Thursday, January 20, 2011

Toast is Toast

I went to Toast Enoteca with my family and this new wine bar and kitchen has been open for one year. The way our evening went I would have thought it was opening night.
We made a reservation for 7:00 and when we got there they were going to seat us at a table that was literally in the doorway. Pretty much the worst table in the restaurant. We decided to forgo our "VIP" table and wait for a table inside the restaurant with some warmth to it.
We sat at the bar and enjoyed the some wine tasting from state-of-the-art wine dispensing machines. That was the best part of the meal.We finally were seated 45 minutes later at 7:45. We decided to go with the restaurant week menu. 3 course meal for $20.00.
We ordered our drinks, meals and received our water and wine a half hour later. It was 8:15pm and at this point we were starving and got up and asked the owner/chef/dishwasher (that is what he called himself) for some bread. Which was one of our first courses. The bread was bread, and the balsamic vinegar that was served with it was sweet and delicious. Besides my Stags Leap Chardonnay the vinegar was probably the best thing I tasted there.
We got our second course a while after that. Cavolfiore Al Forno - Oven-baked Cauliflower in the House Pomodoro Sauce. This was pretty good. I enjoyed the red sauce it was served in but nothing to amazing.
Pere E Gorgonzola - Baked Pare served with Gorgonzola Cheese. I really enjoyed this. It was served on top of arugula. I loved the sweet pare with the tart cheese.
I was starving, annoyed, and ready to leave and grab a burger someplace else at 8:45 and we finally got our main course. I have never heard my father (the nicest most mellow man in the world) drop the "F Bomb" so many times at the table.
Rigatoni A La Bolognese - nothing special. I have had better Bolognese.
Tortellini Al Burro Tartufato - Tortellini stuffed with Ricotta Cheese in a Truffle Infused Butter Sauce - What should of been cooked "Al Dente" was cooked "Al Jacked Up". I think it might of been raw. I expected a bite but this bite was way to hard and the what should of been soft hot cheese in the middle was a cold hard mess. Not good at all. I don't know if they were rushing to get us our food because they saw how unhappy we were or what but it was not cooked. I mean they only had 2 hours to do so.
Lasanga Al Broccoli E Salsiccia - Lasagna in a Broccoli and Sausage Parmesan Sauce - It tasted good but it sure was greasy.
I would of taken pictures of all the food but to tell you the truth I was to hungry I couldn't deal with pictures. The portions were tiny too, which would not of been a problem if the service was better and if the food was cooked to perfection.
They were understaffed. I felt bad for our waitress. This restaurant is small but she too was playing to many parts, busing tables and waiting on tables. Seems to me like they are trying to save money where they can but doing so seems to be bad for business. If you want to go and enjoy some good wine this is good place to go for that. Don't go hungry and if you order food expect to wait for it. The service was so off. There was no flow and it was chaotic. I almost wanted to jump in a help them out.
The owner did speak to us at the end of our meal. He apologized and knew it was an off night and said he saw everything that went wrong. He gave us his card and told us to come in to either one of his restaurants, Acqua Al 2 or Toast and he will do it right for us and take care of us. It was nice of him to offer that but I don't think I will be back. After he walked away from us, water pitcher in hand, he failed to fill our water glasses. The 2.5 hours we were there our water glasses never got refilled. Go figure. I wont be Toasting to Toast today, that's for sure.
Toast Enoteca
927 j street san diego ca. 92101

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

O BO-Beau, BO-Beau!

