Blog: Feast!

Entries for November, 2011

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Black Mountain (Road)Side: Surati Farsan Mart

The miserable traffic on Miramar Road gave me the perfect excuse to wait it out at Surati Farsan Mart at 9494 Black Mountain Road in Mira Mesa. Surati Farsan specializes in vegetarian Gujarati food. Gujarat is a state in western India; farsan means side dishes or snacks. There are two ...

By the sea at WindanSea Cafe

I'm in Bird Rock today, doing some errands, so lunch is going to be a quick sandwich. Besides, since Thanksgiving I haven't had anything green to eat. I've heard that WindanSea Cafe on the corner of La Jolla Blvd. and Playa del Norte makes a pretty good panino. I run ...

Cobbler Tuesday?

My $3 meal with Barrio Star (see below) has left me with five bucks. Walking down past Extraordinary Desserts (2929 Fifth Avenue, Bankers Hill, 619-294-2132), I stop. Start thinking, hey, maybe I can swing a little something sweet here. And I get encouragement. They have a sign next to the ...

The One-Taco Dinner

On Fifth Avenue, tramping uphill, north. Get to Nutmeg Street, St. Paul’s cathedral. It’s five o’clock. Unbelievable pink sunset. And I’m looking at it from this maroon stucco corner place almost the same color as the clouds. Huh. I remember a piano place here once, and a picture framer? Whatever, ...

New Name for a Brew That’s Still a Treasure

It’s hard to find fault with anything produced to raise money to fight breast cancer. I mean, who does that? Well…sometimes I do. Obviously, the creation of such beers is a wonderful thing, especially when they taste great. Unfortunately, they’re almost always limited edition brews; one-and-outs that merit fanfare then ...

The Yellow Beehive

Hey hey! Another candidate for Best Sidewalk Patio. Was waiting for the bus just south of University up in Hillcrest the other night. And glowing across Fourth Avenue was this, like, yellow jewel. A café-bistro, long, luminous, and packed with people. Tight packed. Two rows of wooden tables behind yellow ...

It’s About Time: Killer BBQ Comes to Town

You walk in, see the skyscraper-like trophies strewn throughout Brazen BBQ Smokehouse and Bar and immediately assume whoever is responsible for the menu and that incredible mixed aroma of smoldering wood and slowly melting animal fat must be from somewhere else. That guess seems even more logical after digging into ...

Serious Rising: Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizzeria

I love pizza. New York style, Neopolitan, Chicago style, thin, thick, red, white, I don't care. I have a few non-negotiables (no Hawaiian style, barbecued chicken, or green bell peppers), but those are just holdovers from my days of eating bad food in endless corporate meetings. You won't find anything ...

Un-Leftover Friday: UnderBelly

I spent last Tuesday-Thursday in my kitchen, getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner. So by Friday, I was dying to see the sun again and have something not-Thanksgiving-ish for lunch. I’ve also been dying to try UnderBelly, the brand new Nate Stanton/Arsalun Tafazoli venture on the corner of Fir and Kettner ...

Caffe Vergnano: Sign of the (Opening) Times

Went striding confidently up to Caffe Vergnano 1882 (3850 Fifth Avenue, Hillcrest, 619-255-1882) the other night. Always liked their Olde Worlde outside and Italian Moderne look inside. Tonight, I basically, jes’ wanted one of their nice $1.95 espressos (There’s no drip coffee here. These are fanatical Italians, remember). And I ...

Street Surprise

You never know where your next tamale is coming from. Mine’s come from here, at 16th and Imperial. Was crossing Imperial when I hear the call. “Ta-MAA-les! Ta-MAA-les!” It’s this cheery-looking woman in a white teeshirt and jeans, hauling a blue and white insulated box. I yell back across the ...

A Jiggerful of Judgment at El Dorado

Last week, I wrote about serving as a judge for the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival. Experiences like these tend to be few and far between. Yet, come tomorrow, I’ll be back in the critic’s saddle, weighing on the virtues (and missteps) of cocktails created by a septet ...

Bobby Flay and Local Chef Rumble in Kitchen Stadium

It’s shot in a studio, lit within an inch of its life, and hosted by a hokey acrobat-slash-actor playing the descendant of an equally hokey yet far less agile Japanese actor. Yet, for all its manufactured Hollywood glitter factor, Food Network’s culinary competition, Iron Chef America, is just that. When ...

