Feasting on San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival

by Wendy Lemlin

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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.

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The Grand Tasting

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Gourmet Dining With Farmers, Friends & A Fisherman

By Wendy Lemlin

Ok, I admit it.  Life can taste pretty sweet when you’re a food writer.  It’s especially enjoyable when gourmet dining amidst great conviviality with the growers, harvesters, and curators of the delicacies on the plates in front of me.

This was the case last night (January 15) at San Diego’s Red Door Restaurant and Wine Bar for the Baja edition of their Farmers, Friends & Fisherman Dinner series, which proved so popular that seating spilled over into The Wellington Steak and Martini Lounge, Red Door’s adjoining sister restaurant. The seasonal series showcases area farmers, fishermen, ranchers, and wine or spirit makers who personify Red Door’s sustainable, local and organic credo. Continue reading

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

Wine, Sculpture, Opera–and Pizza!– at Salerno Winery

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salerno 7Lovers of award winning wines and world-class art can now indulge both passions at the newly expanded Salerno Winery in the scenic hills of Ramona, CA, in San Diego’s East County. 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

Treasures of Tecate

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A Hike on Kuchimaa, aka Mt. Tecate

by Wendy Lemlin

As I passed back into the U.S. from Tecate , Baja California, the Customs and Immigration officer asked why I had been in Mexico. When I answered that I was checking out the interesting places around the town, he looked at me incredulously and asked, “Really? What is there to do in Tecate?”

As Mexican border towns go, Tecate may be Baja’s best kept secret. Continue reading