Below are some samples from my food column, interviews with San Diego executives, and press releases.

The Consummate Trattoria Experience at i Trulli

By David Boylan

When people have a passion for something it becomes very evident when it comes to fruition. I can sense the passion for food and hospitality that Salvatore and Daniela Caniglia have unleashed at Trattoria i Trulli on Coast Highway 101 in Encinitas. Trulli really does provide the complete dining experience.

When I say complete dining experience, I mean it works on every level, from the food to the staff to the look and feel. Vibrant yet warm, big city bustle and energy with beach town friendliness. It's that elusive mix of elements that restaurateurs strive for that the Caniglia's have perfected.

On top of that, i Trulli is one of those success stories that are great to hear. Italian busboy and California girl waitress meet working at a busy La Jolla restaurant. They discover a mutual passion and instincts for food and entertaining, fall in love, host great dinner parties where they perfect their art of entertaining and dream of opening their own place. They held on to their dream and it began to take shape with a smart financial backer who realized their talents and desires and agreed to fund the venture. Next came the really bold move of taking a chance on a space that had never found success in the past and completely transforming it into something right out of the warm Southern Italian countryside. It took 8 months for the complete remodel yet the result was stunning. Opening night two years ago at i Trulli was meant to be a low-key affair, no advertising or advance publicity yet they were slammed with over 100 tables and they are still packing them in. Salvatore and Daniela have since overcome their doubts of Encinitas supporting a fine dining establishment. Sal works his magic in the kitchen and Daniella runs the front of the house. And of course the surfing bug has bit Sal as he has discovered our killer selection of local breaks and recently had his first custom board shaped. Good story eh?

So now on to those elements that make iTrulli work. The atmosphere is warm and inviting with wine stacked in every available space, an intimate bar, and a nice outside patio. Since the place is almost always full, there is a constant buzz yet not obnoxiously loud. Though not by design, the attractive staff is made up of a handful of Italians and others who are very well versed on the menu and are very attentive and yes, friendly. Our sever, Vincenzo Gelsomino made sure we were well taken care of.

OK, so the space is great so what about the food you ask? I've been to i Trulli frequently over the past two years and have never been disappointed. That in itself should be testimony enough yet I'll wet your appetite with a taste of what I've sampled over the past couple of years. The entire Antipasti selection is worthy of trying though the Caprese (layered fresh buffalo mozzarella, beefsteak tomatoes and basil drizzled with olive oil) and Calamari Adriatico stand out as two favorites. They also have an occasional special of roasted quail on a bed of lentils that has made it on my all-time list of favorite appetizers.

The salad selection and house dressing is consistently the best in the area. The Insalata della Casa (house salad) is perfect to split and as I said about the dressing..bellisimo! It's a creamy balsamic vinaigrette that has proven so popular they have made it available for purchase. The Insalata D'Anatra or warm spinach salad with roasted duck, pine nuts and goat cheese is a rich, luscious mix of flavors and textures that works as a light meal in itself. The remainder of the salad selection is deserving as well and the raspberry vinaigrette another fine dressing. The daily minestrone is very worthy and they do have a Zuppa del Giorno or soup of the day, which was garbanzo bean on my most recent trip.

I'll lead into the entrée portion with a statement one can rarely make about a restaurant, and to save praising each individual dish. I have never had an entrée at i Trulli that did not completely satisfy both my appetite and taste for fine, fresh cuisine. With that said, let me tell you about some of my favorites.

The meat selection of veal chops, medallions and scaloppini, medallions of filet mignon finished with a Barolo wine reduction, and the grilled fillet are all good picks. There are also some very nice chicken dishes with the Pollo Uno Zero Uno (chicken 101) looking like one I'll have to try as it's a breast stuffed with imported cheeses, spinach and asparagus finished with an exotic mushroom sauce.

Risotto and homemade ravioli top my list of pasta favorites as they both change weekly and the risotto is always cooked perfect al dente rich and creamy. Nice variety in the pasta menu with another favorite being Orecchiete alla Barese that consists of ear shaped pasta tossed with broccoli rabe, Italian sausage and fresh chopped tomatoes. The seafood selection is fresh with a good mix of Salmon, Scampi and Cioppino. On my last visit I had one of the daily specials, fresh sea bass sautéed in a white wine tomato sauce with fresh clams and mussels served on a bed of linguini. It was perfectly cooked, moist and flavorful with the nice tomato wine sauce. I've heard good things about the scallops as well.

The wine list is extensive with a nice selection of Italian, French, and California vino. May I suggest starting with a bottle of Proscecca sparkling wine from Italy that is a nice way to lead into your meal and works great with appetizers or can take you through your meal if you are going with lighter fare.

Alas, the dessert selection which is presented verbally by your server. I must mention in some detail the red wine baked pear with a sweetened red wine reduction and served with a chantilly cream. Trust me and try it. Trattoria i Trulli is the real deal, if you have not experienced it yet, make it a point to try it soon.

Diner at I Trulli is not going to break the bank either. All the entrees fall into the $10-$20 range with appetizers and salads and desserts from $4-$8 Catering is also available from small dinner parties to large group events. Check out their catering menu at www.itrulli.signonsandiego.com or call Daniela at 760.943.6800 i Trulli is located at 830 South Coast Highway 101 in Encinitas and is open for lunch and dinner daily.

