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Events: Wine, Cheese, Chocolate And Surf


Wine, cheese, chocolate and surf. A perfect weekend in San Diego. Here to tell us all about it is Barbarella from the San Diego Reader.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): Any weekend preview that starts with wine, cheese and chocolate can't be all bad. And that's just the beginning. Joining us now to talk about some of the great stuff going on in San Diego this weekend is my guest Barbarella, author of the Diary of a Diva column and Your Week page at the San Diego Reader. Barbarella, it’s been too long.

BARBARELLA FOKOS (Columnist, San Diego Reader): It has. It has. It’s so much fun to be here again.

CAVANAUGH: Well, we start out, as I say, wine, cheese and chocolate, what’s bad about that? Absolutely nothing. Tell us about this festival in Balboa Park.

BARBARELLA: This is great. This is the third annual Wine, Cheese and Chocolate Festival. It’s at the Spanish Village, which I love. That’s where all the little shops are and all the stores. It’s a very colorful area of the park. And there are just going to be tons of vendors and companies offering samples. We have chocolate, of course. We have to start with that. There is Dove and Godiva and San Diego’s own Eclipse Chocolat, which is just over in University Heights. We’re lucky to have some local chocolate companies. Eclipse is offering their signature lavender sea-salt with caramel…


BARBARELLA: …which is, I know, please, right?


BARBARELLA: …which is supposed to go well with light, crisp wines. And Cupcake Love, another local company, is offering chocolate cupcakes which are supposed to go with everything. So I can’t think of anything that a chocolate cupcake does not go with.

CAVANAUGH: No, no. Any kind of wine is just perfectly right with a chocolate cupcake. What kind of cheese?

BARBARELLA: Well, Taste Cheese – Taste Cheese used to be a shop over on University but now the owners, Mary and George, have taken it to farmers markets like Little Italy’s Mercado. And they’re bringing a 26-month old Gouda called beamster, and this beamster has a caramel butterscotchy finish that is supposed to go well with both chocolate and big, red wines or dessert wines so…


BARBARELLA: …a nice pairing.

CAVANAUGH: And will there be – I mean, it’s a festival. I imagine music?

BARBARELLA: Of course. Yeah, we have – or they have – this is actually put on by the San Diego Woman’s History Museum and Educational Center. And Wine Smarties, which is a local company that does wine education events, it’s founded by Lindsay Pomeroy, and she helped organize this. But they got San Diego’s queen of boogie-woogie, Sue Palmer, who is known for great jazz and blues, and she’s going to have her band there playing throughout the evening.

CAVANAUGH: And how much is all of this going to cost?

BARBARELLA: It costs – it’s $30.00 now. It was cheaper in the beginning. But if you get a bunch of your friends together, groups of 10 is only $20.00 each. And then there’s VIP with reserved seating for $50.00.

CAVANAUGH: And you’re going to be there?

BARBARELLA: Of course I’m going to be there. Are you coming to taste with me?

CAVANAUGH: Well, you know, it’s going to be hot in Balboa Park this weekend so we’ll just have to eat all that chocolate or else it’ll melt.

BARBARELLA: We will, and the wine. There’s also tons of wine. Lots of pinot, just coincidentally, pinot gri and pinot noir with different companies. Loring Wine Company, and, you know, they’re kind of known for making monster pinots. The owner there, he does something interesting where he actually has 16 different vineyards he sources grapes from but makes the pinot all the same method, so you can actually taste what a pinot – how it makes the wine different from 16 different places up and down the California coast.

CAVANAUGH: Wow. The Wine, Cheese and Chocolate Festival starts at 6:30 at the Spanish Village Arts Center in Balboa Park. I would imagine that’s 6:30 p.m. and not a.m.

BARBARELLA: Right. Unless you’re like me, which I – My breakfast is chocolate.

CAVANAUGH: Well, we’re moving on to a surf competition pitting San Diego north and south county. It takes place on Saturday, and give us a rundown on this event.

