Taste of Asia at the San Diego Public Market | Just Call Us Volunteers Hosts A Fantastic Event for A Charitable Cause

April 24, 2013
Just Call Us Volunteers President Julie Darling with the dragon dancers
Photo by Jennifer Dery of buttersage.com

After hosting two outrageously successful events (A Taste of the Market & Street Food Market) in its main area in the Market Hall, this past Saturday the San Diego Public Market exhibited yet another portion of its enormous space housed on the National Plaza side of the building for Just Call Us Volunteers' 2nd annual fundraiser - Taste of Asia at the Market.  As completely different as the last two events were from one another, this new portion of the warehouse showcased yet another very appealing side of San Diego's own public market.  With a vast, open-air central atrium, the sprawling grounds were filled with sun throughout the late afternoon hours, offering the perfect setting for dragon dancing and sumo wrestling demonstrations.  On the southern end, a sprawling indoor corridor was outfitted with quintessential Asian decorations and makeshift stands where chefs and restaurants were dishing out their take on Asian influenced drinks and eats.

Taste of Asia at the Market featured more than twenty talented San Diego chefs, each offering their unique take on Asian-inspired tastes.  The amiable Chef Kevin Templeton of barleymash offered a rave favorite of the evening, really capturing refreshing Asian flavors in a convenient serving (and earth-friendly! no plate or utensils required!) - chili seared and toasted sesame crusted albacore atop a deliciously crisp wonton with house made teriyaki kimchi and wasabi cream.  Chef Jeff Roberto of Sushi On A Roll offered a delectable surf and turf bite - imitation crab roll with avocado topped with Australian Wagyu beef carpaccio.  And Chef Miguel Valdez from Red Door offered what was possibly the simplest and yet most delectable bite - organic filet skewers marinated with chile, citrus and pear, paired with a spicy komatsuna slaw - forget the slaw, this bite of beef was tender and impossibly flavorful.

I thought it odd when we were handed a plate with two pieces of romaine and a crostini, but immediately picked up a piece of greens and crunched down the whole thing.  Perhaps it is my ignorance, but only in preparing to write this piece did I discover that I was served by an extension of the original creator of the Casear Salad - Caesar's Restaurant Bar of Tijuana! I'll let you do your own research, but Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant who operated restaurants in Mexico and the United States was living in San Diego and working in Tijuana during the summer of 1924 and is alleged to have invented the dish during a rush that depleted supplies on the Fourth of July that year.  And, validating the plating, the original recipe included whole lettuce leaves, meant to be lifted by the stem and eaten with the fingers, just as I instinctively did.  How exciting to eat a bite of history!

Surf N' Turf Roll by Sushi on a Roll
Innovative whiskey and gin cocktails were beings stirred up by Alchemy's master mixologist Ron Troyano, as well as Snake Oil Cocktail Company.  Beers and wines flowed like water, including a personal favorite, Stone Cali-Beligique IPA - a California-style IPA with Belgian influences. Elaborate desserts were offered by A.R. Valentien and others.  Participants breezed in and out of the bustling inner hall of the market, and back out into the open air to catch a cool breeze and some of the lively demonstrations. 

"I can't thank enough everyone from the community who came out to support our event," said Just Call Us Volunteers President and Founder Julie Darling.  "From the lineup of fabulous chefs who stepped out of their normal menus to create the most wonderful Asian-inspired dishes, to the wonderful volunteers who planned, set up and put on the event, the many businesses who donated to our silent auction and the members of the San Diego community who attended, it was so heartwarming to see the incredible amount of support that night for Just Call Us Volunteers and our cause.
Just Call Us Volunteers does wonderful work, primarily feeding homeless veterans and others at the Winter Shelter, Veteran's Shelter, Veteran Village, Rachel's Women's Shelter, Monarch School and at events like Stand Down and Project Homeless Connect. Many of San Diego's local chefs have joined 100's of local volunteers to prep, cook and serve more than 8,000 meals in the last year with Just Call Us Volunteers.  They also work with low income families to teach them about healthy and affordable meal options.

For more information and to donate to Just Call Us Volunteers, visit them online at justcallusvolunteers.com.  And be sure to visit the San Diego Public Market at its bright orange warehouse space located at 1735 National Avenue.