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An Autumnal Calendar for the San Diego Gourmand

August 30, 2010 Leave a comment

By Lynne Thrope

Lynne Thrope

SAN DIEGO– Tishrei is upon us which means The High Holy Days are just around the corner. As we prepare to reflect, rejoice, and renew our spirits for another wondrous year, San Diego will also be gearing up for some mighty fine epicurean events for you to take advantage of after the holidays.  Here are a few that will be as sweet as apples and honey. L’Shanah Tovah!

Restaurant Week: September 19-25. Available throughout the county is your chance to test drive the culinary creations of some of San Diego’s finest chefs. For $20, $30 or $40 you choose a three-course dinner in participating restaurants that normally costs twice as much.  Such a deal! The restaurant line-up this year includes some of my personal favorites: The Marine Room in La Jolla, BICE Ristorante in the Gaslamp, Cavaillon Restaurant in Rancho Santa Fe, George’s at the Cove – California Moderne in La Jolla, and Kous Kous Moroccan in Hillcrest.

Treat yourself to one (or every) night to a different venue for such treats, like the incredible organic beets served on a bed of Valedon Blue, Pistachio Brittle, and Caramelized Yogurt at Kitchen 1540 in Del Mar or the amazing Swordfish and Port Braised Cherries, Smokey Almonds, Rosemary, Orange Zest with Port Reduction at The Oceanaire in The Gaslamp or the sensational Braised Duck Leg in Orange and Szechuan pepper, Swiss Chard Cannelloni at Tapenade in La Jolla. How could anyone resist these best-of-the-best dishes at such enticing prices? To view the complete list of restaurants and their menus, visit www.sandiegorestaurantweek.com. Be forewarned – book your reservations early.  They quickly sell out.

The Gourmet Experience: October 9, 10 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.  From professional cookware to epicurean travel tours to home entertaining, The Gourmet Experience is the ultimate two-day gourmet shopping experience!  The event, from 10a-5p will feature 250 exhibitors showcasing and selling gourmet cuisine, products, and services. Don’t miss the fun-filled culinary demonstrations from Chef Jeff Rossman, Terra Restaurant and Catering, Chef Brian Malarkey, Searsucker, and a book signing of  Flying Pans – Two Chefs, One World by Chef Bernard Guillas, Executive Chef at The Marine Room, The Shores, and The La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club! A single day ticket is just $30 at the door.  “The Weekend Gourmet” Two-Day Pass is $45 at the door. For complete information about The Gourmet Experience, visit www.thegourmetexpo.com

7th Annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival: November 17-21.  More than any other festival in San Diego, this is the one that consistently sells out. So, this year, I’m giving you the schedule of events well before it begins. The 5-day event begins with Wine Rave on Wednesday, November 17 from 7-10p. This event will feature 25 of the edgiest wine and spirits on the market today.  Tickets are $45 in advance and $60 at the door. 

On November 18 and 19 Cooking Classes will be held at the Macy’s School of Cooking and the San Diego Wine & Culinary Center where nationally recognized celebrity chefs and local culinary stars will strut their stuff during interactive and engaging classes. Each chef will prepare a series of mouth-watering dishes with instruction and recipes provided so that attendees can make the dishes at home. All cooking classes are tasting events and will be paired with one of the wineries featured at this year’s festival. Ticket prices for classes range from $45 to $75. Here is a website to view descriptions, directions, or buy tickets for any of cooking classes.

Next, come aboard the Hornblower Inspiration for a special tasting of unique Reserves and New Releases on November 19 from 6:30-9:30p. This will be an elegant evening for collectors of fine wine and wine enthusiasts to taste the pride of the vine from 160 wineries and spirits producers. Guests will also enjoy cuisine from 10 gourmet food companies. Exciting silent auction items, such as large format bottles, libraries, and decanters will take the spotlight this year with proceeds benefiting the American Institute of Wine & Food culinary arts scholarship programs.  Price is  $100 in advance and $125 at the door. 
Saturday November 20 from 12-4p is the Grand Tasting Event that sold out last year! So purchase tickets early via website

The Embarcadero behind Seaport Village is once again the perfect location for this year’s grand finale of California’s most talked about wine and food festival. With 170 wine and spirit purveyors, 70 of San Diego’s top chefs, cookbook author signings, and live entertainment, the Grand Tasting Event is the Goliath of the 5-day festival. Price is $125 in advance and $150 at the festival. See you there….B’Tayavon

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Lynne Thrope can be contacted at Lab4Us@gmail.com.

