Seems like La Jolla is picking up with the soon-to-open WeOlive.  From the website it looks to have quite an impressive selection of California oils, as well as other olive products including soaps, mustards and tapenades.  Opens about February 1 at 1158 Prospect, La Jolla.

Those of you who wonder what the next food craze could be need only look to San Francisco’s well-known Tartine Bakery & Cafe and its sister Bar Tartine where new chef Nick Balla arrives March 1. He and Tartine owners Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt will take the food and the breads to Eastern and Central Europe according to the San Francisco Chronicle.  Note also that many other San Francisco restaurants are changing menus to explore this mostly untapped culinary area.   Wonder if San Diego restaurants (and their patrons) would ever embrace the modern versions of goulash and a fabulous house made rye bread.

Chefs Confab (a group of 14 very good San Diego chefs)  hosts a week of sustainable seafood events that include dinners, talks, and more.  Check the website for information on the series that runs from May 31 to June 6  ending with a $125 dinner at 1500 Ocean created by many of the Confab chefs.

Executive chef Matt Smith, will move from Winesellar & Brasserie to The 3rd Corner’s soon-to-open third location in Palm Desert.  Smith is from Indio and this move will let him be closer to home as well as run Ed Moore’s newest restaurant that opens late June. Desert goers will find the restaurant at the junction of Highways 111 and 74 in the old Palomino site.

Blanca lost chef Jason Neroni who quickly realized that San Diego diners weren’t ready to expand their eating habits to include pork in a various ways or foods cooked sous vide, so he packed up and went back to his New York roots.  In his place,  Gavin Schmidt who just arrived from San Francisco with a resume that includes work as executive chef at the highly rated  Campton Place and chef de cuisine at the two-star Michelin rated  Coi.  We wish him well.

Executive chef Bernard Guillas of The Marine Room , just returned from New York where he launched his cookbook: Flying Pans: Two Chefs, One World.

Buzz fav, Avenue 5 Restaurant & Bar on Fifth between Nutmeg and Oliver, decided to take on the burger craze in a more interesting way.  Every Wednesday is Bodacious Burger night from 5pm to close.  What kind of burgers?  Interesting round-the-world flavored burgers that arrive with six ounces of protein, a small salad, truffle fries and a dill pickle spear and range from $10.95 to $14.95 and include the Aussie lamb burger, the Scottish salmon burger, the Frenchie burger, portobello burger and others.  Closed Monday.

Tuesdays at Jayne’s Gastropub in North Park features a Jayne burger and any draft beer for $15.

Roseville in Point Loma has a new menu created by chef Chad White with prices $20 and under along with bar food choices and nightly specials.  They do need to get their website updated however, as former executive chef Amy DiBiase now heads the Glass Door (with a great view of the bay and Little Italy) at the Hotel Porto Vista.

Tommy Pastrami, with some of the best pastrami and corned beef on corned rye bread is finally opening this summer.  Buzz mentioned them a year ago but they clearly had some problems getting the space finished downtown at 555 West C at Fifth between Broadway and C.

**Wine lovers rejoice:  The wine bar at Fifty-Seven Degrees (on Hancock at Washington in the old Pier 1 Imports building) opens March 5 with a stellar group behind the bar.  At the helm is Sheila Tracy (the original Laurel and Farmhouse Café) who enlisted three top wine tenders:  Billy Spain (original Laurel), Cindy Bartelli (Crush) and Christopher J. Hile (Ivy Hotel).  The wine store features the expertise of Brian Farres (original Wine Bank).

**Downtown, Bacchus Wine Market is a hidden gem, with good tastings and a retail shop.  In the East Village, Toast Enoteca joins the wine bar market with a contemporary and comfortable room, complete with those serve yourself, credit card type wine dispensers (and many more behind the bar).  Best of all there is an Italian- inspired food menu that goes beyond a cheese plate. Little Italy is a hotspot for wine bars including Enoteca Style (on India between Ash and Beech) where the menu has panini’s, some salads from their sister restaurant Salad Style (on F near 8th), wine and beer.

