New Paleo / Gluten Free Coming To Leucadia.

A new Paleo and Gluten free eatery and bake house called Cultivate 101 will be opening in the space that until this month was El Torito Market & Taco Shop in Leucadia at 948 N. Coast Highway.

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The old El Torito Market. It is now totally gutted.

More when I know more.

 

 

Corner Bakery Cafe ~ Encinitas

I can not eat high-end restaurant food all the time, so I like it when I can find high quality fast casual places like Lemonade, Flower Child, and I would now add Corner Bakery Cafe to that list.

I was in Encinitas on other business and came across the re-designed strip mall just east of El Camino Real on Encinitas Blvd. There is a lot going into that spot, a tap-room, Luna Grill, and it already houses a Habit Burger and the previously mentioned Corner Bakery Cafe.

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Corner Bakery Cafe ~ 1476 Encinitas Boulevard, Encinitas.

I did some research and this is the fourth San Diego location operated by the Feast Restaurant Group. They have another North County location across from the outlet stores in Carlsbad in the plaza that houses PF Changs and King’s Fish House.

The best reference I could give you is think Panera with better food and a real kitchen. I used to work for Panera and have nothing but positive things to say about my experience but I also know fresher ingredients when I eat them. Plus, working kitchen.

The interior is simple and clean. You order at the counter and then your food is brought to your table when ready. Pretty straight forward Fast Casual Dinning. I do not have any interior pics due it being somewhat busy and ripping one-off the web is always dicey.

They serve a full range of breakfast items from eggs, pancakes, and oatmeal. As well as sandwiches, salads, Pastas and chili. They offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner and are open till about 8 or 9pm.

I was down there at lunch time for my appointment so went the Sandwich and salad route.

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Harvest Salad ~ chicken, field greens, green apples, toasted walnuts, cranberries and bleu cheese with raisin pecan sweet crisps and balsamic vinaigrette.

This was the smaller “cafe” size and it was big. It was everything I like in a salad, lots of different textures, great quality field greens, and I really liked the raisin pecan crisps. It was better than any salad I have had at Swami’s.

The bread that came with it was also really good.

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Uptown Turkey Avocado Sandwich ~ Smoked turkey breast, applewood smoked bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomatoes and mayo on whole grain harvest toast.

Great sandwich, lots of Avocado, Turkey and again, great bread. I should have re-plated it to show it better but I already get enough looks for spinning my plate around and taking like 10 pictures.

This was a lot of food, but they have combos available where it would be smaller portions of both.

Oh, they also have great lemonade and Iced tea. Hibiscus lemonade Arnold Palmer for the win. I love quality lemonade.

If you’re in the area they are a good quality option for a meal.

Probably my last post or next to last post for the month as I just had to throw some groceries away because I have not been eating in and I have to go through my groceries before I lose more.

Corner Bakery Cafe

1476 Encinitas Boulevard, Encinitas.

#food #lunch #foodporn

 

 

 

 

Bread and Barley ~ Leucadia

So, Bread and Barley recently opened a second restaurant in Leucadia along the 101 at 542 N. Coast Highway. The first restaurant is located in Covina, Ca.

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I hit them during soft opening. They focus on affordable well crafted food and craft beer, though they do run a full bar. It is just good solid food. It is not going to change your life but if you want a good lunch or dinner, I would check them out.

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The place is not that big. When I was there they could not open the patio, I am guessing 60 seats or close to that either way.

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Steak Sandwich~Grilled Hanger Steak, Chimichurri, Gruyere Cheese, Sourdough

Great sandwich, the steak was so tender and had obviously been marinated for a while. probably one of the best steak sammies I have had in a long time. House made chips.

If you are in the area, perfect place for a business lunch or a meet up. Roll up windows, so light and airy. great staff. They will do just fine, especially with the coming summer foot traffic.

Next week they should be in full open mode, with a full menu.

