Spring definitely brings out the hunger artist in us all. The opportunities to savor find local food and wine (and beer and ice cream) is too tempting to resist. For example, the food scholars of Cabrillo College's Culinary Arts Program will present their final dining showcase of the spring semester this week, May 15–17, at the beautiful Pino Alto Restaurant in the historic Sesnon House.

For this event the chefs will team up with Burrell School Vineyards proprietor Dave Mouton for a four-course match-up of fine wines and complementary dishes. An Estate Chardonnay joins grilled swordfish with creamy polenta, followed by an Estate Cabernet Franc along with duck ravioli and roasted bell peppers. The main entree of grilled lamb and fava beans will be partnered by a robust Estate Syrah. The dessert course offers an array of creamy, chocolatey and fruity pastries all partnered with a luscious zinfandel port. The cost is a mere $65 per person (tax and tip not included). Make reservations at 831.479.6524.


The Exploding Cigar?  The Expanding Cigare! You bet. Now there are vins de terroir from around the world, loaded with place-specific characteristics and flavor notes, available alongside the distinctive house wines at Le Cigare Volant, the restaurant portion of Bonny Doon Vineyards' sensorama. Expanding his restless mission to introduce us to wines worth drinking, Randall Grahm has hand-picked this hefty grouping of terroir-driven wines, complete with his “program notes” that will push your neural synapses. To sweeten the deal, Le Cigare Volant will be open for lunch daily starting May 21, in addition to its Wed-Sun full dinner service.

Birichino Does Pinot  Winemaker and Soif oeno-guru John Locke has let it be known—over coffee at the Companion Bakery last week—that yes, he will be unveiling his first pinot noir vintage, under the Birichino label, next month! Stay thirsty, my friends.

Pizza Progress  Chef Benjamin Sims, formerly of Avanti, emailed to tell me that work on the new Westside pizzeria he and wife Sarah (floor manager at La Posta) are planning is progressing “at a steady pace,” despite plenty of the usual red tape. Sims predicts that construction will begin on the new venture “within a month—assuming we receive our permits before then. Wish us luck!” And we do. The chef admits that the sheer amount of time the process has taken has allowed him time for reflection as to just what he want the final outcome to be. Oh, and the name of the future home of Sims-style pizzas is Bantam. “We have always loved the sound, look and feel of the word. Plus it's fun.”