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‘Flying Pans’: A Cookbook for All Seasons

July 5, 2010 1 comment

By Lynne Thrope  

Lynne Thrope

SAN DIEGO–Sitting on my kitchen counter are three cookbooks that have become my every day culinary bibles. The first, Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen shares convivial advice with the reader who is interested in living a greener, more health-conscious lifestyle. It’s full of easy recipes that use “living foods,” such as fruits, berries, dates, tahini, nuts, and spices and herbs that now inhabit my garden.  

The second book, Cooking Jewish with 532 Great Recipes from the Rabinowitz Family, makes me feel farklempt every time I open it. With each story that precedes a recipe, I spiritually connect with its author, Judy Bart Kancigor, as I mix, roll, slice, and stir her soulful ingredients that create the most delicious stuffed breast of veal, cucumber salad with minty yogurt sauce, challah rolls, and gefilte fish, to name a mere few. With every bite, I recite my mantra, “It’s good to be Jewish!”   

Flying Pans

Finally, the third, has been occupying much of my free time since it was published last year. Flying Pans: Two Chefs, One World, is testimony that San Diego IS a culinary destination. Written by the Marine Room’s sophisticated, funny, and endearing chefs, Bernard Guillas and Ron Oliver, this manual for cooking should be in everyone’s kitchen and NOT on the coffee table. While the photographs, by Gregory Bertolini, are the most exquisite I’ve seen in any cookbook (I like them better than those in The French Laundry), their single purpose is to demonstrate to us novice cooks how approachable each recipe is. And they are. Truly.  

At first glance, I admit, I was a bit skeptical that I could produce anything close to resembling a dish prepared by Guillas and Oliver. After all, they’re culinary artists! But, as I delved into Flying Pans, I realized that the organization of each recipe, including directions for presentation, was a novel experience. I could easily follow each step – from prepping to serving. Clearly, Flying Pans is a well-thought-out culinary masterpiece that invites any level of cook to share the joy of cooking with family and friends.

Apparently others in the literary world agree for Flying Pans was this year’s Award Finalist for Book of the Year presented by ForeWord Magazines. “When you cook without boundaries or the fear of failure, and are guided by your passion for food and sharing it with those you love, that passion is contagious. Your guests will feel the warmth and the care in the final product. No ingredient is as delectable and effective as your good intentions. This is one of the core values behind Flying Pans.” (p.11, Guillas and Oliver)  

I embarked on my maiden voyage with the Lemon Verbena Scented Matzoh Ball Soup because I found comfort in its familiarity and because Oliver’s grandfather, a Sephardic Jew, and his grandmother, an Ashkenazic, influenced the ingredients in this “versatile, not just for Passover soup.” Try it. You’ll like it.  
My next attempt was so sea worthy that I took a picture of the Inside-Out Portobello Burger and emailed it to the chefs. They were delighted by my enthusiasm and creativity though my veggie burger didn’t look exactly like theirs.  This dish has been repeated time and again in my kitchen since more and more people are becoming health conscious.  

Recently, I took a cooking class at The Marine Room taught by Chefs Guillas and Oliver. I recommend it to anyone who thinks they have no talent in the kitchen. These guys really make cooking look simple. And it is. A few days later, I replicated their menu and to my surprise, the salad course, the fish course, and dessert (crème brûlée) were utterly delicious! The next class is scheduled for October. Don’t miss it if you want to taste the craftsmanship of these two wizards. Call The Marine Room for details at (858) 459-7222 or email www.marineroom.com. Flying Pans will be available for purchase and signing after the class…B’Tayavon         

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Thrope is based in San Diego.  She may be contacted at  www.TheReadingRoom.net

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The Melting Pot: A Fundue Way to Celebrate Mom

April 23, 2010 1 comment

 

Fondue at The Melting Pot

By Lynne Thrope

SAN DIEGO –My fondest memories of celebrating Mother’s Day were spending them with my siblings and Mommy over a pot of cheese fondue laughing about that year’s Mommy obsessions, books she had made us read, and how she wasn’t quite ready for her guest appearance of The French Chef (a personal goal of Mommy’s sadly never realized). Dunking the crusty bread and crackers into piping hot cheddar was something my family looked forward to through the late 60s and 70s.  In those days, my chintzy orange fondue pot was my prize possession.  It was always first to emerge from my backpack every winter when I arrived in New Hampshire to ski.  What was the après ski experience without fondue? Mommy loved it.

