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FOODfare: San Diego's Gourmet Experience

The Gourmet Experience.
Courtesy photo

Here’s what’s being served in San Diego’s culinary circles…

The Gourmet Experience

We’ve all heard the adage, “like a kid in a candy store” and, this weekend, Pat O’Brien Hall at the Del Mar Fairgrounds will take the form of Candyland—a veritable Nirvana for gourmands looking for the latest and greatest culinary treasures on the market—via the arrival of The Gourmet Experience, a two-day expo custom-built for culinary enthusiasts at all levels.

For home cooks, there’ll be cooking demonstrations administered by local chefs including Bernard Guillas (Marine Room), Brian Malarkey (Searsucker) and Jeff Rossman (Terra) as well as a variety of vendors displaying state-of-the-art kitchenware (much of which can be sampled on-site) to use when recreating the dishes of the aforementioned toques.

For attendees who are more about consumption than creation, there will be plenty of food-based businesses on-hand showcasing their flavorful wares. Everything from baked goods to condiments to cheeses and other artisanal products will be at the forefront and ripe for the sampling. Consider it a culinary Costco where, as in the case of said superstore, you’ll also find a variety of indoor and outdoor furniture built around entertaining plus samples of the drinks you’re likely to consume while doing so at the wine, craft beer and spirits pavilion.

With over 250 exhibitors, there’s more than a little something for everyone and no reason not to appease your epicurean appetite. The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and admission is $25 in advance or $30 at the door (children under the age of 12 admitted free of charge).

2260 Jimmy Durante Boulevard, Del Mar, 858-578-9463, www.thegourmetexpo.com

Great Scott

Rumor has it Deborah Scott, one of San Diego’s longest tenured and most notorious chefs, is preparing to pen her very first cookbook. This initial culinary compendium will be a self-published effort for Scott, whose flavorsome fusion cuisine propelled Kemo Sabe, Indigo Grill and Island Prime and helped build the solid reputation now enjoyed by the Cohn Restaurant Group.

A Soulful Celebration

At first blush, partying the night away at a produce warehouse seems a bit odd and hardly worth clearing the social calendar for. But throw in dozens of chefs from eateries including Alchemy, Cowboy Star, Jsix and KITCHEN 1540 (and more importantly, their food) and you’ve got a foodie free-for-all befitting the Saturday night throw-down stature of Fruit of the Soul’s charity shindig on October 16 at Specialty Produce’s warehouse facility. The theme of this event, which will feature live music and plenty of liquid courage, is “give back and dance it out” and some of the organizations that will receive a cut of the proceeds include A Reason To Survive (ARTS), Monarch School, Olivewood Gardens and SEZIO. Talk about a prime opportunity to get your groove (and your grub) on. Tickets are $65 (general admission), $30 (late entry) or $115 (VIP).

Rancho Valencia's Fountain Courtyard.
Courtesy photo

1929 Hancock Street, Old Town, 619-295-3172, www.fruitofthesoul.org

Get the Point

In August, the kitchen team at Viejas Casino collaborated with the brew crew at Alpine Beer Company to put on a five-course beer dinner that paired the brews of owner/brewer Pat McIlhenney. Behind a brew and barbecue-themed bill of fare, Executive Chef Gary Thompson and his staff wowed diners to the extent that there’s already plenty of buzz surrounding the second installment of the craft beer dinner series which will feature the reigning World Beer Cup (WBC) Small Brewing Company of the Year, Ballast Point. Highly-coveted and much-appreciated brews like San Salvador Saison and the WBC gold medal-winning Sculpin IPA will find their edible matches in the form of cedar plan salmon with nicoise olive-dressed fingerling potatoes and Jamaican jerk lamb chops with parsnip purée. The fun starts Thursday, October 14 with a 6:30 P.M. reception at 6:30 P.M. ($50 per person, 21 and up only).

5000 Willows Road, Alpine, 619-445-5400, www.viejas.com

Extra Point

Still thirsty for some of Ballast Point’s expertly-crafted brews? Over 30 of them will be available at the brewing company’s 14th Anniversary Festival on Saturday, October 16 from 1 to 5 p.m. This includes a host of special barrel-aged and ultra-limited release varieties and a slew of other fine ales and lagers plucked from quality breweries throughout the Golden State. Sweetening a pot already rife with fermentable sugars is the fact that proceeds from the festival benefit the NTC Foundation. Tickets are $20 each and include 10 taster tickets.

NTC Promenade, Liberty Station, www.ballastpoint.com

Parental Advisory

Raising children to be responsible, well-rounded adults is hard work and every mom and dad needs a break every now and then, but finding a decent babysitter and dealing with the pangs of separation anxiety can be tough and only take away from an otherwise delightful date night. Rancho Valencia is looking to liberate parents in search of worry-free alone time courtesy of their Kids Movie Night event on Saturday, October 9. While youngsters watch Madagascar and chow down on movie snacks in the Fountain Courtyard, mom and dad can rekindle that proverbial flame over gourmet cuisine from Chef Eric Bauer, who recently moved from Little Italy’s Anthology to take over the kitchen at this top-rated resort. (Kid’s movie and snacks complimentary with parents’ dinner purchase).

5921 Valencia Circle, Rancho Santa Fe, 858-759-6216, www.ranchovalencia.com