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NEWS: Heavenly Hog Fall Pig Out Dinner, October 12, 2015

Posted on October 8, 2015 by a

One of the premier open-to-the-public culinary events on San Diego’s calendar—the Heavenly Hog Fall Pig Out — is scheduled for this coming Monday, October 12th, and you can be part of it for less.


Ten chefs will be cooking a brilliant Cook Pigs Ranch pig – along with many of the other best ingredients available – at Chef Daniel Barron’s Blush Ice Bar, East West Kitchen in the Gaslamp District. The participating Chefs are:

Hanis Cavin (Carnitas Snack Shack) • Karl Prohaska

Rich Sweeney (Waypoint Public) • Mikel Anthony (Savoie Eatery)

Ami Cisneros (The Hopping Pig) • Karen Blair (Small Bar)

Chad White (Comun Taqueria, La Justina) • Jeff Bonilla

Daniel Barron (Blush Ice Bar East West Kitchen) • RoseAna Peyron (The High Dive)

Each Chef has randomly drawn a different part of the guest of honor to feature in their dishes. The tentative menu is:

Heavenly Hog Menu

As much as the assemblage of ten great chefs are stars in their own right, the real star of the show is likely to be the Cook Pigs Ranch pig.

The Whole Pig 3

Cook Pigs Ranch has been in operation since 2012. Ranch operations are fully sustainable and self-contained. The feed program for their pigs is specially formulated to maximize their health, and the quality of the farm-to-table product.  Cook Pigs Ranch heritage pigs feed on natural local product (acorns, grass, avocados and apples in season), along with specially formulated grain and hydroponically-grown fodder products (produced on the Ranch). No hormones or non-natural supplements are used whatsoever to speed-up the growth process. The pigs are allowed to grow at their own rate in the Ranch’s beautiful and peaceful environment.



You will have the chance to taste it at the Heavenly Hog Pig Out on Monday night.   Tickets are available at: https://www.ticketsauce.com/e/heavenly-hog-fall-pig-out-2015. For a discount, use the Special Promo Code:


See you there!

WORLD FARE: Send Guy Fieri to Rosarito for Birrieria Uruapan

Posted on October 7, 2015 by a


If Guy Fieri did a show on Mexico it would probably have to be called Street Carts, Shacks and Saloons instead of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. And Fieri could do a lot worse on the first episode than feature Birrieria Uruapan (Calle Manuel Pérez Yáñez between Faustino Alvarado and Herminia Arroyo), located in the touristically challenged Northeastern reaches of Rosarito Beach. Love Triple D or hate it—I’ve got one foot planted firmly in each camp—what makes it work is the sense it highlights examples of a mythical “authentic American food.” It’s not about art but rather “honesty” and “food of the people” and how that’s good.

Read more at:  http://sdcitybeat.com/article-16720-Send-Guy-Fieri-to-Rosarito-for-Birrieria-Uruapan.html


NEWS: Baja Culinary Fest 2015, October 8-11 in Tijuana

Posted on October 1, 2015 by a

The Fifth Baja Culinary Fest is set for Thursday, October 8 through Sunday October 11 at CECUT (the Tijuana Cultural Center) in Tijuana’s Zona Rio District. The festival will bring together many of the greatest and most prominent creators, producers, restaurants, chefs and wineries of the new Baja culinary movement (sometimes called “BajaMed”). In addition to serving as an opportunity for industry professionals and culinary schools, it will bring together the best of Baja and provide entertainment for the foodies of our region.

Baja Culinary Fest

The festival will kick off on Thursday, October 8th with a gala dinner highlighting the pioneers of Baja cuisine and those who have made history with their iconic restaurants. Current regional Chefs will be invited to interpret the heritage of each of the pioneer honorees with a series of dishes giving a contemporary to classic cooking with a twist.

edgar nuñez sud 777

Friday, October 9th will focus on a series of talks and workshops including Keynote Speaker Edgar Núñez — chef and co- owner of SUD 777 (one of The Restaurant magazine’s best eateries in Latin America) — on “Resource optimization model for the food industry.” Chef Dante Ferrero will talk on “Goat and Carne Asada, Why not?” and Chef Abel Hernandez, owner of Eloise Restaurant in Mexico City will discuss “The influence of french cuisine in Mexico.”  The day will conclude with Chef Jose Burela talking about “Veracruz, door to a Culinary twist.”

