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Weekend Preview: Pairing Food With Art

March 22, 2012 1:13 p.m.


Kinsee Morlan, San Diego CityBeat Writer

Troy Johnson, San Diego Magazine Food Critic and Host of Food Network's "Crave"

Related Story: Weekend Preview: Pairing Food With Art


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

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CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. Today, we try something new on weekend preview. We're going to make suggestions for not only an event but an event paired up with the perfect place to eat. Because culture can make you hungry! Kinsee Morlan, who covers art and culture at CityBeat, welcoming. And Troy Johnson is host of TV food series, crave. Hi.

JOHNSON: How are you, Maureen?

CAVANAUGH: I'm doing great. So the event is the Thursday night thing. It's a recurring event at the museum of contemporary art in San Diego. Remind us what it's designed to do.

MORLAN: Well, are the correct art world terminology is activation. So they really invite people in to view the art and the installations, walk around, mix and mingle, drink beer, cocktails, engage in art-making activities, listen to music. So it's geared toward the hip, younger sect. And you get to hang out with people who care about arts and culture.

JOHNSON: Activation sounds like you have to sign a two-year service plan or something.


MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The event this is returning is the ten thousand waves by Isaac Julian, a video installation. And it just sounds fascinating.

MORLAN: It's epic. I had a chance to sit in there with Isaac, interviewing him, while his piece played out. And the first thing you'll notice, aside of course from the nine screens with this barrage of different images on each one is the sound. So they have state of the art sound equipment all around the gallery. And I think this is the first time ever to really use sound in that space. So the sound track is totally unique, very special. So you'll notice that. Then sitting there, it was actually designed to walk around. So as you walk around, you're shown these images of China, and it's kind of a blend of fact and fiction. Of the artist was inspired by this disaster where illegal Chinese immigrants were drowned in, well, picking cokel cells. So me goes to the province in China where they were from, uses their local lore, and fabricates this nonlinear tale, and you get to wander through the screens and check it all out. It's really cool.

CAVANAUGH: Are there other interactive art activities that are going to show up on this night?

MORLAN: The interactive part will be inspired by that piece. It'll be a group called outside the lens. They'll let you pose -- one of the scenes is a green screen shot where the film maker pulls you behind the lens, and shows you the process of making the piece. And you'll be projected all throughout the gallery.

CAVANAUGH: That's very cool. It's tonight from 7:00 to 10:00 PM. And where are we going to go to eat?

JOHNSON: If you're going to check that out, you have to see the new prep kitchen in little Italy. This place is a casual off-shoot of one of the high-end restaurants in San Diego called whisk and ladle. A really good chef, farm to table ingredients, which everybody including your liquor store is doing these days.


JOHNSON: I'm going to walk into seven/11 soon, and they're going to be, like, artisenal grass-fed red bull! But they took over a second story spot in little Italy, and that's a tough thing to do because everything in little Italy is on the ground level. But they've become already massively popular.

CAVANAUGH: What kind of food do they do best?

JOHNSON: Basically rustic gourmet. It was based on the chef, Ryan Johnston, the stuff that he would cook in the back of the house for his staff, more creative, more rustic, he's not worrying about presentation as much. And just throwing together some really cool stuff for his friends who are real foodies.

CAVANAUGH: And is it open late in case people want to go after the event?

JOHNSON: It is open late, from 10:00-11:30, you can still get food there. And it's really a good bar scene. The design is like urban farm house, just kitsch everywhere, and things to discover. It's a really cool place.

CAVANAUGH: Prep kitchen is at 1660 India Street. The next art event, contents under pressure, it's actually holding a closing reception, right? On Friday? What is this about? What is the whole thing about?

MORLAN: 30 years of urban graffiti art history. So it's -- you walk in, and it's wall to wall canvases, photos of graffiti, T-shirt, fashion. They'll get the DJs involved the night of the closing, probably have some B-boys there dancing. It's something that's needed to happen for a long time. It's artists like sake, who arguably is the godfather of the local graffiti scene.

CAVANAUGH: He's been on the show.

MORLAN: Yeah, and pursue, those big-time graffiti artists who maybe aren't out on the streets doing their thing anymore, but it's kind of an epic show.

JOHNSON: That's saying a lot, I know this probably breaks every radio rule, Kinsey Morlan is one of the best arts and town people in town. The fact you missed it --

MORLAN: I know, what? !

CAVANAUGH: There are a lot of stereotypes surrounding graffiti and street art. Does this make you see this stuff in a new way?

MORLAN: Any time you steak graffiti out of the context of the street and put it in the white-wall setting of the gallery, it lends it some legitimacy. And then the historical look, to step back and hook at it as a part of a culture. They also did workshops, the 5 elements of hip hop, so they were teaching people how to DJ, how to breakdance. So it gives you a bigger picture look. Graffiti is a way of life for a lot of these kids.

