San Diego food chronicles

Karen Krasne's desserts, Mira Mesa's Donut Touch, and life of a banana at Apple Tree Market

"I buy a shortening they have designed only for frying donuts —100 percent vegetable oil. A mix of cottonseed and soybean. Nobody uses lard anymore. And no palm oil; palm oil is bad. It’s high cholesterol."
  • "I buy a shortening they have designed only for frying donuts —100 percent vegetable oil. A mix of cottonseed and soybean. Nobody uses lard anymore. And no palm oil; palm oil is bad. It’s high cholesterol."
  • Image by Brand X Pictures/iStock/Thinkstock

All You Ever Wanted to Know About Donuts

Crullers require very hot water in the mixing, 120 degrees. The mix is sensitive, and many shops do not carry these miniature snow tires. But Ben prides himself on his staff’s proficiency. Jorge puts a new fitting on the dropper and begins working the batter through. It flowers out, spreading its ridges like petals, then closes as the machine draws it back and folds it over. Finally it drops and sits in the oil, spinning merrily as it fries.

By Matthew Lickona, May 9, 1996 | Read full article

My sister with hand plow. My father came across an abandoned farm off Dairy Mart Rd. There was rusted equipment — an old well pump, a hand plow — and one lone live fig tree.

My sister with hand plow. My father came across an abandoned farm off Dairy Mart Rd. There was rusted equipment — an old well pump, a hand plow — and one lone live fig tree.

Homeland: When San Diego Was Young and Raw

A dove or quail meal was always a Sunday dinner with china and silver, and was enjoyed with zest. Slow-cooked in a wine-based tomato sauce, the little bodies stayed whole but melted apart when touched, the engorged dark meat could be kissed from the fragile bones. Drumsticks smaller than a toothpick, wings the size of bobby pins. We ate with our hands, licking our fingers, dirtied cloth napkins, sucked the tiny skeletons dry.

By Cris Mazza, Nov 28, 1996 | Read full article

The Cheese Never Stands Completely Alone

It’s peculiar how few of these eating memories are really about food. They’re more about the mists and scents that surround the food, the sensual “firsts” that younger, hungrier mouths and minds suck up. Zel’s Liquors was right outside here, “here” really just a cracked asphalt parking lot bordered by a cramped food store and a few unassuming shops. So what if Jimmy Durante or Desi Arnaz bought their Alka-Seltzer “here”?

By Jeff Weinstein, May 1,1997 | Read full article

Pacific Beach fire station

Pacific Beach fire station

Four-Alarm Grub

Nelsen and Stuemke estimate that 7 of the 11 firefighters in their division cook on a regular basis.. “We have one guy on our crew who cooks spaghetti. Another man is known for his fish tacos. I go to restaurants, and I try to figure out what the spices are. Sometimes we stuff chicken breasts with cream cheese and jalapenos and diced chilies. You cook that in cream of mushroom soup and you serve it over rice.”

By Jeannette De Wyze, Nov. 26, 1997 | Read full article

Karen Krasne: "My mother had been to a resort hotel in Cancun that served great food but had really mundane desserts. She told them that she had a French-educated pastry chef for a daughter.... Before I knew it, I was a pastry chef on my own."

Karen Krasne: "My mother had been to a resort hotel in Cancun that served great food but had really mundane desserts. She told them that she had a French-educated pastry chef for a daughter.... Before I knew it, I was a pastry chef on my own."

Smells like success

Have a piece of Krasne’s Fraisier Triple-Berry Torte: kirsch-moistened sponge cake, raspberry buttercream, raspberries, strawberries, boysenberries, and whipped cream. Krasne’s use of cream and butter is why her cakes taste intensely of their ingredients — the fresh berries, the French liqueurs, the Tahitian vanilla, the Valhrona chocolate. While fats add nothing to the taste of food, butter and cream chauffeur aromatic molecules from the mouth to the olfactory receptors at the back of the nose.

By Abe Opincar, Nov. 26, 1997 | Read full article

You sit in a warehouse for a day until you are put on a truck that carries you to Apple Tree Supermarket in a strange land called Ocean Beach.

You sit in a warehouse for a day until you are put on a truck that carries you to Apple Tree Supermarket in a strange land called Ocean Beach.

Banana Man

Across the aisle, is another table like yours neatly stacked with oranges, grapefruits, pineapples, papayas, and other fruits. That table, as well as the rack against the wall, are refrigerated. Your table is not. It is warm and cozy, like your native Ecuador. "If you put cold air on bananas," Mr. Ramirez explains, "they turn gray. If you've ever seen bananas that are a grainy kind of gray, it's because they were subjected to temperature changes."

By Ernie Grimm, Feb 4, 1999 | Read full article

Behind the line at Gulf Coast Grill. “We’re going to start with the Cajun Trinity, that’s onions, celery, and bell pepper. Some chefs call this Louisiana mirepoix. So grab a colander and get enough for two cups each."

Behind the line at Gulf Coast Grill. “We’re going to start with the Cajun Trinity, that’s onions, celery, and bell pepper. Some chefs call this Louisiana mirepoix. So grab a colander and get enough for two cups each."

Life on the Line

I hung out with a crowd of restaurant workers for a while, and the celebration never stopped. When they weren’t working in their own restaurant, they were in another, at happy hour or the free evening buffet. Or one of the endless parties. Every day. Waiters, waitresses, cooks, managers, huge groups of them, from the Chart House, the Brigantine. They all went to whatever sporting event was current, not only baseball and football, but even golf.

By Allen Adler, Feb. 11, 1999 | Read full article

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