Sunday was a perfect reminder of why I live in San Diego. We are so fortunate to have a climate that allows us to grow food year round here. And every year Celebrate the Craft at the Lodge at Torrey Pines brings together the regions best farmers and chefs to showcase our culinary splendors. What I really love about this event, however, is the way that restaurants and farms are paired together. Next to a farmer with a gorgeous display of fruits and vegetables is a chef handing you a plate of that same produce, deliciously prepared.
It was hard to know where to start. I walked around from table to table admiring the bounty. The bright sun intensified the already-colorful fruits and vegetables. The smell of grilled tuna and duck confit wafted across the lawn. I wanted to eat, but as at the farmers market, I got distracted talking to old friends, asking questions, and taking photographs.
I finally circled back to the tables closest to the entrance--Region Restaurant and Dave and Tina Barnes' Crows Pass Farm. For me, Region is the restaurant that best exemplifies what San Diego cuisine is all about. Chefs Michael Stebner and Allyson Colwell were grilling local fish, served on bruschetta with Crows Pass onions.
Around the corner, Barry Logan of La Milpa Organica teamed with Chef Amiko Gubbins of Parallel 33 on a colorful vegetable dish. To their right were bright lemon soufflés, from Arterra pastry chef James Foran, paired with Wicked Wilds Ranchita-grown strawberries. Wicked Wilds, a brand-new, certified organic farm, grows mainly strawberries for restaurants, but plans on expanding to mache and arugula in the coming months.
I couldn't help but notice Alex Weiser. He was the man wearing a giant butternut squash around his neck. He introduced me to his dad, Sid, and Chef Antonio Friscia, who was serving up some of the Weiser's Family Farms vegetables. Friscia will head the kitchen of a new restaurant and nightclub, Stingaree, set to open mid-November at Sixth and Island Street downtown.
Aniata Cheese Co. owner Martyna Stonebrook and Cowgirl Creamery founder Peggy Smith supplied some of Californias finest cheese to taste. And Bread & Cie owner Charles Kaufman reminded me that Bread & Cie will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. I cant believe it. My kids, who were babies at the time he was starting his bakery, were practically weaned on Bread & Cie levain. I went there nearly every morning, grateful to have finally found a source of fresh-baked, European-style artisanal bread. Now you can find Bread & Cie in nearly every grocery store and restaurant in town. Happy Anniversary!
For photos, please see the link below: