While everyone else was in the Halloween spirit this weekend, we attended two unique culinary experiences. First we went to the Vegan Festival in Costa Mesa on Saturday. I’m not vegan, but I don’t eat any dairy / cheese or meat (read my blog post about my diet change). However, I’m always eager to learn about nutrition and the latest vegan products on the market. There were many trucks and booth set up with everything from food, vegan clothing, juices, nutritional supplements and even information about local animal shelters / farms. They also had a stage with inspirational speakers, which we listened to a few of them. One of the speakers spoke about the fact that you can be vegan and still eat unhealthy – like coca cola & french fries! So being vegan doesn’t mean you’re eating healthy. Nevertheless, most vegans eat consciously. Another interesting point of view he mentioned was how in other countries our farm animals are considered as “holy” but our pets (like dogs) are eaten like in China. In Germany they eat horse and people in Peru eat guinea pigs. Basically it mainly depends on where you grow up that influences your opinion on which animals to eat is “normal”. When you visit a sanctuary with farm animals like pigs you can experience that they behave like dogs – rolling on their back when you give them belly rubs and wagging their tail when they’re happy. And cows are cute! Just because you grow up thinking its “normal” to eat pigs and cows it doesn’t make it right. I also watched a cooking demonstration by Jackie Sobon for a (healthy & vegan) corn chowder. She had such an energetic and positive personality – it was fun to watch. I learned some new tricks, e.g. about cooking with liquid smoke (Am I the only one that never heard of this before?). If you want to check out her vegan blog or cookbook – here’s the link. In my opinion, there are so many delicious and healthy meatless options from all around the world available in the grocery store – there’s really no excuse not to give up meat.
On Sunday we attended a much different culinary experience in Torrey Pines (close to San Diego). The annual event “Celebrate the Craft” was held at the beautiful Terrace at The Lodge at Torrey Pines. It’s a food and wine festival with the best chefs from the region. They are representing innovative dishes and highlighting ingredients from local farms or ranches. They also have local breweries and vintners to pair with the plates – but I don’t drink alcohol, so can’t tell much about it. It was a delightful experience as you could experience how creative and with much love for food each chef prepared their dish. My favorite was a cauliflower Brussels sprout salad by True Food Kitchen – which I have to visit in Newport Beach soon.
After the event we took a short drive to La Jolla, a cute neighborhood with boutiques and restaurants. From there you can walk to La Jolla cove where you can see the sea lions up close and kayak / snorkel / go to the beach. It’s a very picturesque area and the sea lions provide endless entertainment, but these tourists… I understand that the sea lions are used to humans, but I don’t get how people have to get so close to them. They were literally posing for photos two steps next to them. I even heard one girl screaming “Do you want to touch them?” She didn’t. Otherwise I could have not held back. I wonder why there’s no park ranger to keep an eye out for the tourists. Nevertheless, I was happy to see that the sea lions looked healthy as we had many starving sea lions the past years.
In the evening we had dinner in our room at the The Lodge at Torrey Pines, as we wanted to make time to experience this beautiful hotel. The hotel is most famous for its championship golf course which hosts the PGA Tour. Anyone who’s into golf will have this course on their bucket list to play. Even though I don’t play – I still appreciate the beauty of it! The Lodge is situated atop the cliffs of Torrey Pines State Beach and has amazing views of the Golf Course the Pacific Ocean. It has a very warm and residential California feel with overstuffed couches, comfortable leather chairs and fireplaces throughout the lodge.
My favorite part about the hotel is the proximity to the trails at Torrey Pines State Reserve. The 2,000 acres of land were protected many years ago (before San Diego was developed) so you can imagine what California looked like when it was first discovered. There are many short/steep/long trails to choose from along cliffs, sandstone and scenic overlooks on the ocean. We went for a run/hike to explore many different trails and were not disappointed in any one of them. We also decided to come back soon for some surfing as the break seems long, consistent and sandy bottom (less painful when I fall :-)).
La Jolla / Torrey Pines offer so many activities and natural California beauty. It’s time you come out here!