Potato Pancakes at The Original Pancake House
On weekends, a table at this old-school pancake house is worth the wait for the crepe-like Swedish pancakes with lingonberries, Granny Smith apple-studded pancakes with cinnamon glaze, and other treats. Or, start your day on the savory side—the potato pancakes are surprisingly light, lacy and crisp—and delicious with a dollop of sour cream AND cinnamon applesauce. - More Details »
Champon at Ikiru
Next rainy day, head over to Liberty Station and seek out this cozy Japanese eatery tucked behind Tender Greens. Though they serve well-prepared nigiri sushi and rolls and special treats like live local sea urchin (from divers at the Point Loma fishing docks), you might also want to check out what the staff is eating. Champon, a Japanese noodle soup, is often served here for "family meal" but you can request a bowl too; a traditional dish with Chinese influences, the broth is deep and flavorful, thanks to both pork and chicken bones and a tumble of shellfish—from shrimp to clams and mussels. Vegetables and egg noodles make it healthy and hearty— tasty comfort food, Japanese-style. - More Details »
The Main Course
Pasta & Sauces at Assenti's Pasta
This family-owned store in Little Italy has everything you need to put together a home-cooked Italian meal. They hand-make fresh pasta of every shape, size and flavor, including specialties such as black squid ink pasta and even eggless pasta for vegans. The shop stocks other pasta-friendly ingredients too—Italian sausages, cheese and a variety of homemade sauces. (Just remember to get their advice on which sauces go with which shapes of pasta.) And bring cash, as it's the only kind of payment accepted here. - More Details »
Coconut Cake at Sorella della Taverna
This gourmet take-out shop and market in La Jolla specializes in ready-made Italian dishes but it's their all-American coconut cake (one of the house made cakes on their catering menu), that deserves a nod. The cake comes in two forms: a fluffy, coconut-showered layer cake or snowball-capped cupcakes. The moist, tender yellow cake is traditionally frosted with buttercream but it's better when requested with light-as-air whipped cream frosting. It can be special ordered in the store but occasionally makes an appearance on the dessert menu of owner Mary Ann Vitale's nearby restaurant, La Taverna. - More Details »
Main Dish Q+A
Carl Schroeder of MARKET / Banker's Hill Bar + Restaurant
Candice Woo: After growing up in San Diego, you returned in 2002 to helm Arterra Restaurant and have gone on to open MARKET in Del Mar and Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant, which launched last year. What are the qualities about San Diego, and its food community, that keep you cooking and developing restaurants here?
Carl Schroeder: San Diego has an abundance of quality product. We have local seafood and many, many wonderful local farms. The product at the farmers markets is top-notch. Chino Farm is a half a mile from my restaurant, what more could a chef ask for? The weather isn’t bad either.
CW: You were recently named a semifinalist in the James Beard Awards for Best Chef: Pacific region (finalists are announced March 21) alongside nominees mostly from the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas. Why do you think San Diego chefs and restaurants don’t get more national recognition?
CS: I think that we don’t get the "foodie" traffic that other major cities get. I think when the national press comes to the West Coast they are drawn to Los Angeles and San Francisco because of their reputations for being food cities so that’s what they write about and therefore cities like San Diego tend to get left out of the mix.
CW: Having graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, do you think that a culinary school education is important and necessary investment for new chefs?
CS: Yes, absolutely. Every one of my kitchen staff has graduated from or is attending culinary school. Cooking is a discipline just like every other profession.
CW: How has your experience been so far with Bankers Hill and have you seen some differences between the diners coming there and the ones going to MARKET in North County, in terms of food tastes, dining habits, etc.?
CS: The two restaurants are very, very different as far as the location, atmosphere and menu items. There is no crossover whatsoever. They each attract their own clientele, though dramatically different, both sets of diners seem to appreciate what we are doing there.
CW: Is there a plan to open more restaurants in the area and can you share any info?
CS: All we are concentrating on at this time is working hard in the two we have. We are working hard every night to put out the very best food we can and give the best service possible, it is an ongoing process. It is the only reason to be in this business, to continually strive to be better than you were the day before.
CW: Do you have some favorite eateries or dishes around town, besides your own?
CS: I spend the little time I have off with my boys. We eat very casually; they like to pop in for fish tacos at Rubio’s or get a Burger at In-and-Out. Not the answer that people want to hear, I’m sure.
Suds for Surgeries
The Second Annual Mission Valley Craft Beer Festival is being held at the Handlery Hotel & Resort on Sunday, March 27. Over 30 craft breweries will be pouring alongside 15 local eateries. Proceeds go to Fresh Start Surgical Gifts, a non-profit organization that provides free reconstructive surgery and related medical services to disadvantaged children. More Details »
Cooks Confab School Lunch
The fine local chefs that make up the Cooks Confab are coming together at Fibonacci's Campus Pointe Bistro by Waters to call attention to and celebrate Farm-to-School efforts to get locally-grown produce into school cafeterias in San Diego and across the county. Participating chefs from restaurants will cook and serve up their versions of delicious and healthy school lunch fare. There will also be panel discussion featuring local farmers and school leaders, plus activities for children.
I ♥ Poke Festival
Shelter Island's Bali Hai Restaurant is the site of this year's I Love Poke Festival. Competitors, including chefs from Toshi Sushi, Urban Solace, The Fish Market and Harney Sushi will prepare their take on Hawaiian poke, a dish traditionally made with soy and sesame-marinated raw tuna with seaweed, for a panel of judges and event guests will be able to taste poke and other island-inspired food from a number of local restaurants.