La Valencia Celebrates 90 Years

by Wendy Lemlin

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20161215_183815The way the Pink Lady was partying at her birthday bash, you’d never know she was 90 years old! Always the gracious and fun hostess, she pulled out all the stops, eating, drinking, and dancing the night away with almost 300 guests, all the while looking lovelier than ever.

The Pink Lady, of course, is the La Valencia Hotel, an icon in the heart of La Jolla Village.  La V’s 90th Birthday Gatsby Gala, held on December 15, was a lavish Roaring-20s themed celebration worthy of comparison to any party The Great Gatsby himself would have thrown. Champagne 20161215_190405and Prohibition Era inspired cocktails flowed freely, food tables groaned with a vast assortment of delicacies, and the “speakeasy” dance floor was packed. Most of the guests donned period attire, the women resplendent in a sparkling abundance of beads and sequins, the men either going for straw boater-style hats or more formally dressed in tails or dinner jackets.20161215_184536

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What’s New at San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival?

By Wendy Lemlin

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   With 43 events over seven days, the 14th annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival, November 14-20, is a really big deal. As one of the nation’s largest gastronomic festivals, it brings together celebrity and local chefs, sommeliers, winemakers, brewmasters, and gourmet food artisans to present gala dinners, tastings, classes, competitions, and even a golf tournament. Continue reading

KAABOO Year Two

By Wendy Lemlin

 

logo.kaaboo_2x.ext-33c58bcd750728837ef4a610f4c28a16Music, Art, Food, Comedy –- KAABOO Del Mar brings all the elements of a good time together in one multi-focus three day event billed as a “mixperience”.  Ambitiously begun in 2015 as the largest multi-faceted cultural event to hit the San Diego area, the 2nd annual installment of KAABOO Del Mar takes place September 16-18 and sprawls throughout the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The festival organizers define KAABOO as “an adult escape, created by music lovers for music lovers, uniquely curated to appeal to all five of your senses, with world-class music, dancing, incredible cuisine, craft libations, inspiring contemporary art, and personal indulgences”.

At the heart of KAABOO Del Mar is the music, with over 78 eclectic artists appearing on 5 stages, performing everything from Americana/Roots music to classics, to Hip Hop. Those who spring for the VIP “Amplify” ticket, get to start the party early on Thursday evening, with entertainment by Chris Isaak and Macy Gray. Continue reading

AmiLoan.com San Diego Blues Fest Happening September 10

By Wendy Lemlin

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The fight against hunger in our community has been waged on many fronts, but perhaps the most pleasant battlefield happens each year at Embacadero Park with a soundtrack that includes the hottest national and local blues artists around.

Since 2011, the AmiLoan.com San Diego Blues Fest has partnered with the Jacobs and Cushman San Diego Food Bank with a two-fold mission: present top name blues artists at an affordable price while raising much needed funds—-and awareness—-to benefit the Food Bank. It’s been a rousing success; to date,sponsors and festival goers have helped contribute 20 tons of food and more than $435,000 to help the Food Bank fight hunger in San Diego County. And no one’s crying the blues about that!

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The Flavors of Florent

Words & Photos by Wendy Lemlin

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Like most San Diego locals over 30 years old, I rarely venture into downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter, and, despite the blocks of cheek-to-jowl restaurants, even more rarely do I ever dine there. I’ve always had the impression that, with a few notable exceptions, most of the restaurants serve overpriced, mediocre “tourist” food, or unsophisticated bar bites. On a recent visit, however, I’ve found that Florent Restaurant & Lounge, on the prime corner of 5th and G,  is one of those notable exceptions,

Executive Chef Brad Hightow

Executive Chef Brad Hightow

Executive Chef Brad Hightow has been running the culinary show there for the past 15 months, and his high quality take on New American cuisine is creative and delectable.  Flavors are balanced and complementary, presentations are attractive, and ingredients are sourced from such local standout purveyors as Specialty Produce and Catalina Offshore Products. Continue reading

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 Bash to Benefit WILDCOAST

by Wendy Lemlin

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Having fun and conserving our coastlines on both sides of the border..

These days, everyone loves Baja, especially her beaches and coastal areas.  In fact, people love Baja so much, that much of her once mostly-deserted 1900 miles of coastlines have fallen under targeted assault from increased development and industrial growth. Coral reefs and mangrove forests teeming with fish and sealife, pristine beaches where endangered sea turtles nest, and bays that are the birthing areas for gentle California grey whales—all are in danger of disappearing, and the marine species and other fauna that depend on these fragile ecosystems are also in peril.

Luckily, 16 years ago WILDCOAST (aka COSTASALVAJE in Spanish) began working to watchdog and protect the marine ecosystems and wildlife on Baja’s coasts, as well as coastal areas in San Diego and in other Mexican and Latin American regions. Continue reading

Mmmm—That’s Italian! Part 3: Chef Profile— Mario Cassineri

By Wendy Lemlin

Chef Mario Cassineri in the wine cellar at BiCE San Diego

Chef Mario Cassineri in the wine cellar at BiCE San Diego

“Here, try this.  I’m thinking of adding it to the menu; let me know what you think,” BiCE Ristorante San Diego’s executive chef Mario Cassineri invites, as he places a beautiful dish in front of me. Before I even taste it, I know what I will think.  I will love it, because I’ve IMG_9271never tasted anything from Chef Mario that I haven’t loved. And this creation—beet greens ravioli, the pasta tinted pink by the beet purée added to the dough, is no exception. Bathed in a sauce of  horseradish and shrimp reduction with a touch of brandy, and topped with succulent pieces of prized Baja shrimp, asparagus with just the right amount of crunch, and baby spinach leaves, the dish is satisfyingly rich, yet delicate, all at the same time.  It is this perfect balance of textures and flavors that, to me, has always been a hallmark of Cassineri’s cooking. Continue reading

Art Alive Blooms at the San Diego Museum of Art

By Wendy Lemlin

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Floral arrangements as art, art as floral arrangements—the annual Art Alive show opened today at the San Diego Museum of Art. Now in it’s 35th year, the popular 3 day show features more than 100 floral interpretations of well-known works from the Museum’s permanent collection. Continue reading

Mmm! That’s Italian!! Part 2: Civico 1845

By Wendy Lemlin

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There are those who might think that San Diego’s Little Italy didn’t need another Italian restaurant. Sure, the city’s hottest dining neighborhood has seen an influx over the past couple of years of trendy, non-Italian eateries, however, “Italian” restaurants and pizza purveyors still far outnumber any other types of cuisine presented in those heavily-trafficked few blocks. But, anyone who thinks another Italian restaurant would have been superfluous there, obviously hasn’t dined at Civico 1845. Continue reading