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

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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San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival November 15-22

By Wendy Lemlin

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   Wonder how much San Diego loves food and drink? Just look at the success of the San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival, now in it’s 12th year, bigger and more comprehensive than ever. Running November 15-22, with a full roster of events, dinners, tastings, classes, and exhibits, it is one of the largest food and wine festivals in the country, shining a spotlight on both San Diego’s burgeoning gourmet dining scene and our cross-border connection with Baja’s exciting culinary landscape. From tacos and beer to wine paired-haute cuisine, there is something for anyone who loves indulging in crave-worthy food and spirits.  And really, who doesn’t?

More than a dozen celebrated national chefs, including Rick Bayless, Gayle Gand, and Suzette Gresham will join over 40 local luminaries in presenting delicacies and/or cuisine-related educational programs. Look for such regional favorites as The Marine Room’s Bernard Guillas, Javier Plascencia of  Bracero, Finca Altozano, and Mision 19, Jason SBWFF grand tasting smokerKnibb of NINE-TEN, Chad White of Comun and La Justina, Ironside Fish & Oyster’s Jason McLeod, Flor Franco of Finca La Carrodilla and Indulge Contemporary Catering, Mario Medina of Bernini’s Bistro, The Patio Group’s John Medall, Anthony Sinsay of Dukes’s La Jolla, James Montejano of La Valencia Hotel, and a host of others.

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October Food Events

Eat Your Way Through October

by Wendy Lemlin

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What is it about October that always makes it such a busy month for food events? Is it because it’s usually one of the best weather months in San Diego, when temperatures start to cool down and skies are clear?  Is it because it fits so nicely between summer vacations and holiday frenzies? Or maybe it’s more about fiscal calendars and venue availabilities.  Whatever the reason, this will be every foodie’s dream month—just be prepared to splurge, both calorie-wise and money-wise, if you plan to go to everything! Here are a few events coming up. Continue reading

KAABOO for You

By Wendy Lemlin

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Back in 1969, the most well known of all music festivals EVER was optimistically billed as Woodstock Music & Art Fair, in hopes that it would be remembered as more than just a regular ol’ music festival.  Which of course it was, but not because of any art exhibits, but rather as the iconic representation of the art of high hippieness.

Forty-six years later (yikes!), KAABOO, the hip, but not hippie, three day music and arts festival taking place this weekend, September 18-20 at Del Mar Fairgrounds will distinguish itself not only by presenting over 100 musical performances, from legends to emerging artists, on seven stages. As if that wouldn’t be ambitious enough, adding to the total “mix-perience”  the festival includes components of  experiential “indulgences”, art installations, a comedy club, and opportunities for indulging our seemingly insatiable food obsessions at the “Palate” area.

The musical lineup is truly impressive, with something seemingly for everyone.  On Friday, the highlights include, among others, Bonnie Raitt, Ozomatli, Fitz & the Tantrums, Sheryl Crow, No Doubt, and Snoop Dog. On Saturday, some of the big names are Counting Crows, Slightly Stoopid, Ozomatli, Zac Brown Band, and Spoon. Sunday features Donovan Frankenreiter, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, O.A.R., Minnie Driver, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Grace Potter, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Brandi Carlisle, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, and Train.  On Friday and Saturday, the music runs from 11 AM-2:30 AM, on Sunday from 11AM-10pm.

As for food, according to KAABOO’s website, the “Palate” component will present fare that’s “way more tasteful than at a typical music festival”, representing an upscale culinary environment where guests can sample specialties from a variety of carefully selected culinary artisans, and limited production wines and craft libations:

  • 18 top local restaurants & chefs
  • 20 exclusive California wineries pouring approximately 60 different wines
  • 25 craft distilleries sampling small batch tequila, mezcal, bourbon, gin, rum, vodka, sake, and other spirits

On the Palate Stage on Saturday, starting at noon, six chefs will compete in the KAABOO Rockin’ Chef Competition, with three teams of two chefs with each team making an appetizer and entrée.  The competing chefs are

  • Amy di Biase
  • Brian Malarkey
  • Chad White
  • James Montejano
  • Jason McLeod
  • Javier Plascencia.

Their entries will be judged by Master Chef Ferdinand Metz, Candice Woo of EATER SD, Darlene Horn of ZAGAT, Josh Kopelman of DiningOutSD, and Sam the Cooking Guy.

The Palate stage will also be the place to catch:

  • Chef Band Performances
  • Celebrity Chef Demos
  • Chef & Artist Book Signings
  • Surprise Musical Performances

For all the detailed info for this “grown up” party, click here. One day passes start at $125, 2 day passes start at $229, and 3 day passes start at $299 in advance, $329 at the gate, all plus service charges.  A variety of VIP passes are also available. $1 per pass purchased will be donated to KAABOO’s “KINDNESS” charity program. Additional charity contributions made at time of pass purchase will be matched dollar for dollar by KAABOO.

Art Will Bloom at San Diego Museum of Art’s “Art Alive”

By Wendy Lemlin

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Next weekend, from April 24-26, one of my favorite annual events is happening at the San Diego Museum of Art. 

During Art Alive, the Museum will become transformed into a fragrant vision of art combined with such natural materials as flowers, greenery, seeds, vines, and more, as more than 100 floral designers bring the Museum’s renowned Permanent Collection to life during the 34th annual event, creating live floral displays inspired by the works of art. Continue reading

Feeling Flaky

By Wendy Lemlin

(Published in About Town Magazines, Winter 2015 as “Let It Snow”)

Winter rains at the coast can mean snow in San Diego County's eastern mountain areas.  Photo Credit: Wendy Lemlin

Winter rains at the coast can mean snow in San diego County’s eastern mountain areas.

Ah, the joys of winter: sledding, cross country skiing, making snow angels and building snowmen… think you can’t do that in San Diego County? Well, think again—-and head for the hills!

When rare winter rains drench the city and the temperatures drop at the coast, it’s highly likely that snow will cover the tallest mountain peaks in the eastern reaches of the county. It may only happen a few times a winter, and any accumulation will certainly melt within days after a snowstorm, so, if you’re yearning for the quintessential snow day, be ready with your call-in-sick-to-work excuse, put on those layers of clothes and drive east ASAP!

Here’s a flurry of snow-possible locations, each only about an hour’s drive from San Diego—close enough to spend the day and still be back at the beach by sunset. Continue reading