Cha Cha’s Latin Kitchen (714.255.1040, chachaslatinkitchen.com) serves a Sunday Champagne Brunch that includes a two-course brunch with a glass of Champagne for $21.95. Add $6 and get bottomless mimosas.

Chipotle (800.CHIPOTLE, chipotle.com) has launched a catering service in Southern California for groups of 20 to 200. Now, customized burritos can be enjoyed in the  style of the restaurant at home, the office or schools. Also available are the Taco and Burrito Bowl Spread, and a chips and salsa menu with hand-mashed guacamole. For small orders of six or more, Chipotle offers Burritos by the Box. Orders must be placed 24 hours ahead of pick-up time.

On October 16, Broadway by Amar (949.715.8234, broadwaybyamarsantana.com) will host Justin Winery at a winemaker dinner. Please contact the restaurant for details.

Lark Creek at Fashion Island (949.640.6700, larkcreeknb.com) is in full operation, offering lunch from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; brunch on Saturday and Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; happy hour, 3-6:30 p.m.; and dinner. An afternoon menu is served Saturday and Sunday from 3-5 p.m. The restaurant’s Peninsula Room provides private dining for business luncheons or meetings, complete with state-of-the-art presentation capabilities, for up to 42 guests.

Cathy Pavlos, chef/owner of Lucca Café (949.725.1773, luccacafe.com) will prepare her popular Tuscan Farm Dinner on October 13, 3 p.m. This particular feast, along with scrumptious entrees, will include the last of summer vegetables and a taste of the new fall crop. Check the website for details.

Hatch Chile season may be over at Z’Tejas at South Coast Plaza (714.979.7469, ztejas.com), but according to new manager, Matthew Scroggins, several favorites found on the special Hatch Chile menu will be available, but with the use of regular house chiles.

Slapfish Partners Chef Andrew Gruel and Jethro Naude (714.963.3900, slapfishrestaurant.com) have signed a master franchise deal to join other American fast-casual concepts in the Middle East in early 2014. The decision to franchise was made by Gruel and Naude with the idea of spreading their concept and commitment to sustainability, to a worldwide audience.

Sessions Sandwiches (714.689.9550, sessionssandwiches.com) has recently opened on the Newport Beach Peninsula (sessionssandwiches.com). Featuring 20 signature sandwiches, the grab-and-go eatery makes its own sauces, sides and prepares fresh salads daily. Sessions is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Hours are from 6 a.m.-10 p.m.

On October 10, the Anaheim White House (714.772.1381, anaheimwhitehouse.com) will welcome Francesca Kimpton (francescakimpton.com), a highly respected international medium and healer at a dinner and demonstration. The evening includes hors d’oeuvres on arrival, and a six-to-eight group reading demonstration followed by a three-course prix-fixe dinner. Cost, $100 per person. Space is limited and reservations are a must.

Chef Bill Bracken (formerly with Island Hotel and DivBar) and his wife, Michelle, have entered into a partnership with Chari & Ramon Reyes of Chari’s Kitchen, to form The Ensaymada Project, an outlet that makes and sells sweet and savory “snailed”  Philippine treats. Fine-tuned and developed into tasty artistic creations from Chari’s grandmother’s original recipe, the group now offers a variety of handmade, hand-frosted ensaymadas in flavors of mocha/nutella, dulce de leche, sweet mango, and coconut cream, along with the original savory Filipino-style maple/bacon. Their story and details for ordering are on their website, ensaymadaproject.com.

On October 9, 6-9 p.m., Blackmarket Bakery (949.852.4609, blackmarketbakery.com) will hold a baking class, Souffles From Scratch, at their bakery in Irvine. Each group will make a savory and sweet soufflé. Cost, $84. The basics of bread baking, Great Buns: A Breadbasket, will be held October 19, 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

October 24, 4-7 p.m. The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel (949.240.2000, ritzcarlton.com) will host Yappy Howl-O-Ween, one of the most entertaining Yappy Hour events of the season. Pups will don their favorite costume to be judged by a panel of judges in the categories of Scariest, Funniest, Most Glamorous, and Best in Show. A first place prize will be awarded in each category. Cost to enter the costume contest is $10 per canine with proceeds going to support the Friends of Orange County’s Homeless Pets.  

Tequila Thursdays are back at SOL Cocina (949.675.9800, solcocina.com). Held in the bar on a first-come, first-served basis, from 6-8 p.m., a complimentary tasting of the featured tequila is offered, with a full drink enjoyed for half-off the normal price. Scheduled for October 3 is Casa Noble; the 10th, Apocalypto; the 17th, Aga-Vie; the 24th, Heradura; the 31st, Patron. Customized, private tequila tastings are available for up to 50 guests, or 35 seated. Interested parties may contact Paige Wylie at events@solcocina.com.

The Blind Pig Kitchen & Bar, a three-way venture between locals Tony Monaco, Jarryd Graaff and Executive Chef Josh Han, has opened in the heart of Rancho Santa Margarita (949.888.0072, theblindpigoc.com). The contemporary speakeasy décor uses vintage brick walls, copper ceilings and white snake skin-patterned bar stools. Meals are meant to be shared, and includes chicken liver mousse, pork belly, bone marrow, chorizo ravioli, celery mac-and-cheese, and basic dishes prepared in Han’s unique style. Craft beers are featured, and craft cocktails are prepared by specialist Gabrielle Dion.

October 20, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., is a Parrot Head Sunday at Bayside Restaurant (baysiderestaurant.com) with entertainment by Mark Wood & The Parrot Head Band Duet. A three-course free-flowing Champagne brunch is served for $29.95, along with the regular lunch menu.

Blue Mondays are back at Iva Lee’s in San Clemente (949.361.2855, ivalees.com). Selected foods are priced half-off all night, and a variety of starters are priced at $5. Enjoy meatloaf and fried chicken for $7.50.

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