Questions or comments regarding Encinitas Eats? Contact David Boylan @ davidboylan@cox.net


QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"Many so-called aphrodisiac recipes are basically wholesome ingredients prepared in a tasty way. The receptivity to romance probably comes from the general sense of relaxation and well-being good food induces."
Harry E. Wedeck



I've always been into food, but probably got hooked on it as part of a lifestyle working as a First Mate on a corporate yacht through college. Meals were catered in daily from the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club and memberships to every yacht club on the lake were available for dining purposes. As a bonus, the society wives of the corporate titans would bring world-class chefs on board to teach them how to cook. One thing I can say about those women, they were passionate about their meals, and had the means to procure the best ingredients. Being the First Mate I was right in the middle of it and absorbed everything. A highlight was our month long trip around the Great Lakes on a 64 foot Hatteras stuffed to the hilt with Stags Leap, Dom Perignon, and a galley straight out of Dean & Deluca.

Between that, and going back to my reality of being a slumming college student seeking dives and bargains, my eclectic, wide-ranging palate was taking shape. Since then, I've cooked for a couple as part of my caretaker duties in Steamboat Springs, traveled extensively on business enjoying the perks of a corporate card while entertaining and eating all over the country. Always taking notes, absorbing the local culinary culture on the high and low end. Example; Chicago, as many great meals as I've eaten there, a hung-over morning at The Billy Goat eating "cheeseburger cheeseburger" ranks right up there in the "right food at the right time" category. I've also developed my culinary skills to a point where my chef friends come over on nights off for a good dose of my eclectic twists on American comfort food. .

I've been in Encinitas for six years now, and have explored a good portion of the culinary scene, and know there is enough food and food people going on in North County to make for interesting reading.

Encinitas Eats is not just a restaurant review column; it's a weekly look at our food culture in Encinitas, Leucadia, and Cardiff. This will bode well for the reader as my tastes go all over the culinary map. Equally at home scarfing down burrito's after a long surf session or putting on my finest beach casual and indulging in the finest dining in the area. Since the food experience is not just about eating out, Encinitas Eats will look at food from all angles. From local chef profiles to local markets to dinner party ideas, and occasionally, a look at the music that works with the food experience.

I hope you enjoy Encinitas Eats and I welcome any tips on cool food related topics or people in the area.

David Boylan can be reached at 760.753.8663 or davidboylan@cox.net

 

 

J. Taylor's at L'Auberge Resort & Spa is a Hotel Dining Experience Worth Seeking Out

BY DAVID BOYLAN

For the most part, I've never been one to seek out hotel restaurants. Unless traveling on business or in a major urban market where hotels are known for fine food, restaurant food is not high on my culinary list, especially in North County.

That all changed recently when Executive Chef Tom Atkins and Chef De Cuisine Michael Zonfrilli took over at the former Dining Room at L'Auberge, recently renamed J. Taylor's after one of Del Mar's founding fathers. I first became aware of Atkins and Zonfrilli when they worked their culinary magic at Belle Fleur in Carlsbad, prior to coming to L'Auberge.

Under the tutelage of Atkins, Zonfrilli has created a classic menu with innovative touches that reflects a mosaic of California cuisine. From the Carlsbad farm raised mussels; to the Sonoma County lamb and California Farmstead blue cheese and all California wine list, J. Taylor's takes full advantage of the divers offerings of the Golden State. It's also nice to know that the herbs are grown in the extensive herb garden right outside.

I've eaten at J. Taylor's several times during the past year, as both the Dining Room and J. Taylor's. A complete re-model was performed on the interior, giving J. Taylor's a fresh, clean, residential feel, while staying within the traditional elegance of the hotel. The outside patio, with a running waterfall and scent of herbs in the air, is perfect for dinner under the stars. The staff is top notch, very educated on the menu and wine list, and eager to suggest wines to compliment the meal. The complimentary glass of Champagne upon seating is a great perk, and conveys the feeling that what you are about to enjoy is not just a meal, but a complete culinary experience.

Appetizers at J. Taylor's are a delight, leaving you lusting for the next course. The fresh Maine lobster salad with an avocado citrus mousse was quite memorable. The surprisingly tender chunks of perfectly cooked lobster were dressed lightly with a lemon vinaigrette and fresh basil and placed on a ripe heirloom tomatoes and a velvety avocado mousse. Another memorable starter was the seared sea scallops with a sweet corn risotto accentuated by a lemongrass buerre blanc and Thai chili oil, another amazing combination of ingredients that work perfect together.

Foie Gras steak is not for everyone, but for lovers of this rich, decadent dish, Zonfrilli does it right. The duck liver is seared then served on toasted brioche (rich buttery egg bread), a blackberry balsamic glaze, fresh blackberries, and chopped herbs. I can't say I fall into the Foie Gras lover's category, yet I was pleasantly surprised by the way the flavors and textures worked together to create a melt-in-your-mouth savory delight. I would order it again.

Upon a recent visit, I was slightly disappointed to see that the fresh carrot soup was no longer on the menu but had been replaced by a fresh sweet pea soup that better suited the warm weather. The sweet pea soup is a fresh puree with a touch of mint that captures the simple flavors of fresh peas perfectly. Appetizers and soups at J. Taylor's should not be missed. There is as much or more thought and preparation put into these dishes as most restaurants put into their main courses. They satisfy, yet leave you anticipating the meal ahead.

The entrée selection at first glance reads like standard upscale dining fare, with an eclectic selection for more adventurous diners. Upon closer inspection, the personal, creative touches of a highly skilled kitchen become very evident.

