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FOODfare: Notes from North County

Chef Jason Maitland of Flavor in Del Mar.
Chef Jason Maitland of Flavor in Del Mar.
Courtesy Photo

From Sup to Sip

As it was when he raised Arterra to all-time heights several years ago, Jason Maitland’s food is still the big draw at his current Del Mar restaurant, Flavor. However, one would have to be blind not to notice that the most booming business at that venue is in the bar area. On any given night, regulars of all ages, shapes and sizes, as well as some of San Diego’s top chefs, can be gandered through the front window enjoying drinks and small bites within a few paces of the bartending crew. It would seem Maitland and the other powers that be at Flavor have taken notice by examining their upcoming venture, Sip, in which they will take over the space directly east of Flavor and turn it into an intimate space where crafted cocktails and a small yet specially selected list of boutique wines will be served along with snack-sized eats and charcuterie. The latter will be aged in a specially designed, temperature-regulated room capable of storing and gracefully aging all the porky goodness Maitland can stock it with. There is no set date for Sip’s debut as of press time, but given the swell at Flavor’s bar, it can’t come too soon. 1555 Camino Del mar, Del Mar, 858.755.3663

Riesling to Believe

Vaunted sommelier Jesse Rodriguez is a lover of all of the wines of the world, but has always said his favorites come from smack dab in the middle of Europe. Rather than gravitate to France as so many oenophiles do, he prefers Germany and Austria. So, it’s no surprise that he has a soft spot for a varietal that doesn’t get a lot of love—or understanding—here in the States. The vino I’m referring to is Riesling. Thanks to its mass production as a highly sugary, less refined and extremely affordable grocery store wine, most Americans believe Rieslings are cloyingly sweet and the white zinfandel of the vino blanc world. But Rodriguez and a notable collection of his contemporaries around the country are working to dispel that myth. The flavor of this varietal, when made with care and respect, can run the gamut from crisp and acidic to darn near forceful in its fruitful forwardness. Enter the Summer of Reisling, a nationwide effort by som’s to expose guests at over 150 wine-centric restaurants to the noble Riesling by adding them to their menus for three months and offering them at reasonable prices. Rodriguez hails from The Grand Del Mar and will have three of his favorite Rieslings—Weingut Blees-Ferber “Trittenheimer Apotheke (2005), Joh.-Jos. Christoffel Erben, “Erdener Treppchen” (2006) and Weingut Fritz Haag “Estate” (2006)—available at Addison, Amaya and the lobby lounge (plus one variety available at Club M). Never heard of them? Well, I guess that’s the whole point, but when Rodriguez pulls out a bottle, it rarely disappoints and surely there’s no better classroom for educating one’s palate on this much misunderstood grape. 5200 Grand Del Mar Way, Carmel Valley, 858.314.1930

Free Food!

OK, now that I’ve got your attention, this Saturday, July 9, several food trucks will be pulling into the epicenter of San Elijo Hills in San Marcos and offering full-sized portions of their best-selling menu items. It’s taking place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and, of course, the focus is on selling homes, but if you’re already in the market for one (or are quite adept at feigning interest), this is pretty good incentive to take a tour or two. The food trucks include Devilicious, Barrista Trolley, Food Farm SD, Kona Ice, SD Street Eats and Longboards Ice Cream. Activities for kids and complimentary beverages will also be on hand.

Resto Rumor

If food is going to be used as an attractor to sell homes, why not use it in the same way to sell cars? While that’s not so much on the mind of the high powered, deeply-entrenched giant of a restaurant group considering moving into a space atop the Lexus Escondido complex at 1205 Auto Parkway, it’s surely a prime motivator for the folks who’ll be leasing them space. It will be interesting to see not only what concept the Cohn Restaurant Group installs on the top story of the facility (which already houses a café, business center and indoor/outdoor public/private event spaces), but how successful it will be, not only given its unique location, but the close proximity of the City of Escondido’s second most popular attraction behind the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (these are serious statistics versus a beer enthusiast’s jovial boast).