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Looking For Best Food With a View for Out of Town Visitor

Every decent (upscale) restaurant should make their duck confit (and many other things) sous vide to avoid overcooking

about 2 hours ago
honkman in San Diego

Looking For Best Food With a View for Out of Town Visitor

Agreed - that sentence doesn't fit with his more detailed dish descriptions when they didn't have a single dish which was without problems or good.

about 22 hours ago
honkman in San Diego

Looking For Best Food With a View for Out of Town Visitor

I think he wanted to say that the view and wine was good to very good every else forgetable

1 day ago
honkman in San Diego

San Diego CLOSED Restaurants...2015 Edition

For steak tartare go to Cafe Chloe - it's now on their regular menu. Or the carne asada crudo at J&I

1 day ago
honkman in San Diego

MSG Cooking Tips

Are you serious ? Pure glutamic acid is the same compound for the body independently how it is produced ("naturally" or "unnaturally" - and I don't want to even start writing about how wrong it is to write "natural" vs "unnatural"). Glutamic acid is one compound (CAS 56-86-0) for the body. It is formed in the body in many different pathways and can be produced in the lab/factory in many different ways but it is always the same compound for the body and is used in the same way for subsequent pathways independent of its origin. (If your "food scientist" is telling you this, he has no clue)

Mar 23, 2015
honkman in Home Cooking

MSG Cooking Tips

Once your body digest food it also breaks down AA including glutmates. Glutamates in food like parmesan, tomatoes, mushrooms (and many other "natural" foods) are "free" in your body. And there is no chemical difference between "processed free glutamic acid" and "natural free glutamic acid" - so yes there is "free glutamic acid in the food naturally" (just curious - do you also think there is beaver butt in your ice cream ?)

Mar 23, 2015
honkman in Home Cooking

Week in Escondido/San Diego

Strongly second Escogelato - best ice cream in SD

Mar 23, 2015
honkman in San Diego

MSG Cooking Tips

Many foods like tomatoes, parmesan cheese have free glutamates which are chemically identical to MSG. If people believe they have side effects to MSG they should have the same ine when eating parmesan, tomatoes, mushrooms etc.
And doing "studies" on yourself doesn't prove anything - there is a reason why all new drugs are tested in clinical studies to eliminate factors like placebo effects etc

Mar 22, 2015
honkman in Home Cooking
1

MSG Cooking Tips

But all of these contain MSG. This would indicate that tye swellings are not MSG related

Mar 22, 2015
honkman in Home Cooking

Tasting menus and other no-choice restaurants: why the praise?

Tasting menus are our prefered way to dine in a restaurant and we often set up multi course ones in restaurants which normally don't have any by contacting the chefs. Obviously we also discuss often with them about it and we have yet to find a chef who doesn't like to cook such tasting menus most especially if you give them all freedom to do whatever they want. It often gives them the chance to cook with unusual ingredients or techniques they can't use on their regular menu - they can really become creative and that's what chefs like most

Mar 21, 2015
honkman in General Topics

Solare - Tasting Menus

Strange - on my iphone or computer it is broken down in paragraphs. Otherwise the link at the top should hopefully give you a better readable version

Mar 21, 2015
honkman in San Diego

Solare - Tasting Menus

Full post and pictures: http://twofoodiesonejourney.blogspot....

The origin of tasting menus is quite obscure and there are many different theories going as far back as to the Ancient Greeks and Romans who have been reported to serve multi-course menu consisting of 16-20 dishes. Individual courses might not have been as sophisticated as those of today’s cuisine, but these “tasting menus” already showed a similar progression that we are used to seeing today. Another important historic influence were traditional Japanese Kaiseki menus with their specific order, focus on seasonality, and elaborate presentations, highly reminiscent of today’s Western tasting menus - Thomas Keller cites them as a significant influence as “the Kaiseki dinner is very similar to the way we serve food in the French Laundry”. Over the last century, tasting menus were heavily influenced by French cuisine, and Escoffier is often credited as having “invented” tasting menus in modern times while working at the Ritz hotels. The French influence is also apparent with chefs like Paul Bocuse in France, and Thomas Keller in the US, who were both at the forefront to establish tasting menus at their restaurants and who thereby had a tremendous influence on later generations of chefs. Tasting menus present a unique opportunity for chefs to represent their individual cuisine and philosophy. However, except for French restaurants and those influenced by Modernist Cuisine, tasting menus are not that common to find on other types of cuisine.