An 8-ounce grilled filet mignon seems ordinary enough until you place it on truffle flavored mushroom polenta and cover it with a demi glace and blue cheese butter. The fillet is perfect and the flavors and textures of the polenta, demi glace, and butter all melt in your mouth. The Petaluma free-range chicken cooked in saffron onion chicken broth takes chicken to another level. Served with roasted fingerling potatoes, baby root vegetables, and fresh chopped herbs. The breast is served in the broth, keeping it moist and ringing with flavor. Another standout is the duck breast with a unique tangerine caramel glaze presented with a house made duck confit mashed potato on a bed of baby spinach dressed with a light citrus broth, yum.

Porcini dusted halibut, rack of Sonoma lamb, seared salmon, a veal chop with a port wine sauce, along with daily specials, round out the dinner menu, always with a focus on fresh California ingredients.

Atkins kicks up desert with some treats that complete the meal. A butterscotch parfait pudding with Meyer rum Chantilly cream is sinful. Warm chocolate cake with vanilla gelato in an almond tuile cup, brandied raspberries, double chocolate malted crème brule and a fresh fruit shortcake with peach sabayon are all world class desserts.

Expect to drop $100 for two people with a nice bottle of wine. It's well worth it though and I should add that, in addition to the food at J. Taylor's it's worth the trip to hang out in the beautiful hotel, have a drink at the cozy bar, and stroll the immaculate grounds. Valet parking is free and J. Taylor's is open every day for lunch and dinner.

J. Taylor's
1540 Camino Del Mar
Del Mar, CA 92014

Contact David Boylan: davidboylan@cox.net

Quote of the week.
"The goose is nothing, but man has made of it an instrument for the output of a marvelous product, (Foie Gras) a kind of living hothouse in which there grows the supreme fruit of gastronomy."
Charles Gérard, L'Ancienne Alsace à table

 


Bistro Soleil - A Taste of France in Downtown Encinitas

By David Boylan

First of all let's dispel any preconceived notions of French food. It's to fancy, to rich, expensive, intimidating, I've heard them all. Next, let's take a break from the overkill of Italian restaurants in Encinitas and expand our culinary horizons to include Bistro Soleil, Claude Turon-Barrere's delightful French Provencal restaurant at 641 South Coast Highway 101 in downtown Encinitas.

Claude has taken the best of what France has to offer and given it a light, fresh California twist. Speaking of California, his background here should be noted as it definitely shaped his vision of the Bistro Soleil. Having grown up in Biarritz, the surfing capital of France, Claude was immediately drawn to the ocean and took many holidays to Southern California to immerse himself in the lifestyle and of course to surf. He moved to Santa Barbara in 1974, then to Encinitas 4 months later to help open the Chart House here. Various restaurant adventures followed, including a stint on the North Shore in Hawaii and opening a Tex-Mex restaurant in Biarritz with his brother called the West Side Bar & Grill, which is still open. I'm sensing a pattern here, coastal locations, good surf, and fine cuisine. Over the years, Claude became hooked on the Encinitas lifestyle and surf scene, and when the opportunity to open a Bistro in the heart of downtown became available last year, he jumped at the chance.

Many of you know the location as the former George's, a local landmark for years. It is good to know that a true surfer has taken over the spot and put his own touch on it. The interior is light and airy with French touches and tasteful art. A full bar and outdoor seating are available as well.

The menu describes the cooking style as "light and aromatic". Although there are hearty dishes available, I would have to agree with that description. Claude started us off with a traditional French drink while we waited at the bar. The drink, popular in Marseilles in the South of France, is Anise and water over ice and was a great way to start the evening.

When in a
French restaurant, I'm drinking French wine so we picked a '98 Font Villac Emilion Grand Cru, which worked perfect with the mix of poultry, fish, and pasta we were about to order. The wine list offers a good selection and they do offer half- price on most bottles every Tuesday evening.

In the kitchen, Claude has Julien Bontron and Ronoin Rouille, both of whom come from the highly regarded Trianon Palace, a 5 star hotel restaurant in Versailles. So yes, this is the real deal.

We started with escargot (yes snails) in a pesto garlic butter sauce. I had a first time snail eaters with me so I instructed them to put the snail on a piece of bread and dip in the garlic butter sauce. To my astonishment they loved them and we continued to dip our bread in the flavorful butter.

The soup of the day was a potato, leek and carrot puree that was very nice. They also offer a cold soup of the day along with a Provencal style fish and lobster soup, which I've had on a previous visit and really enjoyed. We also had the mixed green salad and I'm going to make it a point next time to try the Salade de Saint-Jacques which is fried scallops with sweet bell pepper coulis served with mixed greens, I have no idea why I did not try that as it sounds incredible.

Our entrée's consisted of Aiguillette de Canard Rotie (roasted duck breast au Jus with truffle risotto), Raviolino aux Fromages (gorgonzola and mozzarella stuffed raviolis served with a light creamy pesto sauce), and the Ahi tuna Grille au Romarin (fresh grilled Ahi tuna with rougail sauce served with fresh pasta and asparagus). The duck on the risotto was a great combination and Ahi was seared rare on pasta and asparagus was a light yet satisfying combination.

The menu also includes lamb, pork tenderloin, veal chops, New York Black Angus steak and tenderloin and a great selection of seafood all prepared with variations of traditional French sauces. Not to mention the traditional French favorites such as La Bouillabaisse, steamed mussels, Foie Gras, and daily specials highlighting seasonal fresh ingredients. They also offer a "Menu Cherubin" for the kids, a chicken breast and French fries for $8.00

For dessert we had the Red Berries Charlotte and the Fondant au Chocolat. The first being a lady finger biscuit with raspberry and blackcurrant mousse and the second a sinful melting chocolate cake. I highly recommend both. Claude poured us a nice Port to enjoy with our dessert and we finished the evening with Espresso and coffee.