If my mother lived in San Diego, she would also love how David and Lesley Cohn have transformed Dakota Grille and Spirits into The Melting Pot, a fondue restaurant where the s’mores dessert fondue would make her the happiest woman in the world. I sure was the first time I tasted it.  Dunking pound cake, strawberries, and graham cracker marshmallows into this most perfect concoction of chocolate, rum, and graham cracker crumbs is a retro experience I would like to share with her today, but I’m here and she’s on the other coast. So, in hopes of her reading this, here’s the recipe:

The Melting Pot’s S’mores Fondue
Serves 4 to 6 


 
8 oz milk chocolate, finely chopped
2 teaspoons marshmallow crème
2 tablespoons Bacardi 151 rum
1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water, stirring constantly; or place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted, stirring every 30 to 45 seconds. Be careful not to let the chocolate burn. Pour into a warm fondue pot. Spoon the marshmallow crème into the center of the chocolate. Do not stir. Add the rum to the pot and ignite carefully, using a long wooden match or lighter. Allow the flame to burn out and stir gently to combine. Sprinkle with the graham cracker crumbs. Keep fondue warm over low heat.

But don’t start the fondue experience with dessert. The way of The Melting Pot is to first, select your cheese fondue which could be a cheddar, Swiss, Wisconsin trio, or spinach, artichoke, and garlic swimming in Fontina and Butterkäse cheeses.  Next, share a salad or two – my personal favorite is the house salad drenched in The Melting Pot’s Sweet and Tangy House Dressing. Then, it’s on to the entrée (fish, poultry, meat) cooked tableside in any one of the fondue cooking styles; Coq au Vin Fondue, European cholesterol-free Fondue Bourguignonne, Caribbean-seasoned Mojo Fondue, or Fondue Court Bouillon. Finally, the dessert.  There are ten to choose from. I know my mother’s choice. Do you know yours? Find out this Mother’s Day by calling (619) 234-5554 to make your reservation at San Diego Gaslamp’s newest restaurant located at 901 5th Ave. Make some new memories at The Melting Pot…B’Tayavon

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Lynne Thrope can be contacted at Lab4Us@gmail.com

Old friend and new tastes highlighted Wine and Food Festival

November 28, 2009 Leave a comment

Wine and Food Festival, 2009, behind Seaport Village
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By Lynne Thrope

SAN DIEGO– Amongst the 170 wineries, breweries, and spirit purveyors, 70 chefs showing off their gourmet prowess, and thousands of enthusiasts in attendance at last weekend’s Grand Tasting at the largest wine and food festival in Southern California was Ellen, my long lost friend from NEFTY (New England Federation of Temple Youth).

What could possibly be the likelihood of me bumping into someone from my high school days on the East Coast here in San Diego? But there she was, all the way from Boston, smiling from ear to ear with Sonoma labeled wine in one hand and a plate of ahi sashimi marinated in a fresh beet juice in the other.

Kvelling over our good fortune of finding each other (yes, like a needle in a haystack), we set our GPS with Huge Hugs and Never Ending Kisses to take us to the many acres of kiosks along the Embarcadero behind Seaport Village. Like two giggling schoolgirls, we reminisced about our jaunty pasts and even more jubilant presences.  Together, we sampled the seemingly endless array of meat, poultry, fish, and deserts and judged for ourselves the winners in each category. Coincidentally, our list closely matched the festival’s official one listed here:

1st Place and “Chef of the Fest” : Anthony Sinsay with Harney Sushi

2nd Place: Paul McCabe with Kitchen 1540

3rd Place: Jeff Rossman with Terra Restaurant

4th Place: Eric Sarkisian with Tom Ham’s Lighthouse

5th Place: Eric Bauer with Anthology

Finalist: Andrew Knudtson with the House of Blues

Finalist: Adam Bussel with Vela Restaurant

Finalist: Ralph Rubio with Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill

Finalist: Anthony Calamari with Sé San

Finalist: Sean Langlais with The Oceanaire

Category Winners:

Raw Category: Anthony Sinsay with Harney Sushi

Meat Category: Paul McCabe with Kitchen 1540

Poultry Category: Eric Bauer with Anthology

Fish Category: Anthony Calamari with Sé San Diego

Dessert Category: Jonathan Hale with Blue PointCoastal Cuisine
Like me, Ellen pursues her passion for haut and international cuisine weeknights and weekends “to bring balance to our Jewish souls.” After happily gorging from 11a – 4p, we were convinced that this spectacular culinary event is the ultimate for anyone interested in innovation, creativity, and great taste.

