If you have come to love pinot noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley the way I have, then you should familiarize yourself with Argyle Winery. They also make chardonnay, riesling and sparkling wines that command a place on the world stage.

To get cozy with these wines and enjoy a fantastic meal in the process, look no further than the latest wine dinner coming to the Fairhope Inn Thursday, Oct. 29. The night begins with a sparkling brut in the cocktail moments. The first course of grilled salmon with kale, blistered tomato and cucumber quinoa should grab the attention of the Argyle Chardonnay.

Porcini ravioli with herb ricotta in wild mushroom sauce is served with the Argyle Willamette pinot noir.

Pan-seared Ashley Farms organic chicken with autumn vegetable hash gets the full treatment with the Argyle Reserve Pinot Noir.

Dessert course sounds amazing with a d’Anjou pear poached in cranberry and riesling with an almond tuile. Of course this is paired with the Argyle Nuthouse Riesling.

Price per person is $70, excluding tax and gratuity. Reservations are a must, so act now by calling Fairhope Inn at 251-928-6226.

Chefs and Hard Hats brings in Mujumdar for Habitat fundraiser
You’ve seen him as a judge on “Iron Chef America” and “Cutthroat Kitchen,” and now you can see him in person as Simon Mujumdar serves as guest chef at Habitat for Humanity’s Chefs and Hard Hats annual fundraiser. This year’s event is slated for Thursday, Oct. 29, at the Athelstan Club in downtown Mobile.

Guests will be treated to a five-course sit-down dinner as Mujumdar teams with the Athelstan Club’s regular chef, Ashley Sollier, for Indian/Gulf Coast fusion in a showdown of East meets West (or is it Far East meats Southeast?).

After a cocktail hour sponsored by Abita Brewing Company from 5:30-6:30 p.m., the meal begins with onion bhaji with chicken tikka skewers served with cilantro chutney. The salad course has a Thai ginger dressing over greens. A fall-appropriate butternut squash soup will warm your bones. But it’s the entrée of Gulf shrimp tikka masala with kachumber salad and two-toned rice that has everyone talking.

Dessert will be imported all the way from Royal Street’s The Royal Scam in the form of its peanut butter chocolate cheesecake.

The price for this event is a cool $150 per couple. The only problem I see is it is sold out as of now. Keep your fingers crossed that someone cancels. I certainly won’t miss this event. This is one of the fundraisers for Habitat for Humanity as it raises money to build and sell houses at zero profit with zero interest.   
 
Hometown favorite headed to “Top Chef”
We can never forget our old pal Wesley True and his time on the Mobile restaurant scene. True announced this week via Facebook he’s competing on “Top Chef California”! The trailers are so high impact they gave me anxiety. This 13th season looks to have a lot of amazing contenders, and as Chef True says, “Tune in. It promises to be an exciting season.”

We wish you the best of luck, Chef. We’ll be pulling for you.

Chipotle celebrates Halloween with the “Boorito”
Chipotle wants to keep everything fresh, clean and free of unnecessary preservatives. They want their customers to know unnecessary preservatives and additives found in fast food are super creepy!

Cut to Oct. 31, 5 p.m. to closing, when Chipotle locations, including ours at 3871 Airport Blvd., will be having its “Boorito” fundraiser. The promotion is $3 burritos, bowls, salads, tacos and kid’s meals for customers dressed in costume. The catch is the costume must contain at least one unnecessary element to get the deal.

“We’ve always focused on sourcing the highest quality ingredients, and we are challenging our customers to learn about the unnecessary ingredients used in typical fast food by adding something ‘unnecessary’ to their costume,” Mark Crumpacker, chief creative and development officer, said. “In exchange for adding an unnecessary item to their costume, we’ll donate $1 from their purchase to the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation to help in its efforts to create a better food future.”

Not many fast food restaurants can boast the use of local produce (when available) as well as preservative-free foods cooked in a classic manner. Have you had their tacos? Let’s just say I don’t hate them. But please, Chipotle, make some cheese dip, I beg of you. Do it for the children.

Competition will be fierce for Oyster Cook-Off
The Hangout Oyster Cook-Off begins Friday, Nov. 6, with a craft beer festival and live music. That sounds amazing. Saturday there will be a North American Oyster showcase with more than 30 growers from across the continent flying them in. There will be Best Tasting Tailgate tents to watch SEC football games on big screens. There will be workshops and book signings from many of your favorite chefs. But it’s the competition that drives this event.

Not only will chefs from all over the country be competing for over 20,000 in cash and prizes in categories of Rockefeller, Cajun and create-your-own raw oyster dishes, there are other competitions going on as well.

Let’s not forget the Bloody Mary Invitational. Some of the Southeast’s finest mixologists will be wowing the crowd for the best Bloody Mary. Oh, and did I mention there will be plenty of opportunities to taste?

Another event is a competition of an uncelebrated art — the art of oyster shucking. Restaurants will compete for the title of “Fastest Oyster Shucker,” which to me is like “Most Daring Chainsaw Juggler.” The only requirements are thick skin and nerves of steel as competitors jab oyster knives along slippery bivalves at breakneck speeds. I shall watch and cheer, but dare not enter.

Recycle those shells, boys and girls.