Cova Hand-Selected Wines (5555 Washington Avenue) is celebrating five years in business and you're invited to help them do it in style. The restaurant's 5th anniversary party is this Saturday, December 4, from 2 to 10 p.m. and there will, of course, be plenty of food and wine on hand to celebrate with. $20 gets you Cova's all-you-can-eat buffet while another $20 gets you 25 samples of wine (a really good deal as far as wine samples go). Call 713-868-3366 to purchase tickets.
Whether you just want to have a little time with your friends or you're genuinely looking to polish your cooking skills over the holidays, $55 will buy you a night of either pursuit at Cafe Red Onion (12460 Northwest Freeway) on Monday, December 6. That night, Chef Rafael Galindo will lead a cooking class at the popular Latin fusion restaurant that includes not only a cooking lesson but four courses for dinner and wine pairings to boot. Slots are filling up quickly, so book yours by calling 713-290-0759.
Alternatively, if you're single and looking to mingle (oh, yes -- I just had to go there) with likeminded food-loving professionals, Eight Friends Out is hosting its 4th annual Holiday Progressive Dinner in River Oaks, but you won't be hopping around to people's houses and eating out of crock pots here. This Progressive Dinner starts at 6 p.m. on Friday, December 10 at Americas (2040 West Gray) and will hit Backstreet Cafe and Epicure Cafe before the night is over. The cost to join in is $50 for members of Eight Friends Out and $60 for non-members. You can RSVP online or give the club a call at 281-870-0827.
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Back to cooking classes, Central Market has an amazing holiday lineup of chefs and courses leading up to Christmas this year. On Monday, December 6, Mimi Waida in partnership with Diabetes America will be demonstrating healthy party ideas that don't sound healthy, such as bacon and mushroom quiches, hot artichoke dip and chocolate-drizzled peanut butter cake.
On Friday, December 10, pastry chef and cookbook author Alice Medrich will be showing you how to make some of her most popular cookies (which, of course, make excellent and inexpensive presents). On Friday, December 17, transported Californian chef Daniel Olivella -- who owns B44 in San Francisco and Boquiera in Oakland -- will be in town to help you put on a very Spanish Christmas, complete with Catalan specialties and a traditional Castillian holiday dessert.
And, finally, learn once and for all how to decorate a gingerbread house with skill each Sunday of this month and on Monday, December 20 and Tuesday, December 21. These classes, unlike the others, are open to all ages. All of the classes mentioned can be viewed online, where you can find out exact costs and times as well as book your spot.
Last but not least, another of the increasingly popular Chef's Table dinners at Catalan is taking place this Sunday, December 5 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. This week's menu: French Country Cooking. The cost is $35 per person, which gets you multiple courses served up by Chef Chris Shepherd in a communal, family-style setting. Call 713-426-4260 to make your reservation.