Best of 2000: Best Fritti

Barbarella Bistro
2171 Avenida de la Playa,
La Jolla
(858) 454-7373

Take the top of a fern, called a fiddlehead. Dip it in a batter made of flour mixed with cornstarch, cayenne, coriander. Add some beer to make the batter rise. Dip the fiddlehead in the batter and deep-fry in peanut oil. The taste of the fiddlehead is slightly bitter but refreshing. And when coupled with deep-fried shrimp, the combination is remarkable. The dish is called a fiddlehead-and-shrimp fritti, and it's prepared as a special at Barbarella Bistro in La Jolla Shores.

Offered both at lunch and dinner, other fritti combine oysters and patty pan squash (baby squash); asparagus and smelt (a tiny silvery fish); calamari or squid with fennel; or fried oysters with the vegetable of the day. Fritti are presented in silver bistro cups (like the ones they used in ice cream parlors) and served with made-on-the-premises aioli.

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