Daniel Ovadia of Paxia

Saturday, October 10th will start with a call to action by the Monterrey Bay Aquarium with discussing their Seafood Watch program in a talk called “Your choices make the difference.”  The day will also feature workshops by Chef Daniel Ovadia of Paxia and Darren Walsh, known for his edgy cuisine at Lulabistro.

A feature of the day will be the “Alta California meets Baja California” moderated by Bill Esparza, with Carlos Salgado of Taco Maria, Eduardo Ruiz of Heart and Honey, Ray Garcia Broken Spanich, Wes Guerrilla Avila, Miguel Angel Guerrero of La Querencia, Luisteen Gonzalez of Puesto and Javier Plascencia of Mision 19 and Bracero, discussing the cultural fusion of culinary themes in the region.

Javier Plascencia

Saturday morning will also feature superstar Chefs Diego Hernández, Benito Molina, Edgar Núñez, Javier Plascencia and Miguel Angel Guerrero — all chefs with places in The Restaurant magazine’s top 50 in Latin America — discussing stories of what led to their success, parallels in ingredient preferences and sourcing, as well as their affinity for the farm-to-table concept. To conclude, American Chef Amy Finley — American author (and winner of the third season of The Next Food Network Star) — will give a talk entitled “Taste Without Borders: The Entwined Culinary Destinies of Baja and San Diego.”

Chef José Burela

Sunday, October 11th will be highlighted by a “Dialogue between grape producers” featuring special guests from both Napa Valley and the Valle de Guadalupe. It will also feature a special conference entitled “Veracruz, the port of culinary fusion” by Chef José Burela. Chef Burela, born in Puerto de Veracruz, is a pioneer, scholar and great supporter of the culinary arts. He is also the Director of the Culinary Graduate School Le Chef College, who has led the traditional Veracruz cuisine on an international level.


Amongst the restaurants participating in the Baja Culinary Fest are:

Friday October 9th:

  • La Querencia Mision 19

Saturday October 10th:

  • Verde y Crema
  • La Diferencia
  • Chan’s Bistro Caesars
  • La Justina Caza Club

See you there!

WORLD FARE: It’s not the Pho at Pho Point Loma

Posted on September 30, 2015 by a

Bo kho stew

On my first trip to any restaurant with the word “pho” in the name, I order the special mixed phṍ. Makes sense, right? If they call themselves “pho” and they can’t get the pho right then what’s the point? But for every food writer’s rule-of-thumb there exists an exception. Enter Pho Point Loma & Grill Restaurant (2788 Midway Drive).

Read more at: http://sdcitybeat.com/article-16698-It’s-not-the-Pho-at-Pho-Point-Loma.html

Com chien bo luc lac

RECIPE — A New York Steak in Baja: New York Steak | Guajillo-Honey Reduction | Pickled Radishes

Posted on September 29, 2015 by a


New York Steak with Guajillo-Honey Reduction, Bee Pollen and Pickled Radishes 3In this year’s San Diego CityBeat Food Issue, I wrote about my experience cooking with reigning MasterChef Junior Champion Nathan Odom. Naturally, inasmuch as the article was about Nathan — not me — I wrote about Nathan’s dishes and not mine. But one of those dishes I did not write about is one of my personal favorites.

It began life as something of a BajaMed-style deconstructed carne asada, that classic Northern Mexican dish of beef – usually a tough, flavorful cut such as skirt, flank or flap steak – marinated in a lime-based concoction, sliced thin and grilled over mesquite wood or charcoal. It is often served with guacamole, beans, grilled onions, pickled vegetables and salsas and used as a taco filling. Carne Asada is the star of backyard barbecues and impromptu parties throughout Northern Mexico and the Southwestern United States nearly any weekend of the year..

Toasting (and no, that's not wine in Nathan's glass)

For my version I wanted to take the dish upscale and I started with the meat itself: good quality, thick New York steaks instead of thinly cut tough (if tasty) cuts of beef. I gave the steaks an initial cooking in the sous vide water bath and then a pan sear to caramelize the outside. Instead of the classic salsa accompaniments I adapted a red wine reduction sauce to the Mexican milieu using some of Baja’s best ingredients: wine from the Valle de Guadalupe and two bee products (honey and bee pollen). I combined the the classic Mexican pickled onions and carrots with the equally classic raw radishes by pickling those radishes. And I pulled the entire dish together with fresh peppery arugula.

