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

New Brunch Menu @ Masters Kitchen and Cocktail ~ Oceanside

It has been a while since I visited Masters, at least 3 months. Their new Chef and Brunch menu caused a stir for me to meet up with my friend Beau Bonham and check it out.

Chef Richardi is originally from Florida. He began his culinary career as a line cook at Pacifica Del Mar, from there he rose through the ranks at  Rancho Valencia, La Valencia Hotel, The Chart House, The Santaluz Club and Roppongi. He is now Executive Chef at Masters and has started to put his stamp on their menu.

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Chef Richardi and Ryan (owner) both great people.

Masters Chef Beau and Ryan (1 of 1)

This Beau person and Ryan:)

The new brunch menu features a good range of dishes from decadent to healthy and simple.

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Of course we went for decadent. I just did a three-mile beach walk and Beau, like me, eats very simple when not dining out.

Before we could begin Chef brought this out…

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House cured salmon, micro greens, and radish.

Perfect, and I mean perfect cured salmon. I almost went with the everything bagel on the menu because of the salmon but this scratched that itch perfectly, freeing me up for other choices. Thanks Chef.

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Steak and Eggs Benedict ~ Flat Iron steak (cooked perfect medium rare), poached eggs, artisan sourdough, hollandaise, and breakfast potatoes.

The steak was on point and the hollandaise was not over powering. A lot of hollandaise is thick and for lack of a better term gluggy..not this one. Also those potatoes, next time I am ordering an additional side order of those. They reminded me of patatas bravas..so good.

Beau stole the show though…

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Chicken and Waffle ~ Rosemary waffle, fried chicken breast, smoked bacon, chicken apple sausage gravy, over easy eggs.

A lot of brunch places near by do a chicken and waffles dish. This one is different, it ditched the classic maple syrup route for something more complex. The gravy, I believe due to the apple sausage kept the sweet element and the fry on the chicken breast was almost reminiscent of a Milanese. Also huge, leftovers to take home kind of dish.

The other thing that made me happy was it was crowded.

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Masters dinning area (1 of 1)

Great to see busy restaurants before tourist season has even started.

 

Masters Kitchen & Cocktail

208 South Coast Highway, Oceanside Ca

#food #foodporn #oceanside #brunch

 

 

 

 

The Power of Food. The Pork Chop @ The Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen~ Vista

So, this is just a quick post about the power of food. The fact that great food transcends a meal. It is a memory or creates one. It brings you to your childhood or suspends the outside world around you.

I am very lucky to eat and experience a lot of great food. Beyond that, in eating that food, it has brought people into my life who are now great friends. It has given me memories and knowledge. So when I talk or write about food, I am actually writing or conveying a lot more (or trying to).

Every payday it has become a ritual of mine to go to the Flying Pig (mostly the Vista location) and eat their pork chop. Now it’s a great pork chop, probably the best I have ever had, but beyond that I just sit and savor it. The tenderness from the brine, the sweetness from the char, and the flavor from quality of the pork, and while I am eating it everything is right in my universe.

I am back home now writing this and I am just happy, I totally believe in the food high and it’s not the wine because I only had 1 glass:) I am going to go to bed now to dream of magical pigs.

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The pork chop.

The Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen

Vista, Ca

Orange Wine and Autostrata @ The Miller’s Table ~ Oceanside

So, I have been on the hunt for “Orange” wine ever since I saw Mario Batali pour some for Action Bronson and Chef Missy Robins on an episode of Moltissimo (I’ll link the video at the bottom of the post).

Trouble was finding it on a wine list in San Diego turned out to be impossible and ordering it was killed by shipping that doubled the bottle cost.

Staci at the Miller’s Table was kind enough, being the awesome person she is, to bring some in for me.

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2014 Doqi Qvevri Mtsvane. This is a wine from the republic of Georgia. The grapes are pressed and then the juice, stalks, skin, and pips are aged in clay Qvevri which are clay vessels that are then buried in the ground. The fermentation process with the skins give the wine its deep amber or orange color.Doqi is the winery, Qvevri refers to the fermentation process, and  Mtsvane is the grape.

