Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Street Food Market Comes to the San Diego Public Market

Did you absolutely love Taste of the Market? Did you (for shame!) miss it? Well, no matter, here's another opportunity to be wowed by our new Public Market and wowed by San Diego's and Baja's best chefs, who are turning to the streets for culinary inspiration.

Yes, come to Street Food Market on Sunday, March 24th, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the San Diego Public Market in Barrio Logan. Chefs Andrew Spurgin and Melissa Mayer are teaming up again to create a playful, energetic culinary fiesta featuring authentic street food, craft beers and cocktails, and all that makes up street market theater. We're talking chickens, goats, bicyclists, car clubs, street dancers, musicians, Lucha Libre, street art, chess, and much more--all under one crazy roof.

Chefs Andrew Spurgin, Chad White, and Melissa Mayer. Photo by Maribel Mareno

So, who's joining the party? The list keeps growing but let's start with:

Javier Plascencia - Misión 19 | Erizo Baja Fish House & Market | Romesco
Miguel Angel Guerrero – El Taller | La Querencia
Mirta Rodriguez – Mariscos Ruben
Sabina Bandera Gonzáles - La Guerrerense
Kevin Ho and Juan Miron - MIHO’s Stand and Deliver
Jason Knibb – NINE–TEN
Diego Hernandez – El Corazón
Hanis Cavin - Carnitas’ Snack Shack
Chad White - Plancha Baja Med
Jeff Jackson & Jennifer Costa – A. R. Valentien
Jack Fisher – Cucina Urbana | Jack Fisher Confections
Ricardo Heredia - Alchemy
Hector Casanova - Casanova Fish Tacos
Craig Jimenez - KAEN Noodles
Flor Franco - Indulge
Noriyoshi Teruya – Sora
Donald Coffman – Culinary Concepts
Dawn Parks - Wild Thyme
Matt Gordon – Urban Solace | Sea & Smoke
Antonio Friscia – Gaijin Noodle & Sake House
Shihomi Borillo – Azuki Sushi
Lisa Altman – Viva Pops
Ryan Studebaker – The Hopping Pig
James Rauh – The West Bean
Katie Grebow – Café Chloe | Oliver & Rose
Nathan Coulon -- True Food Kitchen

Photo by Andrew Spurgin
Between them, we'll be enjoying tacos, TJ dogs, churros and barbacoa, Salvadoran pupusas, Vietnames pho, Japanese udon and yakitori, French crepes, and food on a stick from every corner of the globe. Plus, craft beer, regional wines from California to the Guadalupe Valley, aguas frescas, and custom cocktails enhanced with ingredients from our local farms.

All this, of course, is to support our Public Market. While many of the guests will be enjoying the evening as a reward for donating to the market's Kickstarter campaign last year, there are a number of tickets available to the public, with the proceeds supporting development of the Market Kitchen--a micro-business incubator and community culinary education center at the Public Market--and the Front Burner Fund.

Early bird general admission tickets are $55 dollars. There are also $85 limited VIP tickets that offer early access, along with the all-inclusive food and alcohol also offered to general admission ticket holders. Purchase tickets now at Brown Paper Tickets.

The San Diego Public Market is located at 1735 National Ave.

Print Page

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Spring Garlic with Purple Sprouting Broccoli

As I sit here writing, the weather in San Diego is cold and a bit blustery. It's the middle of February, after all. Underground, white bulbs of garlic are slowly maturing, but at Chino Farms, some of these bulbs--still slender and tender--have been harvested, perhaps to thin out the crop. They're treasured by chefs and home cooks alike, as a harbinger of spring and as a perfect ingredient for a wide spectrum of dishes that call for lighter flavoring than robust, mature garlic provides.

Spring garlic, or green garlic, look rather like green onions/scallions.

Here, you can see that they're just beginning to develop a shapely bulb. Look closely, though, and you can also see that their green stems are tougher than a scallion. Cut them off and save for flavoring stock;      you won't want to use them in a sauté.

Inside, these very young spring garlic, still haven't developed individual cloves. Check back at Chino in a few weeks and you'll see cloves just forming. And their flavor will be slightly more pungent.

Use these babies as you would mature garlic, taking into account their milder flavor. You can also substitute them for scallions or leeks. They're delicious roasted, minced into a vinaigrette, turned into a sauce or soup, or added to sautéed vegetables or a stir fry.