Having spent some time in France, two of my more vivid culinary memories were the Plateu de Fromages or the assorted cheese platter that was brought out after the meal and before dessert. I'd like to see that option on the menu along with a Cassoulet during the winter months. Overall, Bistro Soleil is an exceptional culinary experience and I highly recommend that you add it to your mix of dining options in town.

Prices are moderate to expensive with entrees ranging from $16-$25 and they do offer a Summer special early bird menu that will get you dinner for two and a bottle of wine for $50 from 5:30-6:30 Monday-Thursday. Bistro Soleil is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Call 760.942.9549 for reservations and daily specials.

Questions or comments regarding Encinitas Eats? Contact David Boylan @ davidboylan@cox.net

Encinitas Eats Quote of the week

"Light, refined, learned and noble, harmonious and orderly, clear and logical, the cooking of France is, in some strange manner, intimately linked to the genius of her greatest men."
Rouff (Marcel) French journalist and writer (1887-1936)

 

 


Gustavo Friederichsen

Chief Marketing & Communications Officer
Palomar Pomerado Health

By David Boylan

This years COTY award winner Gustavo Friederichsen has long been a prominent figure in the San Diego Healthcare community and recently took over as Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Palomar Pomerado Health. We met at over coffee recently to talk about his interesting career, healthcare, and the direction of the Healthcare Communicators. I found Gustavo to be very approachable, articulate, creative and full of great stories which made for a very interesting interview.

First of all congratulations on your recent COTY award. What was your reaction when you found out and what does an award like that mean to you as a healthcare professional in San Diego?

I was excited when I got the news. This is probably the biggest award I've ever won as a professional. I know it carries with it a significant amount of responsibility in terms of…I'm Healthcare Communicator of The Year so now I'm charged with expanding the mission of the organization and raising the profile of HCC in the community. To get people to take it seriously, even though I don't take myself too seriously.


I must admit, your name has an exotic flair to it, like a movie star or famous chef. Is there a story behind your name?

My family is from Mexico City, though my grandfather on my father's side is from Hamburg Germany so my ethnic background is German and Mexican. It's a very interesting scenario as I am the only one in my extended family of relatives that is over six feet tall. That grandfather passed away and my grandmother remarried the Supreme Court justice of Mexico. My father was a professional Jai Lai player who played in Mexico City, Havana, Miami, and ended up in Tijuana which is where the Jai Lai Palace is. We settled there for the first seven years of my life. My father eventually gave up the life of a pro athlete and got a job as a diplomat. Ironically, as a result of my brother's asthma, and on the recommendation of our family doctor who said he would probably die if we stayed in Tijuana, we moved to Spring Valley.


Can you take me from high school graduation to where you are today and with some highlights of each stop along the way?

I went to college at San Diego State, where I was an undecided major until my junior year. I chose journalism because I thought it would be cool to get into the media or TV side of things. I graduated in 1986 and after about a year I bought a one-way ticket to Washington DC. Everyone thought I would be back in about two weeks and instead I ended up staying seven years. It was the DC experience that changed everything. Arriving in DC I had no job, did not know anyone, and ended up sleeping on a lot of floors. I finally got an entry level job on capital hill at a think tank where my salary was like $9,000 to start.

After a couple of other entry level positions I latched on to the Bush-Quayle Campaign working in a communications position on the campaign in all fifty states. As we all know, Bush won which enabled me to, and I'll never forget this, there was this 200 page book and I was told by White House personnel to pick the job I wanted out of this book. So I went through the book, looking for the coolest job with the best perks. The one I found was press secretary to the Treasurer of the United States. I was doing speech writing and PR for the Treasurer. I remember the second day on the job I had a meeting across town and I'm heading out to my car and my secretary notifies me that I have a driver assigned to me which was a nice perk for a 26 year old driving a Toyota Tercel.

I went from that position to the Health and Human Services where I was the Deputy Director of Communications under Secretary Sullivan. That was a very dynamic position with AIDS reaching epidemic status about that time. I did that for about a year and half when I found out that Bush was going to lose the election. As a political appointee, I knew the call would be coming telling me I'm done. I did not want to wait for that to happen so I made a few calls to come back to San Diego and was very fortunate to land the job at Scripps where I worked for five years as a PR person then to Ron Roberts doing healthcare policy which was not really the space I wanted to be in. I left that to go to Tenent where I was the National Director of Communications but I was not willing to move to their headquarters in Santa Barbara. I was able to commute and there was a lot of travel involved anyway. I did that for a year before the opportunity came up at Sharp as Vice President of Communications, Public Relations and International Business where I've been for the past five years before recently accepting the my current position at PPH.


You have worked at most of the major healthcare institutions in San Diego over the years, are there any accomplishments that stand out?

At Sharp there were quite a few. Being able to pull off some pretty innovative PR things like The To Fast To Furious To Fatal. It put us out there as the number two story on the evening news and front page of the paper. We had nine cameras show up at the press conference, we had kids who had been victims of street racing, kids from SDSU who raced legally, CHP, elected officials, trauma surgeons.

When Mike Darr of the Padres was killed by a drunk driver 3 years ago at Spring training in Peoria, I pitched an idea to the Padres to bring former athletes who are now quad or parapalegics as a result of drunk drivers over to Peoria to lecture to the single, double and triple A players. With some help from Mike Dodd, I got the Padres on board and within about 16 days I had these former athletes speaking in front of the Padres minor leaguers and there was not a dry eye in the house. We bring that same group back every year now. The TV and press coverage was incredible.