The Port of San Diego?

“First real coffee house in California,” says the sign. Oh. Guess I’m the last to find it. This is Café Bassam (3088 Fifth Avenue, at Redwood, Bankers Hill, 619-557-0173). Used to be downtown, right? It’s coming on evening. Have to go in. Loved it downtown. Heard it was different up ...

Rainy Days and Sundays: Union Kitchen & Tap

We get about three days of rain in San Diego, so why do they all seem to happen on the weekend? I'm sure the artists and vendors at the Encinitas Fall Festival were thinking the same thing this past Sunday. The rain and wind finally drove us to look for ...

How to Eat Burgers Raw

Oh boy. All that turkey… Lessee. Healthy alternative? I’m looking up at the green menu board here at Evolution (used to be Nature’s Express) at 2949 Fifth Avenue (at Quince), 619-550-1818. Everything’s guaranteed “100 percent Vegan.” And what I’m seeing is: “Raw Burger, $7.50.” I mean, Burger rare’s one thing, ...

Hall of Dreams

Oh, man. I'm holding my belly, full as a bull. I come out from Father Joe's Thanksgiving lunch (1501 Imperial Avenue, two blocks from 12th and Imperial trolley/bus transit center, 619-233-8500), me and hundreds of others. When we'd all piled in, in long lines, it was, yes, stressful. Short lady ...

Beer and Cacao Worthy of Serious Buzz

When Friday comes around, I embrace my vocational freedom in tandem with a few cold ones. Last week, my workweek-erasing boozing was put on hold. I had a date with some friends to take in a chocolate tasting at a production kitchen in Mira Mesa. Our guide for the early ...

El Porvenir: The Sign in the Window

I’m worried about El Porvenir Tortilla Factory (1782 National Avenue, Barrio Logan, 619-233-4038), home of the Most Awesome Burritos in the County. It has been open and closed -- but mostly closed -- for the past three years. At first they put up a little notice: “Due to the Health ...

Most Colorful Pizza?

Hauling up through Little Italy. Couldn’t resist stopping by Landini’s Pizzeria, the most colorful eatery on India. Of course the selection in the display cabinet is huge. Gotta be a dozen sliced-up pies in there, plus I could've got one of those giant bloated calzones. But no. I wanted one ...

Free Turkey Lunch: Lining Up on JFK Day

It's one of those talky moments. We're all waiting to register with Mike for the lunch tomorrow. "Hey, it's 11-22," says someone. "Yeah, I'm old enough to remember, too," this lady named Wendy next to me is saying. "I was a kid, walking about that day in the Bronx. I ...

Eating History

Ooh. Don't you just love the smell of tamales in the morning? Sitting with Marisol Arteaga and her friend Maria Alvarado, here at the tamale stand next to Rancho Fresco (1852 National Avenue, Barrio Logan). I've got a pork Tamal ($1.50), in the Chiapas southern style. Less hot than northern ...

Thanksgiving: Setting Up Pavo Day

Hey, Thanksgiving's two days away! So what about those of us who can't be cooking a giant turkey? Well for starters, one place will be open. Valentine's downtown (842 Market Street, between Eighth and Ninth, 619-234-8256). It's been open nearly 30 years, and now that Market Street's getting more and ...

Food and Wine with a Side of Scrutiny

The doorway gave way to a room awash with white. Dozens of individuals clad in chef’s coats were shooting the breeze, talking shop or discussing the weather. Unlike in most cases, the climate-related chatter was more than a last-ditch effort at conversation. This group of gastronomes was gathered to judge ...

One Lump or Two?

Monday morning in the city. How do you feel like you're in Paris and not shell out megabucks? Come right here to Café Chloë (721 Ninth, at the corner of Ninth and G, 619-232-3242). Logo image of owners' daughter Chloe Crossing to the cafe at the corner of 9th and ...

A Proper Brunch: Proper Gastropub

I'm not a brunch person, and I almost never drink Bloody Marys (unless I'm in Las Vegas, where Bloody Marys are practically a food group). But Saturday I found myself enjoying both at Proper Gastropub in the East Village. Proper Gastropub, part of the Wine Steals empire, is located in ...

