Foodie celebration

Sandi Point Coastal Bistro in Somers Point is hosting a kickoff event from 5 to 7 tonight for the city's third annual Restaurant Week. Attractions include a bartender's competition, a cooking demonstration, a light buffet, dessert tasting and an art exhibit. A $5 donation to The Commu-nity Foodbank of New Jersey is requested.

From Nov. 2 to 11, guests can sample a three-course prix fixe dinner menu for $25.07 or try a two-course lunch for $11.07 at participating restaurants. This year, that includes Sandi Pointe, Charlie's Bar and Restaurant, The Windjam-mer, The Crab Trap, Doc's Place, Fitzpatrick's Deli & Steakhouse, Gregory's Restaurant and Bar, Greate Bay Country Club, Joe's Mediterranean Grill, Emilio's, Latz's by the Bay and Phillipe Chin's French-Asian Bistro.

Digging into fall

After hiding all the flavor and nutrients inside them, nature didn't make hard-shell squashes easy to open.

To tackle hard, smooth-skinned winter squashes, start with the microwave. Use a metal skewer, a fork or the tip of a small paring knife to poke holes through the skin. Then micro-wave about 3 minutes. That will soften the skin, so it will be easier to cut or to peel. Instead of peeling spaghetti squash, cut it in half, scrape out the seeds, and cook.

Wine of the Week

2010 Ridge Paso Robles Zinfandel

Region: Central Coast

Price: About $28

Style: Elegant, food-friendly

What it goes with: Bbq ribs, steak frites, braised beef, vegetable pot pie

This Ridge Zinfandel comes from Paso Robles, where the 2010 growing season was unusually cool. It tastes of dark berries and something woodsy. Tan-nins are soft and it has a bit of elegance uncommon for a Zin. Drink it with a traditional tafelspitz (boiled beef) or brasato al Barolo. It also works with root vegetable pie or any rustic vegetable main course.