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CAFE PONTE WINE DINNER: 7 p.m. today, Cafe Ponte, 13505 Icot Blvd., Clearwater. Three-course winemaker dinner; $65 inclusive. Call (727) 538-5768 to RSVP.
WASHINGTON VARIETALS DINNER: 6:30 p.m. today, Fleming Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, 4322 Boy Scout Blvd., Tampa. Dine on panko-crusted oysters, Gruyere cheese puffs, balsamic lamb chops, seared sea scallops in wasabi cream and more, paired with Washington state varietal wines, including Stimson Lane; $70 for the four-course dinner, excluding gratuity and tax. Call (813) 874-9463.
LAKERIDGE WINEFEST: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun., Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards, U.S. 27, 3 miles south of Florida Turnpike Exit 285, near Clermont. Tours of the winery, wine samplings accompanied by live music, wine specials, crafters and artists, food available; $2 admission. Call toll-free 1-800-768-9463 or (352) 394-8627.
LE BOUCHON WINE DINNER: 7:30 p.m. Sat., Le Bouchon, 796 Indian Rocks Road, Belleair Bluffs. Five-course bistro menu pairs quail with tarragon, portobello and celeriac frita, citron tart and more, with champagnes, cabernet franc, chenin blanc wines from J.B. Michele and M. Pascal Lambert; $45.95 plus tax and gratuity. Call (727) 585-9777 to reserve.
STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL: Food, entertainment and exhibits, Feb. 27-March 9, Plant City (Exit 10 or 11 off I-4). Visit www.flstrawberryfestival.com for more information.
OYSTERCATCHERS TASTING: 5:30-6:30 today, Oystercatchers Restaurant at Hyatt Westshore, 6200 Courtney Campbell Parkway, Tampa. Chateau Souverain zinfandel, Beringer chenin blanc among wines tasted, $10. Call: (813) 207-6815.
ITALY TO THE RHONE VALLEY: Got Wine and Cigars, 1006 Broadway (Alt. 19), Dunedin. Pinot grigio from Italy, syrah from California, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thur., or wines from Bordeaux and the Rhone Valley, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Fri.; both tastings free and accompanied by hors d'oeuvres. Call (727) 736-4077.
BELISSIMO BRONSON: 7 p.m. aperitif, 7:30 p.m. tasting, Fri., Vintage Wine Cellars, 3629 Henderson Blvd., Tampa. Bronson Mela hosts Italian wine tasting, including Boscarelli Vino Nobile di Montalpulciano; $20. RSVP: (813) 879-2931.
SOUTH AMERICAN WINES: 6:30 p.m. Fri., Uncorked Fine Wines and Accessories, 2706 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg. Taste wines from South America's recent harvest; $10; portion of proceeds benefits Pinellas County Special Olympics. Call (727) 892-9463.
WINE AND FRESH MARKET: Florida Estates Winery, 4 miles west of I-75 on SR 52 near Land O'Lakes, hosts wine tasting and fresh market with fresh produce, cheeses, barbecue, smoked seafood, free sampling of winery's 13 varieties, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat.. Call (813) 996-2113.
HEAVENLY WINES: 7-9:30 p.m. Sat., Church of the Holy Spirit, 601 Philippe Parkway, Safety Harbor. Ed's Fine Wines samples red and white wines from around the world, hors d'oeuvres; $10, $12 at door. Call (727) 796-4220.
TASTE OF ITALY: 3-6 p.m. Sun., B-21 Fine Wine and Spirits, 43380 U.S. 19 N, Tarpon Springs. Taste 75-100 wines from Italy's top producers, including Brolio, Silvio Grasso, Antinori and more; $20 advance, $25 at door if available. Call (727) 937-5049, ext. 210, or visit www.b-21.com and click on "Tastings" to RSVP.
ANTINORI AT ARMANI'S: 5:30-6:30 p.m. Sat., Armani's (atop Hyatt Regency Westshore), 6200 Courtney Campbell Parkway, Tampa. Taste wines from Antinori, Merryvale and Bonterra; $10, stay for dinner and tasting fee is waived. Call (813) 207-6800.
