Birch Aquarium hosts a green bash over the blue Pacific

“It’s bizarre that the produce manager is more important to my children’s health than the pediatrician.” —Meryl Streep

“Shipping is a terrible thing to do to vegetables. They probably get jet-lagged, just like people.” —Elizabeth Berry

When the Scripps Birch Aquarium partners with Waters Fine Catering for an event, you get a divine, sustainable soiree with killer ambience overlooking the blue Pacific. Such was the recent launch for the aquarium’s new, interactive exhibit, “Boundless Energy,” the kind I used to have (and didn’t appreciate) before I had kids. It shows off high-tech turbines capturing wind power, mechanical fish harvesting a behemoth of solar energy, and wave tanks and water tables creating green energy out of the blue.

Catherine L. Kaufman

Catherine L. Kaufman

The ocean and wind provide a motherload of clean, natural energy that gives the soil, air and water a happier and healthier place for nature’s bounty of fruits, veggies, seafood and land food to thrive. Waters and Company catering, boasts about using regional, farmstead produce that let the seasons guide the menu, sustainable seafood, sound animal husbandry practices, no antibiotics or growth hormones in their locally raised meats, handcrafted, organic and artisan grains, flour and dairy and free-range eggs.

“This exhibit focuses on energizing kids about energy in the natural world,” said Nigelia Hillgarth, the aquarium’s executive director. “And in keeping with the green theme, we’ve worked with Waters Catering to maintain a 150-mile radius of local, sustainable produce and animals.”

In deference to the assorted marine creatures who reside at the aquarium, no fish or seafood was served at the environmentally-sound shindig. Fine substitutions included an assortment of passed hors d’oeuvres of crispy spring rolls stuffed with Suzie’s Organic Farm rainbow carrots, bean sprouts, and blue Scotch kale with a spicy pluot dipping sauce; organic pumpkin seed hummus cones; smoked bacon croquettes, a puree of Fibonacci’s Organic Garden heirloom potatoes, and natural Brandt beef hanger steak shish kabobs.

The play stations were rivaled only by the enticing food stations:

For the vegetarians: A plate of handcrafted tortellini filled with Rey River Farms sweet white summer corn and housemade ricotta topped with smoked tomato coulis, and a grilled and chilled veggie salad with fennel and citrus vinaigrette.

For the pollitarians: Nathan Rakov’s rosemary brine chicken breast with farmers market artichokes, crispy kale chips and heirloom tomatoes on a grilled polenta square.

For die-hard carnivores: Braised short ribs with demi-glace and crisped shallot rings, paired with roasted garlic, and Meyer lemon-zested spuds.

For dessert: A seasonal strawberry rhubarb crumble bar and salted caramel brownie bites; to wash it down nicely, a local small-batch artisan roaster coffee.

Consistent with the green spirit of the event, the food was served on white porcelain, with sterling service and crystal and glassware. Elegant and sustainable … especially if I don’t have to do the dishes!

Finally, I harvested my power of moxie to obtain the recipe for the grilled and chilled veggie salad from the kitchens of Waters. Serve with your favorite chicken, lamb or fish (allowed at home), or eat it straight up for a light green lunch.

Grilled Confetti Salad

A colorful selection of preferably local, organic summer vegetables:

1 small eggplant, peeled, if desired

2 medium zucchini

2 medium yellow zucchini (squash)

1 Fennel bulb

1 of each small red and orange bell peppers

2 garlic cloves, minced and blended with 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and cracked black pepper

Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Slice eggplant and zucchinis in ¼-inch thick cubes, and slice peppers in half and deseed. Core and separate fennel into pieces.

Brush vegetables with garlic oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast in the oven on a parchment-lined cookie sheet until tender. Cut the peppers and fennel in uniform squares.

Add desired amount of salad dressing (below) just to moisten and flavor. Toss and chill.

White Balsamic Vinaigrette

3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 cup olive oil

1 shallot

1 tablespoon orange marmalade

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

4 basil leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

Method: Puree ingredients in a blender or food processor.

For more green and gorgeous recipes, including Waters’ strawberry rhubarb crumble bars, e-mail me at or check out the Kitchen Shrink and company’s healthy gourmet blog at For more on Waters Fine Catering, visit or (619) 276-8803.

Related posts:

  1. Cherries: The choice of champions for a variety of reasons!
  2. There are many manly foods to serve for Dad’s Day celebrations
  3. Kiss my southern and northern grits this Memorial Day
  4. Pantry Purging: It’s time to spring-clean your kitchen
  5. La Jolla’s Whisknladle to offer the ultimate in social food networking — dining with strangers!

Short URL:

Posted by Staff on Jul 20, 2011. Filed under Columns, Editorial Columns, Kitchen Shrink. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

1 Comment for “Birch Aquarium hosts a green bash over the blue Pacific”

  1. Mary

    Katherine, Another great article and recipe. Holding onto it to do when I turn on oven again in fall. Mary M., Toronto, Canada

Leave a Reply

La Jolla Community Calendar


Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6

RSS North Coastal News

  • Local camp shapes Solana Beach youth into community leaders July 28, 2014
    After attending the inaugural La Colonia de Eden Gardens Youth Leadership Camp last year, Edgar Vergara was inspired to make positive change in Solana Beach’s Eden Gardens community. Along with other local teens, the 15-year-old co-founded the youth group La Colonia Changers and recently hosted a town hall forum on underage drinking. Passionate about making […]
  • Del Mar Union School District approves new contract for superintendent July 28, 2014
    The Del Mar Union School District Board July 23 approved the new contract for Superintendent Holly McClurg through June 30, 2018. Per the contract, McClurg’s annual salary will be $185,000 with an annual doctoral stipend of $10,000. She will receive a car allowance of $400 a month, 25 vacation days, health benefits and a retirement contribution of $700 a mon […]
  • Carmel Valley 5K and 10K to hit Gonzales Canyon trails in September July 28, 2014
    A new trail running race is coming to Carmel Valley this fall. Jeff Stoner of Del Mar’s Seasick Marketing visited the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board to update the board on the plans for the Carmel Valley Trail 5K and 10K Run, set to take place on Sept. 20. A portion of race proceeds will go toward the Challenged Athletes Foundation. […]