3 December food and wine events: Mark Peel, Alain Giraud and a wine festival

Winemaker Adam Tolmach in his barrel room
Ojai wine maker Adam Tolmach in his barrel room. On Dec. 4, Ojai Vineyard wines will be poured at a special dinner at Maison Giraud in Pacific Palisades.
(Stephen Osman / Los Angeles Times)

Recovered from Thanksgiving? Good. Because here comes another round of food and wine events. Early December’s lineup includes a wine dinner at Maison Giraud with wines from the Ojai Vineyard and Santa Barbara’s weekend wine festival “Key to Wine Country.”  

First up, Mark Peel, late of Campanile and soon to be running a little something in Grand Central Market, will be cooking at AMMO on Wednesday. He’ll be trying out some of the dishes he wants to put on the menu at his new place and looking for guests’ feedback. They’ll be available a la carte along with a selection of AMMO favorites. You can make your reservations through OpenTable or by calling the restaurant at (323) 871-2666.

Next day, check out the wine dinner at Maison Giraud in Pacific Palisades designed around the supple Rhone-influenced wines from Adam Tolmach of the Ojai Vineyard.

The four-course prix fixe menu starts off with a duo of oysters from master écailler (shellfish specialist) Christophe Happillon — and wild albacore tartar. That’s served with Ojai Vineyard’s 2013 Sauvignon Blanc from McGinley Vineyard.


Chef-owner Alain Giraud’s menu continues with pan-roasted Maine scallops with parsnip puree and lobster sauce emulsion with the 2013 Viognier from Roll Ranch Vineyard.

The main course is a duck filet with pommes dauphines, Brussel sprouts and sauce au poivre, which should go beautifully with the 2013 Syrah-Grenache from Sebastiano Vineyard.

Dessert — crepes gateau with spiced custard and orange marmalade — goes it alone. The cost for the four-course menu is $85, including wine, but not tax or tip. 

The weekend of Dec. 5 to 7 is the date for Santa Barbara vintners’ Key to Wine Country, one of the most reasonably priced festivals of the year. Keys to unlock events and visits to nearly 40 wineries cost $100 per person at


Once you purchase a key, you will receive a secret password that enables you to make reservations to attend these experiences and events. There is no limit or maximum amount of events you can attend. 

Possibilities include a Pinot Noir and chocolate pairing at Cambria Estate Vineyards & Winery and Byron, a blending seminar at Fiddlehead Cellars, a sparkling wine seminar at Riverbench—and a vineyard walk with Chad Melville. At Cebada Vineyard, you get a tour of the vineyard and a blueberry farm. Barrel tastings and holiday parties are on the roster, too, though some events require an RSVP and/or a surcharge. 

Key holders will also get discounts or special offers at local restaurants, including the famed Hitching Post II in Buellton, Bell Street Farm and Full of Life Flatbread in Los Alamos, even Wine Cask in Santa Barbara.

Transportation packages are also available so you won’t have to worry about wine tasting and driving. That part sounds really fun.

Follow @sirenevirbila for more on food and wine.

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