Amy DiBiase, executive chef at Roseville in Point Loma is set to compete again in the 4th Annual Chef’s Showdown that benefits the Center for Community Solutions. Tickets for the October 2nd event on the Promenade at Liberty Station are $125 and can be purchased online.
While we’re on the subject of Rosevile, with its French-Mediterranean menu, is now open seven days a week and September 7, begins Sunday brunch with an inspiring menu of à la carte dishes that will go far beyond the mundane eggs and bacon. The menu will soon be set, and with the innovative Amy DiBiase at the helm, I’d bet it will be sumptuous. For information and reservations: 619-450-6800, (www.rosevillesd.com still under construction),
Over in Hillcrest, Charles Kaufman of Bread & Cie at Fourth and University Avenue went round and round with the city over the height of the enclosure for his expanded wine/pizza service on the patio. He’s happy to report that devotees will soon be able to sip a glass of wine and enjoy the avenue’s scene in the next few weeks.
The Loews Coronado Bay Resort has named Timothy Ralphs their new executive chef for their signature dining room Mistral, as well as the entire property. Ralphs local experience includes three years as executive chef at Top of the Cove, banquet director at the Omni where his menus went way beyond the boring banquet fare, with his additions such things as amuse-bouche, organic ingredients, and more. He European travels and work (he’s also trained in wine and is an advanced sommelier). Along with good local ingredients, Ralphs can pick fresh herbs from the hotel’s 3800 square foot herb garden. Tours of the garden are given every Friday at 3pm and include a tasting and recipes. Cost is $20 and for information and reservations call the hotel’s concierge at 619-424-4000 x 6300.
Bread & Cie’s owners Charles and Dori Kaufman plan to expand the hours of their well-known Hillcrest bakery to offer specialty pizzas, salads, signature desserts and a small selection of wines. Look for things to be in place by the end of the month. Bread ovens make perfect pizzas and Kaufman spent months experimenting with doughs and toppings for the new menu additions. Pizza available from 5:30pm to 9pm. 350 University Avenue, at Fourth Avenue.
Venissimo’s cheese loving customers can now get their chocolate fix with Jack Fisher’s fabulous bon bons. Don’t forget Valentine’s Day!
You’ll find more wine and chocolate down at the Hotel Del Coronado’s newest addition, Eno. Buzz is partial to the property (a hotel on the ocean is pretty special) and to what Eno and its director, Ted Glennon want to achieve. Whether it’s just a glass or one of many flights of interesting wines that go far beyond chardonnay and cabernet, this is the place to go. Glennon’s expertise shows with the training he gives his staff as well as his desire to share his knowledge with patrons. To pair with the wine, there are flights of cheeses, charcouterie and chocolates. There are more than 30 wines by the glass and some of Jack Fisher’s chocolates are featured here as well.
Smack in the middle of Hillcrest is Rannoosh. Not your homespun hole in the wall, like Mama’s in University Heights, this place is designed to give the feeling of being in an exotic place. Cleverly decorated with fabric on the ceiling and walls, it’s what I might imagine a Beirut cafe to look like. There are hookahs prominently displayed and should you need a smoke, you can do so with one on the patio.
The food: Hummus made from scratch is silky and light. The finely pureed, smoky flavored baba ganoosh is mostly eggplant with a hint of tahini (sesame paste) and is one of the best I’ve encountered outside of my kitchen. Tabbouleh is, as it should be, mostly green with parsley with a bit of bulgur wheat. Homemade beef and lamb spicy sausages about the size of baby cigars come with a bit of lettuce salad, are dense and tasty, perhaps an acquired taste as my dinner pal found them a bit dry. Hummus with diced lamb is simple—the crisp lamb bits chewy to counter the soft hummus. We loved the mjadara, a toothsome mix of spiced rice, lentils and sautéed onions with a yogurt side that is definitely comfort food as well as a popular Lenten dish in Lebanon. Skip dessert as the baklava was dry and uninteresting. Prices range from $5.95 for most appetizers to $7.95 for hummus with toppings and entrees from $9.95 to $21.95 for mixed grill of various kebabs. There are pita sandwiches from $4.95 to $8.95 and $14.95 for that hookah smoke. 3890 Fifth Avenue (at University), Hillcrest, 619-325-1360. Open daily from 11 a.m.
Around the corner from the mesquite barbecue smells of Phil’s BBQ is Venissimo Cheese. Here you’ll find a tiny well-stocked urban store with prices noted by the half pound and with a little picture of a goat, sheep or cow so that you know the type of milk used to make that particular cheese. Owners Gina and Roger Freize have an advanced system for their sales receipts that give the name, taste, origin, and what wine to serve with the cheese, as well as a record for your next trip in. Their cheeses can be found on cheese plates at Dobson’s, Café Chloe and others. I particularly like their website for the section called Cheese Facts that lists how to serve cheese (room temperature) and lots more. 754 West Washington, Mission Hills, 619-491-0708, www.venissimo.com.
Taste Artisan Cheese & Gourmet Shop, next to Wine Steals on University Avenue sells cheese from around the world, olive oils, crackers, dried Molinari salami and pates. In this almost two year-old casual store, owners George and Mary Palmer passionately share their knowledge to help customers try new and seasonal products. George studied cheese with The Aniata Cheese Co. owner Bob Stonebrook (see below). The Palmers offer classes, including a recent beer and cheese pairing and an upcoming Spanish cheeses and wines on June 14th. If you’re next door sipping, try a cheese plate for $5 that might feature a slightly nutty flavored, firm textured Spanish sheep’s milk cheese to pair with a rustic red wine or hearty ale. One table had nine different Gouda that Mary suggested are great with beers. I bought some terrific Irish blue and Parmesan cut fresh from the wheel to share with friends.
Mary believes that cheese is an affordable luxury and she can work with any budget to introduce newcomers to the charms of fresh cheese. She suggests a picnic at home, good bread, wine, and of course a nice cheese selection. You can taste everything before you buy and your sales receipt keeps track of what you buy for future trips. Join their email list at 1243-1/2 University Avenue, Hillcrest, 619-683-2306, closed Monday