Recap: Where the Wild Things Are Food & Wine Classic

June 4, 2012

SanDiegoVille had the good fortune of attending the third annual Where the Wild Things Are Food & Wine Classic at the scenic and remote Living Coast Discovery Center (formerly the Chula Vista Nature Center), a non-profit wildlife sanctuary and aquarium on San Diego's South Bay.

This intimate event allowed participants to move about freely among the fish tanks and bird enclosures, sipping wine and tasting bites among natural beauty, with all proceeds going to benefit the Center’s animals, coastal wildlife conservation efforts, and education programs.  The passion, devotion and patronage of the crowd to the Center could be felt in the air.  A few participants even took the time to stand up and discuss how the Center has positively impacted their lives.

Yup, we saw a crab ride an eel!!
The four-hour event included live music,  cooking demonstrations by area chefs, samplings from dozens of favorite local restaurants, wineries, breweries, and spirit companies, and a silent auction.

As beer lovers, we made several returns to Manzanita Brewing Company’s IPA for refills.  Trader Joe’s new line of wine "Tribunal" (allegedly reminiscent of Orin Swift’s The Prisoner which I’m yet to try so cannot confirm) was layered, bold, and delicious, and paired very well with the many pasta dishes served.  We also got yet another chance to sample Casa ZG's Sangrita mix tequila chaser, which would make a great sweet and spicy accompaniment for those Cuervo nights.

Eastlake Tavern and Bowl served a huge sloppy pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw atop a Hawaiian roll, a flavorful comfort food.  Karina's Mexican Seafood served two refreshing and unique variations of ceviche.  Rubio’s - always a stand out at these food events - served their newest innovation, salsa verde pan-seared shrimp taco, a must try if you haven’t done so already.  Amazingly, both because I generally do not like salmon and because I never anticipated the Olympic Training Center to be a contender in best dish of the day, their salmon burger was a meaty patty on a soft bun with flavorful toppings, making for the most perfect taste of the event.

Allures, a husband and wife cupcake duo who have pursued their passion for beautiful and creative desserts, showcased (among other decadent offerings, including a mini red velvet cupcake) their mini lemon drop cupcake made with vodka cake, vodka buttercream icing, and garnished with a tiny, tubed vodka shot in each.  (See the picture to understand)  They were adorable and delectable.

Guests were also treated to up-close animal encounters, including a bald eagle feeding.  I even had the most amazingly eerie experience of hand-feeding a manta ray!

Last year’s event raised over $50,000 for the Center, representing their largest fundraiser of the year.  Not sure if this year’s numbers are in, but I hope this unique event continues to surpass last year’s so that this vibrant little nature community may live on forever!