This just in…Talk about a great holiday gift for the novice or well-aged wine aficionado. A group of local San Diego wine masters have created a wine club that goes beyond all the others you may know about. My Cellar Master brings together the collective palates and knowledge of Eddie Osterland (America’s first master sommelier), Brian Donegan (advanced sommelier at Market) and Truly Fine Wine for a new wine club that offers more than just bottles arriving every month. Don’t want a club? Check out the themed wine tasting kits. Information is on the website or at (858) 270-WINE (9463).
Those of you who remember Jason Seibert (chef/owner of the closed Cafe Cerise) might want to catch up with him on Tuesday, December 7 from 6pm on. You’ll find him at the Stout Public House (site of Cafe Cerise) as he bids goodbye to San Diego for a position as executive sous chef at Eventi, a Kimpton hotel property in New York City.
Au Revoir Bistro finally opened in the old La Vache site in Hillcrest (Robinson and Fourth). This is the latest venture from the group that owns Arrivederci Ristorante among others in Hillcrest, North Park, La Jolla and Point Loma.
If you’re looking for unusual Italian and American small food and wine producer, Corti Brothers in Sacramento is worth checking out. Should you want Delamain Grande Champagne Cognac 1982, or panettone from two of Italy’s well-known bakeries, Loison and Bardi, or aged aceto balsamico, be sure to read the newsletters on the website. Owner Darrell Corti is renowned for his food and wine knowledge and this well-established family business has been around since 1947. 5810 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95819, 800-509-3663 and the website for more information.
Congratulations to Lisa Redwine (General Manager, The Shores Restaurant) and Ted Glennon (Wine Director, 1500 Ocean) two of San Diego’s well-known wine directors who just passed The Court of Master Sommeliers Level 3 Advanced course and tests on their way to Master Sommelier. They join advanced sommelier Jesse Rodriguez (Wine Director, The Grand Del Mar) and hope to become master sommeliers, an august group of just 174 worldwide. The first American Master Sommelier is another San Diegan, Eddie Osterland.
Foodbuzzsd will take a short break until the New Year unless there is breaking news. Happy Holidays to you all
The release of Beaujolais Nouveau is a big deal in November and a couple of places will be celebrating its arrival Thursday, November 18. The Gamay grape stars in this wine and it is meant to be drunk within six months of bottling. Each year it’s released on the third Thursday of November – literally only weeks after it was still growing on the vine and because it is a light friendly wine, it’s a great reason to party!
At the Wine Vault & Bistro arrive anytime after 5:30 and enjoy a four-course Beaujolais Nouveau Family Style Menu for: $25 2010 Dupeuble Beaujolais Nouveau: $7 glass / $22 bottle. If you’re not on their mailing list, it’s worth it if you are interested in good wine dinners and tastings. For reservations: (619) 295-3939.
Euro Food Depot will celebrate on November 18 from 6pm to 10pm with wine, cheese, charcuterie and macarons. Four pours and food $30. For information: 858-452-9200.
Downtown, Bacchus Wine Market presents Beaujolais Nouveau and other first releases on Friday, November 19th (4pm to 8:30pm) and Saturday. November 20th (2pm to 8:30pm). Cost is $15 each day. For information: 619-236-0005.
LATE ADDITION: While we’re wining, The WineSellar & Brasserie, Paris Driggers is the new general manager and wine buyer. He’s been in the business for 15 years selling wines to top notch venues and brings a wealth of experience to the shop. Upstairs in the Brasserie chef Kevin Smith (who has worked in many of California’s top kitchens, including Patina in Los Angeles) is updating the menu. This gem of a store and restaurant is tucked away in an unlikely industrial park, just down the hill from Qualcomm and is worth a visit. 9550 Waples Street, (858) 450-9557.
Oh what a mess has been wrought with the Cosmopolitan Hotel & Restaurant, owner Joseph Melluso, chef Amy DiBiase and the Union-Tribune’s, Keli Dailey. This is a sordid story about editors and a reporter looking to sensationalize a story with writing that gives all parties, most notably the readers, a bad taste and does not help the San Diego restaurant community.
For those of you who missed it, Buzz reported on November 5 that DiBiase (whom Buzz knows) had left Cosmopolitan. Next came Dailey’s one-sided story (relying only on owner Joseph Melluso) that appeared online on November 10, then the next day, in edited form, printed in the Business section of the paper. Melluso said (among other things) that there were financial and creative issues that caused the split. Missing in the story is any acknowledgement that he, as the owner, had anything to do with the problems.
As a seeming consequence of the many negative online comments about the U-T story, either Dailey or her editors must have thought it wise to connect and interview DiBiase, as the original Dailey “story” noted, “DiBiase could not be reached Wednesday evening for comment”. When Dailey did catch up to DiBiase the “rest of the story” – that is, her side of it — can be found online (and so far not in print).
