What is a Farmer’s Market Foodventure? Well, I guess it is how I think about cooking. Have fun. Experiment. Eat well. Eat fresh. Take a minute to taste, actually taste your food. Cooking is an adventure, right? At least it should be. Foodventure. It’s simple, adventures with food. It’s traveling the world without a passport. It’s exploring flavors, textures, and beauty of the freshest of the fresh.
Is it a farmer’s market tour? Kinda. Is it olive oil sampling? Yup. Is it wine and beer tasting? Absolutely. Is it a cooking class? Definitely. Foodventure is a fun word that I thought embodied a culinary experience that I’ve wanted to do. It’s probably been used before and will again, but this is my version. I’ll start at the beginning…
A few years ago, I was looking for a cool gift for my wife for Christmas. When I asked her what she wanted, her answer was “Some kind of cool experience.” Okaaaay. So I did what any loving husband would do who had absolutely no idea what to get their wife…I Googled it. Since one of our favorite vacation spots is Santa Barbara, I typed in food experiences in Santa Barbara. What I found seemed to be just the thing. It’s called a “Market Foray”. It’s a farmer’s market tour and cooking class in Santa Barbara led by a French woman named Laurence. Her class starts at the marina, wanders through a local farmer’s market, hits the cheese shop, and winds up at her home where the small group cooks lunch. How cool is that?!?
During the course of making lunch, Laurence noticed that I wasn’t exactly a typical student. I was a little more “experienced” in the kitchen. I showed her an easier way to get meat out of crab legs. At one point, she told me that I should do my own foray back home where I lived. What? I’m not French. We laughed. But why not? Why couldn’t I do the same thing where I live? As a former teacher and actor, what better than combine the things that make me happy? I love teaching what I’m passionate about, I love cooking, and I love entertaining people.
I live in Carlsbad, California. Carlsbad is about 40 minutes north of San Diego. It’s beautiful here. We have great year-round farmer’s markets, fresh local ingredients and great weather. Everything I need is here. All I needed was the perfect spot to tie it all together. Enter the Center for a Healthy Lifestyle.
The Center for a Healthy Lifestyle is a fairly new creation of the Boys and Girls Club that promotes a “farm to table” way of thinking and eating. That is MY type of place. There are only two Centers for a Healthy Lifestyle in the country. Their newest location is in Encinitas (just a few minutes from my house). They have a great teaching kitchen, new appliances, and a huge (and I mean HUGE) garden filled with all sorts of fruits, vegetables, and herbs that only the center has access to. It looks and feels like a cooking classroom. The CHL, however, doesn’t only focus on children. Us big kids are welcome too. It is a great place to hold more “traditional” cooking classes.
The original CHL location is in Solana Beach. Now that place has it all! The “Cottage” has a teaching kitchen too. It’s also surrounded by a quaint little garden and a grapevine covered patio with a dining area, including tables and chairs. One look and you feel at home.
Next, I approached the Solana Beach Farmer’s Market. It has a great vibe. It’s comfortable. The market has lots of different types of booths ranging from several fruit and vegetable stands to hand-made soaps to artisan chocolate and everything in between. The people there are friendly, knowledgeable, and passionate about their products. It’s a great place to hang out and listen to live local musicians, eat great food, and pick up the finest and freshest ingredients. My family really enjoys it.
Only a few steps away from the farmer’s market is a cool little olive oil shop. When you walk into the Temecula Olive Oil Company Solana Beach tasting room it feels like you’ve walked into a shop in Europe. Their olive oils and vinegars are made just down the road in Temecula and are probably the best I’ve tasted. This isn’t your typical tasting either. First, you take a small sip of the various flavored oils. Then, they pair it with the perfect balsamic vinegar that takes it to the next level. It’s surprising how the flavors play off of each other. My favorite? Fresh Blood Orange Olive Oil paired with Vanilla Fig Balsamic Vinegar. Or maybe the Jalapeno or Hatch Chili oil paired with Honey Balsamic? Truffle? So many great combinations.
Next, I approached Carruth Cellars. Instantly, you feel like you’ve hit a destination. Low light, concrete floors, wood accents, and wine barrels stacked to the ceiling. Oh yeah, and the wine is amazing…Award winning, in fact. Could this beach town get any better?!? If there were only a craft brewery. What?!?
Unless you live in Solana Beach, you might think I am making this up. About a hundred yards down Cedros avenue, is the new Culture Brewery Co. The one word I would use to describe Culture is cool, just coooool. All of their 40+ delicious craft beers are brewed on site. Their beer ranges from a very light flavored Blond to several dark Stout beers that you almost want to eat with a spoon and everything in between. The other day, a local gelato shop was there selling a creamy treat made from Culture’s Milk Stout beer. The gelato (as you would expect) was unbelievable, but when they dropped a scoop of the Stout gelato into a glass of the Milk Stout itself, I about fainted.
That’s it! This is my food adventure…A Foodventure! It’s the freshest ingredients. It’s the best oils and vinegars. It’s great wine and beer in a funky setting. And most of all, it’s great food! Here’s what we’ll do…
Sunday afternoon at 1:30, a small group of between 6-10 people will meet at “The Cottage” at the Center for a Healthy Lifestyle in Solana Beach. Maybe it’s date night, maybe a group event. Next, we’ll drive a few minutes to the Farmer’s Market on Cedros Avenue where we’ll gather the ingredients for my preset menu.
Here’s a recent menu:
The Wandering Gaucho
Everything Crisps * Shrimp Ceviche with Lime, Orange, and Grapefruit * Grilled Gaucho Tri Tip with red and green Chimichurri Sauce * Grilled Summer Squash * Avocado Fries with Chipotle-Lime Dipping Sauce * Picante Three-Melon Salad * Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream with Fresh Peaches
After we wrap up at the Farmer’s Market, it’s next door to experience the most unique and fantastic olive oil tastings you’re ever had. Then, depending on the menu, it’s amazing wine or beer tasting. Then, back up to the Cottage for a hands-on cooking class, a little music, some laughs, and a great meal.