(Annie Hartford of AH Designs)

On Thursday, October 18, 2018, the Berry Good Food Foundation hosted its “Berry Good Night” event just south of the border in Valle de Guadalupe, Baja. This memorable event, called “Berry Good Noche,” celebrated local growers, ranchers, and producers while championing the ideology of sustainable food. It united kindred spirits from both sides of the border—artisans, food activists, farmers, ranchers, winemakers, brewers, writers, chefs, restaurateurs, and dedicated locavores—for an evening of unity and conscious conversation over a sensory sustainable feast.

Vena Cava Winery and Troika
(Photo: Yoshihiro Koitani)

Berry Good Noche took place in the heart of the valley at Vena Cava Winery, part of Grupo La Villa del Valle, and featured an array of local wine pairings provided by some of Baja California’s premier wineries and an unmissable multi-course feast created by celebrated chefs from both sides of the border, including Diego Hernández from Corazón de Tierra; Javier Plascencia from Misión 19; Tomás Bermúdez from La Docena; Maribel Aldaco and David Castro Hussong from Fauna at Bruma; Davin Waite from Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub; Flor Franco from Franco on Fifth; Ryan Costanza from Dija Mara; and Elsa Olmos from Cercano Comedor.

The lively crowd of 150 attendees came together to support BGFF’s school garden initiative and raised just over $18,000, with 100% of it slated to fund projects in Baja California schools. The first garden is already designated to begin construction at our pilot school, Escuela C. Rebsamen, in Valle de Guadalupe. This BGFF fundraising effort follows its “Seeds for the Future” dinner in April 2018 at Specialty Produce’s Studio Kitchen that raised $13,000 for school garden projects in San Diego County.

Cheese and charcuterie before dinner (Photo: Bay Bird Inc.)

The event started just as the sun began to set over the valley. Guests enjoyed a cocktail hour that featured tray-passed appetizers and a lavish charcuterie spread by Troika. Appetizers included Sikil Pak, a Mayan pumpkin seed dip; oysters, and farm-raised totoaba in black aguachile. As guests gathered to enjoy cheeses by La Cava de Marcelo and Jack Ford, bread by Christina Ng and Troika, and other tasty bites, they enjoyed a mesmerizing dance choreographed by Daniela d’Acosta – just as the sun disappeared over the mountainous horizon.

During the cocktail hour, guests sipped on Agua Mala beer, Boochcraft kombucha , Delaluz tequila, and Wendlandt beer.

Dance performance in the vineyard
(Photo: Bay Bird Inc.)

The first course was a creation to remember by Chef Flor Franco. Her Pacific King gooseneck barnacle ceviche over kelp noodle and seaweed salad was paired with Monte Xanic’s 2017 Chenin Colombard. Next up was Chef Ryan Costanza’s bold grilled squash dish with pepitas and chicories, served with La Lomita’s unfiltered 2017 Chenin. Chef Davin Waite dazzled guests with fish that was caught that very morning. He served it with poached pears, smoked nikiri, and spicy pickled veggies—a combination that was perfectly paired with a Chenin Centenario 2017 from Bodegas Henri Lurton.

The fourth course by Chef Javier Plascencia was an adventurous rice and bean dish. He used Kokuho Rose California brown rice, Rancho Gordo red beans, smoked fish consommé, pickle daikon, and sardine salsa macha. His impressive dish was served with Finca la Carrodilla’s organic 2017 Syrah.

Chef Ryan Costanza’s squash and chicories
(Photo: Eduardo Rosco)

Chef Tomás Bermúdez offered a grilled striped sea bass from Pacifico Aquaculture that paired perfectly with Vena Cava’s very own Sauvignon Blanc Natural 2017. Guests feasted on Chef David Castro Hussong’s pork salpicon, avocado, and sauerkraut, and enjoyed Villa Montefiori’s Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon that was poured with it. To complete the savory portion of the dinner, Chef Diego Hernández offered an incredible lamb dish that was served with dried vegetable consommé, confit chard, and carrots. Bodegas de Santo Tomas paired this unforgettable dish with their Syrah 2014.

For dessert, Chef Elsa Olmos and Chef Maribel Aldaco wowed guests with ottom pavlova, coffee, and cocoa; and a delectable apple tart. The Rosé 100% Grenache from Mogor Badan Arrebol complimented the desserts for a perfectly sweet ending.

Theresa Burton, Sara Baumann, Amanda Elsasser (Photo: Eduardo Rosco)

Thank you to El Sargazo Comercializadora and Chef Works for contributing to the event as well!

Dinner included live music by David Martinez, Katya Rudametkin and Matt Lampkin; and speeches by BGFF founder Michelle Ciccarelli Lerach, Eileen Gregory, Flor Franco, and Escuela C. Rebsamen’s director Tomás Bravo. BGFF board member Pablo A. Fernandez translated so Bravo could express his gratitude and excitement for the garden project that will soon be underway at the local school.

Diane Lou, Melissa Valder, Camille Stranger, Francesca d’Acosta (Photo: Eduardo Rosco)

The lucky silent auction winners took home a gorgeous gift basket donated by Specialty Produce, a stay at La Villa del Valle, a Wrench and Rodent dinner experience, a stay at a Montage Hotel, brunch at the Hotel del Coronado, and a paella party at Franco on Fifth. Bottles of wine were auctioned at the end of the event to help us surpass our fundraising goal.

Last but certainly not least, guests enjoyed a spontaneous dance party underneath the clear, star-studded sky until it was time to retrieve their parting gift bag and head home.

Live music and dancing toward the end of the evening
(Photo: Pablo A. Fernandez)

Thank you to all the generous chefs, sponsors, and attendees who helped make this event a smashing success!

(Photo: Pablo A. Fernandez)