Upcoming Events: Put That Ugly Christmas Sweater to Good Use

Coming up this Tuesday, December 4, Haven and Cove will be kicking off the Christmas season with a Champagne dinner starting at 6:30 p.m. The three-course dinner created by chef Randy Evans will feature a passed tasting of raw dishes from Cove to start. Courses include duck confit with roasted beets and an arugula millefeuille, pickled beech mushrooms with steel-cut risotto and foie gras snow, and a final dessert of satsuma creme with cocoa nib caramel.

Each course will be paired with a different sparkling wine from the Champagne Collet USA Inc. portfolio, and CEO Jeff Bevan will be on-hand to demonstrate the best ways to enjoy Champagne this holiday. The cost is $90 per person (tax and tip not included) and reservations are required.

Midtown's Double Trouble Caffeine and Cocktails, headed up by Robin Berwick (formerly of Anvil Bar & Refuge) and Robin Whalan (of Poison Girl), is known for its locally-roasted Greenway Coffee, specialty cocktails and micro brews on tap. But on Monday, December 10, Double Trouble will be mixing things up with Willy Wonka Night and two very special guests.

Fluff Bake Bar's Rebecca Masson -- affectionately known in Houston as the Sugar Hooker -- and her assistant, known only as The Ninja, will be collaborating with Double Trouble to create a unique menu including such cocktails as "Violet! You're Turning Violet, Violet!" and "Wonka's Golden Ticket." The special Willy Wonka menu runs from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.

"I'm excited to be a bartender!" says Masson, who owns Fluff Bake Bar and has been featured on Bravo's Top Chef Just Desserts. Masson has a passion for all things Willy Wonka, which provided inspiration for the event, and a passion for her charity of choice: Lucky Dog Rescue. A portion of the evening's proceeds will benefit Lucky Dog, a 501(c)(3) foster-based rescue group which rescues dogs from the streets of Houston and from the city pound, providing vetting and resources to place the dogs into forever homes.

Still have that heinously ugly Christmas sweater from the last "ugly Christmas sweater" party you attended? Then put it to good use this year at Max's Wine Dive and The Tasting Room, where the restaurants will be hosting their very own parties across the city -- that includes CityCentre, Uptown Park and Kingwood -- on December 14. All locations will be offering a free -- yes, free! -- dessert or small plate (that's restaurant-talk for appetizer) to everyone who shows up in their finest ugly attire that day. Fine print time: Limit one per customer, and the dessert/small plate cannot exceed $10. And remember to leave a tip!

Join BRC Gastropub for the first event in an upcoming series of pig roasts on Wednesday, December 19, where a roast swine from chef Lance Fegen will be served up with all the trimmings, accompanied by craft beer pairings from Southern Star Brewery. Starting at 6:30 p.m., a spit-roasted pig will be served along with cranberry, feta, walnut and arugula salad; oyster-cheddar spoon bread; baked sweet potatoes with marshmallow glaze; horseradish-creamed brussels sprouts; and a dessert of gingered apple cranberry crisp blanketed with sweetened double cream.

The meal is a meager $34 a person (which includes beer). And Jeff Hamm, head brewer at Southern Star, will be on-hand throughout the evening to discuss the beer and food pairings. Southern Star will also be doing a tap take-over for the evening at BRC, offering selected special brews designed to enhance the entire roast pig experience. Call 713-861-2233 to reserve your place.

Want to bring the kids to visit Santa this year, but don't want to deal with the mall crowds? Even better -- want the kids to see Santa and keep them occupied with fun food and games while you relax? Then book your Breakfast with Santa now at the Downtown Aquarium, where Good Saint Nick will be making appearances throughout December.

The Aquarium is inviting guests to its breakfast buffet served every weekend throughout the month, where Santa will visit with the kids, take photos and even swim with the sharks in the tanks that are on view throughout the restaurant. The buffet costs $15.99 for adults and $9.99 for kids ages 4 through 10, but you must make reservations. Call 713-223-3474 to save your spot now.

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