Caffe Calabria and Specialty Produce dinner
Earlier this summer, Dennis and I joined other San Diego food bloggers for a dinner sponsored by Specialty Produce and held at Caffe Calabria in North Park.
Specialty Produce is a family owned and operated food service and retail fresh produce supplier. The above is an example of what you'd find in one of their Farmers' Market Boxes, though they also have a smaller Farmers' Market Bag available.
We were privileged to have Chef MJ Testa of Caffe Calabria and guest chef Javier Plascencia (left) with Chef Claudette Wilkins Zepeda (right) prepare the food for the evening. Items from the Farmers' Market Boxes were the inspiration of the dinner that night!
To start, we enjoyed a few drinks at the bar.
Blanco Citrus Cocktail (left) and Bourbon Ramble Cocktail (right) - The Blanco Citrus was made with vermouth blanco and grapefruit while the Bourbon Branmble was made with jim bean bourbon, lemon and freshly muddled blackberries.
The Peach Bellini is on the left, and a beer(?) on the right. We sipped our drinks on the small semi-private upstairs patio area of the restaurant. The path to this area is somewhat hidden, accessible by a narrow staircase behind the bar in the back room. Honestly, before this event, I didn't even know there was a back room or an outdoor patio!
Here's the view from the top.
Dennis captured all the event and food pictures while I flittered amongst familiar faces as well as met bloggers IRL. It was quite the gathering and included Kate from LateKateFoodie, Becky from Beckycharms, Abby of BabyBirdsFarm, Jenny from VintageSugarCube, Broderick from SavoryExposure, Ellen from Like Mother Like Daughter, Leanne from Three Dog Kitchen, Puja from Indiaphile, Megan from Monkey Bread and Sweet Pea, Laura from Sprint 2 The Table, Melissa from Making It Sweet, Maggie from In Mama Maggie's Kitchen, Marie from Cur8eur, etc. The best part is that everyone here follows the *golden* rule. Pictures first, then eat!
On the table, next to the sample produce box, was the Ensalada de nopal with creamy cilantro dressing - This included white beets, dill, and easter egg radish. It was served next to chips so we paired them together for our first bites.
Other foods were passed around by the wait staff, such as the Seared Ahi Crostini on the left and Calabrian Sausage & Spicy Potatoes on the right. Underneath the fresh tuna steaks were green beans with dill and lemon aioli.
We also got to have a slice of the Fresh Fig and Prosciutto Pizza, filling our mouths with a carmelized fig, prosciutto shavings plus fontina cheese. Delicious of course!
Some items were being prepared on the outdoor grill by Chef Claudette Wilkins Zepeda and Chef MJ Testo.
These Grilled large prawns were on a bed of zucchini, yellow squash and peppers and topped with a shrimp cream sauce.
The favorite of the evening was the Yucatan-style cochinita pibil sopes. This included heirloom corn masa, slow braised pork, heirloom beans, and fermented pineapple.
The best part? Chef Javier Plascencia plating these himself! *swoon*
So many toppings just to make one fantastic sope! Worth the effort, especially when it's not yours!
Inside, we also sampled a Small Farm Tomato Salad with a medley of colorful tomatoes, vidalia sweet onions and a sprinkling of pecorino cheese.
To finish off the night, we had this marvelous Donut Peach dessert topped with strawberries and blackberries and cream. Yes, you heard right, there's such thing as a DONUT PEACH! May I please have some more?
There were plenty of delicious foods served that day by the wonderful chefs and each incorporated at least one of the items from the Farmer's Market Box. For each box delivery, Specialty Produce provides recipe ideas on their blog for inspiration, but sorry, a chef doesn't come with it! To check out the farmers' market boxes for yourself, visit Specialty Produce. You can also find Chef MJ Testa at Caffe Calabria and Chef Javier Plascencia and Chef Claudette Wilkins Zepeda at Bracero.
Disclaimer: we were hosted for the meal but the opinions are strictly our own.