**Two blocks away on Union between Ash and Beech Extraordinary Desserts dispenses more than delectable desserts.  New the first week in March are ports, Madeira and other libations that complement the sweet and savory menu. Worth a trip for a nightcap after the symphony or a night on the town. Or start the day there with coffee and pastry.

Changes: Venice, in UTC has closed and it’s all about location, location, location. Office buildings that garner the lunch crowd cannot be guaranteed the same at dinner.  Crescent Heights (shuttered last year) was a terrific downtown restaurant on a Broadway corner with access mainly through the lobby of a large office building not close enough to catch the Gaslamp or convention crowd.

Ivy Hotel is now Andaz San Diego, and part of the Hyatt’s upscale boutique properties.  We’re hearing executive chef Nathan Coulon will continue to oversee Quarter Kitchen, that features local ingredients that become terrific menu items.  Coulon is a member of Cooks Confab, a group of talented chefs here in San Diego.

**We’re hearing that Five Guys Burgers & Fries will be opening a second San Diego location in Liberty Station near Vons.  North Island Naval Station already enjoys these burgers—the franchise began in Virginia.  No opening date set for the new site.

**Smashburger, chose La Jolla as its first entry into the soon-to-be saturated San Diego market.  Expect the store to open in the next few weeks. Note to Smashburger…Do we really need three daily teaser tweets before you’ve sold your first burger in this market?

**In the space next to the empty Jack’s La Jolla on Girard, Cups serves organic cupcakes in two sizes: petite (three-bites) and large (six plus bites). Buy five get the sixth free—$2 each for small, $4 for large.  For a treat anytime, the flourless chocolate decadence is moist and worth every crumb.  Flavors change daily (the website has the weekly schedule) and they’re open late

**In Hillcrest, The Big Easy takes over in the The Better Half space while just around the corner on Fourth next to Tapas Picasso, Kips Café has reopened after relocating from El Cajon.  Haven’t tried either yet, as both opened in the past few weeks.  Down the road on Adams Avenue, Café 21 now offers dinner in addition to breakfast and lunch.

**Bankers Hill will soon welcome Isabel Cruz and Barrio Star in the space that housed the short lived Mukashi at Nutmeg and Fifth.   And down the hill on Fourth and Ivy, Bankers Hill Bar and Restaurant opens in March, the second venue for Market Restaurant + Bar’s Carl Schroeder (Buzz noted in October).

**Love lasagna, live in Scripps Ranch and hate to cook?  You’re in luck  as Lady Lasagna opens in Scripps Ranch with another location soon in the North County Mall.  Various lasagnas include Genova (pesto) and Alba (with truffles).  Check out the pictures on their website.  Haven’t tried it yet.

**Rainwater’s on Kettner a San Diego steak and seafood institution for 20 plus years will close New Year’s eve.  It’s all about the over-crowded market that is the Gaslamp, and the desire to reopen closer to their clientele, many of whom live in La Jolla. Buzz will keep you posted when they find their new location.

**Euro Food Depot is new and primarily an e-commerce business specializing in hard to find foods from France and Europe.  During the holidays, they are open to the public Saturday, December 12th and 19th (9:30am to 3pm) and Wednesday, 23rd and 30th (3:30pm to 6:30pm). They are committed to selling rare imported foods at competitive prices (after all, they are a depot…) and can special order products as well.  Expect to find (as I did) sherry vinegar, a variety of French mustards, olives oil and cornichons, boudin noir and boudin blanc and other sausages, pates, prosciutto and a growing selection of cheese from France. After the first of the year they will sell online. 6370 Lusk Blvd., #F102, 858-452-9200.

