By Frank Sabatini Jr. | Dining Out in San Diego
The San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival marks its 14th year with eight days of epicurean events taking place at various local venues and restaurants Nov. 12-19.
Highlights include a screening of celebrity chef Ed Lee’s new documentary, “Fermented,” at 8 p.m., Nov. 13 at The LOT Liberty Station (2620 Truxtun Road). The film will be followed by a panel discussion and a party featuring cocktails, beer, wine and food stations. The cost is $65.
The festival’s Fish Taco TKO competition kicks off at 6 p.m., Nov. 14, at the Broadway Pier (1000 N. Harbor Drive) amid beer and tequila stations. The battle will include chefs from The Blind Burro, Beerfish, Tavern + Bowl and a dozen other local establishments. Admission is $45.
A five-course dinner spotlighting whiskey and wagyu beef will be held at 9 p.m., Nov. 15 at Little Italy’s Born & Raised (1909 India St.) The cost is $189 per person.
Learn the ins and outs of Spanish tapas, paella and wines in an instructional tasting class lead by chefs Deborah Scott, Rick Moonen and James Campbell Caruso. The event will be held at noon, Nov. 16, at Coasterra (880 Harbor Island Drive.) The cost is $65.
The festival’s biggest and splashiest public event is the Grand Tasting, to be held from noon to 3 p.m., Nov. 18, at Embarcadero Marina Park North (400 Kettner Blvd.). The outdoor grounds give way to more than 150 wine, beer and spirits purveyors doling out samples of their latest and greatest products, in addition to at least 120 local chefs and regional gourmet food companies offering tastings as well. General admission is $145, or $85 for designated drivers. (Tickets allowing for 11 a.m. entry are $185.)
For a complete schedule and ticket purchases, visit sandiegowineclassic.com.
In celebration of National Happy Hour Day on Nov. 12, Islands Restaurant in Mission Valley and other locations throughout San Diego County will offer all-day food and drink specials.
The nationwide celebration, which falls this year on a Sunday, will afford regular customers and seasonal football fans at Islands $4 mixed drinks; $5 mai tais, margaritas and sliders; and a host of other drinks and bar fare for under $10. The deals are available only in the bar area. 2441 Fenton Pkwy., 619-640-2727, islandsrestaurants.com.
‘Tis the season when pumpkin spice finds its way into countless food products. For those who prefer the holiday flavoring used sanely — in let’s say gelato instead of popcorn, salad dressing and other unlikely edibles — Pappalecco will roll out pumpkin-walnut Nutella gelato at all five of its locations during the month of November.
Sold in scoops, customers can indulge in the gelato in either a cup, cone or over a shot of hot espresso. It’s also available to-go in pints and quarts. Pappalecco offers Tuscan-inspired savories, coffee drinks and wine, and operates in Hillcrest, Kensington, Little Italy, Del Mar and Cardiff. pappalecco.com.
Local chef Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins, an upcoming contestant on Bravo’s “Top Chef” (season 15), has teamed up with San Diego-based Rise & Shine Restaurant Group (Fig Tree Café and Breakfast Republic) to launch El Jardin, a modern Mexican restaurant in Liberty Station. The project is scheduled to open early next year.
Wilkins will serve as the restaurant’s executive chef while capturing the flavors and ingredients she came to know from spending time with her family in Tijuana and Guadalajara. She was chef de cuisine at the former Bracero in Little Italy and previously competed in season two of “Top Chef Mexico.” 2865 Sims Road, riseandshinerg.com.
A change of guard in the kitchen has occurred at Uptown Tavern with the Oct. 8 departure of Executive Chef Lety Gonzalez, who started five years ago at the Hillcrest establishment as a line cook before working her way up the ladder.
Stepping into her role is sous chef Mark Molina.
“Mark’s been with me for the last two and a half years, and he’s a very bright, talented man. He’ll take Uptown Tavern where I left it and do better,” Gonzalez said, adding that she was offered a job “somewhere with a different concept” but couldn’t yet reveal the place.
“It was time for me to do something else and I’ll be first taking time off to spend with my family that I don’t get to see that often,” she said.
Molina previously held line cook positions at a pop-up restaurant called Juke in North Park and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse in La Jolla. He plans on rolling out a new menu next month that will include fried green tomato stacks, Coca Cola-braised short ribs over whipped potatoes, and a spin on papas bravas made with tater tots. 1236 University Ave., 619-241-2710, uptowntavernsd.com.
Dishes such as short rib hash, crepes Suzette, croque monsieur sandwiches and more are in the offing during the newly launched Sunday brunch at BO-beau kitchen + cache in Hillcrest. Held from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. each week, the menu extends also to an array of European-inspired cocktails. 1027 University Ave., 619-481-5033, cohnrestaurants.com.
Vom Fass in The HUB Hillcrest Market is throwing an all-day fall party from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11. The customer-appreciation event will feature complimentary salads, appetizers, mulled-spiced wine and cocktails, as well as raffles. 1050 University Ave., Suite E103, 619-534-5034, vomfasshillcrest.com.
California Pizza Kitchen in Fashion Valley Mall has settled into a new space directly below its original spot inside the two-level mall. Situated near guest services, it features an expanded patio, an open kitchen and a stand-alone bar serving craft cocktails, local beers and assorted wines. The aesthetics include an herb garden and artwork showcasing local landmarks. 7007 Friars Road, Suite 354, 619-298-4078, cpk.com.
— Frank Sabatini Jr can be reached at email@example.com.