Why run a half-reported story? And more important, it seems that lately the U-T has resorted to old-fashioned tabloid journalism to report on such restaurant matters. Restaurants open and close, chefs come and go, and any major newspaper notes such things in just a few paragraphs. But the U-T has recently evolved into gotcha journalism, with the snarky story about Roseville closing, then this mess.
Buzz checked to see if the paper ever ran anything when Jeff Thurston left the Cohn’s Prado where he had been for many, many years. Nothing. Why? By contrast, the recent change of chefs at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego merits a mention in Dailey’s online column (which is at should be, a few sentences at best).
So what gives? What purpose did Dailey’s story serve to the public, to the restaurant or to the chef or even to the owner? No purpose at all except to harm the business and reputations of those involved.
Those of you who follow one of San Diego’s top talented women chefs, Amy DiBiase, won’t find her at Old Town’s Cosmopolitan Hotel & Restaurant as she left the restaurant due to creative and money issues with the management. Many of the original hires have also departed since the restaurant opened.
She was hired to do food that bore the hallmarks of the time (1870’s) when Bandini’s home became a stagecoach stop and hotel. The hotel’s management now wants to stray from their original concept as noted on their website and the reason that DiBiase came on as executive chef.
Buzz spoke with the general manager and it is expected that the food will change from the moderately priced yet upscale dining destination that DiBiase provided to a middle-of-the-road, broad appeal, and possibly less uninspired menu.
For the those of you looking for a different type of meal, check out where the various food trucks of San Diego are serving up everything from cupcakes (Corner Cupcakes) and Asian fusion (Tabe BBQ) to espresso (Joes on the Nose) and ice cream (Sweet Treats).
The Hillcrest corner of Fifth and Washington that housed Sushi Itto will soon become Brazen BBQ on a ten-year lease for the 3300 square foot space. Two young guys, John Bracamonte and Brad Thomas, who are winners of some major barbecue competitions, including those sanctioned by the prestigious Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS), are the minds behind Brazen BBQ. Sounds like they may give Phil’s a good run for the money…San Diego could use some really swell and authentic barbecue.
And in case you missed it, also in Hillcrest, Kemo Sabe closed to relocate at some point to a coastal site in North County. The Cohn Restaurant Group will launch their food truck Chop Soo-ey in January at the Little Italy farmers market. In the meantime, they have their launch party in November and are doing private gigs. Their competition as recently seen on local NBC tv, is Miho Gastrotruck with creative food including pork belly sammy and lots of other goodies.
While we’re talking Cohn restaurants, they recently installed a hot new chef, Daniel Barron, at Blue Point Coastal Cuisine. This restaurant gets a huge share of convention business, and the place was full on a early weeknight. Barron has cooked around the country. However, there was disappointment in what was touted as one of his signature dishes, a 60 hour boneless short rib ($35). As explained by the server, this chunk of meat is cooked sous-vide and comes out melting in your mouth. Not. This was one tough hunk that needed lots more time, though it apparently was meant to be what was served. The horseradish hash browns were yummy, crisp and with a bite. Perhaps one needs to stick to the seafood.
There’s still time to join the fun at the San Diego Wine & Food Festival that runs from November 17 to 21. Famous chefs, lots of wine and a good crowd to boot.
Foodies that still get cooking magazines (Buzz loves Saveur among many), Bon Appetit just announced its new editor- in- chief, Adam Rapoport who is style editor at GQ. One could expect a big change in design…some think the magazine is staid in its look. It was redesigned in 2008 to the dismay of some Chowhound readers.
Kudos to Candice Woo who scored a food writing position at San Diego Magazine. She’s reviewing restaurants and it’s nice to see a fresh voice for the magazine.
Which brings me to the unfortunate Union Tribune, aka U-T. Whatever has happened to caring about food in this town? Don’t expect to see it coming from the U-T. People whose bylines were always there and who know food (Carolyn Dipping, Lori Weisberg, Peter Rowe, to name a few), have been relocated to writing about auto accidents, obituaries, and occasionally now a piece about a restaurant going bust. When will the U-T care about its readers and the food scene here? It seems management depends more on outside writers to fill the gap. Sorry to say that the redesigned paper doesn’t inspire one to renew their subscription (that would be Buzz). Sadly, the U-T logo and design look like something from a high school newspaper.
Do something nice, support World Bicycle Relief (“WBR”) and treat yourself to a terrific seven-course dinner at Farm House Cafe WBR provides modified bicycles to children in Africa so they can travel safely to and from school. Key note speaker is 10th place Tour de France Cyclist Chris Horner and there will be an auction of Tour de France items including Lance Armstrong cycling equipment. November 5, 7pm, $200 per person includes wine pairing, tax and gratuity. BTW, Buzz thinks Farm House Café is one of the best restaurants in San Diego. Reservations: 619) 269-9662 or www.farmhousecafesd.com.
