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Best of 2001: Best Fungus Among Us

El Bizcocho at the Rancho Bernardo Inn
17550 Bernardo Oaks Drive,
Rancho Bernardo
858-487-1611

It looks like a roast turnip, sitting there on the plate next to the squab topped with foie-gras-whipped-cream chantilly -- just a pale brown plebeian-looking clod. Then you take a bite and the "turnip" turns into a big lump of fresh, almost crisp porcini mushroom, frequently encountered dried but rarely served fresh, and rarely in a single chunk. Heaven and earth combine in a bite. The menu changes daily, so that's only one of the parade of surprises that diners may encounter in a dinner cooked by French-born Patrick Ponsaty, a protégé of Tapenade's Jean-Michel Diot. You may encounter a garnish of nippy "sea beans" with your sautéed fish, or a delicate, foam-topped white asparagus mousse breathing rich fumes of black truffle. Or perhaps your duck's bed of polenta will be set atop a vanilla cookie. Once you start eating, you'll forget that you had to drive to RB, dress up in a coat and tie, and negotiate the too-small parking lot -- this is the food of astonishment.

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El Bizcocho at the Rancho Bernardo Inn
17550 Bernardo Oaks Drive,
Rancho Bernardo
858-487-1611

It looks like a roast turnip, sitting there on the plate next to the squab topped with foie-gras-whipped-cream chantilly -- just a pale brown plebeian-looking clod. Then you take a bite and the "turnip" turns into a big lump of fresh, almost crisp porcini mushroom, frequently encountered dried but rarely served fresh, and rarely in a single chunk. Heaven and earth combine in a bite. The menu changes daily, so that's only one of the parade of surprises that diners may encounter in a dinner cooked by French-born Patrick Ponsaty, a protégé of Tapenade's Jean-Michel Diot. You may encounter a garnish of nippy "sea beans" with your sautéed fish, or a delicate, foam-topped white asparagus mousse breathing rich fumes of black truffle. Or perhaps your duck's bed of polenta will be set atop a vanilla cookie. Once you start eating, you'll forget that you had to drive to RB, dress up in a coat and tie, and negotiate the too-small parking lot -- this is the food of astonishment.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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