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.

 

 

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 🙂 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.

Living Tea’s Monthly Pancake Breakfast ~ Oceanside

This Sunday was Living Tea’s monthly pancake breakfast. If you are not familiar with Living Tea Brewery, they are a kombucha Brewery and tap-room located in Oceanside at 302 Wisconsin Ave. If you have had Kombucha at a local bar or restaurant there is a good chance it was one of theirs.

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The Breakfast starts.

Each 3rd Sunday of the month they throw a Pancake breakfast from 10 am till noon. The breakfast is donation base allowing you to pay what you can or thinks fair. All proceeds go to local charities. They do these events as a thank you to their supporters and to help strengthen the sence of community in the area.

I have been wanting to attend one and was able to on the 19th.

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Puppies! The event is kid and dog friendly.

I arrived right at 10 so I could say hi. There were probably 10 people when it started and around 25ish when I left about 10:45 but its a fluid event where people come and go throughout the 2 hours.

In addition to the pancakes they also serve coffee and kombucha during the breakfast. The coffee is included with your donation or lack there of if you can not afford it. Not sure about the kombucha I did not get any. Though I have had it many times and have included it in some of my Chef dinner events.

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The Pancake Master. I should have asked his name but Pancake Master is a pretty good nickname.

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Accoutrements for the pancakes ~ Bananas, apples, and oranges.

I went with apples and bananas.

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See told you I went with apples and bananas. Spiralina, gluten-free, organic pancakes with said bananas and apples plus chia hearts.

The pancakes were light, moist, and fluffy with a slightly crisp exterior. The batter was made with coconut oil which gave them their moisture. The fruit and the chia hearts were a great accompaniment.

 

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They also host open mic for musicians and singers to play during the breakfast. I did not catch this performers name but she was good. The boys from Living Tea / Barnwell Shift (that is their band) jumped in to accompany her.

I really like the thought behind these breakfasts and the food ain’t bad either:) I would highly recommend checking one out.

Living Tea

302 Wisconsin Ave. Oceanside

#food #foodporn #pancakes #kombucha

 

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.

 

 

Flower Child ~ Del Mar

So, I was trying to decide what to have for lunch and was really craving veggies. I decided to delve further south into the county than I normally do and hit up the newly opened Flower Child in Del Mar.

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Flower Child is owned by the Fox Restaurant Group. The group has over 15 concepts and 50 restaurants. Normally this would drop them off my radar but after eating the food and having a pretty lengthy discussion with one of their employees, while waiting for the bus to go catch the coaster, I have to say I was pretty impressed.

They have a good history of promoting from within the group. Their basic model is taking workers from a current location that are showing promise and fly them in and house them to open a new location in a higher position. These employees train and hire a new staff and with the next opening the new employees get the same opportunity within the new restaurant or at the current one as positions open from people transferring to the new location. Though I did not ask “How much?” the young women I talked to stated that they paid higher than if she was working downtown SD at a restaurant and the opportunity for advancement would be much slower. She had worked in the industry for a number of years and managed a cuban restaurant for quite a while, so she was not unfamiliar with working in the industry.

The company hired Chef Steven Molina (  (L’Auberge, Delicias, Kitchen 1540) to run and oversee the kitchen.

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Flower Child ~ Flower Hill 2690 Via De La Valle, Del Mar

The restaurant is located in the former Sea and Smoke location.

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The restaurant is counter service with food being delivered to your table. It boasts a nice open kitchen and food prep area.

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The restaurant itself (as was Sea and Smoke) is huge with dual level seating areas, each having a connected patio.

I did not take interior pics. It was crowded and this is Del Mar. You never know when some ex-hedge fund manager who faked his own death after embezzling millions is on the down low and will stab you with his Monte Blanc and grab your camera to protect his identity.

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I want one! They have a seasonal Iced Tea and Lemonade station (Gasp). I tried every one. the Grapefruit Lemonade and Hibiscus Green Tea were my favorites.

So, the menu consists of bowls, wraps, salads, vegetables and grains, humus, soups, and some breakfast items. All of which you can add a protein to for an extra charge. There are many vegetarian, Vegan, and Gluten free choices.

I went with a three vegetable plate and added grass-fed steak.

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Quite a bit of food. The steak was perfectly cooked, well seasoned and flavorful. Next time I would skip paying the extra $6 and just go three veg.

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Three vegetable plate (from top clockwise)

Yuzu Brussels Sprouts ~ golden miso, toasted garlic, sprouted almond. (Vegetarian)

These were great, nice char but not overly bitter, as charring can sometimes do. They were also still nice and tender.

This was my favorite of the three dishes. So good, sweet and savory all in one.

Great as well, the eggplant was not soggy and the dish had a nice mild spiciness. It reminded me of Kung Pow eggplant.

So if you’re in the deep south that is Del Mar 🙂 and can’t afford Pamplemousse and want a large step up from Chipotle or Burger Lounge. (I actually like those two places as guilty pleasures). I would recommend checking out Flower Child. I would compare it to Lemonade, Tender Greens, or Tin Leaf kitchen as far as feel and food.

Flower Child

Flower Hill 2690 Via De La Valle, Del Mar