Wherefore Art Thou BO-Beau? That is what I find myself saying after dining at the newly romanticized BO-Beau last Tuesday night with my dear friend Saul. It's the newest addition to the Cohn Restaurant Group. BO-Beau, which is located in Ocean Beach takes over the space that was formally known as the 42 year old restaurant Thee Bungalow. The once grandma-house-style restaurant has been transformed into a masterpiece. Not an ounce left of the 1969 french restaurant Thee Bungalow, except the old menu's framed in the restrooms.
I can't believe the transformation that has taken place and the revamped restaurant screams, Vintage, Rustic, Romantic, Warm, and French. What an amazing job was done on the decor that was designed by the man behind Bleu Boheme, Philippe Beltran. Beltran fronted BO's with French Colonial gates from mid-17th century Egypt and filled it with antique farm tools, wine barrels from a Spanish estate, and added a fire placed pizza oven patio.
Lyrics to a french love song written throughout the restaurant in french and frames near the lyrics translating the song in English.
We'll fly away from the same pier, our eyes showing the same reflections, for in this life and the one after, you will be my sole purpose.
(See? screams romantic!)
The restaurant was packed for a Tuesday night and has only been open a couple weeks. The Bar (yes they put in a bar!) didn't have a seat open. The drink menu looked so good. It was a Tuesday night and a couple days after New Years Eve so I am laying off the alcohol but I plan to go back and try: Le Romantique - belvedere black raspberry + pomegranate-rose petal nectar + champagne + a rose petal.
Ooh, La, La!!!
Not just is the decor amazing but the food is spectacular too. BO's is rustic style bistro french food at its best. Rightly so as the Executive Chef, Katherine Humphus graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris France. French food is what she does best and she does it superb!
The menu which you can see here consists of Appetizers & Boards, Woodstone Oven Flat Bread, Soups & Salads, Moules & Frites, Pasta's such as Housemade Fettuccini with Duck Confit, Roasted Mushrooms and Parmesan Reduction, and some french Bistro Classics such as Boeuf Bourguignon & Steak Frites.
The first thing we had was the house bread. I believe it was ciabatta. It is a rustic peasant style bread with lots of holes in it. Soft on the inside and super crusty on the outside. Why am I writing about the bread? Well it was damn good and I loved how the bread came served in a brown paper bag with soft butter on the side. So different then the normal boring bread basket. Loved it!We started with the Caesar Salad - Crisp Romaine, Soft Boiled Egg, Ciabatta Croutons, and Shaved Parmesan. I loved this salad. The dressing was perfect. A little tangy and just enough of it to not over power the salad. I loved the soft boiled egg on the side which added some richness to the dish. A great combination of flavors.We then had the Billi Bi - Cream of Mussel Soup and Tarragon Dumpling. It was rich and creamy with a few plump mussels. The tarragon dumpling was crispy on the outside and soft in the inside. So many different textures and this soup is decadent. We ordered a side of the mac n cheese. I really can't pass that up when its on a menu.
Leek "Foundue" Mac N Cheese with Cheddar Gratinee. You really can't go wrong with mac n cheese and BO-Beau's mac n cheese is really good. I did think it could be a little creamier and cheesier. It seemed a little dry. Still very good and I love how crispy the top was.We also tasted the Braised Short Rib Woodstone Oven Flat Bread topped with Braised Short Rib, Horseradish Smashed Potatoes and Chives. I love this flat bread. I have never had short rib on a pizza before and I love short ribs, pizza and smashed potatoes with horseradish. Together they are delicious. What an amazing creation!
We also tasted (by this time we were so full so tasted would be the appropriate word) the Moules A La Moutarde. Mussels with Whole Grain Mustard, Fresh Herbs and Frites. I really liked the mustard broth the mussels were in. Much better then a boring white wine broth. You could really taste and see the mustard seeds. Loved it!The Frites were awesome. Again served in a brown paper bag. I love this rustic touch. Keeps things casual and fun. That is what french food needs to be in order to get people to go back. For that matter to even get people to step in. BO-Beau does just that. You will go and you will be back!
If we hadn't consumed enough food, Chef Katherine brought out the best dish for us to try and I saved it for last.
This is a must if you go to BO-Beau. Crispy Brussel Sprouts sprinkled with Pancetta, Parmesan and Balsamic. I love brussel sprouts and these are divine. The outside leaves were so crispy and that is exactly how I love my brussel sprouts. The flavors of the pancetta, parmesan and balsamic jazz these bad boys up to the highest degree.
I love how they were served scattered on a wood plank and inside this rustic jar. A favorite for sure!The staff and service at BO-Beau was impeccable. The prices are fantastic too. The most expensive entree is $19.00. Portions are generous but not too large, and can definitely be shared.
I said it once and I will say it again. French food that is fun? BO-Beau does just that.
4996 west point loma boulevard san diego ca. 92107

