Fresh seasonal ingredients, passionate people and a hunger for good eats, all of these elements collaborated together to make a magical food evening at Cafe Calabria.  

I was introduced to Specialty Produce through friends over at Catalina Offshore Products, and they not only provide produce to some of San Diego's best restaurants, but like Catalina, also have a retail front that sells to the public.   

Last week, Specialty put together this event of tastes and Cafe Calabria could not have been a more perfect location. 

I always have an amazing time at Calabria, whether it's an afternoon espresso, or a late night Sunday pizza with a glass of Sangiovese, the people always welcome you like an old friend and the inside foliage and nature elements make for a wonderful atmosphere.  

The food oh the food! 

Chef MJ (head chef at Calabria) and the chefs from Bracero Cocina  really did an incredible and creative job with the dishes that evening.  At some point, when everyone was out in the garden area, my friend and I found the lonely Tuna crostini and meatball trays and had quite the sampling of them. The merriment between the insanely fresh and tasty tuna with the aioli and dill, and the tender meatballs with roasted garlic and vegetables, had me in a whirlwind of food drunken happiness. 

Another favorite was this samphire salad with beets and radish.  I absolutely loved how bright this dish was, and could not stop eating the beets and radish.  

At the end of the evening, we headed upstairs for a bit of espresso and what I initially thought was a donut decorated with berries, come to my surprise it was a perfect dessert peach! 

But as always, the best parts of the evening, were getting to talk to the chefs, food lovers and providers, learning about their passion, how they came to where they are and what their favorite foods are.  

So, when "the world seems to shine, like you've had too much wine (or espresso, pizza & tuna)
That's amore!"

Till next time, Mangia Bene!
(eat well)

Say hello to some of San Diego's awesome food people.
Specialty Produce

A handful of times a year, a cast of superhero chefs gather at Catalina Offshore Products, for an amazing underground demo and dinner event, not only to showcase recipes, tips and tricks to cooking delicious seafood, but also to raise money for local causes and rockstar organizations that are changing people's lives.

The proceeds from this particular night went to the Chef Celebration Foundation of San Diego, who are assembling the next generation of chef avengers!

The chefs of the hour and what they cooked up.

Sam the Cooking Guy 
The 14 Emmy winning, "no foie gras or truffle oil, regular "cooking made easy" guy.

Matzo Brei with Lox and Caviar
Yellow Pepper Gazpacho with Grilled Shrimp
Sweet and Spicy Chili Opah

Matt Gordon
Owner and Chef at Urban Solace / Sea and Smoke / and Solace and the Moonlight Lounge

Spot Prawn with Mole and Burnt Tortilla Pesto
Monchong with Uni-Pea Puree and Meyer Lemon Confit
Fermented Chili Rubbed HiramasA with Korean Noodle

One of my favorite things about Collaboration Kitchen is the open space that allows guests to see some of San Diego's finest chefs, working hard behind the scenes, making food magic happen. Adding to the evening's repertoire, was also an up close whole fish deconstruction demonstration by resident fish monger, Tommy Gomes and Chef Ken. (Whenever I buy fish from Catalina OP, I always ask to keep the heads and if they have extras, because yum!)

The other lucky treat to the evening, was having Alesmith brewing provide specialty beer pairings with each dish.

Over the course of a couple hours, we laughed, learned a lot, ate good food, and best of all got to know the passionate people making our food and where our seafood came from.

So, how do you score a seat to this event? Prior to each event, Collaboration Kitchen and Catalina OP will post the date and details to their facebook, with a link to purchase tickets.  Click fast, because these seats sell out.

This is the first of a series of blog posts that I'll be doing on Collaboration Kitchen, each one will feature more about the food, and a personal QA with chefs and people from the events.

HI Friends!
Check out some of the chefs, writers and friends from that evening.

Chef Sara Polczynski - The Blind Burro

Chef Miguel Valdez - Tabletop Commons (previously 100 Wines, when I first met him and got to hear about how he got started, his love for food, and that the food world is a small world where everyone knows Tommy)

Chef Billy "Butter" Joyce - Surf Side Cuisine

Chef Maria Hesse -

Sheen Fischer - North County Food (check out his awesome write up of this event).

Two years ago, I serendipitously stumbled into what would become one of my favorite places to visit, whenever I'm in Calgary, L'Epicerie.  Located off of 1st, between 13th and 14th ave, is this quaint, unassuming and absolutely charming French deli.

Life's adventures can often make me feel as if I've warped through months, in a matter of a few days. So when it comes to travel, eating and conversations with friends, I especially like to linger onto every moment and forget about time and deadlines.

Yesterday, stepping into L'Epicerie, was like catching up with an old friend.  The familiarity from the scents of fresh baguette and espresso,  the excitement of new tastes and the exuberant exchange of smiles and greetings with Chef Ryan on how quickly two years has gone by.

I ordered some of the old favorite items from my last visit and Chef Ryan let us try some of the new. Everything... EVERYTHING was so good.

My favorites and photographed above
(Items below are cured and created in house)
The Salmon Gravlax
Pâté Pork with Pistache
Duck Rillettes
Butternut squash soup
Duck Foie-gras Terrine
Black Olive Tapenade
Tarte aux Pommes (Apple Tart)

and of course.. espresso and salami.

I'm sad that my time in Calgary is so short,  but next up is Vancouver (which I haven't seen in many years), then San Francisco for Google IO.

à bientôt Edmonton and Calgary, ❤ till next time when we eat again.

Read about my first experience at L'Epicerie