David Dodd 2:33 a.m., May 19
The Inquisitive Tongue: Nanette Wiser's Good Dish
A tip of the toque to San Diego's two James Beard Foundation semifinalists for its 2013 chef and restaurant awards. Grand Del Mar's Addison is nominated for Outstanding Wine Program, home to 3,600 vintages. La Jolla native and owner/Chef Carl Schroeder of The Market faces tough competition from 19 chefs, including Los Angeles’ Michael Cimarusti at Providence and San Francisco’s Daniel Patterson at Coi.We've got our fingers and toes crossed for our locals.
Let's Eat San Diego: Catch happy hour at Cohns' 100 Wines classy ambiance and wine bar. Swinging sixties style The Cat Eye Club will open in March. North County's Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizzeria and The Craftsman New American Tavern will debut a third eatery in Hillcrest, Blue Ribbon Rustic Kitchen, this summer. Johnny Rivera's Great Maple's Euro-dinette pops up in Hillcrest. PGA Tour Grill, the next great thing in sports bars, is on tap for San Diego this summer. Will San Diego get the hot new Denver diner and soon to be chain Tom's Urban 24, founded by Smashburger's team? We hope so.
Amaya La Jolla: In mid-March, The Grand Del Mar's restaurant gets a sister location in La Jolla, serving dinner daily for up to 118 guests in its stunning dining room. Live entertainment will play nightly, including performances by a three-piece ensemble on the weekends. In addition, the bar lounge that accommodates 66 people, will serve handcrafted cocktails, wine selections and offer a light fare bar menu. A private dining room and wine cellar room are available for private party entertaining. Executive Chef Camron Woods at Amaya La Jolla will prepare his most popular Amaya dishes such as Smoked King Salmon with Parsnip Purée, Brussels Sprouts, Bacon, Apple Chutney and Grain Mustard and Slow Roasted Pork Chop with Sweet Potato Bread Pudding and Roasted Apples. He will be adding new rustic Southern classics “reinvented” served family-style as a tribute to his culinary beginnings in Charleston, S.C.
Cook's Corner: Find a glass bottle with a cork (The Container Store), fill it with two cups vodka, add a spicy Mexican vanilla bean and store in a cool, dark spot for six weeks. Pie isn't just for dessert these days; savory pasties and sausage rolls are catching on.
Upcoming Events: Grant Grill celebrates Annual Heart week 2/23 with dishes like sake steamed California sea bass, smoked flat iron steak and heart-healthy berry strudel. Price: 3 course $40, 4 course $60; optional menu wine pairing ($30/$40). In celebration of a day where everyone is Irish, Iowa Meat Farms & Siesel’s hosts their 3rd Annual Corned Beef Festival where you can sample the 2013 vintage barrel-cured corned beef. On Saturday 3/9, come down for a for tastes and tips on how to prepare the perfect St. Patty’s Day feast, including variations of artisanal mustards, pickles, potatoes and veggies. If you have a hankering for more barrel-cured goodness, Iowa Meat Farms & Siesel’s will also be sampling their old-fashioned, barrel-cured corned rounds, brisket points, and brisket flats. Make reservations now for 3rd Corner Encinitas' Domaine Serene Wine Dinner on Monday, March 4.
Luxury Wellness Retreats: The Golden Door and Rancho La Puerta aren't the only local spas focused on health and nutrition. The newly renovated Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa is now offering luxury wellness retreats and weekend getaways designed to educate and inspire all levels of health-conscious travelers with award-winning yoga and nutrition experts on a idyllic 40-acre retreat March 3-8, May 26-31 and October 6-11. You get five nights in one of Rancho Valencia's luxurious 950 sq. ft. Junior Suites. In addition to daily yoga sessions, guests will also enjoy oceanside hikes with inspiring Pacific Ocean vistas, heart pumping fitness classes, indulgent spa experiences, delicious and restorative cold-pressed juices, private nutritional consultations, and evening talks with motivational speakers and top wellness experts.
Drink for a Cause: The 5th annual St. Baldrick’s Shave-a-Thon begins at 12:00 p.m. on March 9 at The Commons in Downtown San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. Head shaving will commence at 12:30 p.m., provided by salon sponsor, The Factory. A $10 donation at the door provides admission to the event and complimentary appetizers. A $20 donation at the door includes complimentary appetizers, a free drink ticket, T-shirt and raffle ticket. 100% of the proceeds from the afternoon will go directly to St. Baldrick's Foundation. In addition, The Commons Bar will serve three speciality items all during March, with $1 from each sale going to the Foundation: Spicy Guinness Wings served with a Stone Smoked Porter Aioli dipping sauce paired with either a Jameson Ginger a blend of Jameson Irish Whiskey, Ginger Ale and a dash of Angostura Bitters, or an Irish Pancake Shot made up of Jameson Irish Whiskey, maple syrup and orange juice.
Elsewhere Edibles: From Portland's Nudi Noodle Place's spicy devil rings tossed with rice powder, lime and coriander to Chicago's Nightwood habanero crispy pig ears, spice is nice. Unique finger food serving ideas are everywhere, from chef/owner Jose Andres porcelain hand molds proferring small bites like beet tumbleweed to Minnesota's Travail Kitchen chefs' extra long forks and tableside bites chandelier that extends from the kitchen to the diners at a central table. brooklyn's Bistro Petit mixes the flavors of Korea with farmhouse French such as kimchi bouillibaisse. Book now for the Food&Wine Classic in Aspen CO JUne 14-16.
Farmers We Love: Everyone knows I love pears, from Grey Goose martinis to pear arugula blue cheese crumble salads. Season is almost over, but you can still enjoy Bosc through May, Green Anjou through July and Seckel, Comice and Forelle through March. Learn how to make pickles and preserves at the Food Craft Institute and plan to visit the EatRealFest.com in Oakland where you can find jam diva Rachel Saunders of Blue Chair Fruit.
Spirited Advice: Stock up on craft whiskeys such as The Balveneie 14 Year Old, The Glendrothes Alba Reserve, Compass Box Whisky Flaming Hearth or The Black Grouse smokey peat concoction. New mixologies include Damson plum gin, Bittermen's Xocolatl mole bitters and the Bitter Truth's cocktail bitters travelers set in celery and orange flavors. Refresh your tastebuds with a basil lime daiquiri.
Food 4 Thought: Betty Goes Vegan, Chloe's Vegan Desserts, Wheat Belly Cookbook, The Healthy Green Drink Diet, Juicing Bible and Practical Paleo fit my New Year's resolutions to a tea. The French Laundry Cookbook transports me to magical times in Napa.