Upcoming Events: Restaurant Weeks and Rare Real Ales

On August 15, culinarians across the country will be celebrating what would have been Julia Child's 100th birthday. Hoping to recruit at least one million people into the celebration, her original publisher -- Alfred A. Knopf -- has begun JC100, a celebration of Julia's legacy in the 100 days leading up to her birthday.

For the final days of JC100, a nationwide Julia Child Restaurant Week will feature 100 specially selected restaurants across the country which will be serving a Julia Child-inspired menu. From August 5 to 15, these five Houston restaurants -- chosen by Knopf -- will offer menus featuring some of Child's favorite dishes:

A Facebook page created in Child's honor is home base for the national celebration. For an overview of the JC100 celebration, go to www.facebook.com/JuliaChild. There, you can find anecdotes and clips from the Julia Child archives, as well as links to Web tributes by chefs, bloggers and other fans. You can also follow JC100 on Twitter, where people are invited to tweet their favorite memories, quotes or recipe photos, using the hashtag #JC100.

After a sold-out beer dinner with Jester King, Underbelly plans to pair up with another Austin brewery: Real Ale. On August 16, Underbelly will host its second beer dinner -- this time with beer pairings from Real Ale, selected by next-door neighbor Kevin Floyd from The Hay Merchant. The five-course meal will kick off at 6:30 p.m., served by executive chef Chris Shepherd.

All courses of the Real Ale dinner will feature beer from the Mysterium Verum (translation: "Real Mystery") Series. Four of the beers will be vintage kegs pulled from the Hay Merchant cellar, and the last beer will be the debut release of the newest Mysterium Verum, one which Floyd believes will be some kind of barrel-aged sour. Said a press release for the dinner:

We have determined one of the beers will be a 2010 Kraken (their Sisyphus barleywine aged for 11 months in American and French Oak), Vol. 14 (a barrel-aged 14th anniversary ale) and another will be a vintage keg 2010 of Devil's Share (a barrel-aged version of their Belgian triple, Devil's Backbone).

The dinner costs $110 a person. Only 36 seats are available, so reserve your spot now by calling 713-528-9800.

Houston Restaurant Weeks is right around the corner and it's bigger than ever this year. Not only has the title officially been changed to reflect the month-long event that runs from August 1 to 31, but there are more ways to help out your local food banks than before.

To date, HRW has collectively raised more than $1.7 million for the Houston Food Bank. But this is the first year that HRW will include Galveston and Montgomery County restaurants, with donations directly benefiting the Galveston County Food Bank and Montgomery County Food Bank, respectively. And that's not all.

Also new this year is the opportunity to give via your cell phone. Simply text the keyword "HRW" to 20222 to donate $10 to the Houston Food Bank -- you don't have to make reservations or dress for dinner. But if you do, you'll have a huge array of restaurants to choose from: There are over 150 places participating this year, from all corners of the city and offering all types of cuisines.

As usual, the three-course dinners at each participating HRW restaurant cost $35, with a $5 donation per dinner given to the Food Bank. Each two-course lunch is $20, with a $3 donation going to the Food Bank. At some restaurants, however (such as RDG + Bar Annie and Coppa Ristorante Italiano), you'll get a four-course dinner for your $35, so plan wisely. Some, such as Haven and Branch Water Tavern, are even offering a HRW brunch menu.

And remember: If you absolutely, positively have to leave a Yelp review of a place during HRW...be kind. The restaurants, servers and kitchens are slammed for a month straight each year, and it's all for a good cause.

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