Chef Accursio Lota was born in Menfi, a small town in Sicily, and was exposed to fresh ingredients and cooking early on in life as both his mother and grandmother used fruits and vegetables from their own garden, fish from the local sea, and olive oil harvested and produced from their own olive trees. So it seems like a natural progression that he ended up graduating from culinary school. One of his most influential, early mentors was Chef Sergio Mei at the Four Seasons Hotel Milan where Chef Lota was able to dive deep into the Italian culinary tradition. But Chef Mei was also instrumental in motivating him to move to California to work at the Biltmore Four Seasons Hotel in Santa Barbara which gave him a different perspective to cooking. Not unlike in Sicily, the Biltmore kitchen also focused on local produce with Mediterranean flavors, but it also incorporated numerous other influences from the melting pot of California. In 2009, he returned to Sicily to work as Sous Chef at Hotel Imperiale in Taormina where, for the first time, he had the culinary freedom to develop his own style. In 2011, Chef Lota moved back to California to join Chefs Guillas and Oliver as Sous Chef at the Marine Room which gave him a wide exposure to fusion cooking. In 2012, he decided to fine tune his personal cooking style even more by starting Limone, an underground restaurant, focusing on multicourse dinners. In the same year he accepted the offer from owner Randy Smerik to join Solare as Executive Chef.

Solare was started in 2008 by Chef Stefano Ceresoli and his wife Roberta Ruffini, but in2012 the couple decided to sell Solare to only focus on their other restaurant at that time, Caffe Bella Italia in Pacific Beach. They recently closed the latter one as well to start Piazza 1909 in La Jolla. Solare was bought by Randy Smerik, and his two sons Brian and Tommy Smerik. Randy Smerik has an unusual background for a restaurant owner as he had originally worked in the IT field for 25 years, including being a vice president at Intel, a founder and CEO of Tarari and Osunatech, but he is also on the Board of Directors for Fortaleza Tequila. Since offering Chef Lota the Executive Chef’s position at Solare, he has given him free hand to realize his cooking style which also included implementing an Italian inspired 9-course tasting menu.

Solare has a rather unique set up for their tasting menu which is served at the Chef’s Table. The Chef’s Table is a kitchen counter with two bar stools and a perfect view of the action in the kitchen. These types of kitchen counter/Chef’s tables are one of our favorite ways to dine as it gives you a very close look to the processes of the kitchen, and interaction of the chefs and cooks.

1st Course: Shrimp, squid, clam, zucchini carpaccio, onion confit, tomato, caperberry, dehydrated lobster broth
Three impeccable pieces of seafood were the stars of this plate and showcasing the variety of flavors and textures of seafood, ranging from tender and subtly flavored squid to soft and briny clams. Instead of the obligatory lemon, caper berries, tomatoes and onion confit added some desired acidity to the dish. The dehydrated lobster broth sprinkled over the seafood added some salinity and enhanced the natural flavors.

2nd Course: Squash blossom, ricotta, mint pesto, pomodoro sauce
One of the classical Italian appetizers which is often served with greasy, soggy blossoms, tasteless ricotta and drowned in sauce. Here we had a prime example how to make it right – flavorful homemade ricotta was wrapped in a delicate squash blossom which allowed us to taste the floral flavor. Small dots of slightly acidic tomato sauce and herbal, but not overpowering, mint pesto helped to accentuate the dish yet provided a playful way to mix and match different flavor combinations so that every bite was different – a beautiful dish.

3rd Course: Carpaccio di Wagyu, wagyu beef sirloin, borrage flowers, arugula, Parmigiano Reggiano, rosemary salt, balsamico pearls
The wagyu beef carpaccio had a surprisingly strong, pleasant beefy flavor, whereas the arugula provided some textural contrast, and the Parmigiano added the necessary saltiness. We liked the idea of adding the acidity by balsamico pearls instead to just some liquid amount of acetic balsamico as it was much easier to include the desired amount of balsamico in each bite which gave way to a perfect balance of salty, bitter, acidic and Umami.

4th Course: Risotto, vino bianco, scorza di limone, squid ink reduction, scallop
The risotto had the perfect consistency of creaminess with some bite from the al dente rice corns. The mixture of white wine, lemon marmalade and squid ink gave a very interesting combination of bitterness and acidity from the wine and marmalade with the savori- and saltiness of the squid ink. All these flavors worked really well with the beautifully seared scallop.