Winds of Change in Coronado

Wow. Blink in Coronado, and a place has closed or another’s opening up. Latest: Stretch’s, the much-loved locovore health-food eatery: gone, kaput. Stretch’s is going to become Delux Gourmet Hot Dogs (943 Orange Avenue), due to open mid-December. Lord. Carla'll be over here every day. Stretch's I met Steve Rapp ...

Teff Love at Asmara Eritrean Restaurant

What’s the difference between Eritrean food and Ethiopian food? According to the owner of Asmara Eritrean and Ethiopian Restaurant, “Just our governments. Our food, our spices, our drinks -- all the same.” Good, I’m not a big fan of food wars, such as NY vs. Chicago pizza or the endless ...

At Aunty Jane’s

Last on our Tour of Revolución… They’ve been open for six decades and in this location for three of those, and Pedro Rodríguez Peña, standing across the counter from me, has been working here for four decades. We’re at Tia Juana Tilly’s (8208 Revolución Avenue, Tijuana) outside the Jai Alai ...

Buster’s: Catch the Wave

I was on way back from Pier 32 in National City yesterday, and I made a sweet discovery. This was too much. Too much for me to finish, and ain’t much can beat this maw. Just west of I-5, there’s a Best Western Motel, and right alongside, a new-looking eatery ...

Going the Route Less Traveled at Davanti

Who’d have thought three years ago that brussels sprouts would be one of the trendiest ingredients around? Not me, but it’s pretty cool that just about every restaurant that opens sticks them on the menu. The fact that these midget cabbages have gotten so hot in a day and age ...

Joan Crawford's Bar -- at Brian's

“The dents in the wood,” says Brian. “There. There! Dime sized. Here’s another one. That’s her stilettos when she danced, right here, on the bar. Her bar.” The bar Two of Joan Crawford's stiletto dents that she danced into her bar Talking Joan Crawford, Mommy Dearest. Actress in all those ...

French-ish

Cafe Bleu has moved to Mission Hills, to a location just a hop, skip, and a jump away from it's old spot on University Avenue. Now on Washington Street over by the Red Door (it's becoming quite the colorful neighborhood), Bleu Bistro and Wine Lounge (it's full name) is more ...

Stanbul Express!

How come kebob shops are suddenly everywhere? I’m looking at the answer here. Fact is, you get a lot of bang for your buck. And it’s flavorful, and it's Turkey and the Middle East's and Europe's fast food du jour. This is late night, downtown, at the Café Istanbul (921 ...

It's No Lie...Fuego One Is Hittin' the Road

Bar impresario Scot Blair has a lot on his plate. So much so that the owner of Hamilton's Tavern, Small Bar, Eleven, and Monkey Paw is lightening his load. Blair's bidding adieu to Fuego One, a food truck that, when not making rounds at local beer events, holds a regular ...

Eatery on the Edge of the World

Don’t try this at home unless you’ve trained with the Foreign Legion. Kidding, but I swear, what a hike. I get off the Blue Line trolley at 24th Street National City. Dark already, around six. I head south to Mile-of-Cars Way (aka 24th street), turn right, head west, dive under ...

The Tipping Point

Oh Lord. This is the part I hate. The tip. Lessee. Ten percent, add half again… “How much?” says Carla. This is the night when we had that blowout at French Gourmet (960 Turquoise Street, PB, 858-488-1725) with Carla’s buddies Linda and Eva. Dutch. (Actually Eva’s Dutch-Canadian, but I mean ...

Scarfing Down the Museum's Shrimp...

The second best thing about El Museo (508 Avenida Revolución, by First Street, Tijuana (011.52.664.638-1203) is that you get ten songs for a buck on its retro juke box. The first best thing is the most scrumbolicious shrimp dish I’ve had in a while. Augustino the waiter said, “Just let ...

Burgers Smashing into Vista!

I heard about this from my friend Miles. He’s part of the band Red Wizard. They’re playing at the opening of a Smashburger in Vista this Wednesday (1711 University Drive, Suite 150, 760-630-0005). Opening’s from 5.30 p.m. till 8:30 p.m. This Smashburger is becoming one huge chain. In a couple ...

Starlite Waging the Battle of the Beauj'

She’s better known for having put together the wine and cocktail program at Starlite, but Kate MacWilliamson has much broader adult beverage goals. Her current mission is to enlighten drinkers to “the magic of Beaujolais.” She experienced the magic firsthand several years ago when she visited the region and hopes ...

