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Main Dish for December


Hot Dishes for December

Chilaquiles and Bella! Bella! Benedicts at Snooze
If Canadian bacon is no longer enough to hold your interest as a breakfast meat, turn your attention to the Bennys at Snooze, a new breakfast and brunch eatery that features several playful and creative twists on the brunch classic. Among the options is the Chilquiles Benedict, with tender carne asada steak atop a tortilla stack, a perfectly poached Niman Ranch egg dripping with smoky cheddar hollandaise, cojita cheese, and pico de gallo. Another excellent option is the Bella Bella Benny, with paper-thin slices ofprosciutto, sharp Taleggio cheese, cream cheese hollandaise, balsamic glaze and arugula. Good news for the indecisive: you can get two different styles on the same plate.

Vampire Dip at Slater's 50/50
Half beef, half bacon burgers are the namesake dish at Slater's in Liberty Station, but the secret star of the menu is the Vampire Dip. The indulgent dip is made of melted parmesan and mozzarella cheese, artichoke hearts, and garlic, served in a warm and toasty sourdough roll, with pita chips and bread for dipping.The garlic gives the dip its savory character, but is well balanced by the mounds of cheese. It may not be garlicky enough to repel a vampire, but it’s addictive enough to be an instant willpower killer. If you can’t commit to the entire appetizer portion, you can also get it on your burger, in lieu of a more traditional cheese.

The Whale’s Veg Sandwich at Rubicon Deli
Vegetarians often get the short shift when it comes to sandwich options, but the meat-free option at Rubicon Deli is stuffed with so many different flavors and textures that even meatitarians must take notice. The sandwich starts with your choice of fresh-baked bread (hint: try the jalapeno jack), and is packed with a fresh and crunchy veggie mix, then topped with Jack cheese, avocado, tomato, hummus, pepperoncini, pickles, and gourmet mustard. A half sandwich is plenty for lunch, but for $3 more, you can get the full-sized sandwich, and wrap up the leftovers for later. A few hours in the fridge only intensifies the flavor. Now that cooler weather is here, parking at the original Mission Beach location is a lot easier, or head up to the new location in Mission Hills when it opens later this month.

Cold Brew Coffee at Treehouse Coffee Company
Peek inside the retail space shared by Treehouse Coffee Company and Pubcakes in La Mesa and you’re sure to notice what looks like a science experiment behind the counter. The set-up is a Yamma cold brew coffee system, which drips ice water over coffee grounds over a 12-hour period. The resulting beverage is about 70% less acidic than your standard coffee, and tastes a lot like a coffee liqueur. Using cold water has a few additional key benefits: it allows the fruity flavors of the freshly roasted Ethiopian coffee beans to come through, and burns off less of the caffeine. You can add a splash of milk, but your best bet is to drink it over some coffee ice cubes. While you’re at it, grab an Irish Carbomb cupcake from Pubcakes. The Guinness frosting, chocolate whiskey ganache, and rich chocolate flavors really compliment the coffee.

Food Events

12/14: Brew Master Dinner
Local Habit Chef Nick Brune and The Bruery’s Founder Patrick Rue collaborate to bring discerning diners five farm fresh courses expertly paired with craft beer, finishing with a blue cheese ice cream paired with a tart, Flemish-style ale. Seatings are available at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Reservations are $50 per person. More Details >>

12/17: Haute Tamale
Strap on an apron and learn how to make healthy, gourmet tamales in this fun, hands-on cooking class at Cups La Jolla. Special guest Linda L. Lipincott, Chef/Owner of Arizona Tamale Factory, will guide you through several different traditional and non-traditional tamale fillings along with sauces and salsas to compliment them. Best yet, instead of lard, the tamales are made with olive and avocado oils. The class runs from 2:30 - 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 17th ($65 per person). More Details >>

12/31: Stone New Year's Eve Celebration
One of the best options to ring in 2012 for hop-heads and food-lovers is Stone Brewing Company's New Year's Eve celebration. The all-out beer, wine, and food fest includes access to several food stations featuring everything from sushi to house-madecharcuterie, over 24 selections of free-flowing craft beer (plus vintage selections from theStone Tap Time Machine), and access to all of the different entertainment options, which range from a live band in the restaurant to a DJ and laser show in the Brew House. Dinner is served from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., with the festivities wrapping up at 1 a.m. Tickets are $175. More Details >>

Q&A with Gina Frieze of Venissimo Cheese

Erin Jackson: Can you give us some tips on how to put together a successful cheese plate for entertaining for the holidays?

Gina Freize: I think the perfect cheese plate has 4 to 5 cheeses max. We always suggest one of the milks (cow, goat or sheep), something with a different texture (like brie), and you’ve got to put on one of the Gouda or cheddar. It’s also great to have something with a twist, like cheese with truffle, fruit, or a balsamic wash on the outside. And, put on a blue cheese so everyone can try a different type of blue. Whether you go with crackers or baguette is a personal preference, but it should be very plain, for a palate cleanser. We also love to add a savory element and a sweet element, so let’s say a chunk of honeycomb is awesomely fun and then savory element like cornichons or red onion confit.

EJ: You strike me as an ambassador of cheese and someone who loves educating people about it. Was that your vision when you opened your first location 8 years ago?

GF: It definitely was. Our whole mission was to share goodness and glory of cheese. That’s what we set out to do and I hope we are still doing it. Ever since we opened our first shop, it’s been so interesting. The best example of educating people is the smaller kids. One girl, who first came in when she was about 5 years old, only knew cheddar and Gouda. Now she’s 13 and can spout off all of the names of cheese, and knows which type goes with which food. Educating people about cheese is great because our customers learn the differences between each type of cheese and know exactly what they want. I’m really pleased about that.

EJ: What are some of the most new and exciting cheeses you currently have in store?

GF: We have some amazing Gjetost cheese, which is made of caramelized whey. We have made our own truffles with it by melting down the cheese and dipping the balls in ganache. There is a hint of goat cheese because it’s goat whey, but you also get a touch of salt, which is awesome with the chocolate. They’ll be in stock the first week of December, but if even if we don’t have the truffles; we’ll always have the cheese. Another cheese that’s just great is Brillat Truffle, a triple-cream brie rolled in truffle shavings. If you’re a blue cheese fan, we have Stilton that comes in a decorative ceramic crock. You can pour in some port or sweet wine in the center, let it soak, and dip your spoon in it as a dessert. We also sell Amarena cherries, which are awesome with it. Another non-cheese item that’s delicious is our Panettone, shipped fresh from Italy. You’ll see it in stores everywhere, but most of those are dry, and once you try a fresh baked you’ll see the difference. Some of the girls here like to spread triple cream Brie on top.

EJ: I hear you also have a great lunch option for cheese lovers. What’s a “Venini”?

GF: That’s our version of a Panini. You can customize it by picking any type of cheese in the shop; choose your bread (we have three options from Bread and Cie) and meat, which includes everything from prosciutto to sopressata. We have mustard, onions, or fig spread too. Some people like to add apple or pear slices as well. The sandwiches are $5 with cheese or $6 with meat.


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