Bread and Barley

542 N. Coast Highway

#beer #food #foodporn

 

 

Crack Shack ~ Encinitas

The Crack Shack Encinitas, located at 407 Encinitas Blvd., is the second incarnation of the fast casual chicken restaurant by Michael Rosen and Richard Blais. Richard Blais is probably best known for his appearances on Top Chef as well as owning San Diego’s Juniper an Ivy.

The Encinitas location used to be Coco’s. With extensive remodeling I believe nothing remains of the former structure other than support beams and foundation.

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Hard to miss a giant chicken.

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The interior is one large open room with a large wrap around bar. They serve beer, wine, and liquor.

It is a fast casual order system. You order at a window outside near the entrance and food is then brought to your table.

They serve a number of sandwiches, fried chicken, salads, and a few odd ball items like Mexican poutine, deviled eggs, and matzo ball pasole.

When I first tried the Crack Shack at their little Italy location I declared it to be the best chicken sandwich I had ever had. While this time it was not that much of a life changing moment, it was still damn good.

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G-Bird and Firebird

The G-Bird ~ Chicken breast, shishito pepper relish, swiss, romaine, tomato, whole wheat brioche.

This was my favorite of the two. Really fresh tasting. I think the shishito pepper relish added a lot of flavor. Chicken was moist and beautiful

Firebird ~ Spicy fried thigh, cool ranch, pickles, crispy onions, potato roll.

Not very spicy and the crispy fried onions became wet limp onions. Still tasty chicken and the pickles are a smart addition.

The sandwiches are not pretty ( don’t be sandwich hating) but are tasty.

So, the plan was to have a friend come with me so I could show you guys two sandwiches. She could not make it so I ordered two and figured I’d take half of each home. Yeah, that didn’t happen. Lots of walkies tomorrow.

If you have not been I would check them out. They get busy so best to go off hours. I went at 1:30 ish on a Thursday and it was slow. They open at 9am but serve full menu.

They are expanding, to Costa Mesa I believe. This is a money-maker, best of luck to them.

The Crack Shack

407 Encinitas Blvd. Encinitas

#food #foodporn #friedchicken #encinitas

 

 

Himalayan Kitchen ~ Encinitas (round 2 )

So, its hard for me to re-visit restaurants, especially so soon. I loved this place so much I headed back down with a Chef friend of mine to check them out again.

The place is Himalayan Kitchen at 1337 Encinitas Blvd, Encinitas.

You can read my more detailed original post here.

This quick post is just to give you mine and my guests thoughts on the second visit.

First off, Momos were not ready yet ūüė¶

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L to R

Basmati Rice ~ perfectly cooked lightly seasoned rice as an accompaniment

Rato Bhale ra Bhanta ~ Diced eggplant and chicken cooked with exotic spices Nepalese style. This was the star dish. Rich depth of flavor and perfectly cooked eggplant and tender chicken.

Lamb Biryani ~ Lamb, basmati rice cooked in special herbs and spices. similar to the one I had the last time and just as good. The lamb was tender and flavorful and the rice perfect.

We also had Badami Naan which was delightful.

This is my new favorite spot. I will be here again and again. Chef concurred its delicious.

Himalayan Kitchen

1337 Encinitas Blvd Encinitas

Himalayan Kitchen ~ Encinitas

I was so excited when I came across this place. Great Himalayan food in North County…YAY! I was having to sneaking down to San Diego’s Himalayan Dinning Inn every month.

Himalayan cuisine encompasses food from the countries of India, Bangladesh, and my favorite Nepal. Though a lot of the ingredients are similar, the meats and spices will vary from country to country.

In India you see more curries and hotter spice levels. Nepali cuisine in general uses different spicing and is usually more mild.

That is why I love a restaurant like Himalayan Kitchen that can do these different variations on dishes and do them well.

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Himalayan Kitchen 1337 Encinitas Blvd. Encinitas (sprouts shopping center corner of Encinitas and El Camino )

Before the food let me mention the staff, I was so impressed. Professional, cortiouse, and friendly. Two of the staff were new. First day I think? They handled a lunch rush better than I have seen trained wait staff.