BEER AND CHEESE: 6 p.m. Tues., A Taste for Wine, 241 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Perfectly paired beers and ales with cheese varieties; $12. Call (727) 895-1623 to RSVP.
SPANISH WINES AND TAPAS: 7 p.m. Tue., Columbia Restaurant at the Pier, 800 Second Ave. NE, downtown St. Petersburg. Sample cava brut, rioja and other Spanish wines, paired with Columbia's tapas appetizers; $25, inclusive. Call (727) 822-8000.
ROTHBURY AND RODNEY STRONG: 6:30 p.m. Tue., Mystic Fish, 3253 Tampa Road, Palm Harbor. Complimentary wine tasting includes Rothbury cabernet sauvignon, Rodney Strong zinfandel, Sonoma Cutrer chardonnay. Call (727) 771-1800.
QUICK AND EASY BREADS: 7 p.m. today, 10 a.m. Thur., Nature's Harvest Market, 1021 N MacDill Ave., Tampa. Debby DeGraaff makes quick and easy bread recipes in free vegetarian class. Call (813) 873-7428.
COOKING WITH CHEF FRED: 7 p.m. today, Drew Coffee Shop, 1907 Drew St., Clearwater. Create culinary treats and enjoy complete dinner as Chef Fred teaches cooking class; $24.99. Call (727) 441-2572.
ARTISAN CHEESEMAKER: 6:30 p.m. Fri., Apron's Cooking School, Publix Supermarket at Shoppes of Citrus Park, 7835 Gunn Highway (corner of Erhlich Road), Tampa. Paula Lambert, author and founder of Dallas' Mozzarella Co., shares her cheesemaking experiences and makes fennel Asiago bisque, baked goat-cheese salad and much more; $40. Call (813) 926-4465 to RSVP.
DESSERTS AND PARTY FOODS: 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Sat., La Maison Gourmet, 471 Main St., Dunedin. Advanced skills class makes desserts and party foods designed to wow guests, plus designs plates using fruit and chocolate; $50. Call (727) 736-3070 to reserve.
ZESTY FALAFEL: 11 a.m. Sat., Nature's Food Patch, 1225 Cleveland St., Clearwater. Food Patch's Theo Tillson makes green beans with cashews, zesty falafel with onions and spices, lemon tahini dressing; free. Call (727) 443-6703.
COOKING FOR KIDS: 1 p.m. Sat., Museum of Science and Industry, 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. Make kid-friendly meals in "Science of Cooking" series for ages 8 and up; $40, $35 MOSI members, teens $30 and $25, kids $25 and $20. RSVP: (813) 987-6000.
CUBAN CUISINE: 7-9 p.m. Tue., La Maison Gourmet, 471 Main St., Dunedin. Make dishes with a Cuban flair: curried black bean salad and mango coulis, stuffed flank steak, fried yucca in mojo; $39.50. Call (727) 736-3070 to RSVP.
THE ORGANIZED COOK: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tue., Margaret Ann's Catering, 5625 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg. Organize a week's worth of dinners complete with shopping list; menu includes pulled-pork fajitas and garlic-roasted chicken; $35. Call (727) 525-3983 to reserve.
GUILIANO'S CLASSIC ITALIAN: 6:30 p.m. Feb. 26, Casa Italia, 2080 Constitution Blvd., Sarasota. Cookbook author Guiliano Hazan shares cooking tips and prepares four-course Italian meal for sampling: $70, includes wine tasting, hors d'oeuvres, recipes. Call (941) 924-1179 to RSVP.
HEART HEALTHY: 7 p.m. Feb. 26, 10 a.m. Feb. 27, Nature's Harvest Market, 1021 N MacDill Ave., Tampa. Vegetarian heart-healthy dishes; free. Call (813) 873-7428.
CORN BREAD COOKOFF: Create a main dish recipe in a cast iron skillet using Martha White cornmeal for a chance to win the $3,000 grand prize; finalists compete in cornbread festival April 26 in Tennessee. Send recipes by Feb. 28 to: National Cornbread Cookoff 2003, 209 Seventh Ave. N, Nashville, TN 37219, or visit www.marthawhite.com for complete rules.
-- Send news of coming events at least two weeks in advance of the publication date to Food File, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.