While I was at Chino's I also bought some vibrant purple sprouting broccoli, so last night I gently sautéed thin slices of the spring garlic in extra virgin olive oil to release the flavor, then added the trimmed broccoli with its stems and leaves, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Once the vegetables were "this close" to finished I squeezed in juice from a Meyer lemon from my garden, let the mixture caramelize a little, then took it off the heat. To get a little crunch and sweetness, I topped it off with some freeze-dried corn kernels I'd found at Savory Spice Shop in Encinitas. The result was a colorful, sweet medley of textures and flavor. Spring is coming.

Print Page

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Taste of the Market: A Sampling of the Future for the Public Market

I don't usually like to write up an event after it's happened. Really, what's the point since you can't attend after the fact? But last weekend's Taste of the Market at the San Diego Public Market in Barrio Logan is the first of a number of community events coming up so if you live in San Diego and are rooting for the future of a public market here, you need to see what you may have missed so you won't make that mistake again.

On Sunday afternoon, more than 230 people ate and drank their way through the two warehouse halls that on Wednesdays and Sundays are the farmers market. But on this late afternoon, the warehouses were transformed into whimsical spaces filled with imaginative eateries created by restaurants and chefs who had been paired with local farmers and purveyors. Andrew Spurgin and Melissa Mayer, who co-chaired and coordinated Taste of the Market, each had their own little hot spots. Spurgin's Broussard's Po' Boy cafe was straight out of New Orleans and featured, what else, a fried oyster po' boy.

Mayer, on the other hand, went south of the border with a vibrant blue cantina, serving a smoked chicken torta.

The list of restaurants and chefs just goes on and on. Plus, there were vendors you'd usually see at the farmers market--Suzie's Farm, Nicolau Farm (chèvre), Cardamom Bakery, Jennywenny Cakes, Viva Pops, and SuperNatural Sandwiches among them. Below is a snapshot of a perfect culinary festival:

Dave Rudie, Tommy Gomes, and Ken Gardon of Catalina Offshore Products

Ken and his octopus salad

Chef Chad White of La Plancha Baja Med

Chad White's Apple brulee, fermeneted Julian Hard Cider vincotto, Gilbert Qunitos Farm kale, lardo, Smit Orchards apples, sesame nori gremolata

Chef Craig Jimenez of Roseville Cozinha and colleagues. He made a luscious goat cheese ravioli (sourced from Nicolau Farms)

Snake Oil Cocktail's Michael Esposito, Andrew Spurgin, and Public Market co-founder Dale Steele

Jenny Williams of Jenny Wenny Cakes

Joanne Squires-Sherif of Cardamom Bakery & Cafe

Katie Grebow of Cafe Chloe

Gina Frieze of Venissimo topping off a slice of Bread & Cie baguette loaded with Gina's house-made ricotta 

Salumi, cheese, and bread: a collaboration that is the goal for Pete Balistreri, Venissimo, and Bread & Cie at the Public Market
Pete Balistreri of Tender Greens and P Balistreri Salumi

Alchemy's Ricardo Heredia and his pig from Da-Le Ranch

The Blind Burro's Sara Polczynski making these beautiful veggie tacos below

Tony Nguyen and SuperNatural Sandwiches' variation on their Harpy sandwich

George's at the Cove's Trey Foshee and (below) his  slow-roasted Maciel carrot salad 

The Red Door and The Wellington's Trish Watlington and Chef Miguel Valdez with their seared local yellowtail over pumpkin uni bisque

Hurray for Viva Pops!
As I said, this was just the first of the big market events the Public Market will be holding, according to market maestra, Catt White.

The next Taste of the Market will take place on March 24th, and, says, White, "will be a celebration of our ethnic diversity, with chefs showing off Japanese, Filipino, and Chinese specialties, German sausage, tastes from Tijuana, and more, teamed with local farmers for ingredients, of course."

Between now and then they'll be hosting a movie night with local chefs' takes on snack food. As White says, "Think popcorn, hot dogs, and Junior Mints kicked way up." The tentative date is March 8.

All this, of course, is hand-in-hand in anticipation of the market going full time in spring or summer, with permanent stalls and artisan cheese making, salumi curing, a tortilleria, coffee roasting, and baking on premises. Indeed, the proceeds from ticket sales at Taste of the Market are going toward the development of the Market Kitchen, a commissary kitchen for vendors and micro-businesses that will also feature community education classes on cooking and nutrition.

So, really, pencil in the next dates on your calendar. This was just the first of many special public events at our Public Market. You'll want to be there.

Print Page

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Charred Meyer Lemon Chutney with Chef Pablo Ibarra

Virtually every talented chef has their version of a Dr. Watson, Sancho Panza, and Alice B. Toklas at their side. It's usually the chef de cuisine or sous chef. At San Diego's Terra, over in the College area, chef/owner Jeff Rossman mentors and has come to rely on 23-year-old sous chef Pablo Ibarra, who has worked at Terra for three years, starting out in the pantry.