Things like that…I just really like being involved with creative public relations, non traditional stuff. When you are around me, it's about creative thinking, that's what I look for from my staff.


What people in the industry or in general have been influential in helping you get where you are today?

I know that I would not have won that award without the staff of Sharp, for Diane Gage pushing or the voters selecting me. Every step of the way I've developed a relationship with someone who has helped me and now it's come full circle. Jim McBride for example has supported me, Mike Hart who is an elder statesman in the business installed in me a lot of the tactical stuff. Diane Gage has been an exceptional mentor to me.


From a communications perspective, what challenges do you see for the Healthcare industry as a whole?

The thing that stands out is the transition from the old way of looking at Healthcare communications and the traditional way of presenting ourselves as a credible resource in terms of our image and how we position ourselves. How we carry ourselves… there has been a stigma about PR practitioners as schmoozers. The challenge is to create a new image for Healthcare professionals as people who know the business, who are bolder, younger, more creative risk takers. It's about being two or three steps ahead of a trend.

What role do you see the HCC playing in the future of San Diego Healthcare?

It's somewhat of an unknown role but I'd like to see it expanding. You have the Chamber of Commerce, SANDAG, Port District, powerful associations. This organization is not at that level yet but it's close. To be at that level where it's recognized they have to start doing things a little differently. Be it an annual review of media trends that makes the papers, some kind of report card, a tighter link with elected officials so they see the value of the organization for them and the community. It would be great to partner with similar organizations in other markets, maybe national opportunities. Invite folks outside the industry to give keynote addresses…like an annual HCC gala to benefit a local non-profit with a nationally recognized speaker. That's what I think will benefit the organization, putting up a wish list and seeing if you can hit those marks.


How about your personal life, do you have a family, hobbies?


I have a wife and son. No real hobbies, I golf a bit and love athletics but it's all about having fun with my 8 year old son. I'm having a blast exposing him to as much as possible. He is very into sports and so am I so it's fun watching him progress. My dad was never around so I'm doing everything I can to spend as much time as possible with my son. As I tell my employee's, work is not the most important thing in life, it's what happens after five and weekends. Don't get me wrong, work is important, but relationships outside of work are what matter most.


Any final words of wisdom for communications professionals in the healthcare space

Never take yourself to seriously, always ask "what if and why not"? Your best ideas are probably not going to come to you when you are struggling with the nine to five stress, they are going to come when you are driving home or in other non-work environments. The key is to write those ideas down then act on them. You also have to build credibility with the person you report to, whoever that is. You have to instill in them that you are capable, and for that to happen they have to respect you.


 

 

Comfort food and more at Jim Kelly's Pub

By David Boylan

Let's talk about meatloaf and lamb stew, braised chicken and roasted pork tenderloin, pork chops and rib eye steak with mashed potatoes. It's comfort food baby and its just part of the eclectic mix of entrée's at Jim Kelly's Pub in the Lumberyard.

The setting is hip yet comfortable, artsy yet friendly like a neighborhood pub. Waterfalls, domed ceilings, cool original art, live entertainment, breakfast on the weekends, and great happy hour specials combine for a mix that offers something for everyone.

On a recent visit, we started with a bottle of Hess Merlot that was part of a very reasonably priced wine selection that started at $19 and went up to $52 with a nice variety in the mid $20 range.

OK, back to the food. Let's start with some appetizers shall we? The orange chicken wings were a sweet, delicious diversion from standard hot wings. Seared Ahi with wasabi dipping sauce was perfect. Other appetizers included spiced pork ribs, crab cake, king crab nachos and spinach and artichoke dip, a nice variety.

Our waiter Chele Upshaw insisted that we try the Asian chicken salad and by gosh I'm glad we caved in. This could have been a meal for two in itself. The grilled strips of chicken breast and slices of mandarin oranges with the sweet Asian dressing was freaking unreal. That's what I'm getting next time.

We moved on next to our main courses. My delicious companion Jennifer had the meatloaf with a chanterelle port wine sauce and mashed potatoes. All I can say is the true test of meatloaf is the next-day meatloaf sandwich. I'm happy to say this passed with flying colors. It was pretty darn good that night as well. I had the Steak Maison the "specialty steak" at Jim Kelly's and I really like the choice of five sauces they offer with the pan seared prime cut of beef. I went with the tequila Chile which includes a spicy poblano chile sauce deglazed with tequila, mmmm tequila. The other sauces include bordelaise, au poivre, port wine, and herb wine.

We shared a flourless chocolate cake for desert that came out warm and melted in our mouths. The desert selection was limited, but of high quality.

So now your thinking, OK, this place is a little fancy dancy for my tastes. Not to fear burger and salad lovers, for you Jim Kelly's offers the lumberyard burger, Portobello mushroom burger, roasted chicken sandwich and a full slate of great salads. The happy hour menu which extends a full three hours from 3:30-6:30 includes more pub grub from fish and chips to Thai chicken egg rolls. The full bar has 24 beers on tap and always has a good mix of people to hang with.

Jim Kelly's offers live entertainment Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and the night we ate, Blue Funk was performing rock and blues with the added bonus of a tap dancer joining them on a couple of numbers. That was interesting.

Owner Bill Wolf has been in the restaurant business in San Diego for 20 years and seems to have found the right mix to work in Encinitas. His vision of a comfortable, friendly, reasonably priced fun place to enjoy a burger or a great meal appears to be taking shape at Jim Kelly's. The NY Strip tops out the menu at $21.95 with most entrée's in the $10-$15 dollar range. That works for me.

