Part 2… (For Part 1, Click Here)
Karl Klein, Olympic Training Center
Offered a lean Salmon Burger on a Brioche Bun with a zesty Asian Slaw. Fantastic. This is a great example of how to incorporate creamy into a burger without losing the acidity. After that burger, I think I need to start training for the Olympics so I can taste more of his masterfully crafted food. Also, he is well-grounded and a personable chef who loves his craft.
Lance Repp, La Valencia
Hands down, my favorite of the day, a homemade Sweet Pea, Spinach and Goat Cheese Ravioli served in a Morel Mushroom and Parmesan broth. A perfectly balanced dish that was executed by a master. The tang of a goat cheese and creaminess of the peas married well with the earthy broth. La Valencia officially made my list of must-visit restaurants in San Diego.
Jeff Roberto, Sushi on a Roll
A career Sushi Chef, he knows how to make an outstanding roll. The En Fuego roll was the only roll offered, but when you’re that good, all you need is one. A wonderfully spicy roll that was balanced with creamy avocado and crisp cucumber, it is a must.
Oddly enough, no one seemed interested in the celebrity chef demos; everyone was consumed in the food, wildlife, music and all-around good time. So if you’re an avid celebrity chef follower, you practically scored a private lesson and one-on-one time with the chefs.
Barrio Logan Winery is a San Diego based winery that makes a killer sangria with their signature red using oranges, pineapple juice and lots of all around deliciousness.
Saint James Spirits was showcasing their local vodka Six One Nine (the area code for San Diego) which is five-times distilled and served in a Cosmo. Very smooth and it’s local; it doesn’t get much better than that.
Magners Irish Cider was a standout in the beverage section. I’ve always been a fond of cider (who doesn’t like alcoholic apple juice?), especially after my time at Oxford, where you can find it in every pub. Served traditionally over ice there are only two flavors that have made it over the pond, pear and original. The original has a nice depth and apple flavor and for you more timid the pear was light and delicate. Definitely made my next Booze Run list.
Casa ZG Sangrita Mix, not to be confused with Sangria. It is a traditional mix from Mexico that can either be a chaser or a mix for tequila. As the name indicates, it is a bit gritty, which is unusual for a mix. It is a vibrant mix of peppers and citrus, so it provides the spice and acidity for your tequila. Not for the faint of heart, Casa ZG Sangrita Mix is an adventurous departure from the usual mixers, but perhaps just for a special occasion.
Honest Tea has been a staple in Whole Foods for a couple of years now and is always the right blend of tea, flavor and sweetness without ever tasting like it’s been bottled. If you haven’t tried it yet and are a tea lover, this is something I’d definitely recommend. Peach tends to be the most popular, but Moroccan Mint is a great cooler for the summer.
Reed’s Ginger Brew has been found on grocery shelves for quite sometime and is a go-to for that spicy intense ginger taste in it’s ginger beer, which differentiates it from the lighter ginger ale they offer. If you are like me and eat the ginger that comes with sushi for fun, this is something you will enjoy. It makes a great Moscow Mule or a mixer with a ginger liqueur, like Canton, for an powerful ginger punch. Reed’s was debuting a new flavor, Raspberry Ginger Brew, which had a nice sweetness to balance the spicy ginger, perfect for those who prefer less of a ginger kick. Of course its other brand, Virgil’s, had the ever-popular Root beer and Orange Cream, which are fantastic, especially if you’re a nostalgic soda fan.
PRP Wine International is an importer of unique wines like a lovely German Riesling and a Portuguese sparkling wine called Mar Azul is a standout with its not-quite-champagne-not-quite-white-wine flavor and effervescence. A unique selections of fun wines for the wandering wine palate.
Overall, a $75 ticket that benefits San Diego Wildlife and your belly is a fantastic investment. From feeding the rays to learning the secrets of the pros to bidding (or dreaming) on the extraordinary baskets there is no shortage of things to do or great food and drink. Not to mention the extraordinary setting and fun bands that will make you forget about “real life” and make you feel like a true “Top Chef” judge.