Weekend Preview: A Garden Of Lights, The Echo Of Dracula, And A Cook's Confablieri
December 18, 2012 10:11 a.m.
This weekend in San Diego presents some great opportunities to join in the merriment of the holiday season, either by enjoying holiday themed activities or just taking part in the unique offerings that make San Diego a culturally and gastronomically enriching place to live.
Troy Johnson, Food Critic at San Diego Magazine.
CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. In this season of reindeer and elves, there's not many places you can turn to from events that range from Edith Piaf to Dracula. Luckily, you can turn to us! We start with holiday events and then stray from them! My guest, Barbarella, author of diary of a diva column. Welcome back.
BARBARELLA: Thank you so much.
CAVANAUGH: Tray Johnson is here, food critic at San Diego magazine.
JOHNSON: Hello, Maureen.
CAVANAUGH: Let's start with Barbarella and a holiday event. The San Diego botanic garden presents the garden of light, 2012.
BARBARELLA: This is such a magical time at the garden. After the sun goes down, they have over 100,000 lights. All you see is sparkling colors wrapped around the tree trunks and arranged among branches and bushes pretty much anywhere you put them.
CAVANAUGH: And where is this?
BARBARELLA: It's where the quail botanical garden was. Up off the 5. Oh, I don't have the map in front of me.
CAVANAUGH: Now, what exactly do they do with these lights?
BARBARELLA: Well, are the lights are just part of it. The lights are everywhere, and they're gorgeous. I brought my nieces to this last year, and their favorite part was meeting Santa. They have the gazebo all lit up, Mrs. Claus is there. They have fires where you can roast marshmallows. My sister and I enjoyed the mulled wine. They have blond Belgian horses that take you on a wagon ride down these trails that you couldn't really get to at night without that. And you can really tour all of the lights in the garden.
JOHNSON: My daughter saw Santa Claus for the first time there. And she discovered an octave that hurt neighborhood dogs.
[ LAUGHTER ]
CAVANAUGH: Now I understand there's something else special to enjoy.
BARBARELLA: Right, snow! They truck in snow there. And of course as kids in San Diego, chances are you've never seen it. I recommend kids bring gloves because they're going to want to touch it, and that stuff is it cold. They say to bring a sled, but there's really not enough snow for that. It's one area of the garden where it's sort of piled. And if you're tiny, you can climb on it and slide down it. But I wouldn't recommend really sleds. But gloves and a big coat.
CAVANAUGH: How affordable is this for families?
BARBARELLA: It's really cheap. The entry to the garden, if you're a member already, it's $6. For adults, it's $12. Kids under 3 are free. And all children members or not, $4. And there's so much more than I mentioned, even. Carolling, 50 nutcrackers on a display. It's a really big event.
CAVANAUGH: The San Diego botanic gardens presents the garden of lights, 2012. Goes from December 8th through the 23rd. And from the 26th to the 30th from 5:00 to 9:00 PM. Now dinner, cooks confab Christmas dinner! It's highly-anticipated. What is this event?
JOHNSON: You sound so skeptical! The cook's confab is a highly anticipated event because this is one of the most compelling dinner parties. It's basically a group of young chefs who wanted to get-together and cook whatever the heck they wanted! They decide on a theme, and hundreds and hundred was people would show up. But this event, there's 10, 12, 13 will be getting together in the same room, and they're doing a Christmas dinner. Scoffier inspired Christmas dinner.
CAVANAUGH: I know the name. But tell us for people who are not familiar with that name.
JOHNSON: Scaffier is basically, wrote the book on French cuisine. So these been a few dinners that were inspired by him. But these guys, 16 of the best chefs from different restaurant all doing one event, it should be amazing.
CAVANAUGH: Generally speaking, this doesn't have anything to do with Christmas. But this is their Christmas-themed dinner.
JOHNSON: Yeah, they do a different type of event. And they were in a little bit of a hiatus for a little while. So this is kind of their return. Kind of a reuniting of the gang. And of course they want to do a Christmas dinner. The space that they're going to be doing it in is named Oliver and Rose. It's done by one of the founders of cafe coy, which is one of the most romantic places in downtown San Diego. They took over an event and space and turned into this -- almost looks like it's underground, this beautiful, beautiful space. It's a perfect combination of chefs and spot.
CAVANAUGH: We're going to have fabulous, old-time French cuisine at this cook's confab. Dare I ask for more? Are there other types of entertainment?
JOHNSON: I spoke with the chef who's organizing it, Andrew Sp[urgeon, and he said I'm not going to tell you. They encourage people to dress in a Victorian theme, but not required. Can you just dress tux and tails and really nice and formal. They will have a stylist there. So it's going to be this completely time machine night back to the Marquis de Sade, sort of.
CAVANAUGH: Let's hope he stays home!
>> That's a different kind of party.
[ LAUGHTER ]
CAVANAUGH: So the highly anticipated cooks' confab is this Sunday, December 16th from 1:00 to 5:00.
JOHNSON: And they say they're sold out, but if you call cafe Chloe, and they have a few, like, 4 remaining tickets.
CAVANAUGH: Tell them Troy sent you.
JOHNSON: I am not getting a cut.
CAVANAUGH: The canyon crest academy vision dance conservatory presents the echo of Dracula. Let's figure this out.
BARBARELLA: I have all kinds of information for you.
