Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sbicca (San Diego, CA)

A group of friends and I gathered together for a dinner at Sbicca in Del Mar after the Family Winemakers Event. We were fortunate to be joined by some fine winemakers, John Cabot and his wife Kimberly of Cabot Winery (the most intoxicating nose on their syrahs, as many people have pointed out their Kimberly's Syrah One Barrel smells like liquid bacon with rocks and dark fruit) and Kathleen Inman of Inman Family Wines (who makes some really delicious pinots filled with length and acidity) as we collected around the backroom with a table full of wines and our stomachs ready to chow down.

Sbicca is well known for their friendly corkage policy on Sundays/Mondays (no corkage) and well prepared "modern American Cuisine". They had a second restaurant Meritage which was located where 3rd Corner now stands in Encinitas.

After tasting some wines, we sat down to some appetizers to share among the one of the three tables we occupied.

Grilled Stuffed Portabellini Mushrooms

The Portabellini is first grilled on one side, then stuffed with roasted garlic goat cheese and tomato cured basil. Olive oil and Basalmic Vinaigrette is lightly poured over the dish. I really like the deep dark earthy taste of the Portabellini mushroom. Due to its large size it has a nice meaty bite to it mixed in with the earth and the bite of the goat cheese really brings out all that dusty natural flavor.

Roasted Artichoke Tomato Bruschetta

The artichoke and tomato is served with grilled radicchio, fresh mozzarella, basil pesto, pine nuts, feta. I really enjoy feta is sparse amounts, otherwise the flavor dominates my palate.. but the scattered amounts were perfect with the otherwise light flavors of mozzarella and basil. I like the idea of using an almost flatbread style "pizza" dish, and they were easy individual servings to pass around and eat.

Burgundy Braised Short Ribs

The Shortribs are served with garlic spinach, buttermilk mashed potatoes, rich demi, spicy horseradish. Unfortunately, since I don't eat beef anymore, I have nothing to tell you.

Double Chop Porkchop

Didn't get to try this , since.. I also don't eat pork (duck, chicken, lamb, goat... anything land based). But MAN it smelled good. It was an ENORMOUS piece of pork chop, I just wanted to devour it. I was jealous. Half the party ordered this and it was scarfed down by everyone.

For myself I had the Seafood Fettucini

I have a love hate relationship with Seafood pasta. So often it has dry noodles with crappy small pieces of seafood over a bland overly acidic and sweet sauce. It's rare that there's a great combination of well cooked pasta, with a nice sauce, and great seafood. Beautifully cooked pasta tossed with shrimp, mussels, scallops, fresh seafood, tomato saffron sauce. Nice fat pieces of scallops , fish, shrimp, and mussels in a fragrant rich (not thick, but a great soup) saffron sauce. The noodles were cooked marvelously, the seafood pieces were so fresh and tasty.

I didn't have any expectations of the place coming in, just got together to drink wine and hang out with some friends.. but the food was really well prepared and executed well. I was really impressed cause they were able to prepare everything so well for a party of over 20.

Sbicca American Bistro
215 15th St
Del Mar, CA 92014


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Monday, May 18, 2009

Look at the english name of the fish

If my girlfriend could name a fish after me, it most likely would be this.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fried whole sole @ Wo Dining Okan

The sole is first sliced off and fried in individual pieces, then the rest of the body is fried. Very lightly fried and still moist/sweet. This place is great! Wish I brought my camera!

Eggplant boiled in miso, dried burdock root, really stellar egg and eel omelette.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sushi Gen (Los Angeles, CA)

I have heard of a fabled lunch special for many moons. One that consists of Toro, hamachi, salmon, red snapper, and tuna sashimi, cooked fish, and smoked fish on a single plate for $15. I thought that such a deal was only a myth. How could one ask for Toro for $15!? What lengths will I have to go to travel to such a mythical land? What fierce beasts must I face and what harsh challenges must I endure!?

Apparently.... at Sushi Gen, the only thing I have to endure is a long line when the place opens at 11am. Oh, that and navigating the rough streets of LA!

Located in the heart of Lil Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles, the Sushi Gen Sashimi lunch plate is a mecca for all lovers of a good deal. Normally, $15 for sashimi or sushi makes me think of wet, chewy, pieces of fish sitting out for far too long at a crappy little sushi restaurant. The only deal you get from that is a promise to visit the toilet shortly after.

Fortunately Sushi Gen is not a crappy little sushi restaurant. Well known in Little Tokyo for fresh fish at reasonable prices, the Sushi Gen Sashimi lunch special really takes that belief to heart.

You can call ahead for reservations for the first seating, it's the only time you get can get a reservation. The first seating is at 11am and by 10:45 there was a line about 25 deep in front of us. Everyone was seated and I'm sure if you didn't make a reservation it didn't matter... we were the only party in line that seemed to have a name in the reservation book.

When the waitress came with the menus we said valiantly "No menu's ms. We just want the Sashimi Lunch." She knew what we had come for and sprung into action.

First served a heaping mound of tofu little steamed with miso flavor.

Soft silken tofu that easily absorbs the light miso soup drizzled on top. A way to fresh up your palate for what was to come, kick start the taste buds without overwhelming the potential delicateness of the fish.

After clearing our bowls away, we get a massive plate placed right in front of us. IT HAS ARRIVED! THE FABLED SASHIMI PLATE! OH WHAT MAJESTY!

Starting from the bottom left going across

Bottom Left
  • Negi Toro: Chopped up fatty tuna mixed with green onions. The tuna imparts its richness and fat to the light bite of green onion. I really love this stuff with rice.
  • Shredded crab meat
  • Negi Salmon belly: Slightly spiced, with the same mushy/oily consistency that you get from the Negi Toro but with a less fatty texture and mouthfeel.
Middle
  • Slices of raw cuttlefish served on a bed of cooked kelp. The saltiness of the kelp mixed with the crisp bite of squid was just as refreshing as the tofu in the beginning.
  • Red Snapper
  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Octopus
  • Hamachi: all 5 were very good in quality
  • Toro in chopped large chunks.

Top row
  • Smoked fish, the smoke releases the sweetness of the fish, like a dried sardine
  • Grilled Yellowtail
All that, for $15! Sorry for the lack of detail when it came to the "tastes/quality" of the food. I'm by no means an expert in the flavors and textures of Sushi, so I'd just be lying to you and me when I start spouting off like I'm writing a tasting note for wine =P. Safe to say, it was pretty damn good for $15. I'd say it'd be pretty for for $25. Granted do not expect to be blown away, expect to get more than you pay for with good quality fish with plenty of food to eat!

Hopefully I let you in on one of LA's little lunch secrets... Enjoy!

Sushi Gen
422 E 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Forest in my kitchen

Warning! If you leave a sweet potato outside for too long you get a forest growing from it!