The Best Things We Tasted This Week

Wondering what to savor and sip this week? Consider this your tip sheet. It’s a list of the dishes we’ve enjoyed – and are still dreaming about – from the days just passed. 

Belly Dance

Pork belly? Yes, please – and thank you, SeaLegs Wine Bar! What I thought might be croutons topping a pillow of risotto were actually bite-size bits of pork belly, and my heart nearly skipped a beat. And then there were the scallops topping the risotto. They were huge, seared in a cast-iron skillet with brown butter until the sides reached a light golden brown. As for the risotto, it’s a robust, creamy rendition with shiitake ’shrooms and a splash of Alicia Wine Chardonnay. Yes, SeaLegs proprietor Alicia Whitney now has her own wine label. The Chardonnay is made from grapes grown on the Sonoma Coast, while the Alicia Pinot Noir’s fruit hails from the Russian River Valley. (Both make for easy sipping, and many of SeaLeg’s new recipes incorporate the nectars as ingredients.) For dessert, try the layered pumpkin puff pastry with nutmeg mousse, fresh strawberries and a drizzle of chocolate syrup. Sweet!

Date Night

Three words: bacon-wrapped dates. I see these on a menu, and I simply can’t resist. So when they popped up on the menu at 320 Main in Seal Beach, I had to indulge. What pushes this iteration to the top? Chorizo. The Spanish-style sausage delivers a bitey, savory layer to the sweet date and salty bacon. I’m adding these to my list of 320 Main faves, like the buffalo chicken (the tenders are battered and deep-fried, and elevated in flavor by a creamy blue cheese hot sauce and blue cheese crumbles, with thin slices of cucumber to balance it all out) and the tomato-basil soup with grilled-cheese (the team uses a medium-sharp cheddar and fresh, tangy sourdough bread from Crema Café bakery). Insider tip to tiki enthusiasts – go there on a Tuesday and wear an aloha shirt, and you’ll get 10 percent off your bill, even if you’re there during happy hour. Mahalo.


Since opening his Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens some two years ago, Chef Rich Mead has been delighting folks with all kinds of fresh, delectable dishes. And, as you might expect from this farm-to-fork aficionado, the flavors always change with the season. Sometimes it’s a matter of enhancing a mainstay with pomegranate seeds or butternut squash, as Mead has done with the glazed swordfish. It’s grilled to luscious perfection then set atop a bed of squash, charred leeks and pureed potatoes. A sprinkling of pom seeds finishes the dish with a pop of color and flavor. It pairs beautifully with the Lagone Cabernet Blend from Italy. As fabulous as that is, my fall favorite is the roast spaghetti squash. The vegetable threads are blanketed by a flavorful – but not overpowering – cilantro pesto with bits of dried tomatoes and a little handful of toasted pumpkin seeds tossed in, surprising the mouth with a pleasant crunch. It’s a perfect fall dish – and trust me, you won’t even miss the pasta.

Roast Spaghetti Squash, Farmhouse

Fear No Fruit

I felt like family while meeting friends at Frieda’s this week, the specialty produce company who got its reputation through their trailblazing founder Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan. Did you know Caplan was the one who first introduced kiwifruit to the U.S. in 1962? In an ongoing quest to change the way America eats, Frieda’s has been providing oh-so-good-for-you specialty fruits and veggies for more than 50 years. And just when you think you’ve seen it all, fruit got weird on this tour, and I liked it. Hidden Rose Apples from Oregon are my new current obsession (let’s just say apple pie on Thanksgiving is getting a face lift), on the outside it looks like a normal apple, but when you slice into it, a bright magenta center is revealed. From baby pineapples (these are super sweet and you can even eat the core!) to kumquats, young coconut and caped gooseberries, we tasted and delighted in it all. I can’t decide what delighted me more, those Hidden Rose Apples or Fingerling Limes. If you’ve never purchased these limes before, prepare to have your mind blown – think lime caviar.

Not a Mexican Benihana

Goodbye Souplantation, hello Descanso, a modern taqueria that celebrates and serves classic Mexican flavors. Recipes are whipped up a la minute right in front of guests on a traditional plancha – think taco cart embedded in your table, accompanied with a private chef. Not only is this restaurant reinventing how you eat Mexican food, but providing classics in a way that you’ve never seen before. The green chorizo on the menu is a perfect example – Choriqueso Verde features green chorizo smothered in poblano suiza and tres quesos, served with warm flour tortillas. Just when I thought I’d seen everything, micro cilantro stood out in the Mexican slaw that evening. I’m convinced that micro is the only way to eat cilantro from now on.

Choriqueso Verde, Descanso

Mac n Cheese for a Cause

You know STACKED restaurants as the go-to for customizable food made your way. And you know Chef Bill Bracken of Bracken’s Kitchen for his tireless efforts to feed those who need it most. And now, with their powers combined, you’ll get to know Chef Bracken’s award-winning Southwest Chorizo Mac n Cheese. Seriously, this dish won an award as the best dish at this year’s San Diego Mac n Cheese Fest. And for good reason, it’s everything you want in Mac n cheese; a gooey, cheesy fontina base, a touch of sweetness from caramelized onions and herb roasted tomatoes, a tiny bit of tartness from goat cheese and a satisfying crunch from toasted, buttery bread crumbs. Plus it’s 100 percent fat free. Gotcha, not! But isn’t that the beauty of comfort food? Tis the season to give thanks, and for a limited time one dollar from each dish purchased will benefit Bracken’s Kitchen. Just one-dollar goes a long way; it’s enough to feed three people. Mac n cheese for a cause. Now that’s something to savor. 

Related Posts