Jim Kelly's Pub is located in the Lumberyard at 937 S. Coast Highway, C-101 in Encinitas. 760.943. 9800

Questions or comments for Encinitas Eats? Email David Boylan at davidboylan@cox.net

Encinitas Eats Quote of the week

"My fare is really sumptuous this evening; buffaloe's humps, tongues and marrowbones, fine trout parched meal pepper and salt, and a good appetite; the last is not considered the least of the luxuries."
Journals of Lewis and Clark, Thursday, June 13, 1805

 


No Freezer, Lots Of Flair At Fulano's.

By David Boylan


If you live in Encinitas there is a good chance you have passed by Fulano's and asked yourself "what's up with that place" ? Well, before I tell you what's up with that place, let me wet your curiosity, the kitchen does not have a freezer and the chef/owner has cooked for Presidents.

First off about the freezer or lack thereof. I posed this question to chef/owner John Portillo who responded with the obvious answer "because we only keep fresh ingredients on hand." Attention food lovers…THIS IS A VERY GOOD SIGN.

Next about the cooking for Presidents thing. John Portillo has done dinners for the Reagan's and cooked for the Bush's at their Kennebunkport Main Summer place and in Crawford Texas. Since I'm on the subject of what this guy has done in the culinary field, let me give you the nutshell of what's gone down just during the past 20 years. He attended culinary school in Europe, did his apprenticeship in Liguria Italy, worked for Princess Cruise Lines, opened resorts for the Hyatt chain in over 39 countries, and has done personal parties for numerous well know politicians and celebrities including an annual gig for Paul Mitchell. Since Portillo was born and raised in Luecadia, he gave up the whirlwind life of the gypsy chef and came back to his hometown in 1995 to open Fulano's. He still travels extensively and given his strong ties to Mexico, visits there often to the wine region just Northeast of Ensenada where Chateau Camon and Monte Xanic are located. His passion for authentic Mexican cuisine and tradition has developed over the years and the result is evident at Fulano's.

I hung out with Portillo recently to get a feel for what makes him tick and to give the Surf City Times audience a look at one of the more formidable culinary stars in this area.

DB: How did your passion for food come about and when did you realize you would make it a career?

JP: I was raised eating good food, my parents were always expanding my horizons in that area. As far as it being my profession, I just kind of fell into that and the opportunity to travel doing something I loved appealed to me very much.

DB: With all of your travel experiences, what keeps you in Encinitas?

JP: Well, first of all I was born and raised here and have a house in Leucadia. It's a wonderful area and I still travel often, yet prefer to make my living here. I get offers to cook and open places in different markets, yet it's more like a been there done that and Encinitas is a great place to call home.


DB: What is it about being a restaurant owner/chef you enjoy the most?

JP: It's a very creative thing to do and the people in the business tend to be cool. When it works, it's very gratifying to see my efforts make people happy. The travel and the people I've met have also been big perks. I just enjoy the whole process.

DB: What aspects of the business are not so great?

JP: There is really not that much I don't enjoy…well maybe the hours sometimes. It's not something you can succeed at without putting lots of time into it. I'd rather be working hard at something I enjoy doing.

DB: What are three misconceptions about Mexican food?

JP: First of all, Burritos were invented in California, refried beans are rarely found on the menus of traditional dining establishments in Mexico, and there is very little fried food.
Just as in any society, Mexico has an educated, professional portion of the population that eats very well and is influenced by France, Spain, and any other nationalities that have resided there over the years. There is a big misconception locally that Mexican food has to be heavy, served with rice and beans, and covered with sauce. The food at Fulano's is much lighter than you will find at the local taco place. Our food is sautéed and the meat is cooked in it's own broth so there is no added fat and it's very flavorful.

DB: I've noticed that you do attract patrons that are aware of these differences and seek you out.

JP: We regularly attract people from LA, and a local crowd that has heard about us and experienced for themselves the finer dining in Mexico.

DB: Back to the travel thing, having been all over the world, give me your top 5 locations for food.

JP: London for its diversity, Italy, Hong Kong, the Provance region of France, and in the US, Chicago has always stood out.

DB: I'm also a big fan of the Chicago culinary scene. It has a great mix of street food, steakhouses, and hip, cutting edge restaurants…and of course France. I know you have cooked for some famous people, so tell me about some of the more glamorous events.

JP: Well, around 1985, I did a dinner for Ronald Reagan, actually it was for around 1000 other people as well but that event was a big break and landed me a position at Marriott cooking for other dignitaries and eventually cooking for the Bush family in Maine and Texas. They were all wonderful people and it was a great gig that kind of created a niche for me in the political space. I've since done some parties for Paul Mitchell in Mexico yet for the most part those events tend to be really hard work. Eli Calloway ate here on a regular basis along with the Eckee's, and whenever Dorothy McGuire is in town she always stops by.

DB: Since you are a true local, where do you like to hang out in Encinitas?

JP: I like all the beaches but Grandview, Swami's, Stone Steps, those are my favorite. I also enjoy eating locally at Bistro Soleil.

DB: Any words of wisdom for aspiring chefs out there?

JP: Be prepared for hard work, long hours, and a few years paying your dues. It's a great profession yet takes a real passion to succeed.


