Say you've devoted every minute of the past two years to turning your barbecue dream into a smokin' success. Then what? If you're a mere mortal, you turn the reins over to someone else for a while and take a much-needed vacation. If you're Paul Reddick, you decide to open a second, much larger restaurant. "I've still got an itch to scratch," says the former high-tech sales manager whose Smoking Pig BBQ in North San Jose is attracting 'cue fiends from Oakland and Sacramento. By that, he means he needs a larger venue where he can showcase more of his Southern recipes in one room and blues music in another -- without the music drowning out the diners, and vice versa. He's found a huge restaurant space in Fremont, and he's aiming for a late August opening. Stay tuned. (And not to worry: His original joint is staying right where it is.) Details: www.smokingpigbbq.net.
A summer's meal: California's native freshwater fish and produce will star at the "Eating California" Summer Solstice benefit June 22 at Middlebrook Gardens in San Jose. The annual event raises funds for student internships at the on-site ELSEE (Environmental Laboratory for Sustainability and Ecological Education). Menu highlights include grilled sturgeon with parsley pesto and tomato-lemon coulis, blackened elk with elderberry jus, and a root vegetable terrine. Desserts will be created by Chef Matthias Froeschl of Naschmarkt in Campbell. Details: Tickets are $75; wine is extra. Seating in the garden is limited; for tickets, go to www.middlebrookcenter.com/elsee. The event runs from 6-10 p.m. at Middlebrook, 76 Race St., San Jose.
Dining deals: Two dozen restaurants will offer special prix fixe menus for San Jose's fifth annual Dine Downtown promotion June 21-30. Among them are a couple of recent arrivals on the dining scene, the casual Cafe Stritch (with a $20 menu) and Nemea Greek Taverna (a $50 menu). Again this year, the private Silicon Valley Capital Club is participating ($40 menu), giving nonmembers a chance to check out the sky-high dining. Details: http://sjdowntown.com/dinedowntown.
Send South Bay and Peninsula dining tips to Linda Zavoral, email@example.com.