Annual Wine & Food Festival Again Thrills and Fulfills This Blogger
I’m two for two at the annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival. Let’s see anyone on the Padres do that in their first two at-bats.
I’ve been to the event twice and both times have had a great time. It helps that I really like wine & food festivals because they are usually outdoors (pretty much always the case in California), everyone in attendance is in a festive mood and, because I actually prefer beer, there’s always more than just wine.
San Diego’s annual event, held the weekend before Thanksgiving, takes that last element to a frothy level with a large, open area right by the entrance of the main event with bars pouring 7-ounce glasses of one’s choice of three Belgian beers, Stella Artois, Leffe Blonde and Hoegaarden.
Both years, this was my first stop at what is known as the Grand Tasting, the climax of a week-long celebration. I opted for the Stella, which gets anyone’s day off to a great start.
I then walked around the scenic grounds of Embarcadero Marina Park, which is a mini-peninsula about a five-minute walk from downtown’s Gaslamp. In other words, it’s the perfect location for the event.
It took nearly an hour to stroll around the grounds to check out the wineries – some 150 of them serving 700 wines – and sample the foods from restaurants such as Jakes Del Mar (I don’t exactly get to eat there every day), Morton’s and Top of the Market.
I paused to chat with other people at the festival and carried on conversations with people serving the food and drinks.
By the time I returned to the Stella tent, I still had two hours remaining at the event. Perfect!
By the end of the day, a number of fun groups had gathered in the Stella area and this provided a perfect ending to an ideal event.
The event for for me actually started each year a day earlier, at one of the several ramp-up events. As a preview of things to come, I chose the Belgian beer pairing and tasting on Friday afternoon, in which Belgian chef Daniel Joly cooks samples of dishes like shrimp and BBQ and matches them with the three Belgian beers. Read more about this event.
A couple hours after that event ended, I was at the San Diego Air & Space Museum for the big pre-party, the Friday night Reserve and New Tasting party. The 2011 event was held at the Air & Space Museum, an interesting venue that has tons of potential for the future.
After a night out in the Gaslamp (the piano bar The Shout House) it was time for the main event, the Grand Tasting. I walked in at noon and by 12:05 had a full Stella in my hand.
I was actually invited to a kickoff event on Thursday night at the Searsucker restaurant and bar, “where the pretty people go,” as my Gaslamp resident friend described it. However, I got sidetracked to Pacific Beach that evening and my friend went instead.
Apparently, I missed a great time (though I was having the same myself; can’t be everywhere ya know!), with food and drink included with the ticket price in a classy atmosphere. It was a good social mixer consisting of about 100 people, perfectly setting the stage for the next two days.
The San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival is like being two-fisted at a party – just as you finish one event there’s another one waiting to entertain. Maybe next year, I’ll attend a couple more events – there are breakfast and lunch wine pairings on Friday, for example – and get even more immersed in this great event.