Holiday Champagne tasting: Café L'Europe's first holiday Champagne tasting is 6-8 p.m. Dec. 19. Discover great Champagnes from France, prosecco from Italy, cava from Spain and sparkling wines from California and beyond. Classic L'Europe appetizers will be served to complement the featured bubbles during the tasting. Cost: $30 per person. The restaurant is at 431 St. Armands Circle, Sarasota. Reservations are required to 941-388-4415.
Breakfast with Santa: Fete Ballroom at Polo Grill and Bar, Lakewood Ranch Main Street, is having a Breakfast with Santa, 8:30-10:30 a.m. Dec. 21. A hearty breakfast buffet along with family friendly music, a visit from Santa Claus and entertainment are included. Face painting by Childlike Productions, candy cane making by Pete Vrinios and a gingerbread house and pastry demonstration by the Polo Chefs welcome children and those young at heart. Cost: $17.50 for adults, $12 children 12 and younger, under 2 free. Advance tickets available online at: http://conta.cc/1hIc6bu.
Sarasota Ballet's Nutcracker Luncheon and Children's Event: Chef Paul Mattison announces a pre-matinee "Luncheon and Children's Event" on Dec. 21 in the Grand Foyer of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets include lunch and activities and are $18 for adults and $15 for children plus tax and gratuity. Advance ticket purchase is required and can be made by calling 941-921-3400. While it is encouraged to attend the Ballet performance, it is not a requirement to have a "Nutcracker" matinee ballet ticket to attend the Luncheon and Children's Event. The lunch menu by Mattison's Bayside at the Van Wezel, includes a variety of stations including mac and cheese, salads, beef and chicken tacos, sliders, and a make-your-own sundae bar. Soft drink beverages and water are included in the price. Children's activities begin at 11:30 a.m., including face painting, jugglers, glitter tattooing, photographs with Santa, clowns, stilt walker, balloon artist, and more. The Sarasota Ballet's matinee production of "John Ringling's Circus Nutcracker" begins at 2 p.m. Tickets are $45-$95 and may be purchased by contacting the Sarasota Ballet Box Office at 941-359-0099, ext. 101.
Christmas Day buffet: Polo Grill's Christmas Day Buffet offers a delicious array of artisan cheese, fresh seafood, savory delights and holiday sweets. Menu is posted online at http://bit.ly/1ksE1t0 Reservations available from noon through 5 p.m. Cost: $37.50 for adults, $17.50 children 12 and younger, under 2 free. The Polo Grill is on Main Street in Lakewood Ranch. Reservations available online: www.pologrillandbar.com or by calling 941-782-0899, ext. 2.
New Year's Eve: Pier 22, 1200 First Ave. W., Bradenton, is holding a buffet and cash bar 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Dec. 31 including a champagne fountain and mini burgers at midnight along with music and party favors. The Arch entertains with live music throughout the evening and to usher in the new year. Price per person is $59.95 plus tax and gratuity. Pier 22 also plays host to an all-inclusive New Year's Eve ballroom celebration that features an open bar, buffet with a variety of delectable appetizers, salads, entrée's, sides, desserts, champagne toast and mini burgers at midnight. Price is $99.95 plus tax and gratuity. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 941-748-8087. The full party menu can be found at www.pier22dining.com.
New Year's Eve Celebration: Polo Grill and Bar, Lakewood Ranch Main Street, is having a New Year's Eve Celebration with seatings at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 31. Ring in 2014 with a four-course prix fixe meal, party hats, trinkets and more. Menu is posted online at: http://bit.ly/1bRK76Y. Cost: $55 per person for the early seating and $75 for the second. Both seatings include a complimentary glass of champagne and admission to the Polo Lounge for music and dancing with DJ Phame. Reservations available online at www.pologrillandbar.com or by calling: 941-782-0899, ext. 2.
Louies Modern Christmas and New Year's: Putting a distinctly Modern American twist on holiday classics that honor the Feast of Fishes and other dining traditions, Louies Modern, 1289 N. Palm Ave, Sarasota, is hosting Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve Celebration Dinners. Two Christmas Eve specials are being offered -- Farm to Table featuring Modern Roast Duck á l'Orange for $28 per person and (Sea)sta Key to Table featuring Louie's Bouillabaisse for $32 per person. Ring in the New Year with dinner specials including wood-grilled Porterhouse steak for two diiner ($65/two people) and Modern Maine Lobster Pot Pie for $32. Advanced reservations strongly recommended, which can be made online at www.louiesmodern.com or by phone at 941-552-9688. Complimentary parking is available in the Palm Avenue Garage above the restaurant.
Libby's Café + Bar Christmas and New Year's: Libby's annual Feast of Fishes returns along with indulgent Prime beef specials to complement its new winter menu of small and large plates, with prices from $3 to $38 through Dec. 24. Libby's New Year's Eve features party favors, dinner, appropriate entertainment until 10 p.m, Dancing with a DJ starting at 10 p.m., midnight champagne toast. New Year's Day Brunch includes a 50-plus ingredient Bloody Mary and mimosa bar as well as ala carte brunch menu beginning at 10:30 a.m. The restaurant is a 1917 Osprey Ave., Sarasota. Reservations are highly recommended and can be made online at www.libbyscafebar.com or by phone at 941-487-7300.
Café L'Europe Christmas and New Year's: Spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at Café L'Europe, 431 St. Armands Circle, feasting in grand style with two classic holiday dinner choices, the Charles Dickens Christmas Special or a traditional turkey dinner (find complete menus online). The special holiday menus will be offered 5 p.m. to closing Dec. 24 and noon to closing Dec. 25. Two packages are offered for New Year's Eve -- A dinner with seating from 5 to 7 p.m. or a special gala-style dinner beginning at the 9 p.m. dinner seating, enjoy an elegant dinner prepared by the culinary team at L'Europe. There is a $50 cover charge after 9 p.m., that includes live music by a dance band, party favors, balloons, hats, noisemakers, streamers, and of course, Champagne toast at midnight. Reservations are strongly suggested; call 941-388-4415 or visit the website at www.cafeleurope.net.
'Downton Abbey' wine dinner: Enjoy a four-course dinner with wines in the traditional English style of the "Downton Years" at this fabuolous estate property, 6:30-9 p.m. Jan. 17 at Powel Crosley Estate, 8374 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Dress is black-tie preferred (or suit) and period dress. Cost: $65 per person. Find more details and a complete menu at www.tasteweb.net or call 941-366-7950.
on the menu
Jazz Brunch on the Beach: The Sandbar, 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria, is now serving Brunch on the Beach 10 a.m.-1 p.m. every Sunday. Jazz music is provided by the Lou Harris Quartet featuring Koko Ray. Brunch at the Sandbar is available inside the dining room or on the covered open air deck with toes-in-the-sand tables available. Reservations are not required, seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. The lunch menu is also available starting at 10 a.m. For more information, call 941-778-0444 or visit www.groupersandwich.com/events.
Apron's classes: Apron's Cooking School at Publix At University Walk, 2875 University Parkway; students may register for all classes online at www.publix.com or by calling 941-358-7829.
Culinary Calendar: Email information to firstname.lastname@example.org.