San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival November 15-22

By Wendy Lemlin


   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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KAABOO for You

By Wendy Lemlin



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.

A Girlfriends’ Getaway Around Park City, Utah

By Wendy Lemlin

sundance mtn

What makes a great girlfriend’s getaway? A spa day is always special; fabulous food goes without saying, and a little whiskey or wine never hurt. Shopping? Sure! Hiking amidst spectacular scenery? Not to be missed!  Yoga in a hot spring, a foodie tour of culinary hotspots, or a symphony performance at a mountain amphitheater? Now you’re talkin’! And, really, can anything beat sharing a bottle of wine with your gal pals around a firepit on the balcony of the amazing vacation home you’ve rented, while a zillion stars twinkle above your heads and the full moon is just peaking above the mountaintops that surround you?

After a day of fun, can anything beat sharing a bottle of wine with your gal pals around a firepit on the balcony of the amazing vacation home you've rented?

After a day of fun, can anything beat sharing a bottle of wine with your gal pals around a firepit on the balcony of the amazing vacation home you’ve rented?

When you hear “Park City”, you might think of snow and skiing, but I think of lush, green mountainsides, flower strewn meadows, and gushing waterfalls—not to mention living in the lap of luxury  that I couldn’t even contemplate in “real life”. Continue reading

Grand Junction, CO: A Grand Place For A Getaway

by Wendy Lemlin

Colorado National Monument, near Grand Junction, is touted as one of the top places to find solitude in the US. Credit: Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau

Colorado National Monument, near Grand Junction, is touted as one of the top places to find solitude in the US. Credit: Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau

I won’t lie; Grand Junction, CO was not foremost on my getaway destination radar when my longtime friend suggested it for our annual exploit. After spending three activity-packed days there, however, my only regret was that we hadn’t planned to stay longer. Continue reading

Bracero Brings It!

by Wendy Lemlin


After months of delays, and about a year of anticipation, Bracero Cocina de Raiz finally opened in mid July. The first restaurant in San Diego proper by Baja mega celeb chef Javier Plascencia (Romesco in Bonita, Mision 19 and Erizo in Tijuana, and Finca Altozano in the Valle de Guadalupe) and partner Luis Peña, opened its Little Italy doors to much foodie-world buzz and advance reservations booked several months out.

Was it worth the wait? In a word, yes!

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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

A Taste of Baja California Culinary Fest

by Wendy Lemlin


So, you’ve been hearing all these great things about the Baja culinary scene, and have just been waiting for a good excuse (not that you really need one!) to experience it for yourself, right?  Well, you’ve got one—in fact two!

For the first time, Baja California Culinary Fest is teaming up with The Culinary Conference Ensenada Gastronómica to present five days of mouth-watering excitement. From October 29th to November 2nd, guests will be able to explore the many flavors of Baja and discover the local natural resources of the region that the rest of the world is clamoring for these days. Chefs’ dinners, outings, tours and culinary competitions are among the exciting events planned for this foodie extravaganza. Continue reading

Info for Attending Tijuana Innovadora


If you’re planning to attend Tijuana Innavadora–and if you’re a fan of Baja, innovation in the arts and technology, the exciting culinary scene, and so much more, you should be!—here’s what you need to know to attend this incredible conference which takes place Oct. 16-26:

The innovation conference Tijuana Innovadora will present 200
innovators in technology, health, education, business, food, fashion and more on Oct. 16 to 26 at the Centro Cultural Tijuana (Cecut), although the Culinary Battles will take place at the Arena Tecate/Hipódromo Caliente (Caliente Racetrack).
The purpose is to highlight the innovation in the Tijuana-San Diego region and to promote cross-border business opportunities. This year’s theme is a celebration of the contributions Mexican immigrants have made in the United States.
The speakers are leaders in their field in Latin America, the United States and the border region.
Lectures and panel discussions will be available in English through simultaneous translation.
Special events will highlight innovation in specific areas:
Batalla Culinaria – Oct. 18 and 19, featuring top chefs from the Baja California and San Diego.
General seating $30; VIP seating $47
TI cover

Campus link (Oct. 21 and 22) : Speakers and activities aimed at college students focused on Internet technology, given by leaders from Google, MIT, National Geographic, and founders of successful site and apps.

InnovaModa – Oct. 25, featuring Mexico’s famed Pineda Covalín brand as well as local designers. General seating $29, VIP seating $42. Package of four designers’ talks (Oct. 24) is $33,students $17.
Conference tickets can be bought through the website: Tijuana Innovadora or at Cecut box office. $27 for conference block of speakers and panels (generally morning or afternoon), per day. $54 for Rudolph Giuliani or César Millán; InnovaModa and Batalla Culinaria have separate pricing (see above).
Expo — free
Workshops – more than 40, free (in Spanish)
Chats — most free
Individuals – May drive across the border and park at or around the Centro Cultural Tijuana, minutes away from San Ysidro border crossing. Parking will be extremely limited, however.
Uber: Individuals may take the trolley or Uber San Diego (a conference sponsor) to the border and from there Uber Tijuana to the cultural center.
Mexicoach: Individuals may leave for conference venue throughout the day from
the Mexicoach office in San Ysidro, 4570 Camino de la Plaza, 92173. Round-trip ticket is $5,with expedited crossing.
Groups — Transportation will be provided by Mexicoach with expedited border crossing, leaving from Inspiration Point in Balboa Park, for $15 per person. Reservations:; email is:
Neon Run 5K (Oct. 18) Runners and walkers will light up Tijuana streets.
TEDxTijuana (Oct. 21) — $26 for 16 speakers on a variety of subjects.
Cosplay Parade (Oct. 26), 3 p.m. “Comic-con”-style parade of Tijuana cosplayers.
Complete program at Tijuana Innovadora.

Chef Profile: Martin San Roman

by Wendy Lemlin

Chef Martin San Roman in his kitchen at Dobson's .

Chef Martin San Roman in his kitchen at Dobson’s .

There are cooks— and then there are chefs.  Creative cooks abound these days, but truly talented chefs, with a culinary education, a firm foundation in the basics, and years of executive experience in running all types of kitchens, from hotels to intimate dining rooms, are few and far between. Martin San Roman is a highly accomplished chef, in every sense of the word. Continue reading

Taste of Downtown Happening this Week

The food scene in downtown San Diego is eclectic, to say the least.  From sports bars to fine dining, from hot and trendy to long-existing chains, there’s a wide range of flavors and preparations, appealing to tourists and locals alike. Sample a bit of everything at the annual Taste of Downtown, on Thursday, Oct. 2 from 5-9pm, when over 50 restaurants in the Gaslamp Quarter, East Village, Financial district and at The Headquarters at Seaport Village, set out to entice you with bites of their best stuff. Some of the participating eateries include: Comun Kitchen & Tavern, The Blind Burro, Florent, Meze Greek Fusion, Royal India, Whiskey Girl, Zanzibar Café, Dobson’s Bar and Restaurant, and Eddie’V’s Prime Seafood. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 day of, and available

Spreads & falafel at Meze Greek Fusion

Spreads & falafel at Meze Greek Fusion

Mexican style potstickers at Blind Burro

Mexican style potstickers at Blind Burro


Vegetable Samosas at Royal India

Vegetable Samosas at Royal India