The other thing is they were very informative. I am not the normal customer. I do research. I actually read the menu a few times online, looked stuff up, and like most cases know what I’m getting before I come in. The other customers on the hand, had generally no idea what anything was. The staff was great in walking them through it. The other thing I thought was great was a lot of the customers sayed ” we saw you and wanted to learn more about this kind of food”. That was great to hear.

On to food……………

I love Momo. “Its kind of like a Gyoza or Chinese steamed dumpling” or that is what people would have you believe…it’s not. Because of whats inside, the spices, plus a slight lightness to the dough it is a Momo, or as I call them little packets of love.

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Vegetarian Momo ~ minced cabbage, spinach, cashews, nuts, paneer, onion, cilantro, green onion, and spices.

what does that filling look like?

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That is what love looks like.

Seriously, so much flavor. Great mix of spices. Slight heat at the back. They also come in chicken and lamb. As much of a carnivore I am, I suggest going with the vegetable ones.

Momo is one of the most popular snack foods and is sold on almost every street corner in cities in Nepal. With good reason.

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Himalayan Biryani ~ Vegetables, paneer, Tandori cooked lamb, Tandori cooked chicken, shrimp, Himalayan spices.

Loved this dish. The rice was perfect, every grain was separate, had seasoning, and the right tooth. All three proteins, perfect seasoning, and tenderness. This is a huge portion. You could easily order Momos ūüôā and two entrees for 3 people.

They have heat levels much like a Thai restaurant. Their heat levels are honest. I ordered an 8, they warned me and suggested a 7. The 7 had heat that built with the dish as you ate through it. I could have done an 8 and will next time, but be warned the first time round down 1.

There are, at least, over 60 versions of this dish in the Himalayas. Just depends where you are what spices and proteins will be involved. In the more northern reasons you will see nuts and raisins for example, like this version. While it reminded me of paellea, unlike that dish these ingredients are cooked separately and then assembled.

Quickly, on the menu are over 51 items as mains, many are vegetarian. Field day for vegetarians man. If you are gluten-free plenty of vegetables and they did find a man who was there while I was some crackers as well.

Also great lunch specials ~ two curries, rice, lentil, soup and bread $7.95 to $11.95 depending on what curries.

It is not an Indian restaurant, it is a Himalayan restaurant. You will find some familiar dishes but many new ones as well….and Momos.

Wheeew, lots to say but it’s because I loved this little place. I think this and El Chapin were my two favorite strip mall restaurant finds in the last 8 months or so. I already knew about Irinas’a so they do not count.

Strip mall restaurant is the political correct term for hole in the wall:)

Himalayan Kitchen

1337 Encinitas Blvd. Encinitas

(sprouts shopping center corner of Encinitas and El Camino )

#indian #himalayan #nepal #food #foodfinds.

Crust Pizzeria ~ Carlsbad

Crust Pizzeria is a Chef driven, gourmet pizza restaurant located on the border of Carlsbad and Encinitas at 3263 Camino De Los Coches, Carlsbad. (sprouts shopping center.)

The restaurant is pretty large with a medium-sized bar area, an open kitchen area, and seating for about 75 inside and an additional 40 on the patio. Still it gets busy on nights and weekends.

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Crust Pizzeria

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Crust Pizzeria interior.

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Master Pizza Chef Charlie Meola working at his craft.

Chef Meola has been working at his craft for 18 years. This experience and his passion for only using the best ingredients shows in his food. I was luck enough to grab some of his time and you can read that interview Here.

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Cheese Pizza by the slice available at lunch.

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Pepperoni Pizza ~ Grande mozzarella, Boars Head pepperoni, and fresh-cut basil.

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Tasia ~ Belle chevre goat cheese, kalamata olives, grilled eggplant, zucchini, Grande Mozzarella, feta cheese, oregano, lemon zest, and chili flake.