Time, Gentlemen, Please

We did it! Carla and I remembered to hold our breaths at 11.11.11.11.11.11. Meaning eleven seconds past eleven minutes past eleven this morning, the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year. It was a magic moment. It meant...what again? Of course, today has huge meaning: to mark ...

San Diego Beer Week: Day Ten

With roughly 500 events from pint nights to festivals and all-out, multi-venue fermentable free-for-alls, San Diego Beer Week can be confusing…and that’s before you start drinking. Fortunately, I know a thing or two about craft beer and our local scene. As such, I've been doling out daily info on some ...

Hemingway Sat Here?

“Ernest Hemingway sat right in that corner,” says one of the managers of the Chiki Jai Basque Restaurant (corner of 7th and Revolución, Tijuana). The corner seat is supposedly where Hemingway used to sit and write “Right there. When these were booths, he would sit in the first on the ...

Craft Cocktails? How About Draft Cocktails?

So now I’m across the road, and, you might say, across the social divide. Clue: bunch of fixies leaning on each other outside. Big open barn space inside, original brick exposed on all walls, ancient redwood rafters. Looks like, opened up overhead, huge garage-door-type window rolled up to put the ...

King of Quiz

“Okay, first question,” says Tom. He’s standing on the stage where Napoleon Complex will be playing later. “More people are killed by donkeys worldwide than die in plane crashes every year. True or shit?” This is quiz night at U-31, the bar, live music scene, eatery on University at, yes, ...

San Diego Beer Week: Day Nine

With roughly 500 events from pint nights to festivals and all-out, multi-venue fermentable free-for-alls, San Diego Beer Week can be confusing…and that’s before you start drinking. Fortunately, I know a thing or two about craft beer and our local scene and have been doling out daily info on some of ...

Kebabalicious!

Here is the news: The Middle East has just conquered Europe and is making serious advances across North America. You don’t believe me? Take a look at my belly. On second thought, better not. Carla and I just got through the most scrumbo take-out box of beef kebabs and whole ...

San Diego Beer Week: Day Eight

With roughly 500 events from pint nights to festivals and all-out, multi-venue fermentable free-for-alls, San Diego Beer Week can be confusing…and that’s before you start drinking. Fortunately, I know a thing or two about craft beer and our local scene. As such, I'm doling out info on some of the ...

Malarkey Going Ubiquitous

Goodbye, Gio's Bistro in La Mesa; hello, Gingham. Brian Malarkey is becoming a one-man chain (a new Cohn?), with cloth-named restaurants -- Seersucker downtown, Burlap in Del Mar, ad now this one, which is expected to open sometime in December. Gio's had annoyed the neighbors with amplified live music outdoors ...

Happy (Hour) Blues

Dang. Just missed the Blue Line heading south. Standing at the Fitth Avenue trolley stop. Fifteen minutes to kill. Hmm. Talking of blue… I start wandering down Fifth toward the House of Blues terrazza (1055 Fifth Avenue, downtown, 619-299-2583), filled tonight with Beautiful People (the women) and pallid, sweaty-faced men ...

San Diego Beer Week: Day Seven

With roughly 500 events from pint nights to festivals and all-out, multi-venue fermentable free-for-alls, San Diego Beer Week can be confusing…and that’s before you start drinking. Fortunately, I know a thing or two about craft beer and our local scene. As such, I'm doling out info on some of the ...

Veteran's Day Specials for Vets

At Sea Rocket (30th & Upas, 255-7049), 11/11 brings a "Salute the Troops" dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. Three courses of "Navy food" will be served, and $5 from each dinner will be donated to Team Rubicon, supporting disabled vets. Pechanga Casino and Resort in Temecula is offering all ...

White Truffle Dinner at Bice

The chefs at Bice (425 Island Avenue, Gaslamp, 619-239-2423) have gotten ahold of an enormous Italian white truffle (worth thousands) and are ready to do some sharing. On November 14 at 7 p.m., they're staging a seven-course white truffle dinner (from truffled beef tartare to truffle cheese) for $180 per ...

Reborn in TJ: Beautiful Claudia's Eggnog Cake

!Qué lástima! I'm at the top of Revolución in TJ, 7th street, and it’s happened. La Belle Claude, my favorite pastry and coffee place, closed! It had always looked recession proof, because locals treated it like their spot on the way to work, and for lunch breaks, and on their ...