CAVANAUGH: What is the canyon crest academy and vision dance conservatory?
BARBARELLA: Yes, there's the Canyon Crest Academy Foundation which is a nonprofit parent volunteer organization up in San Diegito union high school district that provides educational programs but. The arts, basically, for high school students. And this part of it, envision conservatory is an extended day program, it's really, really hard work they go through. They explore specific disciplines, such as dancing in this case. But they also have disciplines including cinema, digital fine art, instrumental music, theatre, and vocal music.
CAVANAUGH: So it's a really vibrant arts academy.
BARBARELLA: It really is. To fill in where unfortunately our funding for the state can't.
CAVANAUGH: Now, what will they be exploring in this dance version of the echo of Dracula?
BARBARELLA: It's basically the story of Dracula. Ultimately the themes themselves, it's about the perception of good and evil, fears of the unknown, all conveyed through the dancing that will express, like ideas such as revelry, antagonistic fondness, and vengeance.
[ LAUGHTER ]
BARBARELLA: And the story which is broken down by these headlines which I love sort of describe the emotion behind the dance that you're going to see.
CAVANAUGH: So who are some of the artists involved in this show?
BARBARELLA: The artists, the dancers themselves were all the students of the program. And they have to apply for that. However the story itself was written by Reina stole and Ryan Tobin, and also directed by Reina stole. She runs a dance program there. And I've had a chance to read the story, and I hope they actually provide if at the show because it's online. It adds so much depth to what you're going to be seeing in each number.
CAVANAUGH: This is sort of like a stupid question, but why not? I do it all the time.
BARBARELLA: Can I dance the numbers?
[ LAUGHTER ]
CAVANAUGH: No, I mean there's no cape involved, or anything? It's more intellectualized than the idea of seeing Dracula on stage with the cape and all of that.
BARBARELLA: Well, I looked at a lot of photographs, and they were gorgeous. There's a whole gallery of photography on there. I did not catch a cape.
[ LAUGHTER ]
BARBARELLA: But there is Dracula. I mean, it's the classic Dracula tale.
CAVANAUGH: All right. So where is the show being performed?
BARBARELLA: It is right at the canyon crest academy, which is right by the Ted Williams freeway on Carmel Valley road. I need more coffee.
[ LAUGHTER ]
CAVANAUGH: Thank you for bringing me through that. Now we head to the Edith Piaf dinner at Bobo's!
JOHNSON: Bobo in Ocean Beach. Bobo is -- Ocean Beach obviously has a multitude of funk, and had a dearth of good restaurants in San Diego. And the Cohen restaurant group went in there a couple years ago to an old place called the bungalow. And they transformed it.
JOHNSON: Using a partner, and he has just a masterful touch for lightning and mood. And it's my favorite thing the Cohen restaurant group has ever done. It's this cute, awesome restaurant that's perfectly lit. If you're not in a romantic mood, you'll leave there in the arm was somebody else.
CAVANAUGH: I understand this is a celebration.
JOHNSON: It's a French-inspired restaurant, and this is their second year that they have been there. So the Edith Piaf dinner will celebrate her birthday and their own birthday. And in a restaurant climate where everybody went out, it's not a small thing.
CAVANAUGH: Exactly. Can you tell us about the menu? What food goes with the Piaf?
JOHNSON: A ton of wine! So much wine! How was that for French? Was that awful?
[ LAUGHTER ]
JOHNSON: This is a three-course meal, and it's only $30. It's a really affordable thing. But there's going to be Sadie rose baguettes with a triple cream brie to start. And a coke awe vin. Done in the style of Julia Child. Her recipe had, like, cognac, red win, tomato, paste, bacon. And they'll have pink champagne, being the flame of one of Piaf's classic songs.
CAVANAUGH: This is part of a 4-day celebration. What other activities do they have?
JOHNSON: On Friday and Saturday night, they're asking you not to come as you because you're you. It's a masquerade. So basically come in there with a mask, come in there and dine on Friday and Saturday nights or they'll have masks for you if you just happen to walk in. And then Monday, everybody gets a glass of champagne and a fake mustache to wear.
BARBARELLA: Can you bring your own?
JOHNSON: Mustache Monday! You can bring your own.
BARBARELLA: I have them attachable. Pink ones and all colors.
JOHNSON: So it's basically mustache Monday in there, and everybody is going to get a birthday cup cake at the end of the meal. Just two years of a really great restaurant.
CAVANAUGH: Bobo's Edith Piaf dinner is Friday night, part of four days of fest activities in Point Loma. And who knew about those mustaches?
[ LAUGHTER ]
BARBARELLA: I've got kits.
CAVANAUGH: Anything you're looking forward to doing this weekend, Barbarella?
BARBARELLA: Something that sounds really fun is the Emiggs family Christmas. They're doing this homage to the Griswolds, you know the national lampoon's Christmas vacation? So don an ugly sweater and enjoy tacky decorations.
JOHNSON: My house.
[ LAUGHTER ]
BARBARELLA: And all of Chone boulevard is opening up their businesses for art and music and fun too.
JOHNSON: And Lafayette is an amazing place.
CAVANAUGH: Five seconds?
JOHNSON: Well, this one is just a buzz thing you got to look into. Google yelp and craft and commerce. They recorded all their bad yelp reviews, put on online and they're screaming the audio. It's the best story ever.
[ LAUGHTER ]