5th Course: Ravioli with ricotta & spinach, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, sea beans, pecorino
Pasta can be such a simple and yet difficult dish – just semolina, eggs and water - but rarely do you find such delicate finished pasta like in this dish - substantial yet thin enough that it didn’t overpower the filling of the homemade ricotta and spinach. The lightness of the dish continued with the accompanying vegetables like asparagus, tomatoes and sea beans. By far not the only dish where we wished we could get a second helping.

6th Course: Tuna, broccolini, fingerling potatoes, nostralina olives, limoncello, special olive oil, sea asparagus
A rather classic dish with the combination of tuna, broccolini, potatoes and olives – well executed dish with moist fish, not overcooked broccolini - but what really elevated it was the olive oil Chef Lota added at the table – DOP Val di Mazara from his home town. A very complex olive oil with notes of pistacchio, citrus and artichoke, and a low acidity which brought the dish together.

7th Course: Rabbit loin, carrots, kale, potato, brussel sprout, demi glace
Rabbit is often decried as being as tasteless as badly prepared chicken, but in this dish the rabbit loin had a nice distinct meaty, slightly sweet flavor which stood up surprisingly well against the other ingredients. This dish was another example of the ability of Chef Lota to create very complex but yet balanced flavor profiles in his dishes spanning from sweetness by the carrots, to bitterness by the brussel sprouts and kale, to Umami by the demi glace.

8th Course: Pistacchio crusted rack of lamb, lamb loin, potato-saffron timbale, pickled cipollini, pesto
Placing the pesto in the middle of the plate clearly indicated the overarching theme of the dish. The pesto worked equally well with all other components – lamb loin, rack of lamb and potato-saffron timbale and connected these parts to a coherent finish of the savory part of the tasting menu.

9th Course: Chocolate mousse, crispy almonds, candies pistacchios, berries, orange peel, amaretto cherry
The combination of fruits and chocolate ensured that the night didn’t end in an overly heavy dessert. The different nut preparations reminded us of some type of granola, and the dish was a continuation of the savory courses – excellent execution with very balanced flavors.

Every cuisine is associated with certain attributes which are obviously often strong generalizations since there is no such thing as a singular type of cuisine: every country has many regional or even local variations. French cooking is often described as complex and relying on technique and elaborated sauces, whereas Italian food is more focused on simpler dishes which let seasonal ingredients shine. Chef Lota impressed us with how he was able to capture this general “Italian” philosophy throughout the tasting menu, but at the same time was able to instill his own style. He presented us each course explaining the seasonality and the local farms where the ingredients came from, and with his thoughts on how the different components of the dish should work together. Focusing on few key ingredients in each dish required flawless execution of each of them. What really made all these dishes stand out, and seems to be a reflection of his style, was the complexity and yet effortlessness of the seasoning of the dishes. Many dishes had seemingly secondary components, like for example the dehydrated lobster broth or Val di Mazara oil which was essential in bringing the dishes together. Or dishes like the risotto were the combination of scorza di limone and squid ink reduction created something greater than the sum of its parts.

This tasting menu was a prime example how the menu format of a tasting menu allows a talented chef to showcase the cuisine from his/her native country, yet instilled with his/her own interpretations. We wish more chefs, especially from ethnic restaurants, would use this concept to present the many facets of their cuisines. We are looking forward to follow Chef Lota in his interpretations of Italian cuisine throughout the seasons.

Mar 21, 2015
honkman in San Diego

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy scrag end of winter March 2015 edition!

I would be curious if anybody has the new Vetri book and also Fluor + Water by McNaughton and could wriote how they compare

Mar 19, 2015
honkman in Home Cooking

Birthday for the bored

Georges followed by Table No. 10 or The Pearl

Mar 18, 2015
honkman in San Diego

Authentic Cajun Cookbook

Encyclopedia of Cajun & Creole Cuisine by J.D. Folse

Mar 18, 2015
honkman in Home Cooking
1

Small plates/tapas near Copley Hall

Friday at 6pm at the bar J&I is unlikely to work

Mar 16, 2015
honkman in San Diego

Buffalo Public House - Hillcrest

How can one exist without drinking coffee ?

Mar 16, 2015
honkman in San Diego
1

The Water Grill

There are people who are not using mayo for their fries ??

Mar 16, 2015
honkman in San Diego

Lunch in Carlsbad

Two other places which are nice for lunch in Encinitas are Solace and Q'ero

Mar 14, 2015
honkman in San Diego

Lunch in Carlsbad

Not Carlsbad but Encinitas is very close - Blue Ribbon Pizzeria gor some of the best pizza in San Diego

Mar 14, 2015
honkman in San Diego

Coming from LA for a few days...

