The Main Dish for November
Ricotta Pancakes at Whisknladle
Pancakes are a delicate art. Without proper attention, they can fall prey to several foibles, emerging too heavy, too rubbery, or too dry. Whisknladle’s Ricotta Pancakes are none of the above. The batter has ricotta folded into it, which produces pancakes that are moist and fluffy. But don’t go reaching for the syrup just yet. The ‘cakes are topped with cool and creamy Meyer lemon curd and Crows Pass blueberries and blackberries, which strikes the perfect tart/sweet balance. To make it a complete meal, add a few slices of bacon and a cup or three of coffee (which is complimentary).
Truffle Risotto Carnaroli Parmigiana atBICE
This bucket-list dish is one of seven courses on Chef Mario Cassineri’s annual Truffle Dinner menu. Chef Mario imports hand-selected truffles from Alba, a small town in the Piedmont region of Italy, to create everything from steak tartare with truffles to truffle cheese and ice cream. In this dish, creamy carnaroli risotto with aged parmesan is topped with a generous portion of white truffle shavings, which imparts complex earthy flavors throughout every bite. It’s something everyone should try at least once. The risotto is also available a-la-carte as a rotating special leading up to the Truffle Dinner on November 14th.
Brandt Beef Tenderloin atMistral
Even without any accoutrements, Brandt Beef is pretty spectacular, but Chef Ponsaty’s touch transforms this premium cut into a luxurious entrée. The tenderloin is marinated for two hours in Burgundy wine before being seared and roasted in a pot on top of a slab of cork from a tree in Julian and fresh, aromatic herbs. Garnishes include a nutty cardamom and chestnut puree, a pear poached in port wine and spices, and a sumptuous Poivrade sauce, sourced from a 5th-generation family recipe.
Off the Beet’en Path Cocktail atSaltbox
Beet brine might not be the first mixer that springs to mind, but Erin Williams’ creation at Saltbox makes a strong argument for the earthy ingredient from the first sip. The deep red cocktail features gin infused with saffron, yuzu, elderflower syrup, beet brine, and a mix of seasonings (ginger, angostura bitters, and hibiscus salt). It’s quenching, surprisingly luxurious, and pairs well with a number of Saltbox’s bar bites. Drink your vegetables!
11/5-11/6: Harvest Celebration Barrel Tasting Weekend
Head to Temecula for a self-guided two-day wine tasting event featuring over 30 wineries. Delicious food and wine samplings are offered at each stop as well as barrel or tank samples of finished and unfinished wines not available to the general public. Two day tickets are $99, Sunday only tickets are $79.
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11/14: Beer Garden
San Diego’s top chefs pair up with top local brewers to create food and beer pairings at the closing event for San Diego Beer Week at The Lodge at Torrey Pines. Notable chefs include Paul McCabe of Kitchen 1540, Anthony Sinsay of Harney Sushi, Amy DiBiase of The Cosmopolitan Grill, plus local brewers like Ballast Point Brewing Co., AleSmith Brewing Co., Green Flash Brewing Co. and plenty more. The event starts at 11:30 a.m. and wraps up at 3:30 p.m. Tickets are $65.
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11/16: San Diego Wine Rave
The San Diego Wine Rave kicks off this year’s San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival with a vino-fuelled party that caters to the nightlife-loving crowd. The happening event at one of San Diego’s hottest nightclubs features 25 of the edgiest wine and spirits on the market plus gourmet bites and a live DJ. 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Tickets are $45.00 in advance, $60 at the door.
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11/19: Grand Tasting Event, San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival
Sip and savor premium wines and enjoy gourmet bites from San Diego’s best chefs as they vie for the “Chef of the Fest” title (and over $50,000 in cash and prizes). The official closing event for the 5-day premiere food and wine festival will also include live musical entertainment in a beautiful, outdoor setting on the Embarcadero Park North. The event runs from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Tickets are $125.00.
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Q&A with Rachel Caygill, Pastry Chef at Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant
SDM: You have a special appliance that few other chefs in San Diego have access to - a brick oven. Why did you decide to build one? What you most enjoy baking in it?
Rachel Caygill: My husband wanted to build an oven from literally the moment we stepped foot into our backyard when we moved in about a year ago. He loves building things, and we both love to teach ourselves new things through trial and error. We roasted a couple of pigs in it for our wedding. It gets a lot of use. We mostly bake bread in the oven, but with the leftover heat we cook ribs, bake pies, or anything else that can go low and slow.
SDM: Your dessert menu at Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant changes frequently. Where do you look for inspiration and what are some of the items you're working on rolling out next?
RC: I change the menu seasonally and I always have a pie. I'm going to put a Bourbon Pumpkin Pie on for November, and was thinking about some kind of chocolate caramel cashew tart too. Inspiration always comes at the most random times...never when I actually need it. I have to write things down all the time and keep my little scribble scraps in a folder so I can go back and look at them in my times of need. I am always inspired by Claudia Flemming, Shuna Fish Lydon, and Karen Demasco, all are pastry chefs in New York. I also check out blogs whenever I get a chance and have major baker's block. Some of my favorites are Not Without Salt and Smitten Kitchen.
SDM: For most people, pie is an essential part of Thanksgiving. Besides the standard options, what would you suggest people make (or buy) for their Fall feast?
RC: My mother actually demands that I make pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving every year. She starts talking about it months in advance. I like to top it with a brown sugar meringue and crisp the top. I also like to throw fresh cranberries into a basic apple pie for something a little more tart. It also doesn't hurt to put a little liquor in your pumpkin pie.
SDM: Your blog is a great resource for recipes, with everything from chocolate cherry cheesecake to ratatouille relish. What are some of your favorite recipes?
RC: I love cobblers and homey desserts. One of my favorite easy recipes is the plum raspberry cobbler. The cobbler dough can be used with any type of filling, and also makes amazing biscuits for shortcake. Something a little more involved, but well worth it, is the rum pumpkin pie with salted butter caramel.
SDM: What are some of your favorite local bakeries and restaurants to indulge in sweet eats?
RC: Sharon Wilson at Tiger!Tiger! makes a mean chocolate pudding. Also, I love the pain perdu with lavender honey for brunch at Farmhouse Cafe. The oatmeal chocolate chip cookies at Jimbo's are delicious. I have tried no less than 4 times to get their recipe (they're very tight lipped around there). But my guiltiest and most ridiculous pleasure is Rocky Road ice cream from Rite-Aid. I know, who does that?