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DIGITAL EDITION

0714 2014 ipad

Food & Drink

DISH: By David Nelson • Photography by Martin Mann

All The Food That's Fit To Eat

A twinkie or hostess cupcake occasionally sweetened my school lunch bag (my mom always included Fritos, even though I howled my hatred of them), but a banana was the more likely coup de grace after tuna salad on mayo-soaked Wonder Bread. Many Kennedy-era mothers thought this diet reasonable, but would they have applauded the deep-fried Twinkies served at Knotty Barrel? Raspberry puree and whipped cream, which the menu assures is house-made, gentrify these oblong bombs. How comforting...

Treats, take two: It’s so very weird to witness styled-up junk food shoot the crest of trendiness even as restaurants around San Diego pledge to be devoutly green, organic, locavore and sustainable. Fried Twinkies may be a flash in the pan, but at downtown’s new Saltbox, Simon Dolinky includes lobster corn dogs and lemon-brown butter popcorn as hors d’oeuvre on a menu that soars with spicy cioppino and mustard-sharp “devil’s chicken.” The accomplished Dolinky, a former acolyte of Christian Graves at J-Six, main-tains solid culinary practices at Hotel Palomar (formerly Se San Diego), and accommodates those who prefer snacks over traditional dinners with piquant beef-cheek tacos, hot, ham-filled cheese puffs (oh boy!) and barbecued lamb tamales...

Oh, the transformational power of culinary art! A release for Gaslamp Quarter’s new Bolillo Tortas (“Bread Sandwiches”) informs us that patrons beguiled by the various salads and sandwiches “will redefine their ideas of Mexican cuisine and Mexican culture.” Culture by the bite, how tasty — and how unfortunate to have mistakenly supposed all these years that the richly varied culture of Mexico arises from its arts, music and history...

Beans and bacon were bedrocks of pioneer America’s passage from New England to the Pacific Northwest, where some contemporary families guard ancestral recipes for Boston baked beans cooked overnight in smoldering wagon-train campfires. At swanky Bice, executive chef Mario Cassineri also likes pork and beans, and served four such pairings at a dinner given to celebrate Italy’s Ferragosto holiday. Elegant and interesting, it offered riches like a complex salad of many beans, maple-syrup-glazed bacon, dipped while hot in melted chocolate and a fancifully garnished bean-free fruit sorbet. The cold
pork-and-bean soup, though, quite recall-ed the classic hobo meal: unheated baked beans eaten from the can…

The day may come when beneficiaries of the current cocktail craze will fund a chair in Bar Consulting at UCSD (Master of Mixology laureates would be master mixologists, natch). Fancy footwork dances behind bars around town; Bertrand Hug has engaged Shawn Barker, who learned how to shake things up at perky Vegas joints, to introduce exotic tipples to the martini-loving clientele at Bertrand at Mister A’s. Barker does not tend bar, he consults in his capacity as co-owner of the Smoke and Mirrors Cocktail Company (his partner is Chris Simmons, assistant bar manager at Burlap).


Whenever the brunch lines stretch interminably in front of Hash House A Go Go — as they do every Saturday and Sunday — less-patient types toddle 50 paces up Fifth Avenue to Osteria Origano, where the new uovocentric weekend breakfast menu includes hefty frittatas, Benedict Fiorentina (spinach subs for the Canadian bacon) and big plates of steak ‘n’ eggs...

GET AROUND, GET AROUND, we get around — to an ever-more-inclusive array of restaurants from everywhere. The selection shifts as relentlessly as sandbars off Windansea Beach; once popular, German and Hungarian restaurants now are scarce. Located mid-way down Midway, Taste of the Himalayas tucks some Nepali and Tibetan fare (a local first) into a mostly Indian menu that curries favor with curry-heads. Downtown on Sixth Avenue, sliver-wide Cafe Istanbul stays open late to satisfy cravings for Turkish delights like lamb doner shawarma, iskender kebabs and falafel wraps. In the Gaslamp District, the provocatively named Bite Me roams the Eastern Mediterranean as restlessly as Odysseus, proffering Greek chicken, tabbouleh, tasty koobideh kebabs and a cheesed-up specialty called “Bite Me tots” (I’ll pass). Further afield, the borscht steams and the chicken Kiev sizzles at La Mesa’s Village House Kalina, the first area outpost of Ukrainian cooking — much of it familiar to Russophiles...

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EDITOR'S CORNER

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Perhaps it’s because the “cottage” with the wavy, cedar-thatched roof on the cover of our July issue looks like it could be the home of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs that I was immediately intrigued by a press release I received this week.

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