Datebook: Your week in food and dining events

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Hot date night: Nothing impresses the ladies like a flashy show of frugality. So wow that special someone by taking her out to a tear-jerker of a movie on the Third Street Promenade (may we suggest ‘Marley and Me’) and following up by heading to Riva, where the presentation of your ticket stubs will earn you each a free beer or glass of wine. Riva, 312 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica. Sundays through Thursdays after 9:30 p.m. (310) 451-7482.


Eat chocolate for a good cause: Now you don’t have to gorge on Hershey bars alone in your dining nook. You can attend a chocolate and wine tasting at Fancifull Gift Baskets in support of SideStreet Projects, a nonprofit organization run by artists in support of artists. Enjoy a decadent ‘chocolate buffet,’ along with a wide variety of wines. You’ll also be able to tour the Alternate Routes Woodworking Bus. The Alternate Routes bus, a division of SideStreet projects, is a mobile classroom to help kids learn about important aspects of art and design. Fancifull Gift Baskets, 5617 Melrose Ave., L.A. 6 to 9 p.m. Donation of $10 or more required. (323) 466-7654.;


Friends of James Beard benefit: Help nurture America’s ‘culinary heritage’ by attending a two-day benefit for the James Beard Foundation at Zov’s Bistro. Iron Chef Michael Symon and Mark Summers from the Food Network will be present alongside Zov Karamardian for a Saturday-night VIP dinner as well as Sunday cooking demonstrations and lunch. Zov’s Bistro, 17440 East 17th St., Tustin. Dinner is at 6 p.m. Saturday, $500. For reservations and further information call (714) 838-8855, Ext. 5.

Cook like a pro: Eat lunch and drink wine while learning cooking techniques and recipes from chef Andy Brooks at Brooks restaurant. On the menu: pan-roasted crab cakes, seared-salmon spinach linguine and chocolate buttermilk cupcakes. Brooks, 545 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura. 11:30 a.m. $85. (805) 652-7070.


Another weekend brunch option (and happy hour to boot): Didn’t spend enough going out to dinner this week? Try adding brunch to your week’s dining bill. Fraiche has just announced that it’s now open for weekend brunch. If you’re really feeling it you can stay for the nightly happy hour the restaurant just rolled out. Fraiche, 9411 Culver Blvd., Culver City. Weekend brunch, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; daily happy hour 5 to 6:30 p.m. (310) 839-6800.


Los Angeles Wild Mushroom Fair: We learned of this gem of an event from the folks over at Eat: Los Angeles. They write, ‘Not only will you see wild mushrooms in natural-habitat settings, but you’ll enjoy cooking and cultivation demonstrations, a talk by ’shroom expert Dr. Robert Cummings, children’s activities, and the chance to bring in mystery mushrooms for identification. If you’d like to go hunting, you can join in the pre-fair Foray on Saturday.’ The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, 301 N. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. $7 for adults, $5 children and students.

Chicks with Knives: Really! And these ladies can cook. Join them for their monthly sustainable supper club, which celebrates local ingredients. You’ve gotta be a member to find out where and when they will serve dinner. The menu is online, though, and includes white bean soup with chili oil and spatchcock chicken with salt-roasted potatoes. To sign up go to


A dinner that’s good for your wallet: Every Tuesday the Park is now offering a three-course, $15 prix-fixe dinner. That’s quite a deal, since their portions tend to be hearty. The menu will rotate weekly; this week’s includes mushroom barley soup, spice-crusted pot roast and vanilla cupcakes. The Park, 1400 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park. (213) 482-9209.

The time to power lunch is now: Power lunching is a rite of passage in Los Angeles, so why not do it right? The NineThirty restaurant at the fancy-schmancy W Hotel is unleashing the power-lunch deal to put other power-lunch deals to shame. The spectacle involved is enough to convince me to try it. First you call the ‘power-lunch hotline’ to make your reservation. When you arrive you are guaranteed to be in and out in exactly 60 minutes, and a digital hourglass timer is placed on your table to make sure you don’t fool around. The wait staff will also call up your car while you settle your bill. Whew, I’m kind of exhausted just writing about it. NineThirty at the W Hotel, 930 Hilgard Ave., Westwood. Weekdays. Power-lunch hotline, (310) 443-8207.

-- Jessica Gelt