Expand your taste buds and get over to Ocean Beach and The 3rd Corner Monday, October 25 to try unique wines featuring 25 different grapes. 4pm to 7pm, $10, Information and reservations: 619-223-2700.
Lobster fans rejoice and enjoy the locally caught crustaceans at King’s Fish House in Carlsbad, Chula Vista and Mission Valley. They work with local fisherman to bring these seasonal beauties to the table. They also feature local swordfish caught off the Channel Islands. UPDATE: AS OF THIS WRITING, CHECK WITH THE RESTAURANT FOR LOBSTER AVAILABILITY, DUE TO SEASONAL FLUCTUATIONS.
Hillcrest adds Ethiopian to their smorgasbord of ethnic restaurants in the block between Fifth and Sixth on University. Bayu Authentic Ethiopian Cuisine takes over the spot that Cafe Bleu had before relocating down the street on Washington in Mission Hills. Not familiar with Ethiopian food? Here’s a quick primer.
Soon to open next door to (but not affiliated with) Farm House Cafe on Adams in University Heights, is Cueva Bar. Expect to find some basic tapas (so far from the menu on their website) and wines from any country that speaks Spanish (Spain, Mexico, and maybe a few that speak Portuguese), along with micro brews on tap. Will be nice to have another choice in the hopping and growing area that includes some good places on Park Boulevard.
You need not be a foodie to stroll Canon from Rosecrans east two blocks to Shafter on a Sunday morning to support the new Farmers Market. You’ll find local organic produce and other goodies including flowers and even craft items. Cheese lovers can rejoice at the selection that Mary Palmer of Taste Artisan Cheese brings to the market. Mary and her hubby George decided to do the markets rather than the brick and mortar place they had on University next to Wine Steals.
Buzz recently cruised the market and found it a terrific start for the Point Loma residents who don’t want the hassle of the Wednesday Ocean Beach market, or don’t want to drive to Hillcrest for their Sunday shopping. Besides good produce, cheese, and flowers, you can have a less traditional Sunday brunch as you munch on the multi-ethnic prepared foods available. Buzz would like to see an earlier opening as their current hours are 9:30 am to 2:30 pm.
It’s up to the community to support local farmers…and our local economy. What would you like to see at the Farmers Markets …wherever you live in San Diego?
There is bread and then there is artisan bread. There’s the baguette that’s just a soft mass of melt-in-your mouth dough. Then there’s the baguette with texture, flavor and a crust with some crunch.
Nothing irritates Buzz more than to want to support a Point Loma newcomer (that would be Charlie’s Best Bread) only to find that the new place can’t come up with their own unique menu of breads and various sandwiches. How does Buzz know this? Well, the new guy occupies the space that the artisan bakery Con Pane Rustic Breads & Cafe had for ten years. Charlie’s moved in and instead of creating their own menu items, decided to see if they, their bread and some of their menu items could emulate those of Con Pane. They do not.
Many of Charlie’s breads are baked someplace else, as they are bagged in plastic and ready to take (just as they are at the Hillcrest Farmers Market). They do have muffins and breakfast items, roast beef, pastrami and veggie Cobb sandwiches, paninis and daily breads ( listed in exactly the same order as Con Pane). They use organic flour in some of their breads, and their prices can be higher on some items than the former tenant’s. Buzz bought challah and have had their turkey Cobb…same ingredients vastly different outcome. You’ll also find already wrapped cinnamon rolls with walnuts and raisins that for many don’t hold a candle to the light and flavorful ones at Con Pane that are never pre-wrapped.
Buzz would like to see Charlie’s find their own identity. There are a zillion sandwich combos, why not create your own? And don’t try to fool the customers who recently came in thinking it was Con Pane redone and ordered a turkey Cobb sandwich. Expectations were high–but dashed-when they tasted the wannabe Cobb (roasted turkey breast, bacon, avocado, blue cheese, roasted roma tomatoes mayonnaise and romaine lettuce). When the customer found out that Con Pane moved to Historic Decatur and Dewey Roads in Liberty Station, they rushed down and happily enjoyed the original Cobb (roasted turkey breast, applewood smoked bacon, fresh avocado, crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, house roasted roma tomatoes, mayonnaise and romaine lettuce).
Certainly it is a matter of taste as to which bakery you’ll make yours. Charlie’s also has an unfortunate parking situation as many spaces around the building are marked for the bank and other tenants. Buzz wants to see the new guy on the block succeed, though not as a copycat. If, dear reader, you’re up to it, try your own taste test with breads from each place. Buzz wants to hear from you.