Monday, January 3, 2011

I Love You Maryjane

Cypress Hill said it first but I second the motion. Maryjane's Coffee Shop has been open in the Hard Rock Hotel since October 2007 and I went for the first time this past weekend for brunch. I didn't order a million things to try as I was still full from all the holiday indulging but really enjoyed this swanky coffee shop. Good ole American style cuisine and home-cooked breakfasts are served at Maryjane's. I loved the individual TV screen at our booth playing the Cardinals vs. 49ers game. Can't go wrong with that!
I ordered a build your own omelet and it was super good. Cheddar cheese, mushrooms and avocado served with the best hash browns I have had in a long time and a tasty biscuit! Not one of those omelets where the grease oozes all over the plate. I really enjoyed it.
Other recommended items are the Eggs Benedict, LA Sticky Buns, Disco Fries, Signature Burgers and Salads.
If you are looking for a new breakfast joint that is casual, hip with a flamboyant touch this is the spot. They serve lunch, dinner and breakfast all day and on weekends they are open till 3am. It's a great place to go to soak up the cocktails consumed after late night dancing.
Right now they offer a "Get Your Burger On" Wednesdays. Mouthwatering burger specials for $4.20 from 4:20pm till close on Wednesdays.

Who isn't in the mood to dine along side photos of Mick, Janis, and Prince? See you there 4:20pm on Wednesday!
Maryjane's Coffee Shop
207 5th avenue san diego ca. 92101

Saturday, January 1, 2011

3 Bean Turkey Chili With A Kick

2011 is here! What an amazing New Years Eve I had. I hope yours was just as magical and you continued the celebrating through the weekend! I know I did. As most of you I am ready to start eating healthy and getting back into the normal routine of things. Although the time off has been fantastic and I am a little sad to go back to work. We have 6 months until bikini season but this cold weather sure is going to make it hard to get ready for it! I went to the farmers market and grocery store today and stocked my fridge with produce, fruits, veggies and proteins, in hopes that this next week I will be eating in and cooking healthy inspired meals!
I wanted to share a fantastic healthy recipe with you eat on these cold nights without feeling the guilt. I did some cooking over the last couple days in 2010 for some close family friends. They had a party New Years Day to celebrate the New Year and watch the Rose Bowl.
I have never made Chili before and was asked to make a traditional turkey chili. So I did some research and found a great recipe that I altered a little bit.
This chili is so delicious. It's the kind of chili where the kick creeps up on you when you least expect it. The dried pasilla chili peppers give this recipe a distinct smokey flavor. I am not a huge chili fan but now that I have made it I am! This chili is so flavorful you wont even know its turkey. If you prefer to use red meat go right ahead. It's fantastic and you can't go wrong!
3 Bean Turkey Chili With A Kick
inspired by Guy Fieri for Food Network Magazine
serves 10-15
5 dried pasilla chili peppers
4 tablespoons canola oil
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 jalapeno peppers, minced (remove seeds for less heat)
9 cloves garlic, minced
2 small red onions, diced (or 1 large)

3 pounds coarsely ground turkey (thigh & breast meat)
1 small can tomato paste
2 15oz cans tomato sauce
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon granulated onion
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (adjust for more or less heat)

1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
3 15oz cans pinto beans with liquid (no sodium)

3 15oz cans kidney beans with liquid (no sodium)
2 cans black beans with liquid (no sodium)
3/4 cup flour (if needed to thicken)
shredded Colby jack cheese & sour creme for garnish
Rehydrate the pasilla peppers in hot water for 20-30 minutes, or until softened; drain. Remove the stems & seeds; dice the peppers.
Warm the oil in a large pot over high heat. Add the pasillas, bell peppers, jalapenos, garlic & onion and cook until caramelized, about 8 minutes. Add the turkey and gently stir, trying not to break up the meat to much; cook until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and sauce, stir for 4 minutes. Then add the chicken broth. Add all the dried herbs, salt & pepper. Stir in the beans and their liquid, lower the heat and cook, uncovered, for at least 1 hour. If you cover the pot it will not thicken.
If you need to make it a thicker consistency make a roux with flour and some of the sauce from the chili. Add it to the chili, mix well and break up any lumps.Garnish with shredded fat free cheese & light sour creme.
I wish you all luck getting back into shape for bikini season. Tomorrow is Monday. It's the perfect day to start.