**In  La Jolla, those who love to cook their own steak while smoozing at the grill with friends, can now do it at the latest Cohn restaurant, La Jolla Strip Club, in the old Trophy’s location in UTC.  With nearly 100 vodkas, all of which are $7, and a fun big bar, as well as a couple of pool tables on the patio, this venue speaks to the 21 to 45 year-old demographic. 4282 Esplanade Ct., in the Costa Verde Shopping Center. 858-450-1400.  Open for lunch weekdays, dinner daily.

**San Diego is a tough place to find good take out food that doesn’t come from a large supermarket.  The tiny PrepKitchen is worth noting and does some very good food for takeout or casual patio dining.  This is Whisknladle’s second location and both places feature seasonal, local and artisanal dishes. Buzz recently bought  a pine nut and raisin spiked eggplant caponata with the vegetables finely diced and not overcooked, a gently truffled chicken salad with raisins and a faro salad with grapes and walnuts and a drop dead chocolate brownie topped with  salted caramel…an intense and very good dessert.  PrepKitchen also features sandwiches, green salads, soups and entrees such as PK meat loaf with beef, Fontina cheese mushrooms and fresh herbs ($13.50), roasted fresh catch ($17.95) and hand made pasta at market price, among others. While the salads or snacks as they are called are all quite good, my only minor note would be the overuse of raisins, nuts and grapes in each. They carry Framani cured meats (though they also make their own that you’ll find at Whisknladle) and a few artisanal cheeses—a cheddar from Fresno and a lovely French sheeps milk.  Their cheeses are $5 per quarter pound; those  snacks are all $5 for 8 ounces, enough to serve two and the entrees all come with a side of vegetables or starch. 7556 Fay Ave, across from Vons, 858-875-7737. Open from 11am to 9pm.

It’s all about beer and dinners featuring small artisanal brewers.  Check out the action at The Linkery that goes on for days including a Green Flash bash November 12.  For info:  619-255-8778.

At Roseville, there’s a fun menu featuring Shipyard’s limited edition brews from chef Amy DiBiase’s home state, Maine.  Reservations a must for this all-inclusive $65 dinner also on November 12 . Call 619-450-6800.

If  bubbles are more your style, don’t miss Winesellar & Brasserie’s annual Le Grande Champagne Tasting on November 14 that includes Ruinart, Taittinger and Krug among many top producers.  For $85 it’s a deal that includes appetizers to match the various Champagnes.  Reservations a must:  858-450-9557.

Thanksgiving is around the corner and you can order a turkey from any of your favorite meat markets.  La Jolla’s Homegrown Meats will have local free-range California turkeys as well as spiral hams and meats.  For information and to order call  858-454-6328.

Celebrate Thanksgiving by not cooking and supporting Slow Food Urban San Diego at a November 19 dinner at UCSD.  Jeff Jackson, executive chef at A.R. Valentien will cook local pastured turkeys from Womach RanchFor information and tickets or call 619-972-3500.

Had a chance to visit Whisknladle on Wall Street in La Jolla where their motto on menu is a Julia Child quote: ” You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces, just good food from fresh ingredients.”  Buzz and a pal agree, with at least the four dishes we tried (all perfect for sharing):  cracker thin flatbread with greens, a light dusting of Parmesan and a bit of lemon zest ($14); seared scallops (2) on a skinny plate with baby snow peas and blood orange foam ($16); fusilli with morels and fava bean puree ($14) and a rhubarb galette with an unusually (and very good)  feather-light crust ($10).  With drinks our tab was $90 plus tip and for a Wednesday night, the place was nearly full-they clearly know their customers with only 20 menu items priced mostly in the high teens.  High quality ingredients, a bit pricey for quanity, as in the two scallops for $16. Mid- May they open Prepkitchen down the street on Fay Avenue for take away or eat in sandwiches, salads, dinner items and more….