The pizza I had on a previous visit was the Sophia ~ Spicy sausage, crispy chard, olive oil, fontina cheese, ricotta, and rosemary.

I do not have a pic because my phone ate it:(  but it was delicious. Perfect crust, loved the quality of the cheese and the balance of flavor.

I would put crust in the top 4 pizza places in San Diego at the moment. First off don’t give me the Filippi’s they are mediocre. Pizza Port is OK if your close and want to grab lunch. Urbn does not know how to cook or time their crust, both times it was charred and inedable around the outside ( and I was there when it was slow so it’s not like they got distracted.)

No, I would say Biga, Crust, and The Privateer followed fourth by Pizza Maniac (for an old school grab a slice after work or school place.)

I know I talked mainly about pizza but Crust also does pastas, salads, and sandwiches.

I plan on going back for non work eating soon to explore the menu a little more along with going back to Biga for lunch because it was too dark for pics at dinner.

Crust Pizzeria

3263 Camino De Los Coches, Carlsbad

#food #foodporn #Pizza

Rooster Ramen : The Return ~coming Spring / Summer

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“Here they come to snuff the rooster
Yeah, here come the rooster
You know he ain’t gonna die
No, no, no, you know he ain’t gonna die”¬†¬†¬†¬†

Alice in Chains ~ Rooster

So, a little while ago I mentioned on northcountyfood’s Facebook page, which you should be following as well, that a great Ramen place is returning to North County.

That place is Rooster Ramen. The original, high quality pop up Ramen in North County. Do not be fooled by Johnny come latelys.

Now, I am happy to say Rooster Ramen is returning with a full-fledged brick and mortar restaurant.

Having eaten Chef David’s Ramen at the old incarnation of the restaurant, I am eagerly awaiting and trumpeting the return!

Here is what David has told me about his new restaurant

Opening late spring / early summer

Highway 101 in an undisclosed location.

Full 30 plus Sake list, plus Sochu cocktails and a complimenting beer list.

Over 9 traditional ramen dishes taken from different regions of Japan, as well as a number of specialty takes on the noodle dish.

The menu will also feature small plates and Yakatori grilled items prepared on a traditional Binchotan charcoal grill.

A revolving specials board will be available daily and feature items based off of what is fresh and in season. Luxury items such as Osetra Caviar, Monk Fish liver, and pork cheeks will also make an appearance.

Prices for Ramen will run $9 to $14 with build your own as well as vegan and vegetarian options available. Expect to see a good bowl of Pho make an appearance.

The restaurant’s digital ordering system will emulate the Ramen vending ticket machines in Japan. This will not only give customers full control of the ordering process but will also increase its speed.

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Example of a Ramen ticket machine.

The restaurant will have the feel of a Japanese farm-house with plenty of outdoor seating, a lengthy Ramen bar, and a semi open kitchen.

Hours will be 11 am till midnight weekdays and till 2 am Friday and Saturday with an early morning Sunday hangover brunch. This will make it North County’s only late night spot, sans a few Mexican places..

All the restaurants plates, bowls, and cups will be hand-made ceramic from Pawena Studios out of LA.

More news and info to come as things progress.

Perfect timing as this is The Year of The Rooster! My sign as well)

North County 2016 ~ A look back

So, while 2016 did not see the growth explosion of new places opening  that 2015 did, it did see some important restaurants open and trends take hold or fade.

While this post is too short to be all-inclusive, it hits on what I think was important to the North County food scene over the last year. You know things are good when you really have to edit your self. Other wise it would be “Things I love in North County, see entire website.”

I am going to start with some of the most important restaurant openings in North County (IMO).

Campfire ~ Carlsbad

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Campfire is important for a number of reasons. One it is a great restaurant and would be right at home in the East Village, North Park or Little Italy’s ¬†Food scene. Two, along with Land and Water Company it adds a second ingredient driven, properly sourced, foodie destination restaurant to the mainly touristy, mediocre Carlsbad Village food scene. Lastly, along with Carruth Cellar’s tasting room and Babba Coffee, it is helping to revitalize the north end of state street.