Pablo Ibarra (l) and Jeff Rossman (r)
A native San Diegan, Ibarra comes honestly to professional cooking. His dad is a longtime corporate chef. And, he says, his mom is a very good home cook of traditional Mexican dishes. Ibarra was quick to then say that he isn't into cooking Mexican food, preferring a more global, gourmet approach in the kitchen. His ambition took him to National Culinary School, from which he graduated four years ago. And he was among a dozen young San Diego chefs awarded a scholarship in 2012 from the Chef Celebration Scholarship Foundation to go to the Culinary Institute of America's Greystone campus in Napa for a week to attend special intensive courses.

"It was an amazing experience," he recalls. "I visited farms, learned sous vide techniques, some molecular gastronomy techniques, and concentrated on sauces." Ibarra is now experimenting with gastriques, a syrupy reduction of caramelized sugar and vinegar to which he's bringing in other flavors like mango and honey.

The afternoon I visited with Ibarra at Terra, the lunch service was winding down and he was concentrating on writing the evening's specials menu. Ibarra is big on seafood, especially fish, which was apparent in his list of dishes: dill salmon mouse, coriander seared albacore, golden sea bass with a porcini crust, and white sea bass marinated in lemongrass. What caught my eye as he showed me his handwritten notes was the planned accompaniment to the albacore, charred Meyer lemon chutney. I'm a fool for Meyer lemons, and have two dwarf trees in my garden that are heavily producing right now. When Ibarra saw my eyes light up at the chutney, he said that we could make a batch together.

One caveat--Ibarra had already made the chutney for the evening using Meyer lemons Rossman had brought in from his garden; and he had used them all. But there were still conventional Eureka lemons in the pantry. So, he tossed me a white apron, took me into the large, bustling kitchen where cooks were prepping for the evening service, and we got started.

The recipe calls for just half a dozen or so ingredients. Ibarra pulled out minced shallots, sliced green onions, some sugar and salt. He neatly cut a couple of Eureka lemons into quarter-inch slices, held each slice up to the light to track down seeds, then used fork tines to pop them out.

With that task done we headed over to the burners, passing a massive bubbling stockpot brimming with large red lobster shells and dill before we found a couple of free burners. Ibarra pulled out two beat up sauté pans, one for charring the lemons, the other for sautéing the shallots, and poured a bit of canola oil into each before firing up the burners. Once the pans got good and hot I tossed the lemon slices into one and flames shot up. Cool! Ibarra had me tossing the lemons around to get both sides blackened and sizzling while he worked the shallots, and then added the now beautifully caramelized little pieces to the charred lemons.

Then came the sugar and salt--and because we were working with Eureka's, he added a little extra lemon juice and sugar that the sweet juicy Meyers would have provided. (I can also imagine adding some chopped, sautéed chiles for heat.)

Just before removing the mixture from the heat, he tossed in the green onions. The chutney was almost done, but there was one task left: chopping up the rings of lemons. Here, you can see they're still fairly firm, but Meyer lemons would collapse. In this case you might choose leave them alone. At the restaurant, for presentation's sake, Ibarra told me even those peels get chopped.

Both versions of the chutney are terrific, yet as you'd expect, quite different. The Meyer lemon version is sweet and tart and a bit mellow, reflecting the lemon variety's thin skin and sweet juice. The Eureka lemon version has a surprisingly marvelous bitterness to it--not unlike marmalade--thanks to its thick harsh-tasting skin. I'd make either and serve it with fish--sea bass, halibut, grouper, or other meaty white fish--or pork tenderloin, or chicken. In fact, I did take some home and enjoyed it with biscotti-crusted grouper on a bed of brown basmati rice with lentils.

So, here's the recipe:

Pablo Ibarra's Charred Meyer Lemon Chutney
(printable recipe)

2 Meyer lemons, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds, seeded
2 shallots, minced
2 tablespoons green onions, sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
salt to taste
(whole grain mustard)
Canola oil

1. Add oil to sauté pan (not nonstick) and heat to high temperature. Carefully add lemon slices and cook on both sides until browned.
2. Sauté shallots in a second pan until caramelized. Add to lemons, along with sugar and salt. Once the mixture begins to turn soft, add the green onions.
3. Remove from heat and chop the lemon peels. If you want to add a little spice or boldness, you can add a teaspoon or so of whole grain mustard.

Serve with tuna, any kind of firm white fish, pork tenderloin, or chicken (or spread on toast).

Print Page