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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Bracero Brings It!

by Wendy Lemlin

sign

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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Bravo for Zarco

By Wendy Lemlin

zarco

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

Welcome to Borderlines

   

by Wendy Lemlin

A border can be anywhere. It can be a fence between countries or an intersection that defines a neighborhood. A border can flavor a cuisine and enliven a culture. It can have a recognizable soundtrack or certain design aesthetic. A border can be a physical demarcation or merely a state of mind.

The best borders are porous, engendering understanding and cross pollination of ideas and customs, but even when they are not, when walls separate and visas restrict, the crossing over or through becomes all the more exciting,

I live in San Diego, CA, about a 15 minute drive from the US/Mexico border in Baja California, a border which I cross often. I love that I can be in another country— with customs, cuisine, language, and lifestyle often so different from my own—in less time than it takes for me to drive to the northern or eastern reaches of San Diego county, which also are borders in and of themselves.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been afflicted with an active case of wanderlust.  Whether traveling to the far-flung corners of the globe, or the near-flung corners of my county, I constantly seek out unique experiences—geographical, cultural and culinary.  I’m fortunate to have the great pleasure of writing about these places and times in hopes of inspiring others to cross their borders and enjoy the world as well.

When I was a child, I was the pickiest of eaters.  Not any more! I love food that is creative, healthy, and often decadent. I devour with my senses. I’m enamored with aromas, titillated by tastes, and excited by the sight of a beautifully prepared dish or a perfect piece of produce.  International cuisines and regional specialties  inspire my wanderlust.

Machneyuda spices

I’m an almost-vegetarian–I don’t eat mammals—so, you won’t be reading any reviews of meat dishes on this blog. But, having grown up in the seaport of New Bedford, MA, I will probably never stop eating seafood, and on my yearly visits “back home” I have a list of the “must eats” that are always a part of every trip there and that I enthusiastically splurge on: North Atlantic lobster roll, mixed with just a hint of mayonnaise served in a toasted, buttered hot dog bun; Maine steamer clams, dunked in their own broth and melted butter; New England clam chowder whose broth is thickened only with the cream and slivers of potato; seared scallops fresh from a New Bedford ship, golden fried whole belly clams; and broiled scrod, minimally seasoned and moistly flaky. I have never tasted fresh corn on the cob anywhere else in the world that can compare to the ears of Silver Queen or Butter and Sugar eaten barely steamed within a few hours of having been picked on a Massachusetts South Coast farm in August.  Yes, my cholesterol is about 1000 when I come back to San Diego, but do I care? No!  And am I salivating now as I write this, happily anticipating the meals I will have there in about a month? You betcha!

As a food writer, of course I’m opinionated about my dining experience, what’s on my plate, and ultimately, in my mouth. I’m not impressed by pretention.  Except for my sugar addiction—don’t even get me started on chocolate or pastries—-and my occasional “vacation lapses”, I’m a strong proponent of healthful, whole food eating, and I see no reason to eat processed food at bad restaurants–or even, “just okay” ones, when there is so much incredible creativity out there. If an eatery considers iceberg lettuce to be the main attraction in a “garden salad”, I pretty much know I’m not going to like anything else they serve me..  That is, except for the little Greek pizza place in my hometown that coincidentally makes the best fried clams around.