608 ~ Oceanside

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Opening in June of this year 608 brought upscale food in a comfortable setting to Oceanside, and at a price point that made it accessible. Chef Will Eick, in my opinion, is one of San Diego’s most talented young Chefs. He is bringing fine dinning techniques and ingredients and making them approachable. He also just introduced a seven course tasting menu option on the weekends offering the first non Omakase tasting menu option in Oceanside.

Belching Beaver Tavern and Grill ~ Vista

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Like Campfire did in Carlsbad, Belching Beaver joined the Flying Pig and added another farm to table, high calibre restaurant to the growing Vista food scene. Combine that with a talented Chef who focuses on farming and teaching children about food, where it comes from and how to grow it, you can not help love the place. Their beer is alright too:)

It is constantly on my visit, when I can list.

There were quite a few trends in the national food scene that were also seen in North County.

Some have hit their peak…

Fast Casual Poki restaurants. The trend actually hit last year and made its way to San Diego and in turn North County in 2016. You have Wicked Poki, Sunshine Japanese Food, and Poke Poke in Oceanside, Poke Waii in San Marcos, and soon to be opening PokeWan in Carlsbad. I think from the ones I have been to, Poki Poki is the best. If you want higher caliber, chef made Hawaiian food and Poke, I suggest checking out Lanai in Leucadia or Yoshino Japanese Deli in Carlsbad for Poke and Japanese.

Some trends are just continuing to grow…

The Artisanal Coffee / Tea scene has continued to show no sign of stopping for years now. It has finally hit Carlsbad and Oceanside. I should not say finally hit, but grown. The major players that have shown up recently are Banana Dang!, Loose Leaf Tea, Sleeping Tiger, Revolution Roasters, Copa Vida and Steady State Roasting. Who join a number of great coffee houses already in the area. For the first time, in its four-year history, Caffeine Crawl has added two North County routes in Oceanside and Carlsbad that are set to kick off this years San Diego event in January.

Caffeine Crawl San Diego

Declining and rising…

I think the fast casual Gourmet Burger explosion of the last few years is dying down. Not that I think these places will go away, I just feel you will not see as much of a proliferation of places like Habit Burger, Burger Lounge, and Pure Burger as you have.

I think the pendulum is on the up swing for fast casual healthy options like Lemonade, Flower Child, True Food Kitchen, Tender Greens and the like.

Best Dishes of the Year…

This is hard, but because these spring to mind instantly, I have to go with them. Two are from San Diego but deserve mentioning.

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Spicy Scallop Nigiri ~ Wrench and Rodent (Oceanside)

Made for me by Alex, this dish was perfect. Just a slight heat from the red Cyclops Farms jalapenos, and melt in your mouth scallops from Catalina Offshore.

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Pan Seared Opah ~ Flying Pig . (Oceanside)

This was a nightly special, beautiful Opah ( one of my favorite, if not favorite, fish) on red farro and micro greens.

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1 year Anniversary BBQ plate ~ Flying Pig (Vista)

Everything you could want (especially me) on a plate. Perfect Tr-Tip, Pork Loin, and Brisket, cooked over open flame and served with veggies and mash.

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Coop De Ville Chicken Sandwich ~ Crack Shack (SD but soon coming to Encinitas)

Apply named Crack Shack, so good. One of the best fried chicken sandwiches ever.

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Chicken Skin Sandwich ~ Biga (SD)

You think it would be heavy because the main ingredient is chicken skin, nope light and flavorful. I plan to return to Biga for dinner in the new year.

 

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Char Grilled Oysters ~ Campfire (Carlsbad)

Great dish that reminds me of oyster festivals on the sound in Washington State. I get this every time.

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Pork Belly ~ 608 (Oceanside)

I love me some pork and this is a perfect pork belly dish. It is smoked before curing (usually it is the other way around.) making it full of porky goodness.