There are currently extremely bad relationships between the German and Greek governments but also between German and Greek people in general and so if you see interviews with Greek people on the street they blame Germany on everything bad happening in the world, somehow that reminded me of you ;)

(OT If Greek goes down it will not only take down the European economy but will have tremendous negative effects on the US one - the Lehman bankruptcy will be relatively harmless compared to that)

Mar 14, 2015
honkman in San Diego

Coming from LA for a few days...

I think Fakey has Greek ancestors

Mar 14, 2015
honkman in San Diego

Coming from LA for a few days...

I think you misunderstood me - I have no problems with somebody claiming a restaurant is the best in a city (even without an "IMO") as this can start an interesting discussion.But even though these opinions are subjective there are reasonable "objective" criteria how to define them. All those "best" restaurants should obviously completely master the basic task/ingredients of their focused country and for Italy two key ones are pasta and pizza. A best Italian restaurant which doesn't make its own pasta and pizza (but uses just preprocessed ones) is like a best French bistro which gets its cassoulet and steak frites complete premade and just nukes it - I think we both agree we would never call such a restaurant "best" but mediocre (and making pasta or pizza is simpler than from scratch cassoulet). But even if you still believe that Baci can the best Italian with those flaws you never wrote actually even after criticsm what makes Baci the best (just "overall dinig experiences" is way to vague). And I think Solare (which meets the basic criteris) is the best Italian place in SD but I would be more than happy if somebody on this board disagrees with me and brings up some arguments why restaurant X or Y is so much better - this is the only way to get better dining experiences (and I think it is missing on this board - just listing restaurants without any explanations is no differnt than reading Yelp)

Mar 14, 2015
honkman in San Diego

Coming from LA for a few days...

The reason I wrote about the tourist trap was mainly because of your comment about best in town which sets a very high bar. If you would have written that Baci is a restaurant you like I might have just written that I think restaurant X or Y is better for Italian. Saying it is the best in Italian restaurant in town when the OP asks for unique, great restaurants and then naming Baci as the top of game in this city is actually a disservice because it sets wrong impressions for OP.

Mar 13, 2015
honkman in San Diego

Coming from LA for a few days...

So your point is that it is better for a food/restaurant discussion board to not discuss at all the disagreement about the quality of a restaurant than have a discussion about the disagreement - I think we have a very different opinion about the value and direction of this discussion board. Don't you think the value for any OP is much higher to see such kind of discussions and build his/her own conclusion/decisions instead of not writing at all and potentially make quite questionable recommendations ? (At this point you also have hinted multiple times that you found my disagreement about Baci expressed with "conflict or rancor" without actually going into the details and saying what part of it was full of "conflict" beside saying to not post at all which is rather ridiculous for a discussion board - could you please go more into details)

Mar 13, 2015
honkman in San Diego

Jeni's Spectactular Ice Cream

I was planning to start diving into her icecream book but was actually a little bit disappointed when we bought her ice cream at a supermarket. We have ice cream shops closeby which make equally good if not better ones, so I wonder if there is a unusual hugh difference for her ice cream between supermarkt bought one and freshly made in her shop.

Mar 13, 2015
honkman in Home Cooking

The Wooden Spoon in Escondido

How loud was it inside ?

Mar 13, 2015
honkman in San Diego

Coming from LA for a few days...

We have other sites in flyover country and they complain (perhaps in a slightly more friendly way) similar about this "no conflict attitude" in California.
And yes, "small talk" is the most useless part of any communication as it kills any honest discussion as people just expect pleasant, smooth exchanges of words. I hope people who think that CH is about exercising power never move to Europe as they might get a mental breakdown and will move back to have for years regular sessions with their therapist to overcome the power struggles they witnessed.

Mar 13, 2015
honkman in San Diego

Coming from LA for a few days...

Unfortunately you have it the wrong way around - the problem is not less conflict but people trying to create an environment where no dissenting opinion and potential conflict is the desired outcome. Describing, as in this discussion, a restaurant as an overpriced, mediocre place with arguments why this is the case is not an attempt to enforce power and control but just an opinion. The problem is that people feel uncomfortable if a restaurant they love isn't appreciated by everybody else on this board and instead of explaining their position they tend to divert any useful discussion by raising "issues" like power power grab etc. You will now of course will argue again that bringing up that a restaurant is overpriced, mediocre is already exercising power and and we will go around in circles - as I said, to each his own.

Mar 13, 2015
honkman in San Diego

Coming from LA for a few days...

To each his own

Mar 13, 2015
honkman in San Diego