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The Best Food & Drink Events: January 2014

Iberico Ham & Cheese Dinner at Toast Enoteca, Paradigm Wine Dinner at Solace & The Moonlight Lounge, Dia De Los Mezcales Dinner at Saltbox

Jen QueenJen Queen, master mezcalier | Photo by Michael Regala Photography

Iberico Ham & Opera Dinner

WHERE: Toast Enoteca, 927 J St, Downtown, 619.269.4207
WHEN: January 30, 6PM
COST: $70
MORE INFO: www.toastenoteca.com

An internationally famous ham facing off with an internationally famous opera singer to see whose fame is more well-deserved? Count me in, if only because I’ve never seen an opera singer narrate my dinner in various octaves. Iberico ham will be the attraction on the table with tasting seminar and six-course Baja wine pairing dinner from chef Martin Gonzalez, and opera star Kosandra Kazanjian will sing a song for every course. Seems to me The Sopranos should’ve ended this way.

Paradigm Wine Dinner

WHERE: Solace & The Moonlight Lounge, 25 East E St., Encinitas, eatatsolace.com.
WHEN: January 28, 6:30PM
COST: $80
MORE INFO: http://www.eatatsolace.com/paradigm-wine-dinner/

I’ve been staring at this menu for so long I feel like I’ve already eaten it. To do well by his guest Sean Crowley (of Napa’s excellent Paradigm Winery—a red varietal specialist under winemaker Heidi Barrett), chef Matt Gordon has designed a winter game meal. A citrus-brined quail will go with a 2012 Rose. The rabbit trio (crepinette, rillette of leg confit, loin) gets an ’09 Cabernet Sauvignon. Elk Loin with roasted berry demi-glace goes with a 2010 Merlot. The cocoa-crusted candied boar belly with blueberry thyme ice cream meets a Cabernet Franc. Hungry? Thirsty? Lusty?

Dia De Los Mezcales Dinner

WHERE: Saltbox, 1047 5th Ave., Downtown, 619.515.3003
WHEN: Jan. 23
COST: $30
MORE INFO: saltboxrestaurant.com

A seven-course meal for $30 sounds like stuff of urban legends, like chupacabras and illicit Mexican theatre. But alas Saltbox’s new chef Jeremiah Bryant and master Mezcalier Jen Queen (recently named one of only 14 master mezcaliers in the world) will do just that for Dia de Los Mezcales. Seven different courses and pairings like flash-fried grasshoppers with a Del Maguey Vida (lime, chile, beer and spiced salt rim) or beef, mole negro and huitlacoche paired with Los Nahuales Anejo. Seven courses. Fried grasshoppers. Mezcal. Get a room at the adjoining Palomar Hotel, call yours a daring life.

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