There’s a new quarterly journal out that food lovers may want to read:  Lucky Peach features such writers (and some chefs) as Ruth Reichl, Peter Meehan, David Chang and others.  First issue looks at ramen.   Check it out.

The Marine Room isn’t just for special occasions, and even on an overcast day, it’s got a drop dead view of the Pacific Ocean spotted with  surfers, kayakers, boats and birds, not to mention people walking the beach.  Just yesterday Buzz popped in figuring it would be as gorgeous at the ocean as it was inland. It wasn’t, but it didn’t matter.  Watching the water and just relaxing during the restaurant’s 4pm to 6pm happy hour (appetizers and well drinks are just $7 each) makes the place a lovely respite from the hustle and bustle of city life.  If you swoon for avocados, you must try (and share) the delicately tempura battered  wedges of fresh avocado served with an ancho chile dip.  Simple, delicious and not greasy!

Check out their August listing of dinners and classes with über award-winning chefs, Bernard Guillas and Ron Oliver.  For sake lovers, Ichishima Sake is featured at a special dinner on August 3 for $95 excluding tax and tip.   2000 Spindrift Lane, La Jolla, (866) 644.2351 or 858-459-7222.

A  tasting dinner at The Grill at Torrey Pines Wednesday, July 27, will feature beer from Petaluma’s Lagunitas Brewing Company. Here’s the menu and the cost is $65 including food, wine and valet parking.  Reservations: 858-777-6645.

Update:  Another local food writer, Kitty Morse (well-known for her Moroccan food tours and cookbooks) just released her updated A Biblical Feast:  Ancient Mediterranean Flavors for Today’s Table that features foods mentioned in the Old and New Testaments. The nearly fifty  easy -to- make recipes, along with commentary on the history of the ingredients would delight any cook.  The book is available online from Kitty and at local bookstores for $18.95.

Books make great gifts and three  new ones are certain to  get you thinking about cooking and food.  Two cookbooks come from local San Diego restaurant owners:  Su- Mei Yu owns the popular  Saffron on India Street near the corner of Washington Street.  Her latest book, The Elements of Life: A Contemporary Guide to Thai Recipes and Traditions for Healthier Living will be available early October.  This food centers on Sue-Mei’s passion for healthy eating, and in the Thai culture, how seasons and elements (wind, fire, earth and water) figure in the daily diet.

Bernard Guillas, the longtime executive chef at The Marine Room and his chef de cuisine Ron Oliver share cooking secrets and recipes gathered during their worldwide travels as celebrity chefs–from Australia to Hong Kong– on land and on sea.  Flying Pans: Two Chefs, One World will be available in early November.  It looks to be a gorgeous book with Guillas’ good food.

Jill Richardson is a local food activist  and blogger with a passion about America’s  food system (or lack thereof).  Her book, Recipe for America:  Why Our Food System is Broken and What We Can Do To Fix It looks at our industrialized agricultural system and gives her vision for a way towards a more sustainable path for agriculture.

Bleu Bohème owner Philippe Beltran is at it again as he readies his second Beltran Restaurant Concepts (BRC) location, Papa Nanou, Cuisine du Voyage. Located just a storefront down from the empty Phil’s BBQ on Goldfinch Street in Mission Hills, it will serve Beltran’s brand of comfort food–diverse dishes in a casual setting.  Expect a summer opening.

Cupcakes Squared (yep, they’re square not round) just opened next to Stumps Market on Voltaire in Point Loma.  Former graphics artist Robin Ross Wisotsky and her husband decided to shift gears and have a second career in cupcakes and truly enjoy her love of cooking (she also catered for years).  She uses French chocolate, Hawaiian vanilla and all natural ingredients to make a variety of flavors.  3772 Voltaire St., 619-226-3485.  Closed Monday, Tuesday to Friday 11am to 6pm, Saturday ’til 5pm, Sunday ’til 4pm. 

If taking a cooking class with well-known local chefs sounds good, here are two you might consider.  The Marine Room’s Executive Chef Bernard Guillas offers spring cooking classes on May 7 and June June 11, $50 plus tax, tip and beverage.  Up at The Grand Del Mar, the resort offers a different class each month ranging from Breakfast in Bed (for Mom) on May 10 to a Winners Circle Cocktail Party, just in time for race season, July 9, both are $75. 

Arterra’s new wine director is Jeff Q. Rose.  He comes with wine buying and bar managing experience from three of north county’s top wine haunts:  Tastes Restaurant, North County Wine Company and Harvest Ranch Market.  He is currently enrolled in Level 2 of the Court of Master Sommeliers and is a certified wine professional from the Culinary Institute of America.

