“Celebrate The Craft” – The Lodge at Torrey Pines

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Boiling, Baking, Sizzling. No honey, we aren’t talking about whipping up something smashing in the kitchen, we’re talking about the weather! The 11th Annual “Celebrate The Craft” event was the perfect spot for creative cooking with regionally grown ingredients and offered many opportunities to stalk, ending up in places I wasn’t supposed to be. If only it hadn’t been so sweltering hot. It was having a greenhouse effect on my hair and my makeup was sliding off my face like a Halloween mask. Let’s get one thing straight, when Mama’s not having a good hair day, nobody’s happy…

It’s a fact, we foodies are driven by our craving for something new, something exciting. This years Celebrate The Craft was no exception and served up the skinny on all things edible, sippable and growable and I was there to capture the sights, sounds and tastes. Held at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, a luxury hotel, golf resort and spa in La Jolla California, booths were manned by people who actually knew about the products they were serving. This made for interesting conversation with people who know a hell of a lot more than I do! As the consumer you get to taste an expansive range of food & wine and exhibitors get to pimp out their wares to a whole new audience. I didn’t need a thermometer to get the drift of this event! No need to pack a picnic basket or bake a pie for crying out loud, it was all prepared, ready for your taste buds to explore. Talk about the perfect spot to slosh back gallons of wine and chatter away all afternoon about handbags and marinades!

Chef Jeff Jackson is Executive Chef of The Lodge at Torrey Pines. He oversees the culinary concept and menu development at the California Craftsman Style property, which features a signature restaurant, A.R. Valentien, two lounges and a casual restaurant, The Grill. Chef Jackson shared his vision for the event as a way to bring chefs, purveyors and food loving people together.  His experience over the last 30 years serving some of the finest tables in the country certainly make him an expert. As the former Executive Chef at Shutters on the Beach and winner of the esteemed USA Bocuse d’Or Culinary Gold Cup, the cooking of A.R. Valentien is seasonally influenced. Emphasis is placed on the quality and freshness of foods which are prepared with the least amount of handling, and cooking methods that benefit the flavors and textures to the fullest. He feels cooking is a craft, one that requires technique as much as much as the ingredients used, allowing a dish to stand on it’s own.

Restaurant Consultant and Author, Chef Joyce Goldstein was on hand signing copies of her latest book: “Inside the California Food Revolution”. Some of my favorite dishes included Mastiff Sausage Companies Classic Bratwurst, Sauerkraut & Ham Hock Ball with house mustards and Jack Fisher’s Crow’s Pass Farms Gingered Pork Tacos. (The combination of Jack and his assistant were like Laverne and Shirley on crack!) Andrew Spurgin from Windrose  Farm served a decadent Caramelized White Chocolate Custard Fennel Meringue with Apple Fennel Salad which I would have loved to have bathed in! Other highlights included; True Food Kitchen, McGrath Family Farm whole hog sandwich, Jason Knibb and Rachel King of Nineten, Spring Hill Dairy Cheese, Farm House Cafe, The Vetted Table, Urban Solace Sea & Smoke, El Q’ero, Mision 19, Sea 180, The Fishery, Tender Greens, Stingaree. Top that off with wines from Silver Oak, Dolce, Joseph Phelps, Robert Biale and Blackbird Vineyards and I was one red hot happy Stalker!

It might have been like the dog days of summer, but my tastebuds were fired up after sampling all the delicious foods and wines. So fired up, I sang on stage with the band as my Jean Paul Gauthier dress blew in the wind. (Lordy, in my next life I’ll be a rock star). But alas, it was time for this world traveler to get back to work fueling the blog with my next adventure. Yep, I do it all for YOU my devoted followers! Bottom line, it’s a food and wine event that will whet your appetite so save the date for next year!

Ravishing regards…

* Special thanks to Julia Geis – Media Relations Manager for your “warm” hospitality.

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With an Italian background, she cites her Mother and grandmother ( Mamie ) as the major influence of her love for food.  Yes, homemade pasta hung from the clothesline in the kitchen and rolling 100 meat balls for a holiday dinner was the norm.  Raised in Pennsylvania. she spent time in Atlanta, Georgia and ultimately settled along the stunning coast of Laguna Beach, Ca. Self taught in everything, she learned to appreciate the amazing flavors, scents and uses for exotic herbs and spices and applies her knowledge to cooking today. Despite enjoying other creative endeavors like painting, photography and clothing design, she realized she would never love another career the way she loves all the stories surrounding food.  And it's capturing those stories that has not only become her greatest passion but a culinary drug worth passing around!  After all, food is a shared experience and no one better to share it with than the entire world. And thus the Food Stalker was born, utilizing all that passion and her fearlessness to capture even the most impossible stories. It's one thing to write about food, but far more exciting to actually capture it and all those stories that make every scent come to life.  And once she sets out, there's no stopping her, because no one follows that scent better than her---and no telling where she'll end up next.  

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