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About San Diego: Acqua Al 2 Ristorante Vino-Opera


Enthusiasm is excitement with inspiration, motivation, and a pinch of creativity.” Bo Bennett

It was that pinch of creativity that brought me to Acqua Al 2 last week, where for the first time I experienced Vino-Opera in person and on purpose. And there was far more than a few pinches of excitement and enthusiasm going around that evening and for the paying customers, an evening completely worth the price of admission. 

I was a invited guest to an amazing evening of Wine, Music and tasty Spanish Cuisine, one which truly delivered the goods. Did I enjoy the music? I'd say I enjoyed it thoroughly, it had me wondering where I could grab some downloads, so I could listen again. Some folks from the audience even got up later, belted out some amazing tunes of their own [mostly in Spanish] and again I was "wowed" . 

I'd say my musical choices are pretty different than most folks my age, while many attempt merge their playlists with current popular culture, I eschew such things. Not because I'm some kind of elitist, I just don't 'get' today's music. Which may be part of the reason that the dynamic-ranged duo of Kasondra Kazanjian and Daniel Hendrick along with the Maestro really wowed me so much the other night or it's just because they're an amazing trio together. I'll choose to to believe the latter. By the way, I took a short, less than one minute video so you could get a better idea about the experience [scroll down]. 

From Left to Right: Daniel Hendrick, Kasondra Kazanjian and the Maestro

Billed as a one of kind 4 course musically inspired dinner, it delivered a one of kind experience that few other restaurants can even come close to offering. They have another upcoming, so make plans now, don't miss it. It was one, that brought back memories of my own visit to Spanish wine country. The wines selected for the pairing were from a modern producer, Vina and Tinto Arroyo Wineries located in the Ribera del Duero.


The first course you see above, Carpaccio de Bacalao con Mayonesa de Pimiento del Piquillo, paired amazing well with the summertime light and crisp 2012 Verdejo, Vina Arroyo from Rueda in Spain. The musical choice of Ay, Ay, Ay, Como fue and Besame Mucho duet was a great way to kick off a festive evening. 


As you can see above when it comes to 'plating' it's a team sport!


Up next in the wine, food and musical pairing choice is one my favorites, the primo course Paella Valenciana. This dish was better than good, wow what a knockout. They paired the dish with a light, dry Tempranillo Rosado which mostly worked with the dish. The musical choices; Solamente una vez, Sabor a mi and Quiero Ser via a duet got me in the groove. 


Moving onto the second course, the Fideua de Bautifarras Mixtas [aka, Spanish noodle /w black and white pork sausages]. I thought I'd died and gone to pork-heaven. This dish paired very nicely with the modern style of the 2009 Crianza, Tinto Arroyo. Jazzing up this combo with the Tango de amor, a splash of Deborah and a flashy duet of Ojos Verdes magical. 


And last but certainly not least the Gran Finale, Carrilllera de Derdo con Pure Rustico de Patata, Foniato y Setas Silveetres or otherwise known as roasted pig-cheek, served alongside rustic/sweet potatoes, wild mushroom and Spanish Rice. As you can see about what amounted to the better wine of the evening was the 2007 Tempranillo Reserva, which was still a bit flashy. Still it has nicely integrated tannins, moderate use of new wood, leather, strawberry and dark plums dancing around a small bit of minerality. 

The musical portion of the evening ended with Jurame, Amor and La Musica, which was the perfect punctuation mark to close out the night. 

And a big round of applause please to Chef/Owner Martin who pulled off an amazing evening in downtown San Diego, bringing some seriously needed real 'soul' to the downtown wine and dine scene. Here you can see Martin below high-fiving Daniel after his own amazing singing performance. To which he said, "and I can cook too" and indeed he can. Thanks again to Acqua Al 2 for the invitation to join them, for what turned out to be an unforgettable wine and dine experience, salud!

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