Food & Drink: Eat, drink, be merry

Forget looking decent in a swimsuit. Stuff your face this summer with pears, microbrews, baklava.

2009 Celebrity Chef Challenge

When: Friday, June 5, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Where: California Automobile Museum (formerly Towe Auto Museum), 2200 Front Street;

Cost: $50 in advance, $60 at the door

Why: Instead of drooling over food on Iron Chef America, taste masterpieces created by local chefs using secret ingredients. Plus, there will be oodles more food, beer and wine vendors from which to gorge.

Seventh annual Raley’s Grape Escape

When: Saturday, June 6, 4 to 7 p.m.

Where: Cesar Chavez Plaza, 10th and J streets;

Cost: $40 in advance, $50 at the door

Why: More than 100 local wineries and restaurants converge to give you tastings, with a garnish of live music and art.

Sacramento Natural Food Co-op cooking classes

When: various dates all summer

Where: Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, 1900 Alhambra Boulevard;

Cost: varies

Why: Summer is the best time to host a party. So learn how to grill, concoct Indian specialties or turn your dinning room into a French bistro.

Chocolate & Dessert Festival

When: Friday, June 12, 5 to 8 p.m.

Where: Whole Foods Market, 4315 Arden Way;

Cost: free for the festival; class prices vary

Why: It’s free chocolate.

California’s Grape & Gourmet

When: Thursday, July 9, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Where: Sacramento Convention Center, 1400 J Street;

Cost: $50 in advance, $70 at the door

Why: Featuring more than 800 California wines and 90 regional restaurants. ’Nuf said.

20th annual Sierra Brewfest

When: Saturday, July 25, 3 to 6:30 p.m.

Where: Nevada County Fairgrounds, 11228 McCourtney Road in Grass Valley;

Cost: $25, free for designated drivers and nontasters

Why: Sipping microbrew and eating chow from vendors under the shade of ponderosa pine trees is the ultimate summer escape.

37th annual Pear Fair

When: Sunday, July 26, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Where: town of Courtland, off Highway 160;

Cost: free admission, $10 parking

Why: Pears are often the forgotten fruit variety. Seriously, when was the last time you ate a pear? Get your fill with pear pie, pear smoothies and even pear beer.

The Wine School

When: Wednesdays, September 2-23, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Where: Delta King, 1001 Front Street in Old Sacramento; (916) 444-8052;

Cost: $50 for one class, $99 for series; reservations required

Why: Because deep down you long to be that wine snob who lectures friends when they pair the wrong wine with food.

46th annual Greek Festival

When: Labor Day weekend

Where: to be determined,

Cost: see Web site for info

Why: Because Greeks know how to eat—and they know how to eat well.

15th annual California Brewers Festival

When: Saturday, September 19, 1 to 5 p.m.

Where: Discovery Park, Garden Highway;

Cost: $25 in advance, $30 day of event, $5 for designated drivers and those 12-20, free for children younger than 12

Why: Sacramento loves brewfests, and this is the last one of the summer—before Oktoberfest season begins.