Civico 1845: Collaboration Italian Style

By Wendy Lemlin

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   With its authentic food and outstanding vegan menu, Civico 1845 is one of my favorite Italian restaurants in San Diego, and it looks like it is going to become even better. Beginning this month, the Civico team is collaborating with chefs Antonio and Luca Abbruzzino, a Michelin rated father/son pair from Calabria, Italy, to highlight genuine southern Italian ingredients in the restaurant’s dishes. Continue reading

Bracero Brings It!

by Wendy Lemlin

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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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Indulge at 11th Annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival This Week!

  By Wendy Lemlin

Anyone who doubts that San Diego has finally outgrown the culinary “children’s table” and is now welcome to sit with the grownups, has only to look at the events scheduled for the 11th annual San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival, running November 16-23, to see how far the city’s food and spirits sophistication has matured.

The international showcase of the world’s premier wine and spirits producers, nationally renowned chefs, culinary personalities, and gourmet foods benefits culinary arts and enology scholarships awarded by The American Institute of Wine & Food and the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.  Over 200 wineries, breweries and spirit companies, 70 of San Diego’s top fine dining restaurants and 30 gourmet food companies will participate in the 2014 Festival.

From seminars and cooking classes to celebrity chef dinners and Grand Tastings, the festival promises to whet—and satiate— the appetites of all who love to eat, drink, and make merry.  With event tickets ranging from $40 to $550, there is something for every palate and every budget. Continue reading

A Taste of Baja California Culinary Fest

by Wendy Lemlin

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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

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

Food Without Borders: Culinary Battles at Tijuana Innovadora Conference

By Wendy Lemlin

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Come October 18 and 19, there will be some cross-border battles raging in Tijuana— but don’t be alarmed; it’s a very good thing!  In fact you could say a delicious thing, as some of the finest chefs from San Diego and Tijuana compete in three separate Iron Chef-style competitions, or Batallas Culinarias, as part of the biennial Tijuana Innovadora Conference, which showcases innovation in technology, industry and culture. Continue reading

Bravo for Zarco

By Wendy Lemlin

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I’d be willing to wager that for most of you reading this, downtown Chula Vista is not the first place you’d think of—or at all— when deciding where to go for a fantastic dinner and amazing wine selection. Yeah, me neither—that is, until my recent visit to Zarco, Cocina De Baja, in the heart of Chula Vista’s 3rd Avenue shopping district. There, among shops whose windows display the most colorful of flouncy quinceanera dresses, Chef Flor Franco has converted the commercial kitchen of her highly successful Indulge Contemporary Catering company into a first rate showcase for her take on the much acclaimed cuisine and wines of Baja California. Continue reading

Food Indigo: Indigo Grill Reborn

by Wendy Lemlin

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So—you know what it’s like when you run into someone you used to be friends with, but, for one reason or another, haven’t seen in a couple of years, and in the meantime she’s lost 25 pounds, had some major “work” done, colored her hair, completely changed her style of dressing and now, all of a sudden, is bubbling with energy and personality and looking all stylish and hot? On one level, she is still the same friend that you’ve always known and loved, but on another level you’re like, “Damn, who IS this person?”

Well, that’s how I felt when I walked through the new doors of the re-concepted and remodeled Indigo Grill on the corner of India and Cedar Streets in San Diego’s Little Italy for the restaurant’s big reveal party. First opened in 2001, Indigo Grill was one of the earlier collaborations between the Cohn Restaurant Group and Chef Deborah Scott, and for years was the only trendy, non-Italian cuisine eatery in the newly-hip neighborhood. Continue reading