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The wine itself is very dry and fruit forward. It is like a very aggressive Fume Blanc. It probably would benefit from some decanting. I liked it. Something different, it would pair well with strong cheeses and charcuterie.

I had it with The Miller’s table Autostrada sandwich. This is a great sandwich with Italian meats and cheese, so it held up against the wine.

If you want to try a unique wine you’re not going to find many places go check it out at The Miller’s Table, I only had 1/2 a bottle so there is plenty left:)

The Miller’s Table

415 Coast Highway Oceanside

Moltissimo Video

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)

Beltane RanchWine Dinner Report, The Miller’s Table ~ Oceanside

So, first off hung over, second off probably one of the best wine dinners I have been to…and I have been to a lot.

The thing that set it off was the quality of the wine, the wine maker, which I will expand on and the company, both staff and attendees.

The one thing that the miller’s Table does right (actually they do a lot of things right) is create a warm communal atmosphere. I had fun, I actually had an experience that will go into my mental book as “Yep, I liked that”

Lets start with the players….

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Right to left (yep going in reverse) ~ Gideon Ezra Moore ( I am friends with his brother and both are talented as hell), Anthony ( who is insanely talented and a hard ass working mother fucker..there will be cursing) in the middle we have Stacy Miller (hence the name) owner / proprietor / Chef / all around awesome person, Next the Beltane team wife and husband, Chef and Wine maker Joy and Kevin. They were new to me but so impressed.

 

Ok, so the wine. the biggest take away was their wines were great and balanced. That is what I look for in a wine ..balance from top note to finish.

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So, I started with whites as a wine nube and then got into really hard reds and blends (I love me some blends). Now I am back to whites and rose. This was the 2104 Estate Sauvignon Blanc “Drummond Block” This is a good wine.

 

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“Barbeque” Fried Cauliflower

So this was Cauliflower in an egg wash and deep-fried, topped with herbs. The thing I liked (and this goes for all Chef Joys dishes) she respected the vegetable. It did not taste fried, tons of natural flavor. I ate like 10 of these:)

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Crab Deviled Eggs ~ Charred redicchio and winter greens, Prager brothers baguette.

So, devil eggs strike fear into my heart for a few reasons…one to many holiday with white trash versions and now hipster overplayed. These were none of those, they were fresh and light. Now the star of this dish was the veg. Again Chef Joy shines at vegetables. The redicchio was charred which lent a lot to offsetting the bitterness (bitterness is a good thing by the way and countered the sweetness of the crab.)

rib-1-of-1 Braised Beef Short Rib ~ Winter Beans and root vegetables.

Another great dish. Perfect fork tender short ribs and again the veg. It was sweet and rich meat against perfect al dente beans.

served with 2013 Zinfandel “Heins Block”

I am not a fan of zins Opal does some great ones as do these guys. Well balanced (see again with that word) This was a big wine and a perfect pair with the rib. Chocolate and fruit..basically everything good.

 

Lets talk Cheese plate..a simple thing yet not.

Two words “Smoked honey” forget what you know because that will change your life …this is what I compare all honey to now going forward.

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Cheese plate

So look everything was great but I wanna direct your attention to the cheese in the upper left and the honey in the middle..that shit will change your life.

Again served with another great wine 2014 Fume Bob. I would say not a dessert wine and not a resling ..kinda inbetween..another great wine.

So, I do not want to gush but I think this was one of the best dinners I have been to. And (yep I started with and, get over it) this was one of my favorites. The reason the Chef and Wine Maker from Beltane and of course the crew from Miller’s Table, but also the guests. Everyone was into it.

