Upcoming Food Events

We all know that Santa Claus travels far and wide to make his Christmas deliveries, even if you don't have a chimney in your house. But did you know that he even travels underwater?

The Downtown Aquarium will have a very special treat starting December 18 through Christmas Eve, December 24, when Santa will visit the restaurant each day from 8 to 10:30 a.m. Children are invited to enjoy a breakfast buffet with Santa Claus for $7.99 (adults are $14.99) and see an underwater Santa diving in the Downtown Aquarium's waters every day. Reservations can be made for the breakfast by calling 713-223-3474.

After the holidays, head out to the annual Citrus Fest at the Eastside Farmers Market on Saturday, January 15 from 8 a.m. to noon. At this ever-popular fruit tree sale, you can purchase an amazing variety of trees -- even trees you've likely never heard of, such as Jaboticaba and Grumihcama. But never fear if you're unfamiliar with a certain varietal or have reservations about being able to grow your own: Urban Harvest offers free classes on how to grow and care for fruit trees. Prices start at only $15 for a sugar apple tree, making these an inexpensive yet worthy investment that's worth every penny.

If you'd rather learn to cook with (and support) locals, there are two cooking classes coming up at Central Market in January that would make excellent Christmas gifts for the aspiring chefs in your life.

First up on January 13 is Jean-Philippe Guy, owner of Bistro Don Camillo, who will demonstrate foods from Nice and how the Italian-influenced French food is much more simple to prepare than you might think. Dishes include stuffed cabbage a la Nicoise and roasted lamb shank with thyme.

After that, local cookbook author Shubhra Ramineni will teach recipes from her new book, Entice With Spice, on January 26. Learn Indian cuisine through working with Ramineni for the evening as she teaches you how to make items like samosas, mint chutney and chicken biryani with raita.

Meanwhile, the boys at Branch Water Tavern know how to throw a party. And Evan Turner's latest theme is no exception to the rule: We Have to Have a Whiskey Party (just because, right?) will go down on Sunday, December 19 from 4 to 7 p.m. in honor of the construction of the Williamsburg Bridge 107 years ago, which finally connected Manhattan to Brooklyn. Wait, what?

That's just Turner's way of offering $2 Manhattans, $2 Brooklyns and $2 whiskey you-call-its all afternoon. If you go, you can consider it an education in both construction history and whiskey. Ah, rationalization, my favorite friend.

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Katharine Shilcutt