RECAP: An Evening at the Del Mar Summer Solstice | One of the Pacific Coast’s Best Culinary Events

June 22, 2012

On June 21st, the sold-out Del Mar Summer Solstice celebration took place mere steps from the rolling waves of Del Mar Beach in the gorgeous Powerhouse Park.  Like last year, the event was an incredible time in a remarkable setting, highlighted by mouthwatering tastes from area restaurants, paired with sips from several California wineries and breweries.  A silent auction, live music from Salsa Steel, and an ocean-view backdrop made for a wonderful ambiance to welcome and celebrate the arrival of summer.

On the seventh installment of the much anticipated 21 and older event, the festivities took place on the actual day of the summer solstice, making it that much more exciting.  With admission including nearly unlimited food and drink samplings, the Summer Solstice event was a value at $60/ticket (super value at early bird price of $50).  Upon entrance, guests were provided a stemless wine glass for sampling selections from many notable wineries as well as California breweries such as Ballast Point, Latitude 33 Brewing Co., Green Flash Brewing, and Firestone Walker Brewing Co.  During the event's vivacious silent auction, attendees were given a chance to bid on many unique items and opportunities, such as a downtown Del Mar parking pass and tickets to events at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and Racetrack.

Flavor Del Mar's Scallop Ceviche
Although hosted by the Del Mar Village Association with the support from the City of Del Mar, many of Del Mar's esteemed restaurants, such as Americana, Jake’s, Pacifica Del Mar, Del Mar Rendezvous, and PrepKitchen, volunteer their time and food to raise money to benefit the city they call home.

Of the food samplings offered, PrepKitchen’s turkey slider was one of our favorites, using spicy ground turkey topped with roasted peppers, onion, and micro greens to accomplish a combination of flavors that remarkably resembled an Italian sausage and pepper sandwich.  Americana’s flavorful Cajun crawfish boil got more popular as inhibitions were swept away with the breeze, with Chef-owner Randy Gruber tending to the pot and instructing crawfish novices how to sample the little buggers. Another favorite was the five spice braised beef from Del Mar Rendezvous, which was so tender and full of flavor that it just melted in your mouth.  Flavor Del Mar offered an amazing amuse bouche with its scallop ceviche with serrano, lime, tomato and red onions - such a refreshing and complex single bite!

Jake's Scallop Offering atop a Bamboo Dish!
Other culinary standouts include Jake’s Del Mar’s artfully designed scallop dish, with roasted butternut puree, pickled mustard seeds, and a newfound food I love, sea beans!  This dish was simple, beautiful, elegant, and delicious – perfectly suited to the Del Mar Summer Solstice.  Zel’s cheesey macaroni with gruyere and sharp cheddar was a classic comfort food highlighted by super-crispy, thinly sliced, fried prosciutto bits.  For dessert, Nothing Bundt Cake offered red velvet and pineapple upside down cakes, each light, airy, and sinfully delicious.

The only downside of the event was that, sadly, the marine layer stuck around for sunset, inhibiting some of the energy that was so pervasive and contagious last year.  Restaurant booths closed up early, and event goers began trickling out before its end.  Last year, the opposite occurred where there was a beautiful sunset and a prolonged event.    
For next year, be sure to purchase tickets early, as the event always sells out. Proceeds from the event benefit the Del Mar Village Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the vitality of the historic Del Mar Village.  The Summer Solstice event is Del Mar Village Association’s largest fundraiser, taking in more than $35,000 each year.  Funds from events like Summer Solstice go to projects such as bench installation, trash cans, recycling and street banners. A new Specific Plan for Del Mar, set to go to voters in November, will identify further efforts.  For more information visit the Del Mar Summer Solstice website, and let’s hope for clear skies in 2013!!