It was my first trip to San Diego this past May and let me tell you, one of the highlights had to be my afternoon of over-the-top food, great music and the opportunity to learn about fantastic restaurants in and around Encinitas. Every single eatery made it clear; California loves and is dedicated to sustainable food.
I’m from Saratoga New York and farmers markets here are huge. I know, they started in California, but when they finally made their way across the country and landed upstate, they were an instant hit. Our motto is definitely ‘Grow local, buy local, eat local.’ There are farm-to-table restaurants popping up every other week it seems and we’re always busy, asking the chef questions about where he got the product, how he cooks the product and does he give back to the community in the process. Translation? He better be.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I accepted an invitation to the Foodie Fest Encinitas celebration, but, from the look on every single person’s face there, we were all blown away by the event.
The first thing to assault my senses was the sight of these wonderful beach restaurants, there were so many of them! Each was set up under cover from the hot sun. The chefs were intent on preparing scrumptious ‘samples’ for attendees and it was a world of culinary art all around me.
At each station, I was curious about something; the recipe, where the chef sought out the freshest product for his dish, did they serve this in their restaurant every day, or just to impress us on this special occasion. Every time I posed a question, the chef would hand me his or her dish, look me in the eye and answer me in detail. I loved that about them.
Oh, yeah, these guys were serious….
I know nothing about Encinitas, California. I actually had to look it up when I got home.
It’s a favorite among surfers, though, with the popular song ‘Surfin’ USA,’ sung by the Beach Boys in 1963, encapsulating its vim and vigor. Many say Encinitas is a multi-faceted beach town, chock-full of hidden gems that locals are privy to, but not exactly anxious to share with the myriad of people ‘just passing through.’ I, for one, was grateful they shared this!
Foodie Fest Encinitas was held in The Lumberyard parking lot, where we were greeted by two quirky musicians. The pair delighted us with their upbeat interpretation of everything they sang, while people waited in line for entry tickets that allowed them to taste and drink everything available. Talk about a marriage of food and culture! To say we were in Heaven is putting it mildly!
The money helped raise funds for a serious medical condition known as Cystic Fibrosis; A progressive, genetic disease with over 1,800 known mutations and over 70,000 people affected by it worldwide. Being able to help give back to the community in that way was a huge success.
My favorite pick of the day? Oh, please, no asking. When they said I was going to ‘Nosh North Country’ they meant it!
I tried coffee and chocolates, salami and pizza. I sampled marinated Ahi topped with chilled mango sorbet, deviled eggs with edible flowers and caviar. I ate my way through handmade crackers topped with fresh salmon, then finished it with out-of-this-world butterscotch pudding, created by, of all places, an artisan pizzeria!
Fabulous food samples served at Foodie Fest Encinitas
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There were face painters, artists that wowed the crowd while they created canvases of famous people, as well as other craft shops and vendors set up around the area. Music played all day and people danced together under that hot afternoon in late May.
If you wanted to whet your whistle, there were plenty of libations to choose from. Crafted beers, wines, mixed drinks, and tequilas were available to legal-age attendees.
I can honestly say that every single restaurant went out of their way, in both the recipe and it’s intricate presentation. Each brought their ‘A’ game to this amazing food festival. It was such a community affair, a well-oiled machine that makes it all seem effortless. We’re smart people though and it was quite obvious that an enormous amount of work had gone into making it such a success. If the crowd had thought to shout “Bravo!” in a singular voice, I know we would have. We were too busy eating.