CAVANAUGH: It's Friday from 9:00-11:00 at the Joe and Vi Jacobs center at 404 Euclid Avenue. So where are we going to eat?

JOHNSON: There's a great little Jamaican place called Caribbean taste. And it's a family-run joint. It looks like an old converted liquor store, but it's just a family that's been there for seven or eight years cooking great Jamaican food, and we're talking hot and spicy, curried goat, ox tail is a really big seller for them. And plantains served with everything. It's just great Jamaican food.

CAVANAUGH: A lot of it that's really spicy. Anything that's not?

JOHNSON: They have a chicken brown stew. If you've got a gringo palette, chicken brown stew would be a good option for that.

CAVANAUGH: Now, what kind of a place is it? Is it a strictly restaurant?

JOHNSON: It is right now strictly restaurant. They used to sell a lot of Jamaican produce and products and hot sauces and everything else. I just talked with the owner today, and he said they're looking for a new vendor. Of so you go in, what it lacks in decor, it makes up for in soul! It looks like my college apartment, a little bit. With a better artist. Paintings on the walls, and things like that. It's fantastic.

CAVANAUGH: Caribbean taste, it's located at 6171 Imperial Avenue. Upon we move onto art fist collective presents my little art show. What's this about?

MORLAN: Well, as is implicit in the title, my little ponies


MORLAN: Artists are going to be reimagining, reinterpreting, they're going to be doing the same thing I did with my Barbie dolls after a certain age, where you rip them apart and put them back together.

CAVANAUGH: If people don't remember my little pony, we have a little bit of that jingle as a reminder.

(Audio Recording Played)


JOHNSON: I am officially going to be the creepiest guy in San Diego today because I'm going to be walking around singing that song.

CAVANAUGH: Now, these artists aren't going to hurt my little pony, are they?

JOHNSON: Probably.

MORLAN: I've seen some who have built a tower out of the ponies, some have removed their headings and elongated their necks and gonna all kinds of things. So Pamela yeager, Sean Brennan, some of the best San Diego artists are behind this. So maximum creativity.

CAVANAUGH: I saw a couple of examples of what my little pony is going through for this show. But it has -- this art show has a fantastic backstory. It's actually a benefit, right?

MORLAN: It is. Well, as KPBS and others reported, the city was close to painting offer an agua caliente race track mural on the side of the California theatre building downtown. So save our heritage organization and art fist collective, which is the experimental collective that's behind this my little pony show were really at the forefront of saying no, we don't want this mural to go away, it's a part of our city's history, it's beautiful. I'm a personal fan of it. And so the city did step back because of the public outcry and said, yes, we'll do our own review. But save our heritage organization wants to do their own. So this will benefit paying for that independent historical review.

CAVANAUGH: Oh, okay. All right. My little art show take place at quality social at 7896th avenue in downtown San Diego on Friday from 6:00-11:00. So where are we eating, Troy?

JOHNSON: We're going to Katsuya. This is a big, shiny project from LA. And San Diegans, we're very provincial, defensive when anything big and shiny comes down from LA. We feel there's some sort of imperialism that happens with it. And fileap stark is the designer. And a great Japanese chef from LA. And it's a class action, it's just beautiful people and Botox, and good food. And it's really Japanese, Asian fusion.

CAVANAUGH: I just am wondering, there's so many restaurants to choose downtown. Why did you choose this one?

JOHNSON: This is the biggest opening that San Diego has had in a long time. Of and the reason is that it's the biggest opening since Nobut came to San Diego. You can look at it as a massive employer that came to San Diego and is trying to do something high-art, high-food, and high-design. And it is SBE, the company that owns it. And they do so much in LA, they're one of the biggest restaurant companies in LA. And they're not bad. They have this Umammy burger, which is one of the most biggest and favorite burgers in the United States right now. They're scouting locations in San Diego. This is SBE's first movement to San Diego, and they're going to start bringing all of their concepts.

CAVANAUGH: Your review of it is coming up. Can you give us a prepreview?

JOHNSON: Yes. They have a few things to work out, and it is unfair of me to be reviewing it at this point. But one of the things is a crispy rice with a spicy tuna. And this rice is like toast with spicy tuna. I wish it was hotter. You get that really morning toast narrative, then you get spicy with it. It's fantastic. And they have a couple cocktails, a watermelon cucumber mohitto. It's great.

CAVANAUGH: Expensive?

JOHNSON: Absolutely.

MORLAN: And can you take your my little pony?

JOHNSON: You can!

CAVANAUGH: Katsuya is located at 600 F Street. Thank you both.

JOHNSON: Thank you very much.

MORLAN: Thank you, that was fun.