I chose to cook my steak sous vide. There are compelling reasons to do so, most particularly the fact that it cooks evenly throughout thus yielding a steak that is all just like “the good part” at the center. A quick sear after it emerges from the sous vide yields pretty much the perfect steak: gorgeous caramelization on the outside and a perfect temp throughout.

But if you don’t have a specialized equipment set up for sous vide you can do it this way. Or you can produce great results by grilling the pieces of steak about three to four minutes per side (for medium rare) over high heat. Either way produces a beautiful dish.

It should not be difficult to see how this recipe began its life as an attempt to deconstruct and elevate carne asada. That’s not to say that the end result is exactly that. But it is definitely tasty

New York Steak | Guajillo-Honey Reduction | Pickled Radishes

New York Steak with Guajillo-Honey Reduction, Bee Pollen and Pickled Radishes 2

Serves 4


For the Steak

  • 4 (8-ounce) New York steaks, trimmed and cut into 3 cubes each
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Bee pollen
  • Maldon or other finishing salt

For the Borlotti beans

  • 1 pound of dried Borlotti (cranberry or other) beans, soaked for 8 hours
  • 3 unpeeled cloves of garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

For the Pickled Radishes

  • 5 radishes (of your choice)
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 heaping tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 heaping tablespoons kosher salt

For the Guajillo-Honey Reduction Sauce

  • 5 guajillo peppers (Californias or New Mexico work fine)
  • ½ cup minced shallots
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 cups good quality red wine (Valle de Guadalupe, of course)
  • 2-4 teaspoons good quality honey

For the Garnish

  • Arugula leaves, trimmed
  1. Make the Pickled Radishes. Bring a pot of water to boil on the stove. Using a mandolin (or Benriner or just a really sharp knife), slice the radishes very thinly. If possible keep the string at the tip as part of the radish slices. Place the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Place the radish slices in a metal bowl and cover with boiling water for one minute before draining. Add the sliced radishes to the bowl and let stand for at least half an hour. Store in a refrigerator.
  2. Make the Borlotti Beans. Place the beans, garlic, bay leaf and salt in a large sauce pan and cover with water by at least one inch. Bring the water to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook until the beans are soft — 1 to 1 ½ hours — adding water by the half-cup full to keep the beans submerged.
  3. Cook the Steaks in the Sous-Vide. Meanwhile, season each steak cubes liberally with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Place 3 steak cubes in each food grade plastic bag and vacuum seal each bag. Using a sous-vide machine, waterbath or a pot of water and a thermometer, bring the waterbath to 132° Fahrenheit. Cook the steaks for one hour at that temperature.
  1. Make the Guajillo-Honey Reduction Sauce. De-stem and seed the guajillo chiles. Toast them on a comal or in a dry frying pan for about 10 seconds a side (until they just begin to smoke), using tongs to press the chiles to the pan. Rehydrate the chiles in hot water for about thirty minutes. Combine the shallots, stock and wine in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, add the chiles to a food processor and process with some of the chile soaking liquid – just enough to create a smooth purée – and add the chile purée to the saucepan. Add two teaspoons of the honey and bring the sauce back to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer. Taste the sauce and add the honey as necessary to balance the chile. Reduce the sauce to a desirable consistency, then strain the sauce
  1. Sear the Steaks. Remove the steaks from the sous-vide and from their bags. Heat a heavy sauté pan over high flame and sear all steaks on both sides until they have nicely caramelized, about 1 minutes per side. Remove the steaks from the pan and allow them to rest.
  1. Plate the Dish. Arrange three steak cubes per plate and spoon the sauce over them. Arrange beans attractively around the steak. Lean pickled radishes up against each steak. Arrange arugula leaves in between the steak cubes. Sprinkle bee pollen and finishing salt on each piece of steak.

WORLD FARE: Malva flies under the radar

Posted on September 23, 2015 by a

Yellowtail crudo with jicama kimchi and habañero.jpg mayonnaise

It is no longer a secret that one of the great culinary destinations in our region is Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe. It did not remain a secret for long. There’s the media-juiced star power of Javier Plascencia’s Finca Altozano, the Michelin-starred juice of Deckman’s en El Mogor and the utter perfection of Laja and Corazon del Tierra. It is hot and the foodie media is all over it.”