Rather than go into detail on my recent visit, I'm going to leave you with a couple parting thoughts and have you check this place out for yourself. It's obvious given Mr. Portillo's background that he cares a great deal about the quality of food he serves and it's apparent in every dish we had. Yes, it's kind of a weird location and he did not have desserts available during the week except flan, (weekends he has dessert) but other than that, it's good stuff, and John takes the time to explain his dishes and what goes into them. It goes back to that whole thing about passion I've touched on before, he obviously has it and is not going to compromise his vision…although he has added beans and a couple of other "Americanized" dishes if you have kids tagging along or non-adventurous diners. If I must recommend two dishes, go for the Albondigas soup..with meatballs and vegetables, and the Fillet de Res, a 6 oz. skirt steak charbroiled perfectly. I did not see an entrée over $12 and he has a full bar, outdoor seating, and is open every day but Monday.

Check out his full menu at www.fulanoscafe.com Fulano's is at 145 Leucadia Boulevard in Encinitas, 760.753.1711

Questions or comments for Encinitas Eats? Contact David Boylan at davidboylan@cox.net


Encinitas Eats Quote of the week:

"A first-rate soup is more creative than a second-rate painting."
Abraham Maslow

 

 

Encinitas Eats
Leucadia Pizzeria

By David Boylan

Leucadia Pizzeria is one of the great restaurant success stories in town and highly deserving of the first Encinitas Eats column in the Surf City Times. Founded in 1980 when Chip and Linda Hanover took over the Cheese Pusher restaurant in Leucadia adding pizza their second year in business and quickly expanding to a larger building up 101 a bit. Their big move came in 1992 when they moved to their highly visible current location at the corner of Encinitas Boulevard and Coast Highway 101. Three more locations have been added in recent years at UTC/La Jolla, Carmel Mountain Ranch, and Rancho Santa Fe. To give you an idea of their popularity, it's not uncommon for the Encinitas location to write 500 tickets on a Friday night between deliveries and the dining room.

Having been a long time delivery customer, with the Leucadia fleet of trucks providing quick, reliable, consistent service to my home and office, I stopped in to the dining room recently to check out some more of the menu. Living in Encinitas, it's hard to find someone who does not have a favorite dish at Leucadia Pizzeria. For some it's the salads, others, the mini pizzas or the wide variety of pasta dishes. There really is something for everyone on the large yet not overwhelming menu. My top five personal favorites over the years have been:

1. The large, extra thin crust cheese pizza with roasted garlic, basil, and tomato. The extra thin crust is pretty damn close to the kind you find on the streets of New York and the flavor combination of the garlic, basil, and tomato is killer. The large will feed 2 hungry surfers.
2. A Grilled Chicken Salad is a healthy, yet filling alternative for lunches that don't leave you looking for a place to take a nap at 2:00 pm
3. Lasagna with meat sauce is definitely for the hearty appetite and for those who don't mind slipping into a satisfying food coma after dinner.
4. The Rosemary Chicken Potato pizza is a unique combination that works.
5. The Meatball sub has always been a favorite of mine, delivered about 7:45 on a Sunday night, just before the Simpsons..yes it's a dude thing.

I should have given myself a top 10 as there are other salads, pizzas, and entrees that would make the list. I tried the Buffalo wings on my recent visit, and was pleasantly surprised, meaty with a little kick to them. Having been a big fan of the Veal Parmesan Sub I was bummed not seeing it on the menu any more. Desert has rarely been an option given the substantial nature of the portions, yet I have had the brownies and chocolate chip cookies and they both were quite good and provided that after dinner sugar kick.


I was pleasantly surprised to learn from the manager, Corey Edelman, that most of their dishes are made fresh daily with the high volume ensuring ingredients are not sitting around. Corey has been with the Pizzeria since 1992, working his way up from driver to manager.

The recently remodeled dining room is perfectly suited for large groups, teams and birthday parties along with the heated outdoor deck, while couples or smaller parties can get close in the comfortable booths. I even pop in solo occasionally and sit at the full bar and have a glass of red wine and one of my favorite dishes while talking about the surf or lack thereof with one of the surfing busboys, wait staff , or drivers. Working at Leucadia Pizzeria seems to be a rite of passage for local high school kids, many of them surfers and athletes making a little extra cash.

The great thing about Leucadia Pizzeria, is that it provides good, consistent, satisfying food at really reasonable prices with most entrées under $12. It fills a niche somewhere between burritos and fine dining and it works.
Add to that the fact that it's locally owned and operated with full catering for just about any size event.

You can check out their menu online at www.leucadiapizzeria.com or give them a call at 760.942.2222. They are located in Encinitas at 315 S. Coast Highway 101.

Contact Encinitas Eats columnist David Boylan at davidboylan@cox.net

Encintas Eats Quote of the week:

"In vino Veritas"
In Wine there is truth
-Pliny the Elder

Interviews

Between National Gigs Comedian Calls Cardiff Home…for now
by David Boylan


Like many show-biz professionals who tour extensively or commute to LA, Joe Matarese escapes back to Cardiff whenever his schedule allows. He is not here by design, but to keep a serious relationship alive while his girlfriend completes her Ph.D. in Psychology from UCSD, what a guy.

Joe grew up in Cherry Hill N.J. and started doing stand up at the age of Twenty
in Philadelphia. After four years of touring up and down the East Coast he decided to cut off his mullet, suck it up and take his shot at New York City. His first television appearance was on MTV's Spring Break with Norm MacDonald, Margaret Cho, Jim Bruer, and Andy Dick. VH-1 saw Joe perform at the Montreal Comedy Festival and signed him to do a pilot based on his experience as a DJ, around the time of the movie version of High Fidelity. The pilot never made it to production but proved to be a great experience.

