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One of the tastiest events of the year Richard Pena | Thu, Jul 08 2010 06:22 PM

An event in the South Bay that is fast becoming an institution is the Taste of Bonita.

This year "Taste" will be held Monday, July 19. It will be staged at the Chula Vista Golf Course and will begin at 5:30 p.m.

We are really not sure what characteristics an event must have to become an institution. I suppose it must have a history and be around a few years. After 15 years I think Taste of Bonita qualifies.

It must be successful, which it is, and it certainly must be fun and enjoyed by all, something to which I can attest. And if it consists of something to eat it has to be good and tasty, which Taste of Bonita is.

Our files tell us that we must go back to 1992 to the first Taste of Bonita. It was the invention of the late Diane Cousino who was looking for a way to raise funds for a couple of worthy causes. She and her husband Don were involved at that time with BETH, a local organization of horsemen and women who ran an equestrienne organization devoted to handicapped persons, mostly children.

Participants, aided by seasoned horsemen, rode horses in a confined area, the idea being to awaken those muscles that were inactive because of some particular malady.

It was a successful program. Diane was also intent on aiding the Bonita-Sunnyside Fire Department in the purchase of life-saving equipment, also a worthy cause.

The idea then - as well as now - was to enlist the aid of various restaurants and other places serving food and placing them all at one venue with samples of what they generally served in their establishment.

The general public purchased tickets that made them eligible to partake of as many dishes as they wished. No one, to my knowledge, ever came away hungry.

Two golf courses in the South Bay, the Bonita Golf Club and the Chula Vista Municipal, having the most space in the South Bay, have been the site for each Taste of Bonita.

Each club has large dining rooms that can accommodate the 20 or so food stations that will be at one end of the room. There are also tables and chairs where each participant can sit, enjoy an excellent meal for a reasonable price and be in the company of other South Bay Taste of Bonita aficionados.

Diane Cousino chaired this event for eight years. After her death it lay dormant for three years. At the end of that period it was restored by Carol Hammond, another Bonita champion, who saw it as a fine fundraiser for the Bonita Museum.

Hammond and her committee commence planning early in the year, lining up the various restaurants and other institutions that have something to offer.

This year, Hammond tells me, they have more than 20 establishments that will be offering their wares, a number that should satisfy most palates.

On examining the list it looks like there is something for everyone's taste buds. The two golf courses will be offering their specialties, something that changes each year; Boston Market will be on hand as well as Costco from Rancho del Rey and Applebee's.

There will be something light, and perhaps a bit heavy, from Pacivgo Gelato and Caffe and Global Coffee Sidewalk CafZˇ.

Romano's Macaroni Grill, Romesco's and Subway will be on hand to satisfy us. We must also mention Villa Bonita, Bonita's Starbucks and Miguel's Eastlake Cantina. Also Rancho Catering from the Village Walk, Pat & Oscars and Via Lago Trattoria. The list is rounded out with the offerings of Trader Joe's, Brigantine seafood and Henry's Market.

Over the past 15 years I have spoken with many people who attend this function. All praise the food and entertainment that they get. Above all, however, they enjoy the fellowship that is afforded them on that particular evening. The Taste-goer will, invariably, run across folks that they have not seen in some time. They will renew those old acquaintances and catch up on the doings of those folks and at the same time relay a summary of their lives for the past year. It is a night when all pressure is off and there is nothing to do but enjoy good food and extremely pleasant company.

The Chula Vista Golf Course is at 4475 Bonita Road (across from Vons). Tickets are $15 at the door or, in advance, at the Bonita Museum, open Wednesday through Saturday. Call the museum at (619) 267-5141 for more information.

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