Birthday Staycation

Words & photos by Wendy Lemlin

Under the therapeutic cascade at Rancho Bernardo Inn

Under the therapeutic cascade at Rancho Bernardo Inn

Sometimes you just need a break.  Not a long vacation, but certainly more of a change of scenery than just hanging out in your own home.  Get away from the kitchen, get away from the computer, and get away from all the little chores around the house that nag to be done when you just want to relax.  I’m talking abdication of all responsibility, here, with a side order of pampering thrown in for good measure.  You don’t even need to go away to get away, distance-wise, to be amazed at how a change of environment makes for a change in temperament. You just need a great staycation. Continue reading

Baja Exchange: A Crossborder Celebration of Baja Med Cuisine and Wines in San Diego

By Wendy Lemlin

Chef/owner Miguel Angel Guerrero

Chef Miguel Angel Guerrero

Fifteen years ago, Chef Miguel Angel Guerrero opened La Querencia in Tijuana, and BAJA MED cuisine was born. These days, the term “Baja Med” is bandied about constantly in foodie circles, but, what many people don’t know is that the term originated with Guerrero and is now copyrighted in the names of his restaurants. “Baja Med is what this region is all about”, he defines. “It melds together the street food from Tijuana, the seafood that fills the market stalls in Ensenada, Asian influences from Mexicali, and the Mediterranean-type ingredients, such as olive oils, wines, cheeses, meats and produce grown and produced locally, from the coast to the Valle de Guadalupe.” Continue reading

Fishing for Compliments at San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival

Ocean-to-Table Wine Pairing Luncheon features an impressive roster of chefs

By Wendy Lemlin

Something’s fishy at the 12th annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival this year—- and that’s a good thing!

The abundance of delectable seafood found in our local waters will be the inspiration for a 5 course wine pairing luncheon held at The Marine Room, La Jolla’s iconic oceanfront restaurant, on Wednesday, November 18, from 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM.  Hosted by Executive Chef Bernard Guillas, the exclusive luncheon will feature the formidable talents of a cadre of local celebrity chefs known for their creativity and passionate respect for the sea’s bounty.

Chef Bernard Guillas

Chef Bernard Guillas

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Flying to San Felipe

by Wendy Lemlin

These arches, the symbol of San Felipe, greet visitors at the north entrance of town.

These arches, the symbol of San Felipe, greet visitors at the north entrance of town.

San Felipe, on Baja’s Sea of Cortez, has always been a playground and vacation home destination for those in the San Diego and SoCal areas, but until recently, getting there was definitely NOT half the fun, necessitating a 4+ hour drive into Mexico, over mountainous roads and sometimes long border waits on the return trip home. All this changed this past December, when Portland, OR-based SeaPort Airlines began offering non-stop air service from San Diego International Airport to San Felipe in their nine passenger prop planes, currently on Monday, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

SeaPort Airlines' 9 passenger planes fly between San Diego and San Felipe.

SeaPort Airlines’ 9 passenger planes fly between San Diego and San Felipe.

The easy, hour and 20 minute flight takes passengers over breathtaking views of mountains and canyons that few travelers ever see, far from any roads or vestiges of “civilization”, and deposits them at the small San Felipe airport, on the placid shores of the Sea of Cortez, just a 5 minute drive from the lovely beachfront San Felipe Marina Resort and Spa.  Continue reading

Welcome to Borderlines

   

by Wendy Lemlin

A border can be anywhere. It can be a fence between countries or an intersection that defines a neighborhood. A border can flavor a cuisine and enliven a culture. It can have a recognizable soundtrack or certain design aesthetic. A border can be a physical demarcation or merely a state of mind.

The best borders are porous, engendering understanding and cross pollination of ideas and customs, but even when they are not, when walls separate and visas restrict, the crossing over or through becomes all the more exciting,

I live in San Diego, CA, about a 15 minute drive from the US/Mexico border in Baja California, a border which I cross often. I love that I can be in another country— with customs, cuisine, language, and lifestyle often so different from my own—in less time than it takes for me to drive to the northern or eastern reaches of San Diego county, which also are borders in and of themselves.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been afflicted with an active case of wanderlust.  Whether traveling to the far-flung corners of the globe, or the near-flung corners of my county, I constantly seek out unique experiences—geographical, cultural and culinary.  I’m fortunate to have the great pleasure of writing about these places and times in hopes of inspiring others to cross their borders and enjoy the world as well.

When I was a child, I was the pickiest of eaters.  Not any more! I love food that is creative, healthy, and often decadent. I devour with my senses. I’m enamored with aromas, titillated by tastes, and excited by the sight of a beautifully prepared dish or a perfect piece of produce.  International cuisines and regional specialties  inspire my wanderlust.

Machneyuda spices

I’m an almost-vegetarian–I don’t eat mammals—so, you won’t be reading any reviews of meat dishes on this blog. But, having grown up in the seaport of New Bedford, MA, I will probably never stop eating seafood, and on my yearly visits “back home” I have a list of the “must eats” that are always a part of every trip there and that I enthusiastically splurge on: North Atlantic lobster roll, mixed with just a hint of mayonnaise served in a toasted, buttered hot dog bun; Maine steamer clams, dunked in their own broth and melted butter; New England clam chowder whose broth is thickened only with the cream and slivers of potato; seared scallops fresh from a New Bedford ship, golden fried whole belly clams; and broiled scrod, minimally seasoned and moistly flaky. I have never tasted fresh corn on the cob anywhere else in the world that can compare to the ears of Silver Queen or Butter and Sugar eaten barely steamed within a few hours of having been picked on a Massachusetts South Coast farm in August.  Yes, my cholesterol is about 1000 when I come back to San Diego, but do I care? No!  And am I salivating now as I write this, happily anticipating the meals I will have there in about a month? You betcha!

As a food writer, of course I’m opinionated about my dining experience, what’s on my plate, and ultimately, in my mouth. I’m not impressed by pretention.  Except for my sugar addiction—don’t even get me started on chocolate or pastries—-and my occasional “vacation lapses”, I’m a strong proponent of healthful, whole food eating, and I see no reason to eat processed food at bad restaurants–or even, “just okay” ones, when there is so much incredible creativity out there. If an eatery considers iceberg lettuce to be the main attraction in a “garden salad”, I pretty much know I’m not going to like anything else they serve me..  That is, except for the little Greek pizza place in my hometown that coincidentally makes the best fried clams around.