Nobu? No Way. But That’s Okay.

The most popular eatery on Broadway? I’m betting this place right next to the Spreckels Theater. Sushi Deli 2. And picky eaters will say snooty things like “Oh it's just Cali-sushi.” Me: It’s good honest Japanese eats for really good honest prices. Today when I go by, there’s a crowd ...

San Diego Beer Week: Day Six

With roughly 500 events from pint nights to festivals and all-out, multi-venue fermentable free-for-alls, San Diego Beer Week can be confusing…and that’s before you start drinking. Fortunately, I know a thing or two about craft beer and our local scene. As such, I'm doling out daily info on some of ...

San Diego Beer Week: Day Five

With nearly 500 events -- ranging from pint nights to festivals and all-out, multi-venue fermentable free-for-alls -- San Diego Beer Week can be confusing…and that’s before you start drinking. Fortunately, I know a thing or two about craft beer and the local scene, and I’m doling out daily info on ...

San Diego Beer Week: Day Four

With roughly 500 hundred events ranging from pint nights to festivals and all-out, multi-venue fermentable free-for-alls, San Diego Beer Week can be confusing…and that’s before you start drinking. Fortunately, I know a thing or two about craft beer and our local scene. As such, I’ll be doling out info on ...

San Diego Beer Week: Day Three

With roughly 500 hundred events from pint nights to festivals and all-out, multi-venue fermentable free-for-alls, San Diego Beer Week can be confusing…and that’s before you start drinking. Fortunately, I know a thing or two about craft beer and our local scene. As such, I’ll be doling out info on some ...

Pizza Revolución?

TJ Week continues! I have just come out from an arcade where artists and musicians are making this feel like you imagine Paris when Paris was hot. Guys selling old books, folk singers singing original songs, people sipping wine, sculptors sculpting…this is so, well, cool ain’t the word for it. ...

Welcome to Pozolandia!

So after all the sightings of food for the dead, I’m kinda dying for some food myself. Come across this place near Sixth... ...with lots of talk and chat... ...and the bubble of soup in cauldrons. Okay, saucepans. “Pozole,” says the lady. Maggie, inside. The place is called Pozolandia (1002, ...

Bread for the Dead, TJ Style

Down TJ way. Last night. November first was for the kids (like our Halloween). Last night, the second of November, is for adults -- for the serious business of remembering, revisiting loved ones who have passed on. And food's a big part of it. The bread sits on the altar, ...

San Diego Beer Week: Day Two

With hundreds of events (448 at the time of this writing) from pint nights to festivals and all-out, multi-venue fermentable free-for-alls, San Diego Beer Week can be confusing…and that’s before you start drinking. Fortunately, I know a thing or two about craft beer and our local scene. As such, I’ll ...

Pastrami Wars: the Barrio

"We get around," says Mike. "And this place is good." Ron and Mike He and Ron are with CSI scaffolding, working on the big Mercado shopping project that's going up across the road here in Barrio Logan. Mike's eating the seafood sub. Ron's got a turkey and swiss. We're at ...

San Diego Beer Week: Day One

With hundreds of events (over 400 at the time of this writing) from pint nights to festivals and all-out, multi-venue fermentable free-for-alls, San Diego Beer Week can be confusing…and that’s before you start drinking. Fortunately, I know a thing or two about craft beer and our local scene. As such, ...

The Missing Point in Del Mar's Chef Triangle

Last month, I reported that the former chef at Pacifica Del Mar, Evan Cruz, pulled up stakes and bid adieu to that resto. It worked out for them -- they were able to hire a former kitchen aid to come in and take the reins. Having since enjoyed his cooking, ...

Speaking of Wine Dinners...

For better or for worse, there's but a small percentage of chefs who go Tony Gwynn, spending their entire careers in San Diego. With a restaurant scene that's everchanging and a clientele that's tough to peg, much less enjoy long-term success with, doing so is a daunting task. Yet some ...

Really Delicious (Looking) Hot Dogs in Coronado

I was at Bay Books (1029 Orange Avenue) for their 20th anniversary/20 percent off sale yesterday. Trick or treating was in full swing. I spotted this dog being paraded up the sidewalks of Orange. The “hot” dog is Luca. His owner, Adriana, says she made her sausage dog run with ...

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