Attention, food- and wine-lovers: Another culinary safari is approaching, so let's make plans:
The 26th annual Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival runs Friday through Sunday (Sept. 9-11) in the picturesque Village at Northstar, between Lake Tahoe and Truckee.
Special events will include a grape stomp, gourmet marketplace, food- and wine-pairing seminar, outdoor cooking demonstrations, hands-on cooking classes, arts and crafts, live entertainment, art and sculpture shows, and much more.
The two top attractions each year are the Mountain Chef Blazing Pans Cook-Off (think "Iron Chef" and the surprise of "secret ingredients") and the big finale - the Grand Tasting and Culinary Competition, at which dozens of restaurant chefs pair delectables with wines from dozens of wineries.
Most events are free (including cooking classes), but the ticketed ones cost $15 to $90 (the festival is a fund-raiser). For the schedule, ticket availability and lodging suggestions, visit www.tahoefoodandwine.com
There's more: Following the festival will be the second annual Lake Tahoe Restaurant Week, Oct. 2-9.
The deal: About 60 restaurants around the lake and in Truckee will offer three-course prix fixe meals for $20, $30 or $40 per person. "No passes, tickets or coupons are required," said event organizer Pettit Gilwee. Be sure you make reservations, though.
At www.tahoerestaurantweek.com, you'll find a list of participating restaurants (from family-run to high-end), menus, maps, lodging deals and contact info.