Caffe Calabria and Specialty Produce dinner

Earlier this summer, Dennis and I joined other San Diego food bloggers for a dinner sponsored by Specialty Produce and held at Caffe Calabria in North Park.

specialty produce farners' market box

Specialty Produce is a family owned and operated food service and retail fresh produce supplier. The above is an example of what you'd find in one of their Farmers' Market Boxes, though they also have a smaller Farmers' Market Bag available.

Chef Javier Plascencia and Claudette Wilkins Zepeda

We were privileged to have Chef MJ Testa of Caffe Calabria and guest chef Javier Plascencia (left) with Chef Claudette Wilkins Zepeda (right) prepare the food for the evening. Items from the Farmers' Market Boxes were the inspiration of the dinner that night!

To start, we enjoyed a few drinks at the bar.

blanco citrus and bourbon ramble cocktails

Blanco Citrus Cocktail (left) and Bourbon Ramble Cocktail (right) - The Blanco Citrus was made with vermouth blanco and grapefruit while the Bourbon Branmble was made with jim bean bourbon, lemon and freshly muddled blackberries.

peach bellini cocktail

The Peach Bellini is on the left, and a beer(?) on the right. We sipped our drinks on the small semi-private upstairs patio area of the restaurant. The path to this area is somewhat hidden, accessible by a narrow staircase behind the bar in the back room. Honestly, before this event, I didn't even know there was a back room or an outdoor patio!

view from upstairs patio at Caffe Calabria

Here's the view from the top.

Dennis captured all the event and food pictures while I flittered amongst familiar faces as well as met bloggers IRL. It was quite the gathering and included Kate from LateKateFoodie, Becky from Beckycharms, Abby of BabyBirdsFarm, Jenny from VintageSugarCube, Broderick from SavoryExposure, Ellen from Like Mother Like Daughter, Leanne from Three Dog Kitchen, Puja from Indiaphile, Megan from Monkey Bread and Sweet Pea, Laura from Sprint 2 The Table, Melissa from Making It Sweet, Maggie from In Mama Maggie's Kitchen, Marie from Cur8eur, etc. The best part is that everyone here follows the *golden* rule. Pictures first, then eat!

ensalada de nopal w/ creamy cilantro dressing

On the table, next to the sample produce box, was the Ensalada de nopal with creamy cilantro dressing - This included white beets, dill, and easter egg radish. It was served next to chips so we paired them together for our first bites.

seared ahi crostini, sausage and spicy potatoes

Other foods were passed around by the wait staff, such as the Seared Ahi Crostini on the left and Calabrian Sausage & Spicy Potatoes on the right. Underneath the fresh tuna steaks were green beans with dill and lemon aioli.

fresh fig and prosciutto pizza

We also got to have a slice of the Fresh Fig and Prosciutto Pizza, filling our mouths with a carmelized fig, prosciutto shavings plus fontina cheese. Delicious of course!

Chef Claudette Wilkins Zepeda and Chef MJ Testo at the grill

Some items were being prepared on the outdoor grill by Chef Claudette Wilkins Zepeda and Chef MJ Testo.

grilled large prawns with zucchini and peppers

These Grilled large prawns were on a bed of zucchini, yellow squash and peppers and topped with a shrimp cream sauce.

yucatan-style cochinita pibil sopes

The favorite of the evening was the Yucatan-style cochinita pibil sopes. This included heirloom corn masa, slow braised pork, heirloom beans, and fermented pineapple.

chef javier plascencia preparing yucatan-style cochinita pibil sopes

The best part? Chef Javier Plascencia plating these himself! *swoon*

ingredients for yucatan-style cochinita pibil sopes

So many toppings just to make one fantastic sope! Worth the effort, especially when it's not yours!

small farm tomato salad

Inside, we also sampled a Small Farm Tomato Salad with a medley of colorful tomatoes, vidalia sweet onions and a sprinkling of pecorino cheese.

donut peach topped with strawberries and blackberries

To finish off the night, we had this marvelous Donut Peach dessert topped with strawberries and blackberries and cream. Yes, you heard right, there's such thing as a DONUT PEACH! May I please have some more?

There were plenty of delicious foods served that day by the wonderful chefs and each incorporated at least one of the items from the Farmer's Market Box. For each box delivery, Specialty Produce provides recipe ideas on their blog for inspiration, but sorry, a chef doesn't come with it! To check out the farmers' market boxes for yourself, visit Specialty Produce. You can also find Chef MJ Testa at Caffe Calabria and Chef Javier Plascencia and Chef Claudette Wilkins Zepeda at Bracero.

Disclaimer: we were hosted for the meal but the opinions are strictly our own.

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table's picture
Submitted by Laura @ Sprint ... (not verified) on Thu, 08/20/2015 - 8:33am

Such a fun event! I am still thinking about those sopes... and the peach doughnut! So cool. I love living here.

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Thu, 08/20/2015 - 10:06pm

Agree! Sunny San Diego is where I want to be!

J.S. @ Sun Diego Eats's picture
Submitted by J.S. @ Sun Dieg... (not verified) on Thu, 08/20/2015 - 2:52pm

These pictures are sooo beautiful Lynn! And that's amazing that Javier Plascencia was the chef behind it. I still really want to try his restaurant in Tijuana someday :)

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Thu, 08/20/2015 - 10:07pm

I've never been to any of his restaurants so I have similar goals as well! Next time I won't be shy and will ask for a picture!

Michael @ San Diego Food's picture
Submitted by Michael @ San D... (not verified) on Fri, 08/21/2015 - 12:10am

Looks like a wonderful event... great pics Lynn! The donut peach looks amazing.

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Fri, 08/21/2015 - 10:31am

It was! Hope to see you guys at a future event!

Abby of Baby Birds Farm's picture
Submitted by Abby of Baby Bi... (not verified) on Fri, 08/21/2015 - 3:51pm

What great photos! It was an awesome event. Love reliving it through your photography. Hope to see you two again soon!

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Fri, 08/21/2015 - 4:04pm

My husband sure knows how to use his camera! And he also brought me food while at the event. What a darling! =)

Fran @ G'day Souffle''s picture
Submitted by Fran @ G'day So... (not verified) on Sun, 08/23/2015 - 3:19am

Dang it! I wish I had been in town in order to attend this event! Imagine, having Javier as a guest chef! Thanks Lynn for all these photos- second best thing to actually having been there at the event. Hope to see you later in the year when I'm back in San Diego!!

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Tue, 08/25/2015 - 10:02am

Come back soon! I'll be keeping up with your adventures and recipes on your blog until then!

Soo H.'s picture
Submitted by Soo H. (not verified) on Mon, 08/24/2015 - 9:35am

That's awesome you got to meet some great chefs and you got a cool gift box of produce in addition to dinner! Lucky!

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Tue, 08/25/2015 - 10:04am

we also got coupons for 2 free pizzas here for our next visit! maybe we can check it out together for your new blog! ;)

Soo H.'s picture
Submitted by Soo H. (not verified) on Wed, 08/26/2015 - 1:48pm

You are really lucky! Email me when you want to go!

BeckyCharms's picture
Submitted by BeckyCharms (not verified) on Wed, 05/04/2016 - 11:23am

That night was amazing and OH SO YUMMY fun! Fantastic photos, delicious food, and wonderful eye candy. ;) Órale!

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Wed, 05/11/2016 - 12:05am

this was such a fun media event! hope to see you at another one soon! :)

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