If you fancy yourself some kind of foodie and/or wine zealot and want some “Lip Smacking, Glass Clinking, Celebrity Watching, Mouth Watering Kind of Fun,” The San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival is for you! For information about next year’s event dates, venues, list of visiting celebrities and ticket prices, visit www.worldofwineevents.com or call 619.342.7337.  Hopefully, Ellen will return. I know I will… B’Tayavon

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Lynne Thrope can be contacted at lynnesworld@mac.com

Restaurant Review: Los Arcos provides fish with a Mexican flair

November 15, 2009 Leave a comment

By Lynne Thrope

lynne_thrope-july2009jpgCHULA VISTA, California –When I was told that the rabbi in Mexico City blessed the kitchen in that city’s Los Arcos Restaurant, I had to find out what the attraction was for the community of Jews living in that southland metropolis. Lucky for me, I didn’t have to travel far to check out its first sister restaurant in the United States.

Los Arcos Restaurant #17 was recently voted Best Mexican in San Diego Magazine’s Best Restaurants Issue in 2009 and I couldn’t agree more with that accolade. For the past 30 years, the Angulo family has been serving the highest quality seafood available on the Pacific Coast. An easy jaunt down Highway 805 to 89 Bonita Road in Chula Vista is where residents and tourists can experience the authentic cuisine of Mexico without having to cross the border – this confirmation from my Jewish Mexican food expert who lived for a time in Guadalajara and eats no traif.

Because of this dietary choice she would frequently eat at the Los Arcos in Lazaro Cardenas, Guadalajara. Now that she’s back living in San Diego, she eats at Los Arcos in Chula Vista every chance she gets. After having sampled a good portion of the menu’s fare myself, I suggest you do the same, if you demand variety in taste and freshness in ingredients.

Begin the experience with Cerviche de Pescado to let your mouth be wowed by the symphony of salmuera (brine) broth, lime juice, tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. (It’s so wonderful that kosher salt has made its way into so many global cuisines.) Next, to punctuate its authenticity, try the Fish Rolls swimming in a tangy cilantro cream sauce or any one of the Tacos with Your Choice of filling. Here lies the difference between the Los Arcos experience and your neighborhood Mexican restaurant.

Think of the Los Arcos menu as a springboard of items to be tweaked and personalized by the patron. Don’t want the smoked tuna filling in that taco? Order the diced fresh fish instead. Add a little mole to it for a hint of chocolate and chiles flavor or how about an aurora sauce for you lovers of tomatoes and cream? Want to substitute the cream with a tamarind glaze? “Have It Your Way” is the unwritten promise that is provided for a successful dining experience at Los Arcos.

A restaurant is not identified for 25 years as the “Best Seafood Cuisine from the Pacific Coast” if it is not deserved. Because of this unceasing distinction, Los Arcos Restaurants have defined a national gastronomy and we San Diegans are now the lucky beneficiaries of their reputation for the finest Mexican cuisine.
To be educated about this unique dining adventure, invite Cezar to be your culinary guide. He’s got an endless imagination for mapping foods to rare preparations. His tongue rattles them off like an auctioneer at a temple fundraiser. It’s no wonder that Cesar and his treasure trove of gastronomical gifts is just one of many memorable moments at Los Arcos Restaurant…B’Tayavon

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Lynne Thrope can be contacted at lynnesworld@mac.com

The San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival

November 10, 2009 Leave a comment

 

By Lynne Thrope

SAN DIEGO–Finally, it is one week away. The mother of all food and wine fests in Southern California – the event I patiently wait for each year to taste, savor, and schmooze with local culinary personalities, such as Sam Zien aka Sam the Cooking Guy, San Diego’s Top Chef Brian Malarkey, whose new restaurant opens in the Gaslamp Summer 2010, the Marine Room’s magnificent Executive Chef Bernard Guillas who will be signing his just released cookbook Flying Pans, Food Network TV Star acclaimed author Tim Allen, and Jeff Rossman, popular steadfast owner of Hillcrest’s Terra Restaurant.  This year’s Festival runs from November 18-22 at various locations throughout San Diego.  Tickets are still available by calling 619.342.7337 or by visiting www.WorldofWineEvents.com

Here’s a brief calendar of The Festival’s events:

Wednesday Nov. 18 – Wine Rave kicks off the Festival at The W Hotel with 25 wines and spirits and “make-your-mouth-drool” food.

Thursday Nov. 19 – Cooking Demonstrations at Macy’s School of Cooking

Friday Nov. 20 – Wine Classes at the San Diego Wine & Culinary Center, Reserve Tasting and Auction Luncheon benefiting the American Institute of Wine & Food culinary arts scholarship programs.

Saturday Nov. 21 – Grand Tasting Event & “Chef of the Fest” Competition held on the Embarcadero Park North behind Seaport Village where spirit and wine makers, over 30 gourmet food companies, and over 70 celebrated chefs, wow you with their scrumptious fare!

Let’s toast together to the sweet harvests of this season…B’Tayavon

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Lynne Thrope can be contacted at lynnesworld@mac.com