Soon after, Overbrook Entertainment (Will Smith's production Co.) saw a set of Joe's and signed him to a development deal to star in his own sitcom about a guy trying to find his true love and himself along the way. NBC also joined the team, but unfortunately once again it never made the air.

The TV pilots were a great source of material for Joe as he recently had me laughing out loud with his description of the "suits" making the pitch for his material. He continues to tour extensively and does weekly gigs in LA and San Diego and recently made another TV appearance on The Late Show with Craig Kilborne.

I met with Joe recently over a couple of beers at his Cardiff apartment where we pondered some of life's complex issues…here's a sampling.


DB- So what is your take on San Diego after New York and LA?

JM- It's amazing; it has all the things that I like about LA without the BS. I've yet to meet a real ass here. as opposed to LA where you meet them daily. People are easy to perform for here. I do love New York though, compared to New York, San Diego is so different. I've never lived near the beach and don't surf or swim but it's a great vibe here.

As far as the comedy world in San Diego, it's like non-existent. All the comedians here are guys that have just started, guys that work their routines out here then move to LA and get eaten up. I only know one guy at my level; I'm the only commuter I know of anyways.


DB- Tell me about your family….were/are your parents funny…any funny siblings?

JM- My dad is funny in the way where it's endless, it's like he's always trying to be funny all the time but he misses a lot, but he has so much quantity that he hits once in a while. Jerry Seinfeld said that every comedian had a dad that was kind of funny and we take what they had and turn it into a career if we're lucky. My brother is funnier than me. He's funny in a quite kind of way but once you get to know him it's like this guy really makes me laugh. He's my hardest critic, he's like "what are you doing in San Diego, you should be in New York honing your act…let your girlfriend live there for a year." He is ten years younger so that's the way he thinks right now, perfectly understandable.


DB- Growing up, what comedian and movie influenced your decision to go into comedy?

JM - I was one of those strange kids growing up that listened to comedy albums in the basement. Steve Martin, Comedy is Not Pretty, Eddie Murphy Delirious. I had all the albums and a tape recorder with a microphone. I liked to hear myself talk. I used to tape record TV shows and I would go with my friend on his paper route and we were such nerds we would listen to the stuff we taped on the recorder in his basket.

As far as movies, Fast Times at Ridgemont High is one of my all-time favorites. Ferris
Buellers Day Off, The Jerk, Cadyshack, Animal House. I remember watching Animal House with my friend's grandma in the room and I did not know there were going to be naked women and I'm like naked women go away, it was very awkward.

DB-When did you realize you may be funny enough to make a living in comedy…was there a defining moment or a series of events?


JM- I remember when I started when I was 20 years old and I was going to this open mic once a week in Philly. And it's funny because when you are getting started in comedy, all you need is the slightest hope or encouragement, that's all you need to hear. So I'm at this club and all the comedians did every job in the place basically for free and another comedian came up to me and told me I had good stage presence…so I'm like, I'm going to be huge! And then I brought my dad down and I got laughs for the first time and I thought I was killing. I was not even doing my own jokes, it was pretty pathetic. I was like watching Dana Carvy and was ripping off his impressions. So I'm thinking that I'm in, which was probably the confidence I needed to keep at it.


DB- What influences your material…what is your biggest source of material?

JM- I'm not one of those guys that sit down and pull jokes from the news or current events. All of my material comes from real life situations. Whatever is going on in my life at that moment is usually what my act is about. Like when I'm a single guy all my material is about all these different women. My material usually accidentally comes out of my mouth when I'm onstage based on recent conversations. Things I stumble upon just in my day-to-day sometimes make for great bits.


DB - You wrote couple of TV pilots…is that something you would like to revisit?

JM - Definitely, that was a great experience and I still think the concept was worthy.


DB- Ok, now it's time to have a little fun. I'm going to give you a little pop culture Q&A. You pick one answer from the two options and give a short reason why you picked what you did.

A NY slice of pizza or a fish taco
NY slice for sure, fish tacos are good but NY pizza is like, you can't find bad pizza in NY, it's just part of the culture

Christina Ricci or Parker Posy
Parker Posy is much more my style, kind of quirky and fun.


Chief Wigam or Barney
I like the drunken guy Barney. His burps are killer.

The Exorcist or The Shining
They are both great movies, I could not watch the Exorcist as a kid, it freaked me out. I'd have to go with The Shining though, Jack is the man.

Robin Williams or Steve Martin
Steve Martin for sure. Robin Williams is a great actor but has a reputation inside the comedy world for stealing material.

Aretha Franklin or Madonna
Madonna, she's just cool and seems to re-invent herself so well.

Millhouse or Groundskeeper Willie
I'll go with Willie, I like the accent.

Jets or Giants
Neither, I'm an Eagles fan. I grew up 10 minutes from Philly.

Scarface or Goodfellas
Goodfellas, greatest movie ever made.

Beatles or Stones
It depends on the day. One day I'm like, Hey Jude sucks and another day it makes me cry. Can't answer that one.

Big hair Jersey girl or Hippie chick Cali girl
Another one that depends on the day. Once in a while a big haired Italian girl might look good. Now I probably prefer the Cali girl, but back in the day I went for the dumbest Italian girl from Jersey I could find.

Springsteen or Bon Jovi
Bruce for sure. I've heard his concerts are like religious experiences.

Joe Matarese will be performs weekly at the La Jolla Comedy Store and will be performing on January 10, at Fat Katz in Encinitas. For more information on Joe, check out his website, www.joematarese.com