BARBARELLA: Okay, this is really exciting. This is the first one of its kind, north versus south. There are going to be two teams of 10, and in North County the surfers were chosen by Quiver BoardWorks and Cole Surfboards. In South County, they were chosen by Ocean Beach Surf & Skate. And the deal is, unique to this contest, the surfers are going to compete in a tag team format where one surfer from North County and one from South County enter the water together and surf the best two of three waves. They’re going to run to shore and tag a teammate to go out and do the same. The judges, including professional pro surfer Jamie Sterling, are going to judge on the best two out of three and at the end of the day the team with the most points wins.


BARBARELLA: And you want to know what they win?

CAVANAUGH: I do want to know what they win.

BARBARELLA: Aside from bragging rights…


BARBARELLA: And this is pretty interesting. The losing team has to give up their surfboards to the winning team, and the winning team will then donate the boards to the Surfrider Foundation. And the thing about that is these surfboards are not cheap. On the low end, they’re $500 to $1000 and can get up as high as $30,000. So we’re hoping they don’t bring their sentimental boards just in case. Not – not…

CAVANAUGH: This sounds strangely mythological. I’m just…

BARBARELLA: Isn’t it crazy? Well, it started in Hawaii. Just last year Red Bull did one out there in Oahu, North Shore, South Shore, and then thought, hey, North County, South County, San Diego, let’s bring it here.

CAVANAUGH: So spectators can watch from the beach while…

BARBARELLA: Yeah, you can. And also I wanted to say that the day before not only can they watch from the beach but on Friday there’s a scheduled Surf Day with the pro surfer Jamie Sterling in the same place, at Ocean Beach Pier from 11:00 to 3:00 p.m. It’s a good way for fans to surf with and speak to the judge, and maybe some contestants can buddy up. I don’t know how that works.

CAVANAUGH: That’s very good. Now it all sounds like a great day at the beach, so if you’re going to go there and you’re going to watch this competition, do you have any recommendations about where you should grab a bite in Ocean Beach after…

BARBARELLA: Of course.

CAVANAUGH: …the competition?

BARBARELLA: Yeah, I love OB. If you’re looking to keep in with the beach feel, I would just go right across the way on Newport Beach (sic) to the South Beach. They have the great fish tacos. But if wine is more your style, as it is sometimes mine, the Vine, and 3rd Corner, still in the ‘hood, just around the block. And I haven’t been to the new Pizza Port, which has just opened up down there but I’m dying to try it.

CAVANAUGH: So North County-South County Red Bull Rivals Surf Competition takes place Saturday at Ocean Beach Pier. The first matchup starts at 10:30 a.m. The next event is a really great one for kids. Barbarella, tell us about the San Diego Zoo’s KinderNights and KinderMornings program.

BARBARELLA: I will, and it’s funny. The next one coming up is for Father’s Day and my father is actually listening to us right now…


BARBARELLA: …at the zoo. He brought his portable radio to the zoo, so I thought that was really fun when I was talking to him.

CAVANAUGH: He’s doing a very good job.

BARBARELLA: Thanks. Hello, Daddy. So, this is once a month. It’s KinderNights, KinderMornings, and they’re only $12.00 for members, $15.00 for nonmembers, for kids age 3 to 6. And there’s a tour, they’re 90 minutes long. A tour, a craft, a snack, and animal interaction. But for Father’s Day, this month’s is sold out. It was the Father’s Day Fanciful Fathers, that’s this weekend. Next month is the rainforest theme but what’s not sold out that you can register for now, there are two Father’s Day sleepovers. One is next Saturday, June 12th, and the next one is the following Friday, June 18th. The sleepovers are amazing because you get to be there after hours and there’s so many things set up. Do you want to know more about the…

CAVANAUGH: Yes, I do. Yes, I do.

BARBARELLA: Great, because I have lots to talk about. So when – for the sleepovers, the kids are age 4 and older. And these ones are Father’s Day ones, so the theme is Classic Campout. You check in and you have Dr. Zoolittle there and there are animals there to greet everybody. Then everybody goes on a bus tour and there’s animal interaction. And then – before dinner and everything, there a great dinner set up for them, so this is a little more expensive. It’s $139.00 for adults, $119.00 for kids. But you have – they’re going to be doing roasting marshmallows and making ‘Smores. And something called a Night Prowl that after the zoo closes, when all those nocturnal animals come out, there’s going to be an educator leading the group privately to see all of these animals in the dark. I understand for the last one for Mother’s Day, all of the kids were up against the enclosure with the black jaguar and didn’t even see that it was right there until they saw its eyes glowing right in front of their faces.


