It definitely doesn’t happen every day, but this weekend it was “cold” in San Diego with a cool drizzle and overcast skies. Sunday night called for comfort food.
This “stoup” as Rachael Ray would call it is hearty but not overbearing and it’s totally vegetarian. Served with cilantro, lime juice and peanuts for crunch, it maintains a light and tangy flavor, anchored with butternut squash. It’s pretty in the bowl with its bright orange color, contrasted with a handful of cilantro with each serving.
It’s a recipe I found and adapted. It can be made in the slow cooker over the course of a day, or in about an hour’s time once the lentils have a chance to break down.
Butternut Squash, Chickpea, Lentil Soup
1 can chickpeas
2 small to medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped finely
1 small onion
1.5 cups red lentils
4 cups vegetable broth
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tbsp ground cumin
Sautee the onion. Add carrots, ginger, spices, broth, chickpeas, tomato paste and squash. (If slow cooking, add all ingredients at once.) Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for about 45 minutes or until lentils are broken down.
Serve with a handful of cilantro, a sprinkling of peanuts (I used spiced roasted peanuts, found at Sprouts in the bulk bins) and a hefty squeeze of lime.
Words to the wise:
This weekend marked the March installment of 30th on 30th in North Park. For those who haven’t had the experience, it’s a single day when the North Park “corridor” of 30th Street at and around University Ave. agrees to offer food and drink specials all on the same day (the 30th, hence the name.)
It’s like speed dating with restaurants—a quick take at each spot that keeps moving until you are full or exhausted (or both): stop for a half drink at one spot, pick up a slider at the next one, a few oysters around the corner, some vegetarian Chinese food down University… and the list goes on.
Seven Grand, which is a bar fashioned after an early 20th Century watering hole in full with lots and lots of hand crafted classic cocktails (and an abundance of whiskey). It’s an offshoot of an LA spot under the same name and I look forward to revisiting on a non-3oth occasion. (Also, the plaid carpet was not lost on me; this place has character.)
The Linkery, largely a sausage spot, also has much more in terms of craft beer—including a delicious framboise sour. Beer and wine only; and lots of interesting mustards.
West Coast Tavern, kind of a standard bar menu, has buffalo mac and cheese as its 30th on 30th contribution. Paired with one of WCT’s many ginger-inspired Mules, it makes for a good kickoff, or game-watching spot.
A word to the wise: many of the specials are cash only. Come prepared!
30th on 30th for schedule and a list of participating venues.
I like to spend Sundays shopping for the week ahead and making something really delicious—preferably a meal that can fit into a single bowl.
This Sunday it was chicken tortilla soup made from a recipe I adapted from one I found online. I used organic free range chicken breasts, although you could use a cooked rotisserie chicken or even a day-after homemade chicken roast. I like the chicken shredded, so the breast meat works well in this case.
For the tortilla strips, I bought corn tortillas, sliced them super thin while still uncooked lengthwise, then cut the thin strips in half. I did absolutely nothing to them but spread them on a baking sheet, then baked for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. If you prefer your crisps salted, you can also toss them in olive oil and sea salt before baking. Skip the salty Tostitos and try making them at home!
-One onion, chopped
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-2 cans roasted green chiles
-1 can diced tomatoes
-6-8 cups chicken broth (or equal proportion boullion and water)
-1/2 package frozen corn
-1 can black beans
-2 large chicken breasts
-2 tbsp cumin
-S+P to taste
-Homemade tortilla strips (a must)
-Chopped fresh cilantro
-Dollop of non-fat Greek yogurt
Sautee the onion and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add chiles, tomatoes, broth, corn, black beans and cumin. Bring to boil. Add chicken (raw) and continue to boil for 25 minutes. Remove chicken, shred, then return to pot. Add salt and pepper to taste.
(This soup freezes well, too.)
Serve with all the fixings and enjoy with your favorite Sunday night TV lineup and/or craft beer! Our pick: White Hawk IPA from Mend0cino Brewing Company.
The much anticipated Soda& Swine along with its counterpart Polite Provisions is now open. Doors opened to the public last night, Monday, for the restaurant and bar’s soft launch including family and friends were welcomed earlier in the evening. I passed by around 9 and the place was packed for the pre-launch.
The menus include dozens of draft options including beer, wine and spirits, as well as the signature sodas—think sarsaparilla, chai cola and orange cream, to name a few. Oh, and virgin options too.
Soda and Swine boasts simple small plates along with a meatball concept (you choose the meatball type, sauce, cheese and style for a total DIY dining approach), salads, sides and pies.
The place is beautiful with dark wood, comfy seating and lots of candlelight. If I were in Chicago, I’d say it resembles Gilt Bar and Maude’s Liquor Bar, brainchildren of the Windy City’s Brian Sodikoff and not too shabby (incidentally the force behind the food here comes from former Chicago Ria chef Jason McLeod, as reported by SD’s edition of Eater back in November). Surely once it gets in gear it will be a North Park/University Heights destination for San Diego’s finest foodies. Review coming as soon as I can get in the door!
Soda and Swine menu: click here.
Polite Provisions menu: click here.
Polite Provisions/Soda and Swine
30th and Adams / University Heights / San Diego
Thank you to Jessica and Brian for teaching me the deliciousness that is Christmas Coffee.
