Happy Halloween! The radio show yesterday was a lot of fun, and the podcast should be up here soon if you want to listen!
The cocktail pictured above is a "Lindbergh," which I very much enjoyed at the Urban Slow Food Mixer at Starlite on Wednesday night. This was the kickoff event for the new urban offshoot of Slow Food San Diego, which will serve San Diego's urban communities. The organizers of this group are extremely dedicated, and I am impressed with the energetic response they're receiving. I think this is going to be a very good thing.
Starlite really makes some fabulous cocktails. The Lindbergh is a martini of Plymouth Gin, lemon juice and housemade maraschino cherries, with the juice from the cherries mixed in, and yes, it tasted as good as it sounds. A little bit later I also tried a "Pink Dragon" - a delicious concoction of Plymouth Gin, and pureed dragon fruit with housemade ginger syrup. The Kentucky Colonel is another favorite - made with bourbon and housemade cherry vanilla bitters and served in one of their huge copper mugs.
I've also been loving their food lately - how can you not, when they're committed to supporting local farms and sustainable practices - and nothing on the menu is over $20.00? Preparations of simple dishes like mussels and jidori chicken are creative and well executed, the burger is excellent, the charcuterie plate is one of the best in town, and the fritto misto is always fascinating. Last nights' included fried pickles and "meat stuffed olives" along with the more traditional mushrooms and onions.
I've also had some very good meals recently at Jayne's and Urban Solace. It had been a while since I'd been to either - I stopped in at Urban Solace a few weeks ago for lunch, and had dinner at Jayne's Gastropub just this week. At Urban Solace I had the watermelon salad, which is now probably (sadly) off the menu, since the watermelon and tomato seasons are over, and the duckaroni - their macaroni and cheese with duck confit. The small side portion was perfect for lunch. It was rich and complex and the browned breadcrumbs on top were a nice touch. The pulled pork sandwich my friend ordered was excellent too.
I went to Jayne's this week with three friends for a girls' night out, and thought the food was better than ever. We started with the Caesar salad and the Gambas a Ajillo. I've tried them before and they were as good as I remembered. For entrees, we ordered the burger, the duck breast, seared albacore, and steak frites. I tried them all, and each dish was wonderful. The albacore and the duck were truly fine dining quality. The balance of flavors on the albacore was especially nice - with the tomato coulis and the cucumber relish. The burger and the steak frites were also perfectly prepared - medium rare for the steak and the burger, and crisp for the frites - which is all you can ask. We split a half bottle of rose champagne four ways - Besserat De Bellefon Brut Rose - which we all absolutely loved, and Jora ordered a glass of Chateau de Pampelonne Rose -which Krista and I liked so much we each ordered one for ourselves.
Last but not least, Jeff Jackson, the chef at A.R. Valentien at the Torrey Pines Lodge was the guest for the first half of the radio show yesterday, and he had some interesting things to say about changes at A.R. Valentien, and Celebrate the Craft coming up this weekend at the Lodge.
At the restaurant, they have changed the format of the menu to small plates, with nothing over $21.00. Portions are slightly smaller (which probably isn't such a bad thing) but the dishes will still be fully composed, something like what Chris Walsh is doing at Bite.
Celebrate the Craft runs throughout the weekend, with a Plein Air art auction and dinner on Saturday, and a "picnic" on Sunday on the vast lawn behind the hotel. It is a beautiful setting, and there should be some amazing food - chefs of all of the best sustainable restaurants in town will be there, including Jason Knibb of 910, Anthony Friscia of Stingaree, Christian Graves of JSix, and James Foran, the pastry chef at Market who I took classes from at Grossmont. Rather than preparing dishes from the restaurant, Jeff has paired each of these chefs with a producer to come up with a dish they will serve together. It promises to be a unique event and I am sure it will be well worth the $65.00 ticket price. More information and tickets are available on their website. If you go, perhaps I will see you there!
p.s. - Genie over at The Inadvertent Gardener was in San Diego last week, and checked out the Linkery. I'm so glad she liked it!