So Roberto Alcocer and his Malva Cocina de Baja California (Km. 96 Route 3, San Antonio De Las Minas, Baja) are something of a rarity…

Read more at:  http://sdcitybeat.com/article-16674-Malva-flies-under-the-radar.html

NEWS: Baja Seafood Expo 2015, Ensenada — September 25-27

Posted on September 22, 2015 by a


The eighth annual Baja Seafood Expo will take place in Ensenada, Baja California from September 25th through September 27th, 2015.  The Expo is Northwestern Mexico’s largest and most significant seafood industry trade show connecting local producers to the national and international market and focusing on issues such as health, safety, sustainability and financing of the industry.

Baja Seafood Expo

While much of the Baja Seafood Expo is focused on the industry significant parts are open to and welcoming of the public.  Amonst these are the Festival of Baja Seafood Trucks  on Sunday, September 27th and the tours to farms and seafood areas the following day (available by reservation).  The Festival of Baja Seafood Trucks starts at noon at the Museo El Caracol in downtown Ensenada.


The Baja Seafood Expo itself is free but you pay for your tastes — incredibly reasonably priced — at the trucks.

Baja acquafarming 3

A number of top Ensenada area seafood-centric restaurants are participating  in the Expo.  Notably amongst these are Restaurante Manzanilla and Deckman’s en el Mogor.

WORLD FARE: Avoiding the Thai two-step

Posted on September 16, 2015 by a

Issan fried rice

If you’ve eaten Thai food in America you know the Thai two-step: Pick one from Column A (a menu of Top 10 Thai dishes) and one from Column B (protein options like beef, chicken, shrimp, tofu, duck and “mock duck”). You can have your color of the rainbow (red, yellow, green) curry, drunken noodles or Pad Thai with any protein you like. That’s the Thai two-step.

Now, though, instead of blathering on about how the Thai two-step is not “authentic” your intrepid food writer is going to tell you about how Hillcrest’s Amarin Thai approaches the problem…

Read more at:  http://sdcitybeat.com/article-16651-Avoiding-the-Thai-two-step.html

NEWS: Badass Kosher LIVE! September 19, 10:30 a.m.

Posted on September 15, 2015 by a

Three Big Gefiltes

On Saturday, September 19th at 10:30 am. in the Auditorium of the the San Diego Central Library, 330 Park Boulevard (near Petco Park) I will be the featured speaker for the Culinary Historians of San Diego discussing the material from my cookbook, Kosher Fusion: The Rebirth of a Tradition for the Modern Kitchen.

Yuba Rolls with Bean Sprouts, Pea Shoots and Yuzu Soy Sauce

In many ways, kosher food is the original fusion cuisine. Forced to adapt the application of their dietary laws to the foodstuffs available in these strange new lands in which they landed during the diaspora, the Jewish people engaged in a remarkably fertile exchange of culinary ideas with their hosts. What evolved in each case was a vibrant and new cuisine differing significantly from that which had gone before. Looking to the flavors of various Asian, Latin and Middle Eastern cultures – as well as contemporary technology and approaches – for inspiration, Gardiner’s book seeks to revitalize this time-honored tradition by applying these to the Jewish dietary laws.

Lamb Meatballs - Cashew Paté - Spicy Tomato Chutney 5

As readers of this blog know, in addition to writing weekly for San Diego CityBeat, I am the monthly for L’Chaim San Diego Magazine, writing a column called “Badass Kosher.” The discussion of the kosher fusion process, will be followed by the opportunity to taste a vegan variation on the dish featured in my last “Badass Kosher” column.

BADASS KOSHER: A Raw Vegan Dish Gone Bad

Posted on September 10, 2015 by a

Lamb Meatballs - Cashew Paté - Spicy Tomato Chutney 5

It started out as the single worst decision I ever made as a landlord. It ended up as a good raw vegan dish gone bad:  Lamb and Bulgur Meatballs | Cashew Paté | Spicy Tomato Chutney.

Read more at:  http://www.lchaimmagazine.com/main-story/badass-kosher-a-raw-vegan-dish-gone-bad/