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Many San Diego chefs are turning their restaurants into temples of locally grown treasures. Here are some of San Diego's top culinary talents whose menus define the term "as fresh as it gets."
Blessed with a climate that grows just about anything and an abundance of fresh fish, the farm-to-table and hook-to-fork movements are a natural fit in San Diego. Whether plucking fresh vegetables and herbs from their private gardens, or visiting local farms daily for fresh organic produce, many San Diego chefs focus on seasonal, fresh-from-the-ground fare and coastal cuisine thanks to the wealth of farms and seafood at their fingertips. Following are some of the local chefs who let the harvest be their guide.
In the beautiful seaside community of La Jolla, Executive Chef/Partner Trey Foshee creates food enchanting enough to match the breathtaking Pacific Ocean views. Foshee favors local Chino Farms where he can be found perusing the produce daily. From dishes like Chino corn soup with portobello mushrooms and roasted red pepper cream, to the local white sea bass featuring Chino beans, fingerling potato confit, pearl onions, roasted tomato vinaigrette, and Spanish chorizo foam, you can sample the fruits of this great partnership with each bite. Even the cocktails at this ocean view gem feature local herbs and seasonal fruits and berries.
At Arterra in the San Diego Marriott Del Mar, a restaurant named for "art of the earth," Chef Evan Cruz dishes up contemporary, seasonal cuisine that reflects the best of Southern California. His passion comes through in his "from-scratch" menu that’s inspired by the seafood-rich oceans and nearby fertile farms. The results are entrees such as halibut with sweet corn broth and summer squash or seared scallops with shaved asparagus.
La Jolla's Nine-Ten restaurant at the Grande Colonial Hotel, helmed by Chef Jason Knibb, boasts farm-fresh produce and French-inspired cuisine in a casually elegant atmosphere. Working closely with local farmers and fishermen, Knibb creates dishes that are both elegant and sublime—think tuna tartar in passion fruit vinaigrette or roasted Colorado lamb loin with spice roasted carrots, escarole, black garlic and onion marmalade with a sunchoke & sunflower seed puree. Especially popular is the Mercy of the Chef five-course tasting menu, which puts diners in the capable hands of Chef Knibb.
The Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla is a love poem to California's golden age of Craftsman-style architecture. At A.R. Valentien, the signature restaurant, this reverence for nature and craftsmanship is echoed in the cuisine of Chef Jeff Jackson. On the menu are the best seasonal provisions from local farmers markets and small growers in dishes like his Truffled Risotto Stuffed Quail with braised kale and black trumpet mushrooms or his divine Seasonal Vegetable 'Pot Pie' with housemade pastry, Thumbelina carrots, spring peas, wild mushrooms, turnips, sweet herbs, celery root purée, and frill mustard greens. Jackson's commitment to using locally grown vegetables includes hiring a "food forager" who searches for products from specialty, organic local farms for A.R. Valentien's tables. The Lodge at Torrey Pines also offers a communal Artisan Table dinner on Thursdays. Enjoy a variety of seasonal dishes in a convivial, less formal setting, with ten to sixteen at the table. Items are served family-style in four courses: appetizers, main course, cheese, and dessert and coffee, along with wines selected by the chefs to complement each unique meal. The menu changes weekly based on seasonal offerings.
Just north of La Jolla, Nathan Lingle, executive chef at Kitchen 1540 in Del Mar's extraordinary L'Auberge Resort, has created a menu that puts a spotlight on fresh produce, sustainable seafood and natural meats. Locals buzz about the imaginative, ever-changing fare, evolved plate presentation and rule-breaking creations which change seasonally. Choose a traditional 3-course meal, or try a sampling of tastes and small plates, perfect for the foodies who love to travel in packs.
This restaurant in Mission Hills offers a lovely menu centered around local, organic, sustainable and ethically sourced, seasonal cuisine. Much of the produce comes from owner Trish Watlington’s own Mt. Helix farm, and her chef Miquel Valdez makes magic with the bounty, pairing it with high quality meats and sustainable fish. What they do not grown themselves comes from Be Wise Ranch and Stehly Farms. Farm fresh dishes include pumpkin beet salads, carrot pesto flatbreads, garden raviolis, and fresh catch with eggplant tapenade and Swiss chard. Look for the Farmers, Friends and Fishermen special dinners that honor the local talent and flavors.
Stand in line with San Diego's culinary elite at this legendary, unassuming family-owned farm stand nestled among the million dollar homes and luxury vehicles of Rancho Santa Fe.
Situated at the hub of Point Loma’s sportfishing docks, Point Loma Seafoods has been family-owned and operated since 1963. This full-service fish market serves fresh-from-the-ocean plates and smoked fish at a great value. The best seating is at picnic tables on the patio where you can munch on your seafood delights while watching sportfishermen haul in their daily catch.
Fishmonger Tommy Gomes, a fifth-generation fisherman, is the heart and soul of this famed shop that specializes in sushi grade and locally caught sustainable seafood. Their California uni is world famous.
From Abbaye de Belloc to Zamorano, with over 100 varieties of artisan and imported cheeses that change weekly, Venissimo is a serious study in fromage. Shops in Liberty Station, Mission Hills, North Park and Del Mar.
The Hillcrest flagship of this artisanal bakery is always packed with those seeking bread at its best, from fresh sourdough baguettes to fig and anise loafs. Sandwiches and salads make it a great lunch spot.
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