Encinitas has a gem tucked away in the old Marie Callender’s spot at Manchester and Encinitas Boulevards.  Three of us found the service, food and the clubby atmosphere at Bentley’s Steak & Chop House top notch.  How so?  Specials were recited with the price; server didn’t reveal her name; generous portion of Colorado rack of lamb perfectly cooked medium rare ($29).  With drinks our three mains and two starters totaled $160 plus tip. There’s a large patio for lunch or dinner and if I lived closer, I’d be a regular.

Cooks Confab is San Diego’s answer to a gourmet dinner group, only its members are all well-known restaurant chefs. Members include Jeff Jackson, Nathan Coulon, Brian Malarkey, Brian Sinnott, Jack Fisher, Olivier Boiteau and for the moment, only one woman chef, Katie GrebowAmy DiBiase may soon join her on the roster. This week, eight members of the group presented a nine-course dinner with wines paired by Eno wine director, Ted Glennon. at 1500 Ocean that featured sustainable seafood.  Along with the seafood creations, the finale of Jack Fisher‘s light, lemony olive oil parfait with strawberry caviar and rhubarb (served not in a glass, but plated as a piece of cake) made me nearly lick the plate.

Stations for the reception featured five of the chefs and one was Brian Malarkey’s duo of oysters, with, shockingly “Santa Monica Farmers Market Strawberries” along with a Champagne mignonette.  A quick look at Malarkey’s contribution to the January truffle dinner included produce from specific farms north of Los Angeles.  Buzz does wonder why Malarkey doesn’t support the local farmers who grow produce nearer to Oceanaire.  The Confab’s next dinner is Meat on June 7 at Nine-Ten, hosted by chef Jason Knibb.

At a media dinner a few weeks ago,  Nathan Coulon unveiled his new menu for Quarter KItchen at Ivy Hotel. It’s a menu that encourages sharing and features “American favorites, seasoned with fresh ideas.” Coulon’s food is approachable, reflects his classical training and is at a realistic price point for these trying times.  His love of goat cheese was evident in the three starters he chose–roasted beet, avocado and creamy goat cheese ($12), spinach and prosciutto salad with fresh goat cheese ($11) and aged French coat cheese on a housemade brioche ($15).  There’s the cook-your-own on a hot stone Japanese Kobe beef–thin slices at $20 per ounce, minimum three ounce order.  Buzz doesn’t swoon over Kobe beef at any price, but Coulon’s prime Cabernet braised short ribs with mashed Yukon’s and a hint of star anise in the red wine reduction ($28) make for a worthy dish.   A simple grilled pork loin appeared with cauliflower gratin and sensational cumin braised apples and red cabbage ($27).  The kitchen and restaurant seem more at ease with Coulon’s steady hand than with his predessor, Damon Gordon.

The well-known Parallel 33, in Mission Hills, closed its doors last Saturday night after nine and a half years.  Look for a change of ownership in the near future.

Matt Rimel, the guy behind the very popular Zenbu Sushi Bar and Rimel’s Rotisserie in La Jolla, brings both to Cardiff-by- the-Sea.  They occupy two large spaces in the newly redone Cardiff Town Center next to the Seaside Market at Birmingham and San Elijo.  Zenbu opens late this week and will be, as its La Jolla sister, only open for dinner.  Next door, Rimel’s Rotisserie just started lunch and dinner this week. Zenbu: 760-633-2223, Rimel’s 760-633-2202.

Winesellar & Brasserie will soon open a yet-to-be-named cafe below their Brasserie. You’ll find healthy organic food to take away or eat there including many half bottles of wines to go with soups, salads and pastas made in the Brasserie kitchen.

Somehow, the space at the Aventine, that was most recently Blue Coral, never seems to get the right restaurant.  Numerous operations have come and gone and now another will give it a shot.  Opening in the next few weeks is a high-end Florida seafood restaurant:  Truluck’s Seafood, Steak, Crab House

Opening on Friday, Alchemy in South Park.  Not much on the website yet.  It’s on the corner of Beech and 30th.