Main Dish for October
10/01-10/02: La Jolla Art & Wine Fest
This outdoor art event features the artwork of over 100 juried artists, along with an all-star line-up of live entertainment, a gourmet marketplace and a beer and wine garden where you can sample fine regional wines and local beer. More Details
10/16: Charity Beer and Cheese Tasting
O’Brien’s Pub hosts a beer and cheese tasting event in honor of George Palmer, past owner of Taste Artisan Cheese & Gourmet Shop in University Heights, who passed away earlier this year. The event will feature numerous cheeses and cheese-centered dishes plus special beers from O’Brien’s’ cold storage. Proceeds will go toward fighting liver disease. More Details
10/28: Anthony Bourdain
Famed chef, writer and documentarian Anthony Bourdain visits Spreckels Theatre for an evening of candid reflections of his travels and culinary experiences. The evening includes a no-holds-barred Q&A session. More Details
Jalapeno Cornbread Skillet at Indigo Grill
Brunch at Indigo Grill isn’t a light and demure affair. Instead, Deborah Scott serves up big portions that could easily count as two meals. One must-try dish is the jalapeno cornbread, served in a mini skillet with a generous gob of chipotle butter that melts into the middle, creating a moist, molten center. Fresh corn kernels of corn and jalapenos are studded throughout the bread, adding sweet and spicy notes to every bite. Though it’s on the small size, it is quite filling, so it’s the perfect starter to share, or to pair with the poblano chile tortilla soup.
Chipotle-Tamarind Chicken Wings at RGang
New to the menu at the playful Hillcrest eatery, these wings first debuted on Rich Sweeney’s “Not Quite Restaurant Week Menu,” along with other stick to your ribs dishes like a sweet potato bisque and beef stroganoff. The sweet, sticky, and spicy wings were the highlight of the meal. They’re cooked low and slow, which infuses the meat with the flavors of the glaze (and causes it to be so moist, it falls off the bone). The wings are currently a special item, and will be added to the core menu soon.
Garden Cucumber Salad at The Red Door
Healthy, light, and made with fresh produce picked from the Red Door’s garden just hours previously, this dish is no mere plate of greens. The salad is composed of cucumbers cut “fettucini style” tossed with roasted sweet summer corn with an herbaceous basil vinaigrette. Grilled shrimp and pickled red onions top off the salad, creating a nourishing first course.
Pumpkin Scone at Azucar
Is there any better way to usher in Fall than with a fresh-baked pumpkin scone and a café con leche? Vivian Hernandez-Jackson’s Cuban-style bakery in Ocean Beach is always bursting with tempting treats, and this season, the pumpkin scone is among the best bites. Unlike some scones, which suffer from being too dry and crumbly, this one is soft and moist inside. The delightfully surprising addition of cranberries give it a boost of flavor, and the subtle spices make it miles better than any mass-produced coffee shop scone.
Q&A: Maurice DiMarino, Wine Director at C Level/Island Prime.
Having recently returned from an exclusive 9-day program exploring Chile's terrain, vineyards, and wine (where he was one of only 5 culinary guests), Maurice shares his insight on emerging trends in Chilean wines, where to sip wine in San Diego, and great wine picks for host/hostess gifts.
What are some wine trends you see emerging from Chile?
In Chile, several trends are emerging. Previously, winemakers kept to themselves and treated each other as competition, but today, with the help of foreign winemakers, there seems to be a whole lot more sharing. There is a new generation of winemakers working closely together to find the optimal soils for each particular grape.
Also, the flavor profile of one of Chile’s best-known wines, Carmenere, has been improved due to careful replanting and changes in harvesting. The once vegetal wine is now richer and more plush. If it’s been awhile since you sampled Carmenere wine, it’s time to give it another try.
What are some of the most interesting/notable wines you sampled while in Chile?
This is very difficult, because there are so many great wines. Some of the stand outs for me were the wines of De Martino. We will see a huge improvement in these wines in the coming years. Every winery has a flagship wine and most are amazing. But the standouts were Concha y Toro’s “Terrunyo”, Casa La Postolle’s “Clos Apalta”, and value wise the wines of Vina Tamaya.
What was your biggest misconception about Chilean wine, and how did the trip change it?
Prior to my trip, my biggest misconception was that Chile just made over produced, high yielding wines that were just okay. I always thought that the wines were good for the price, but they did not blow me away. I now see that this is changing. Winemakers are watching their yields and striving for quality, not quantity.
What are some of your favorite restaurants with excellent wine programs in San Diego?
Well, besides my, own Island Prime; I am a big fan of Market in Solana Beach. The wines are top notch and the list is very diverse. I had one of my best food and wine pairings there, Verdejo Madeira with Sobe noodles and a meatball. Addison and Nine Ten also have great wine programs. For more casual dinners, I like the lists at the Third Corner, BO-Beau and Cucina Urbana.
With the holiday season approaching, many people will be bringing wine as a host/hostess gift. Can you suggest a few interesting choices?
Sparkling wines make a great host/hostess gift because they really get the party started. I am a big fan of sparkling roses. The Scarpeto Spumante Brut from Italy and Domaine d’Oreuilles Rose of Malbec from Touraine France are two of my favorites, and both in the $20 range. But if you are trying to impress with a red, pick up a Napa Cab like Rubus, Madrigal, or Amizetta – all of these options are a good bang for your buck.