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Assorted Cookies ~ The Cravory (Carlsbad)

Their cookies will change your life, they changed mine. You can get them at their shop in Bressi Ranch, or in Oceanside at Banana Dang! Favorites are the Red Velvet or Birthday Cake.

Special places that I was so happy to discover this year...

El Chapin

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Authentic and delicious Guatemalan food that can not be beat.

Sitaram

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Family run, fixed daily menu, vegetarian, Indian restaurant that needs to be tried by all.

 

What I’m looking forward to next year….

Trying 608’s tasting menu, Flying Pig’s Brewery, That Boy Good / Alpine Brewing restaurant and ¬†brewery, LTH’s second concept , and much, much, more.

What you can look for from North County Food. A 3 to 4 chef “Dessert Dinner” at Petite Madeline for Oceanside Valentines Week. Another Chef Wine Dinner in March / April, and of course more restaurant highlights.

There you go a short recap of a great year food wise. Happy holidays to all and thanks for your support.

 

 

DOH! Gourmet Cookie Dough ~ North County (soon to be everywere)

So, DOH! Gourmet Cookie Dough is made by Chef Annalise Brolaski and Nick Hart, right here in North County. They have created an amazing vegan and gluten-free cookie dough.

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Annalise and Nick

Unlike the vast majority of gluten-free cookie products it has an incredible taste and texture. Unless you were told it was vegan and gluten free you would not know.

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Prepared DOH! cookies. It is also great straight out of the tub raw,baked, or baked and then chilled in the fridge. You can also get baked, bake, and then chill, it’s a fourth option. I have had it three of those four ways and raw and baked then chilled are my favorites.

A little about Chef Annalise. I met her while looking for a third chef for an all dessert dinner I was putting together. At that time she was a pastry cook at Cucina Enoteca. She was extremely talented and impressive. At the age of 20 this is what she produced for the dessert dinner.

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Annalise’s Dish for the dessert dinner~ Citrus Shortbread, Strawberry Grand Marnier Sauce, Honey Comb, Basil (red local basil which is incredible), Meyer Lemon Curd, Strawberry Honey Sorbet, Local Bee Pollen.

See what I mean?

Shortly after that she dropped out of the cooking scene for a while (which sucked because she had a lot to add to the culinary world and in my opinion was far from done.) She reemerged briefly doing some incredible deserts for Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub and starting her own company Deep Sea Desserts. Then as my friend Chef Beau put it when DOH! appeared “Yeah, those guys disappeared for a bit, went and had some kind of retreat / brainstorming in Hawaii and came back killing it.”. I do not know how accurate that is but it makes for a great story, and I like it so I’m sticking with that as to what caused the catalyst, because killing it is exactly what they have been doing.

They launched around October with the product and 2 months later can be found at Both Frazier Farms locations (Oceanside and Vista), Cream of The Crop in Oceanside, Carlsbad Ranch Market, Seaside Market (Cardiff), and soon, Specialty Produce. That is an insane amount of distribution for a start up. If they do not achieve national distribution in a year, I would be surprised. Their main hurdle is going to be production, the product and packaging are already there.

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The DOH! stand at the Leucadia Farmers Market. (You can also find then at the Encinitas farmers Market.) They tend to sell out so get there early. I believe you can email them in advance to have an order ready for you.

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Product ready for sale.

So, there you have it a local success story that is nowhere near done. Go, buy, support, eat, enjoy. Great gifts or for Holiday entertaining.

If you are a cafe or restaurant and want to add a great Vegan / Gluten free, easy to prepare option, trust me it is better than what you are currently buying and serving and it works out to about $.20 some odd cents per cookie at the wholesale price.

DOH!

Available at Frazier Farms, Seaside Market, Cream Of The Crop, Carlsbad Ranch Market, Leucadia and Encinitas Farmers Market, and coming soon to Specialty Produce.

#vegan #glutenfree #food #northcounty #cookies