Monday, May 16, 2011

Chula Vista Nature Center Food & Wine Classic - Where the Wild Things Are

The Chula Vista Nature Center hosted its Second Annual Where The Wild Things Are Food and Wine Classic on Saturday, May 14, 2011. We were fortunate to hear about this event during lunch on Friday at The Fish Market's Top of the Market, while sitting at the exhibition bar watching the chefs. When I inquired about my extraordinary Hamachi Sashimi with Tangerine Vinaigrette, our server told me sous chef Johnny was the mastermind behind the dish. Johnny came over to meet us, and mentioned he would be serving tastings of his dish at the Food and Wine Classic. One thing led to another, and we were invited to attend as media guests.

Sous Chef Johnny

A little garnish with baby greens

Hamachi Sashimi with Tangerine Vinaigrette and toasted Macadamia Nuts

Shawn Styles, CBS 8 Lifestyle Reporter and
Meteorologist, tasting the hamachi

The Chula Vista Nature Center sits on a 23-acre preserve, and is home to more than 150 native species of animals, an endangered species breeding program, and nearly 200 native plant species. Guests can step into the Shorebird Aviary and enter the home of native water and shorebirds, including egrets, ducks, herons and other local birds, who reside in this peaceful tidal slough habitat.

Black-crowned Night Heron

North American Ruddy Duck

White-faced Ibis

Another incredible and innovative tasting was this Roasted Susie’s Farm Beet Poke with Cilantro, from Chef/Owner Jeff Rossman, Terra American Bistro.

Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill was there, serving Grilled Garlic-Herb Shrimp Tacos.  These are quite the tacos - grilled corn tortillas topped with toasted cheeses, habanero-citrus salsa, grilled garlic herb shrimp, crisp bacon, cilantro/onion, cotija cheese, creamy chipotle picante sauce, and sliced avocado.

Sushi rolls were offered at two different chef tables....

And several wineries and breweries, with very happy people serving the wine and beer

The Honorary Committee included City of Coronado Mayor, Casey Tanaka,
and City of Chula Vista Mayor, Cheryl Cox

Coronado's School Board Member, Doug Metz, and Mayor Casey Tanaka

Chula Vista Mayor, Cheryl Cox, and husband
Greg Cox, SD County Board of Supervisors

We were able to meet a few of the Nature Center’s native birds of prey.  These residents of Raptor Row are all injured or non-releasable birds that could not survive in the wild on their own.

Female Barn Owl

Pico, a Great-horned Owl


Paella is another dish on my list to prepare soon - 
This paella was was made with noodles instead of rice, and squid, mussels and clams

Paella, from Romesco Baja Med Bistro

Baked Brie

Liege Waffles from Belgium Gourmet, another must make on our list!

Marshmallows and Strawberries for the Chocolate Fountain

Silent and Live Auctions

The David A. Wergeland Shark & Ray Experience is a state-of-the-art, 21,000-gallon aquarium that includes a shallow-water touch tank where you can touch the resident rays. Step down below to the six-foot viewing window and you will feel like you’re underwater along with the Leopard sharks, Guitarfish, and other native creatures.

Shovel-nosed guitarfish

Leopard sharks

The Chula Vista Nature Center welcomes about 70,000 visitors each year, including more than 15,000 students from schools across the greater San Diego area. Proceeds from this year's event will support the new Outdoor Classroom and Discovery Park project.  

We look forward to a return trip for more photo opportunities at Turtle Lagoon, Eagle Mesa, and out on the walking trails throughout the preserve. If you've never been to The Chula Vista Nature Center, please check out the web site, here, for information on tickets, membership, programs, special and private events, and exhibits.

In the meantime, I'll be working on recipes and future blog posts featuring Hamachi with Tangerine Vinaigrette,  Beet Poke, Paella, and Liege Waffles.

Arcade Fire recorded a new version of the song, Wake Up, which was featured in the trailer for the 2009 film Where the Wild Things Are.


Carolyn said...

this looks amazing. I'm drooling!! I love the owl picture especially.

I have given you an award! Happy Tuesday! =)

Anonymous said...

This looks like it was a fabulous event! Amazing food and grounds!

John said...

Wonderfully written and photographed!

Yadira said...

Agreed John. Great photos and nice summary of what is offered at the Nature Center.

Keri said...

Agreed [on the Hamachi] I had about 4 :)

Anonymous said...

Stunning photos! The Ruddy Ducks and the paella were especially compelling (but for different reasons!). FYI, I have the perfect paella pan ...

Carmen said...

Stunning photos! The Ruddy Ducks and the paella were especially compelling (but for different reasons!). FYI, I have the perfect paella pan ...

bunkycooks said...

What a great time! Love the photos. The gigantic pan of Paella reminded me of Barcelona. They had one there that was so big it was shocking! Glad you were able to attend the event.