BARBARELLA: So that’s really exciting for kids. And the tents are set up by the zoo. You just bring your sleeping bag and everything.

CAVANAUGH: Let me ask you, Barbarella, do a lot of people know about these events? I’ve never heard of KinderNights and KinderMornings.

BARBARELLA: I don’t think so, and it’s not – Not only that, but there’s sleepovers, KinderNights, KinderMornings all the time, and sleepovers all throughout the summer. What I didn’t know that I’m very excited about is there’s adult only sleepovers where there is wine. They have two coming up, a Black and White one, themed, black and white animals. And then one called Extreme Sleepover, which does not interest me at all because it’s survival techniques. I think that vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard is roughing it, so I’m not going to do survival techniques but how fun.

CAVANAUGH: Trust you to find the adults only night out at the zoo.


CAVANAUGH: Now, is it appropriate for all ages of kids, these KinderNights or KinderMornings? I mean, do you have to – is there a cutoff point where a child is just too young to attend?

BARBARELLA: Well, there is. For KinderNights, KinderMornings, which are the limited ones, it’s age 3 to 6, so it’s a cutoff on both young and old. And for the sleepovers and most of the day camp stuff, which is all day throughout the summer, age 4 is kind of the youngest that they do. And there are some pre-pre ones and parents have to be involved. But there are also some older ones through adult. There are art programs, art classes you can take throughout the summer, where they basically say I think it’s third or fourth grade through adult, so all levels can go and enjoy.

CAVANAUGH: Now, you told us that there are some events that are actually sold out. How far in advance do you need to register for an event? Or do you need to register?

BARBARELLA: You do. You have to go online and has a – has all of the registration information but you do have to go online, register or call in advance for all of these. But the Father’s Day ones next weekend are not sold out yet. And speaking of other fathers at the zoo, along the tour there’s a camel that is featured right now because the mother, in March, passed away while giving birth to the baby girl but the father camel has taken over raising the baby camel and that’s something that’s very special there. Also happened last year with flamingos. Flamingos are known to switch off parenting but last year one of the mothers died and the father took over full responsibility.

CAVANAUGH: Oh, that’s so touching.

BARBARELLA: Yeah. So there’s going to be a lot of those that they’re featuring right now because of Father’s Day.

CAVANAUGH: And tell us those costs again.

BARBARELLA: Yeah, it is – it’s $139.00 for adults, $119.00 for children, that’s for the sleepovers. But the KinderNights and KinderMornings that are every month is only $12.00 per person, adult or child, for members, and $15.00 for nonmembers. Now I should mention that none of these costs include zoo access. I have a zoo pass because I live right down the street and I love going to the zoo so – so you should be a member anyway and then you can go walk around before and after this. And for the breakfast on the sleepovers, it’s before the zoo opens, there’s a buffet, you get to go to the enclosure. They’re actually having breakfast in Elephant Odyssey, so you get to watch the elephants and it’s just your group alone with the animals. So it really is very special to kind of have the zoo to yourself really, and your group.

CAVANAUGH: Especially in the summertime.


CAVANAUGH: San Diego Zoo’s KinderNights-KinderMornings takes place Friday and Saturdays. Is it only during the summertime?

BARBARELLA: No, they’re actually taking it through October.


BARBARELLA: And depending on weather and depending on interest, I think they might think of extending it.


BARBARELLA: But it’s going to – the day camps are during the summer.

CAVANAUGH: The next event we’re going to talk about features some local authors. It’s called Voices 4. What will happen at this event, Barbarella?