Accolades to Barona’s top toque, Chef Dean Thomas who was named chef of the year by the San Diego chapter of the American Culinary Federation for his extensive outreach to the community and promoting the culinary community here.  Thomas was instrumental in getting the Fancy Food Show to San Diego as well as having the first ever chefs cookoff at the show and works with local groups including the Navy, Slow Food among many others.

The Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina just redid the entire property.  The Red Marlin restaurant sports drop dead fabulous bay views, overlooking the hotel’s marina and at night, the lights of Mission Bay.  Large picture windows make the room open and airy and I don’t think there’s a bad table in the place.  Chef Danny Bannister creates breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes that use local, fresh ingredients.  For reservations: 619-221-4868.

Theater goers at La Jolla Playhouse may soon have a new venue for dining as rumors continue to swirl that Wolfgang Puck will be involved in the venture.  No confirming word yet from either the Playhouse or Wolfgang, but do stay tuned.

If you want to do something unusual, book a table at The Marine Room for high tide dining May 3, 4, 5, 6, 7  and 31, and dates in June, July and August also.  High tide means the waves are crashing against those large picture windows during dinner that is served nightly from 5:30pm.  Reservations:  858-459-7222.

Bourbon comes to The Palm restaurant on March 14, for a four course meal featuring Knob Creek Whiskey, all for $125 per person.  Reservations:  619-702-6500.

Point Loma now has truffles and chocolate, made daily at The Elegant Truffle, located on the north side of La Scala restaurant at the corner of Scott and Canon.  Owner Jennifer Marie Muratore hand dips seasonal fruit, makes luscious brownies and the cutest, tastiest espresso kisses, shaped like lips.  The store just opened last week, is closed on Sundays and open from 10am to 7pm the rest of the week.  619-222-1889.

San Diego is about to host the 2008 Winter Fancy Food Show  this January 13 to 15 at the Convention Center.  This worldwide show features everything from beverages and baked goods to soups and salad dressings along with candy, cheese and coffee–nearly 100,000 specialty food items.  Attendees from specialty food, wine, gift and department stores, supermarkets, restaurants, mail-order and other related businesses, walk the three day show to sample and buy products. 

Buzz wonders where these 20,000 to 30,000 vendors and attendees will spend their restaurant dollars as the show usually occurs in San Francisco or New York City–places known for great eating.  Let’s be clear:  right now, San Diego does not have great eating.  Sure, there are lots of restaurants with fair to good food and service but for the most part, not near the caliber of the other show cities. 

If attendees pull out their Zagat for 2007  they’ll find a handful of places rated no higher than 27 out of 30–far fewer than other cities.  They’ll spend nearly $50 per person (or more) , they will need a taxi or car to get to, among others,  WineSellar & BrasseriePamplemousse Grille, Arterra and El Bizcocho  and will they know the chefs are gone from the latter two? They may find a way to La Jolla for the Marine RoomTapenade or George’s at the Cove.  Close to the Convention Center, they’ll find Ruth Chris Steak House and Rama . Or they’ve heard about others such as Parallel 33,  Modus Supper Club (no working link), but do they know the chef/partners of both have moved on or that  Laurel Restaurant & Bar got a new owner, chef and decor a few years back?  What is clear from reading comments on Zagat, and from the Zagat’s themselves–service is subpar across the country–and San Diego is no exception. 

The recent months have seen chefs who garnered good or great local and national raves–Gavin Kaysen of El Bizcocho (one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs in 2007),  Riko Bartelomo of Asia-Vous, Jason Shaeffer of 1500 Ocean, and the most recent, Brian Pekarcik of Arterra– ditching San Diego for New York, Hawaii, Colorado and Pennsylvania, respectively.  They move on for various reasons, but underlying anything personal is the lack of support from the local press who, for the most part, don’t really educate the readers to what makes a great restaurant–be it the hole in the wall or the jazzy newcomer.  Nor does the local chapter of the California Restaurant Association further an atmosphere of greatness either as Buzz noted in July.  Of course, cities like New York and San Francisco have public transportation and are not spread out in the manner of southern California and that does make a bit of a difference.  How far and long are you willing to drive for a meal–at any price– especially if you want to have a drink or two?

So, where in San Diego would you send these food savvy souls to eat?  Besides the usual collection of downtown hotel and convention eateries (and themed Cohn restaurants on nearly every corner)  tell Buzz where you think the show goers ought to spend their restaurant dollars–be it upscale or down–do you have a favorite you think should get some notice?