If this was a start to 2017 I am down:)

Beltane Ranch

Miller’s Table

Oh, and by the way this was one of my favorite things to write about:)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whole Pig Roast Jan. 14th 12-4 @ Biga

First Annual Hog Roast at Biga

Come join Biga, The Red Door and Edwin Real from Eating and Drinking in San Diego as we celebrate the best local flavors and products at our First Annual Hog Roast!

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Tickets Here

We have four amazing participating chefs, all well-versed in sourcing locally and creating unique and ever-changing menu items. They are Tae Dickey from Biga, Willy Eick from 608 Restaurant, Evan Cruz from Arterra and Drew Bent from the upcoming Lola 55.

We will be roasting a whole hog, provided by Heart & Trotter, in our wood-burning ovens. Heart & Trotter will also be hosting a hog butchering demo for those who are interested!

We will have freshly prepared charcuterie, accompanied by Biga’s unique, woodfired Heritage Bread.

Poor House and Abnormal Brewing will be taking over our beer taps.

A wine tasting will be hosted by Regal Wine.

Cost per ticket is $30 if purchased before January 13 and $35 at the door. Each ticket includes food and one drink. Additional beer will be $3 each and additional wine will be $4 each.

Biga

650 6th Ave. Suite C, San Diego

New Chef / Menu Items At Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen ~ Oceanside

So, I was invited with about 120 others to try some of the new menu items that will be coming to The Flying Pig’s Oceanside location starting Tuesday.

The new menu will feature Craft, Italian inspired dishes created by new Chef  Justin Lappies. Justin has been working with Executive Chef Mario Moser for the last three years and was tapped to replace exiting Chef Samantha Parker, who is now at Campfire.

Do not worry, it is not a complete menu change and you will still see Flying Pig staples on the menu, it is just an infusion of freshness accompanying the new Chef.

All the dishes were served “family style’ and varied with each table.

What we had…..

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Panzanella Salad ~ Heirloom tomato, red romaine, onion,basil, cucumbers, capers, fried house focaccia, house vin.

Great salad with super fresh ingredients. I would say an interpretation of a panzanella.

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Arancini ~ Arborio rice, herbs, mushrooms, house red sauce and truffle aioli.

A great light version of what can sometimes be a heavy appetizer. I loved the filling and the mushroom flavor. I did not care for the truffle aioli but the red sauce made up for it in spades.

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Meat Flatbread ~ Pepperoni, ham, sausage, house red sauce, caramelized onion, opal basil

Classic, tasty flatbread.

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Tagliatelle ~ Daily Bolognese, with aged parm.

This was my dish of the night. Perfectly cooked, hand-made pasta with a rich sauce that contrasted perfectly with the freshness of the greens.

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Campanile ~ Daily pesto, house sausage, mushrooms, aged parm.

Another tasty pasta dish, loved the pesto and the sausage. Pasta may have been slightly to al dente for my taste.

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Olive Oil Pound Cake with Champagne Gastrique

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Spumoni ~ Pistacio Gelato, Brandied Cherries.

Excellent gelato, could have used more kick out of the brandied cherries.

Overall, great food that will be a nice addition to the Pig’s menu. Just as long as the pork chop does not go anywhere:)

Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen

626 South Tremont Street, Oceanside

Pop Up Wine Dinner for The New Year ~ Wednesday January 4th, @ The Millers’s Table, Oceanside

The Miller’s Table will be hosting a Pop Up 4 course Wine Dinner January 4th featuring Chef Joy Wesley and Wine Maker Kevin Holt of Beltane Ranch and Winery out of Sonoma County.

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The Four Course Northern California menu will feature varietals such as Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel grown on Beltane Ranch’s estate vineyard.

Beltane Ranch has received multiple awards including ” America’s Best Bed and Breakfast” – Food and Wine Magazine and “Best vineyard Stay In The U.S.” – National Geographic Traveler.

7pm Wednesday January 4th  –  $52 plus tax and tip.

Call The Miller’s Table to reserve – 6 seats left 442.615.7200

The Miller’s Table

Beltane Ranch

 

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.