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Main Dish for July 2011


Q & A with Lisa Altmann

Candice Woo: How did the idea for Viva Pops start?

Lisa Altmann: I did design work and really wanted a change. I wanted to do something that was still creative, food-related and grounding. I have always loved fruit and frozen treats like popsicles and the more traditional paletas. I figured that San Diego would be a great place to do a "pop with a twist" business. I experimented with some interesting blends and focused on seasonal produce. I started by taking my pops and pop cart to the Little Italy Mercato. I didn't know where it would all go but I put a lot of heart into my pops. It was great to realize that people really appreciated the pops and the ingredients and effort put into making them.

CW: What’s the process for coming up with new flavors? Do you still let customers submit their own ideas?

LA: I like to play around with what is being grown locally and seasonally. I take my direction from what I am seeing at the markets. It is sometimes hard for people to realize you can't have everything like a Blood Orange pop year round but you can appreciate it when it is here and move onto something else that is in season and super yummy. I do take suggestions, so I encourage everyone to check out what is in season at their local farmers’ markets and go to our web site and e-mail me some ideas. Hint, I like unique blends! Right now I really love our Blackberry Violet pop and Strawberry Basil. J.R. Organics have the most insanely delicious strawberries! Stone fruits are here now so look forward for some Peach Ginger, Plum ice cream, Nectarine Basil and some new stone fruit creations. I also am looking forward to the summer time melons. Last year we did a Melon and Cucumber Pop that was so refreshing.

CW: You started selling your pops at the Little Italy farmer’s market, where you still have a booth, but have since opened up a storefront in Normal Heights. What made you choose the neighborhood and how has the local food community played into your business?

LA:I love Normal Heights and the whole San Diego Uptown community. Normal Heights is a great place for our shop because that area has a true sense of community. There is always something interesting going on outside our front door. I can always depend on a great neighborhood place to check out like a delicious bite and a beer at Blind Lady or a Trunk Show and awesome art inspiration at the Rare Hare Art Studio. We are constantly involved in collaborating with others to do fun events or support causes that are meaningful to us.   This 4th of July we were invited by Alchemy to take part in their Third Annual Neighborhood BBQ and Bicycle Bash in South Park. It will definitely be a fun time!

CW: What’s next for Viva Pops? Do you plan on expanding to other stores or markets?  

LA: We have finally taken the wholesale leap and we are now available in other local retailers and restaurants such as the Whole Foods in Hillcrest and La Jolla. We are also happy to have some pops at the fabulous Alchemy restaurant in South Park. We are also working on a goat cheese ice cream pop line for Daniel of Nicolau Farms......so far we have a Lavender Honey Goat Cheese Pop and a Strawberry Balsamic Goat Cheese Pop. 

Food Events

Cheese Trip with Venissimo Cheese

Sign up for a cheese adventure with Venissimo Cheese! Your day will start with a behind-the-scenes tour of Venissimo’s downtown San Diego cheese shop, then you’ll be driven to Winchester Cheese Company for a visit with the cheese maker and a picnic lunch. Next stop is Escondido’s Belle Marie Winery for an exclusive tour and wine tasting. Tickets are $85 for the day trip on Saturday, July 9 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., are $85. Call 619-358-9081 to register.

Green Flash Brewing Co. Grand Opening

Raise a glass to Green Flash’s brand-spanking-new brewery in Mira Mesa, which includes a 4,000 square foot tasting room. Their Grand Opening celebration will be held on Saturday, July 23 from noon to 4 p.m. What to expect: delicious beers from Brewmaster Chuck Silva, from year round to seasonal and barrel-aged offerings, at least three local food trucks, beer cupcakes from PubCakes and homebrew club booths. Call 858-622-0085 for more info. http://greenflashbrew.com

Cafe Sevilla Re-Opening

Join Cafe Sevilla at the inauguration of their new tapas restaurant and nightclub in the Gaslamp, at 353 Fifth Avenue. They’re marking the occasion with a party on Wednesday, July 27 from 7 to 10 p.m. that includes live Flamenco music, Salsa dance lessons, sangria and Spanish wine sampling, plus tastes of paella and assorted tapas. All proceeds benefit It’s All About the Kids, a local music and arts non profit. Tickets for the event are $25 and can be purchased at http://www.ItsAllAboutTheKids.org/tickets

Memorable Dishes

Sesame Bagel at P.L. Bagels

A down-at-the-heels mini mall in a quiet section of Point Loma is not necessarily where you’d expect to find the best local approximation of a true NYC bagel, but it’s the real deal. The shop is run by an Asian family who’ve been taught the secrets to bagel-making by the original New York owner, and their bagels boil and bake up with just the right chew and crunch. A toasted, buttered sesame bagel and a small coffee sets you back just $2, make to bring cash. And on weekends, go early to snatch up the delicious, rarely-seen-in-these-parts bialys.   

Peach and Prosciutto Salad at Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant

Though this salad has been on Carl Schroeder’s menu for some time, it’s never been more delicious - or more seasonal - than right now. Sweet-as-honey peaches are paired with salty prosciutto and set over a bed of peppery arugula. Dabs of mild goat cheese and a chiffonade of mint take it beyond the typical, and bits of candied almond add crunch. The whole thing amounts to the taste of summer on a plate. 

Tuna Melt at Blueprint Cafe

At this friendly Barrio Logan eatery, seasoned San Diego chef and caterer Gayle Covner is cooking up fresh versions of comfort food favorites, both salty and sweet, for a hungry crowd of lunchtime regulars. Her twist on a classic tuna melt on rye updates the sandwich with caramelized onions and melted swiss, but the real secret is the clean-tasting tuna from American Tuna Co., a company comprised of local fishermen who practice sustainable fishing methods to fill their hand packed cans of pole-caught wild Albacore. 

Turron de Havana at Azucar

Trained at Le Cordon Bleu, Azucar’s Vivian Hernandez-Jackson infuses all of her desserts with a little Cuban flair. It’s pretty hard to be steered wrong here, but the Turron de Havana is a standout in texture and flavor, layering hazelnut praline crunch with chunky hazelnut caramel, dark chocolate mousse and chocolate ganache. If you’re somehow not into chocolate, try the Cinco Leches cake topped with dulce de leche glaze or the citrusy, chewy mojito cookie. 

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