Feasting on San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival

by Wendy Lemlin

header-logo-04

In recent years, San Diego has done a lot of growing up, gastronomically speaking.  What was once a culinary backwater, defined mostly by gringo-ized pseudo-Mexican  surfer grub, has blossomed with growing sophistication and appreciation for inventive cuisine, fine wines, craft beers —and direct collaboration between chefs and the farmers, ranchers, fishermen, winemakers and brewers whose labors provide the raw ingredients for the new excitement in local cuisine. And, in the last 14 years, the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival has been showcasing and giving impetus to this delicious maturation process in a multi-day event unlike anything else in the San Diego gastronomisphere. Because of its multi-faceted scope of events, San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival is my favorite local gourmet experience.

This year, San Diego Wine & Food Festival Festival, which runs November 12-19, is more eclectic than ever and has something for everyone who loves to eat or drink. From fermentation to fish tacos, from wine to wagyu, guests and participants can partake of events celebrating both the latest trends and the time honored favorites.

P1020874

The Grand Tasting

Continue reading

Chefs Throw Down Cystic Fibrosis

by Wendy Lemlin

20106632_10154859411693932_4263385249489943263_n

20840687_1495117913888106_4989385886410659871_n (2)The fight to cure and control cystic fibrosis will become more palatable on Friday, September 22, when over 25 of San Diego’s and Baja California’s top chefs will engage in a culinary competition at the historic Hotel del Coronado, to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Guests at the 2nd Annual Chef Throwdown are sure to enjoy what is being billed as “an unforgettable evening of epicurean splendor”, begining with appetizers on the oceanfront Windsor Lawn and the Throwdown itself . Once the competition has ended, the festivities move to the oceanfront ballroom for a four-course seated dinner from followed by a brief CFF program, live auction and award presentation, including the Industry Leader Award to be presented to Roger Harrington of Specialty Produce.

Chef Flor Franco

Chef Flor Franco

Chefs will compete for a “People’s Choice Award” voted on by the guests themselves, and the Chef Flor Franco Awards for Culinary Excellence, named for the local chef who contributes so much of her time and resources to supporting non-profits and culinary events in both Southern California and Baja California. This year’s judges include The Marine Room’s executive chef Bernard Guillas, Fishmonger Tommy Gomes of Catalina Offshore Products, and Armando Rodiel, creator of San Diego Paella and Wine Festival. Emcees for the evening will be Troy Johnson of San Diego Magazine and Guy’s Grocery Games, and The Food Network’s Melissa D’Arabian.

6a00e55417fcfd8834015391bd3cb3970b-800wi1

Melissa D’Arabian

Chef competitors include:
Mario Cassineri -Officine Buona Forchetta
Tommy Fraioli -10 Barrel Brewing Company
Ami Cisneros -Pacific Standard
Nick Villamil -Hard Rock Hotel San Diego
Jeff Bonilla -Evolve Cuisine Forward
Marco Marin – Latitude 32 at El Cielo Valle de Guadalupe
Felipe Raul -Vinedos Malagon
Jeff Roberto -Sushi On A Roll
Alex Emery -La Valencia Hotel
Keoni Simmons -Hollywood Casino Jamul-San Diego
Mario Medina -The Main Course Restaurant
Luis Moreno Gil – Andares de la Baja
Colin MacLaggan -Ballast Point Brewing Company
Geordie Moulios -Big City Chefs
Jorge Gonzalez – Calypso Cafe
Jose Plascencia -Casa Plasencia
Jose Sparza -Cien Años de Soledad
Ingrid Shelton -Cusp Dining and Drinks
Andrew Reyes – Tidal at Paradise Point Resort & Spa
Alberto Cansino Gomez – Hotel Calafia
David Meade -Nobu San Diego
Marcus Twilegar -Parq
Indo Reyes -Posh Nosh
AG Warfield -Common Theory Public House
Marcel Childress -Rustic Root
Christine Rivera -Galaxy Taco
Spencer Hunter -Lola’s Lumpia
Lori Sauer – Blue Bridge Hospitality
Gerlyn Usi – Sweet Truck SD
Joe Pastry – Woo Bar
Jessica Scott -Puesto
Kabir Gambhir – Sonic Tonic
Dalil – Opera Café and Patisserie

Guests will also enjoy award winning wines from Adobe Guadalupe, Monte Xanic, Lomita, and Paolini Wines, all in Baja’s celebrated Valle de Guadalupe.

But wait, there’s more! The evening will continue with NightCap, the after-party hosted by San Diego Young Professionals. Dancing, desserts, craft cocktails and savory hors d’oeuvres will add to the merriment, and The People’s Choice winner of NightCap will be crowned (and given a spot in the 2018 Chef Throwdown competition). Awards for best mixologist and dessert categories will also be given out.

Tickets for the entire evening, inclusive of food and libations are $250 (Tax-deductible $45). NightCap only tickets are also available separately for $75 (not tax-deductible). Click here to get yours.  To learn more about the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, visit 

Mavis Staples Headlines San Diego Blues Festival

by Wendy Lemlin

Blues Fest

So, what are you doing on Saturday? If your answer isn’t “attending the 7th annual AimLoan.com San Diego Blues Festival”, you’ll be missing out on a great day of music and fun, not to mention the opportunity to support the very worthy Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank in their fight against chronic hunger.  With a lineup that includes the inimitable Mavis Staples, Joe Louis Walker, California Honeydrops for headliners, and local favorites like Rick Estrin and the Nightcaps, Missy, Mercedes, & Sharifa, Big Jon & the Nationals, Chris James, Patrick Rynn, & Aki Kumar, Blue Largo, and TJ & the Suitcase, Saturday promises to be a stellar day. Continue reading

The Art of the Grand Tour

By Wendy Lemlin

Laguna Beach’s Pageant of The Masters and Festival of the Arts is a summertime tradition

Facade_01 (1)

On a breezy summer evening in Laguna Beach, stars twinkle above 2,600 attentive guests seated in the outdoor Irvine Bowl amphitheater. The live orchestra begins to play while the baritone-voiced narrator introduces the next work of art. The rapt audience breaks into applause as the stage curtain opens on a life sized replica Of Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Annunciation. But wait—did Mary move slightly? Did the angel just blink?

At the Pageant of the Masters, art will come alive to a packed audience every night from July 7-August 31

At the Pageant of the Masters, art will come alive to a packed audience every night from July 7-August 31

 

An actor in makeup and costume for the depiction of Annie Oakley

An actor in makeup and costume for the depiction of Annie Oakley

Call it tableaux vivant, living pictures, or just plain magic, the Pageant of the Masters, brings art to life as actors are transformed into re-creations of well-known paintings, sculptures, and figurines. The original art pieces are painstakingly copied on intricate sets with well-hidden stands, footholds, and handles supporting the cast members, who, after meticulous make-up and costume sessions, are placed in the artwork. Then, as the curtain rises, each actor holds a pose, motionless, unbreathing, for at least 90 seconds. With a patented lighting system that reduces the three dimensional down to the appearance of two dimensions, the effect is spellbinding, and has made the Pageant of the Masters, running July 7-August 31, 2017, a favorite component of the venerable Laguna Beach Festival of the Arts for the past 84 years. Continue reading