It’s a very simple addition to the start of a day, but one that is becoming a morning staple for me.
When brewing your morning coffee in a drip maker or French press as I have been doing, add a tablespoon of cinnamon right on top of the coffee grinds. It adds a nice spicy flavor and doesn’t do a thing to the calorie count like some flavored creamers do.
Plus, cinnamon supposedly has lots of health benefits. I don’t know if that’s true, but reason enough to start with Christmas Coffee every day!
Next stop: perfecting the “Mexican Mocha” just the way my local coffee spot Filter does it. Add some chocolate and nutmeg into the mix…
What’s better than dining on a boat? Not dining on one! Rather than worrying about chasing after glassware and place settings on the open water, the Marine Room offers just about everything a boat dining experience would, except it’s on dry land.
Never could you ever build a restaurant like this one with today’s building standards.
While the Marine Room’s reputation precedes the place itself, its High Tide Breakfast, which kicks into gear once each month at said high tide time, was news to me.
The food features a full breakfast buffet with all the smoked salmon, Belgian waffles, made-to-order omeletes and chocolate mousse cake a girl’s heart desires for a grand total of $35/person—but the view is the thing to write home about.
I think I actually gasped upon being startled at one point by a huge wave crashing into the window about four feet from me and my coffee.
Go here for the people watching and the coolest seaside dining experience you’ll ever have on dry land. Just make sure you get up early for this one and make a reservation!
2000 Spindrift Drive
La Jolla, Ca 92037
I can say it with confidence: This weekend I went to the most amazing grocery store in America.
Pasadena’s Whole Foods was apparently behind Chicago’s Lincoln Park outpost (and my former home-away-from-home) and I am surprised to hear myself say it but… the LP version is kind of dinky compared to California’s finest!
The place has couches scattered about in case you want to sit down and r-e-l-a-x while you shop. It’s a two-story establishment, which allows for a very roomy experience. For those lucky dogs who have traversed the produce section in Chicago, it looks great, but it’s not so easy to make those tight turns around the tomatoes with your big green cart in tow, is it?
Pasadena’s store is roomy to the max, has a meat counter prettier than a rack of J.Crew cashmere (weird, but true) and the prepared foods MARKET (it’s like its own restaurant and it.is.unreal) will set you free with made to order chinese food, sushi, tacos, panini, gelato, etc. etc. etc.
Yes, this is a giant endorsement for Whole Foods, but well deserved. Stop by.
465 South Arroyo Parkway
Pasadena / California
In the Italian style of making food from what’s fresh, I decided today to make use of the fact that in San Diego, most things are usually in season, and whip up a batch of pesto this week on a rainy (yes, rainy) December day.
With a huge bunch of local basil in tow, I collected the other ingredients: Parmesan cheese, garlic, olive oil, salt+pepper and walnuts.
Straying from the tried-and-true pine nut version of pesto, I have been trying different variations. Considering the price of pine nuts lately, walnuts have served as a very suitable substitution (you would never know the difference!). I have also heard of Californians substituting avocado for the Parmesan as a way to keep the pesto creamy while still keeping lactose-free diets in mind.
Another tip: I always use the coarsest salt I have on hand. It ends up getting ground up, anyway, but makes the flavor more interesting when there are still tiny bits of salt flecked throughout.
-one bunch of basil leaves (2-3 cups packed loosely)
-one hunk of Parmesan (about 2 T)
-a handful of walnuts (1/2 cup)
-coarse salt (Trader Joe’s sea salt, unground, works)
-garlic, 2 cloves
-olive oil to desired consistency (1/4 to 1/2 cup)
Toss all ingredients into a mini Cuisinart prep blender and chop to desired consistency. Serve with whole wheat pasta in a shape that lends itself to lots of pesto sticking to the surface area.
How do you make your pesto?
Looks like Chicago’s finest G.E. was up late on the sidelines of Obama’s election night speech, captured by the New York Times today. See below or look ahead to 3:11 in the Times’ video below for the Where’s Waldo view of one of Chicago’s favorite food personalities.
And thanks to Riley for pointing him out!
Well, I stand corrected. I previously wrote after a trip to California that acai bowls were nowhere to be found in Chicago. Little did I know, they are here, they’re just DIY.
Full disclosure, Amafruits sent me some of their awesome frozen acai samples and I fashioned them into what I like to think of as a Chicago-style acai bowl (see below). Like the Chicago-style hot dog, this bowl has a special Chicago twist: Julius Meinl granola.
I also learned from Amafruits that sometimes acai served in restaurants is not fresh. This antioxident-rich fruit has a shelf life and since it grows in the Amazon, it’s shipped frozen to preserve its natural benefits.
The acai (Amafruits sells through Treasure Island, Potash and some other locations downtown or order online) comes in single-serve packets that blend extremely well. It doesn’t take a super-blender to smooth it out, when mixed with a little orange juice, or even water.
If you haven’t had acai, it’s a fruit, but it blends smoothly when frozen without separating into fruit versus water. The consistency is almost creamy, but it’s just pure fruit.
Here’s how I assembled my bowls:
-Blend four packets of frozen acai puree with orange juice to desired consistency.
-Pour blended acai over Julius Meinl granola
-Top with sliced bananas, shredded coconut and fresh raspberries