BARBARELLA: This is exciting to me because it’s all local, everything about it. It’s happening – There are three local authors, and the fourth is actually a musician, so we have Jeanne Patterson (sic), Michelle Candland, and Sheri Snively. They’re going to read and discuss their books at Monkey C Media in South Park. And musician and vocalist Mary Haddad is going to perform at the gallery space. So Monkey C Media is basically – and I love this. The founder, Jeniffer Thompson, who I spoke with, she came up with the name because she founded it in 2004 and that’s the Year of the Monkey and the C was the symbol for copyright, so what this company does, this local company, is they specialize in designing covers and websites for authors. So they’re really all about the books and Read Local, a nonprofit organization I wonder if you’ve heard about, they’ll have a small booth there and their goal is to create author events such as this, encouraging people not just to read but to read local authors.

CAVANAUGH: That’s interesting.


CAVANAUGH: Now, Jeanne Peterson, as you mentioned, she’s going to be there reading from her novel “Falling to Heaven.” What’s this book about?

BARBARELLA: Yeah, this is a fiction book. It’s the story of two American Quakers who trek over the Himalayas into Tibet just as the Chinese are invading. And the interesting thing about her characters being Quakers is that real life Quaker, Sheri Snively, another author, is a Quaker and chaplain and her book is about her time in Iraq and is a gritty, intense memoir, and it also includes photographs from her time there.

CAVANAUGH: She was a guest here on this show…

BARBARELLA: Oh, was she?



CAVANAUGH: And it was a – her experience was compelling and I just was so sorry that we couldn’t show photographs on radio because they really are marvelous photographs in this book.

BARBARELLA: Yes, I got to see some of them. It is really compelling, I mean, just to have her first person…

CAVANAUGH: And what kind of role does the music play in this event?

BARBARELLA: Well, what – One thing, you know – Let me, you know, Support Local Bookstores, it’s all women empowering, that’s what – Sorry, I had to skim for a second.


BARBARELLA: All About Women, that’s why the female artist who Jeniffer said sounds like a mixture of a female version of Leonard Cohen mixed with Kate Bush. And it’s just really to support local, and Maria’s a local artist that Jeniffer had come in touch with. Also, the Grove Bookstore in South Park, right across the street from Rebecca’s Coffee House, another local—I love this because it’s so neighborhood. You know, you have your local authors, you have the Monkey C Media and the Grove Bookstore. They helped organize this and they are going to make an effort now to start really promoting more local authors and they’re going to have these local authors’ books available in their store.

CAVANAUGH: Now, how much – how many people are drawn to an event like this? You said this was not necessarily the first, this is the – kind of a movement that this local – to promote local authors.

BARBARELLA: It’s great. I think this is the first event of its kind. So my goal is to see how many people we can get there because I think it’s great. You know, it’s free. It’s open to the public. It’s followed by a food and wine reception so there’s a gallery space there, and it’s a good place maybe for people in South Park to kind of gather and meet their neighbors. You know, San Diego – what’s unique to San Diego is it’s really a rich community of local authors, which is something that Jeniffer had said as well, and that we have so many here, a lot of great work being put out.

CAVANAUGH: And it’s so interesting because there’s been so much said about North Park lately and South Park is this burgeoning new neighborhood that’s becoming very hip and very, very, very cool.

BARBARELLA: Uh-oh. Maybe we’ll have a North Park versus South Park contest but instead it’ll be some kind of like reading slam. Just like we had the surfing contest, North County-South County. I think we can do this. Let’s arrange it.

CAVANAUGH: I don’t know if we’re ready for it.

BARBARELLA: I don’t – I don’t – We can do like the Jets. It’ll be a dance-off sort of West Side Story-esque kind of…

CAVANAUGH: If we do it, you’ll be here for it.


CAVANAUGH: Voices 4, An Evening of Music and Word, it takes place Sunday night and tell us once again where that is.

BARBARELLA: That’s at Monkey C Media in South Park right around the corner from everything else. So all the information is on there. And all of these things are featured in the Reader on the Your Week page and extra information’s on our website,

CAVANAUGH: Barbarella, thank you so much.

BARBARELLA: Thank you so much for having me. It’s always so much fun.

CAVANAUGH: Barbarella is author of the Diary of a Diva column and Your Week page at the San Diego Reader. If you’d like to comment, please go online,

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