The culinary team at the upscale bistro Café Merlot shows curious cooks how to whip up special recipes and pick palate-pleasing wines in a welcoming, hands-on environment. Owners Toni and Rick Kraft, chef Daniel Reynolds, and sous chef Stella Midori-Mokofski will make a meal materialize before your eyes, demonstrating their innovative techniques in culinary crafting and their penchant for magic. Chef Daniel, with a degree from the San Diego Culinary Institute, has helped transform the vineyard-based bistro into an impressive, inventive dining experience. Learn some of his gastronomical tricks and apply them to your next dinner party or supervillain bake sale during your chosen three-hour session.
Jeff Roberto, a sushi expert, brings a plethora of experience to his San Diego sushi oasis. He has catered large events of up to 16,000 guests as well as the sets of such Hollywood films as Titanic, Pearl Harbor, and Elizabethtown. Inside SOAR (Sushi On A Roll) he constructs specialty rolls filled with shrimp tempura, seared tuna, spicy scallops, and sashimi and nigiri rolls featuring fresh water eel and squid.
Roberto also leads group explorations in the art of sushi preparation during interactive sushi-making classes held inside a private sushi bar. Two-hour classes commence with an assessment of how many edamame you can stuff in your cheeks before you begin tucking vegetable fillings in sheets of seaweed with the help of a bamboo mat. Students jot down notes on the proper consistency of sushi rice, when to sprinkle rolls with sesame seeds, and how to repurpose chopsticks as the mast of a ship-in-a-bottle.
A koi mural provides the backdrop for the expansive 30-seat sushi bar, which is outlined in neon to highlight the dramatic curve of the space. The expansive venue, which accommodates up to 100 people, is popular among large groups of friends looking for a fun outing and U.S. senators playing hooky. Free parking is also available.
When they moved from Cleveland to San Diego in 1976, Ron and Carol Eisenberg brought with them more than just three kids and two dogs: they had a business idea, too. The Eisenbergs opened a shop that sold functional housewares in one section and greeting cards in another. They named the new business "Great News!" as a way to remind customers that the shop was constantly full of new items.
During the 1990s, the couple began transitioning their business into strictly cookware. In fact, Ron turned the old greeting-cards section into a fully functioning cooking school. Today, that school boasts a fully outfitted kitchen where instructors and celebrity chefs share their wisdom during a wide range of classes. Nearby, the 5,200-square-foot retail space equips students of the craft with all the tools, gadgets, and cutlery they need, as well as advice from a knowledgeable staff.
Besides a working kitchen, there are two things a person needs in order to cook: the right gear and the right recipes. The chefs and food aficionados at Kitchen Fantasy supply both with an extensive stock of cookware and a full schedule of cooking classes. Kitchen Fantasy's products run the gamut from tools, like cheese slicers and meatball makers, to accessories, such as chef's coats. Its courses, taught by a team of experienced chefs, touch on general and specific cooking techniques, from knife skills to vegetable-cooking methods less destructive than flooding a garden with boiling water.
The sounds of conversation and laughter compete with the clinking of glasses in The Wine Artist?s lofty venue. The space sprawls over 2,500 square feet, with plenty of room to host private parties, bridal events, corporate events, and private cooking classes. Events at The Wine Artist feature unique wines, gourmet catering, and experiences such as wine bottling and team building activities.
Earthly Juices supports and nurtures health with fresh organic juices, living fare, and detox programs—using many ingredients grown in its own sustainable quarter-acre garden. The juice gurus cold-press fresh nuts, fruits, and vegetables that match the season into juices, smoothies, and cold-brew teas teeming with probiotic cultures. Earthly Juices composts all leftover pulp and serves each of its elixirs in Ball mason jars for $1 per jar, though patrons can bring their own jars or mammoth skulls to avoid the fee.
Patrons can purge environmental toxins or old love-letter residue during comprehensive cleanses, each customized for the individual’s allergies and personal goals and ranging in duration from one weekend to an entire month. Empathic detox counselors remain on-call via Skype, phone, and in person for the duration of each cleanse to troubleshoot as well as fortify minds with motivation. In addition to its culinary and detox endeavors, Earthly Juices supports whole-body and lifestyle health with services from home-garden design to classes on raw foods and international cooking.