by Ann Wycoff
The 6th annual San Diego Bay Food & Wine Festival, a five-day foodie fête, was a smash success with 170 world-class wineries and spirit producers, along with 70 of San Diego’s award-winning fine dining restaurants on hand.
The East Village was hopping Friday night at the Wonderhaus, the iconic Wonder Bread Factory downtown, where merry imbibers sampled reserves, rum concoctions from Tommy Bahama, a jazzy effervescent champagne cocktail with St. Germain elderflower liqueur, a robust seasonal ale from Sierra Nevada and myriad good wines.
We loved a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon from boutique producer Cass, co-owned by Paso Robles winemakers Steve Cass and Ted Plemmons who like to “make wine for their friends.” Another highlight of the evening was a sexy Zinfandel pour from Paradigm Winery in Oakville, Califorina, a wine rich in red fruit with perfect notes of spice.
The tastiest treat of the evening arrived as a Mojito panna cotta from chef Rocia Verela of The W’s Hotel’s Rice, who created a creamy confection with candied mint bits that had people lined up for seconds and thirds.
Saturday’s Grand Tasting, held in the Embarcadero Marina Park North, called for a sunny breezy day by the bay with happy participants exploring over 800 selections of wine and nibbling on gourmet bites from chefs and purveyors. We enjoyed the hummus and pomegranate seeds in martini glasses courtesy of POM, crusty artisanal bread from Sadie Rose Baking Co., and exquisite dark chocolate with lavender grey sea salt from Eclipse Chocolate.
70 local restaurants showed up in full force to compete for the grand prize—“The Chef of the Fest.” The winner, Anthony Sinsay from Harney Sushi, received $50,000 in prizes for his “Textures of Kabocha” featuring a sous vide Kabocha with Kabocha puff, Kabocha panna cotta, carbonated citrus and “malty” truffle air.
Del Mar favorite, Paul McCabe of Kitchen 1540 took second for his braised Kurobuta pork belly, BBQ consommé, organic root vegetable salad and pickled mustard vinaigrette, while Jeff Rossman with Terra Restaurant and Catering won third for his shrimp mojito with avocado wasabi sorbet.
In our opinion, Donovan’s won the prize for best feeding the masses as they served up a USDA prime filet mignon burrito-style with sour cream and Philly cheese steak sandwiches with stringy gooey cheese and grilled onions up until the final minutes of the event.
The money raised from the event delivers close to $30,000 in scholarships for the American Institute of Wine & Food culinary arts program. It was nice to see so many foodies in San Diego out and about enjoying the fall day, fine wines and good eats.
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