Monday, June 22, 2009

Tapas Take Me By Suprise at Whisknladle

A good food blogger knows not to sample the food she is served before she snaps several artsy-looking photos. I, clearly, am not a good food blogger. I have great things to tell you, and almost nothing to show for it. Key word: almost.

I've ordered the spicy ahi with piquillo aioli and the salmon tartare from the $2 tapas happy hour menu at Whisknladle in La Jolla. And as quickly as they've arrived, I've already taken bites of both before I remember to shoot them. Then Lucien tell me the tapas change weekly at the Whisknladle bar. Mixed thoughts occur: I cringe, then get excited. An entirely new menu next week! However, I have no pictures of what I just bit into (because no one thinks a photo of anything with a bite out of it is appetizing). But I will have an entirely new selection to choose from next week. Which means I can't simply come back and order more of the same to take shots of. So, I give you my humble offerings of what is left of my scrumptious tapas and $8 tab.

Ahi with Piquillo Aioli

Salmon Tartare

Chorizo & Caramelized Onion Torto

Marinated Beets

When I was caught licking the piquillo aioli off the toothpicks left from my ahi, the manager offered me bread to sop it up with. What she actually brought me was bread, and butter that is mixed with algae instead of salt. Riiiiiight. What? Again, my knife went straight into the butter, even before I had broken a nugget of hot creamy bread to slather it on, that was supposed to sop up the pepper sauce! Ah, so much good food.

The salmon was diced and mixed with capers, onions and fresh herbs. Three grilled toast slices were tilted playfully on the side the bowl as if to say, “Go ahead, pile the salmon on me and take a gander.” And gander I did ... into lovely fish with bright flavors and a crispity, crunchity toast fork. I ran out of my so-called forks, but luckily I had a slice of the fore-mentioned bread left for the last few bites of tartare.

The chorizo and caramelized onion torto was not necessarily as described on the menu. Basically, the chorizo was served with eggs on a puffy corn tortilla, not a bun, as one might think. The slice of manchego on top added just the right hint of tang. It was curiously fun and I hope they include them on the menu from time to time.

To describe the marinated beets, let me first begin with this: I was raised on canned vegetables. Therefor, as a child I thought beets tasted like dark red dirt. I now know, for absolute certainty, this was a lie. Beets do not have to taste like dirt. They can be sweet, luscious and tender. The ones served at Whisknladle had just the right amount of Earthiness to remind me they were really beets.

I remembered the ingredients from the specialty cocktail menu for one drink in particular. As I watched Lucien the bartender combine Herradura, black pepper and blood orange juice, I inquired. Is that a Hibiscus Margarita? Yes. And he dribbled the remaining 1/4 of an ounce into a sexy little shot glass so I could have a taste. Brilliant, with all the flavors I just described. Who thinks of this stuff?

I'm going back for more. I will have a little self-control next time, so that I may share visions of these lovely delights with you.

Whisknladle is located at 1044 Wall Street in the heart of the village of La Jolla. $2 tapas are served daily from 5-7 pm in the bar area.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Fundraiser for our Friend Christina at Candelas June 18, 2009

Our friend Christina, the beautiful, smiling, vibrant bartender at Candelas, is in the fight of her life right now and needs our support. On May 31st, Christina fell down a cliff while hiking and suffered massive injuries. She is currently in ICU at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla fighting for her life. She is in stable condition with a broken back. Doctors say she will be paralyzed. She is surrounded by family and close friends.

Candelas is hosting a fundraiser in her honor on Thursday, June 18 from 5pm to close. Please try to come by to spread a little cheer and raise a little money for her family. 50% of the proceeds from all drink orders will be donated to help support Christina and her family during this trying time. Please stop by to show your love and support. Candelas is located at 416 Third Avenue in downtown San Diego.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Yellow Chicken Curry for Beginners

I've been reading about the health benefits of curry in India. They have relatively no instances of Alzheimers there. They eat curry on everything. I figured I could help that curve a bit in our own lives by bringing it into our kitchen. So I thought I would start with the simple, Trader Joe's Yellow Curry Sauce version. I still used organic chicken, carrots, potatoes and cilantro. But the sauce came from a jar. It turned out to be a good idea to see if Mister would want me to attempt to make it from scratch.
Using a recipe in the Williams-Sonoma Asian Food Made Fast cookbook, I modified it for use with the ready-made sauce and added a few twists of my own.

1 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 chicken thighs
1 bottle (11 oz.) Trader Joe's Yellow Curry Sauce
1-14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
three small potatoes
four carrots
small bunch of fresh cilantro
Steamed white rice

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. In a medium frying pan with a lid, brown the chicken pieces on medium-high heat in the oil for 5 minutes on each side. Remove chicken from pan and pour out excess oil. Add the bottle of Yellow Curry Sauce and half the can of diced tomatoes to the pan. Heat to a simmer and return the chicken to the pan. Put on a tightly fitting lid and put in the oven for 30 minutes. While the chicken is baking, peel the potatoes and carrots, and chop into large dice. Stir the carrots and potatoes into the pan. Return lid, and put back in the over for an additional 30 minutes. Have steamed white rice available about the same time. Serve rice covered by a piece of chicken, vegetables and sauce. Sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro.

We ate ours with Trader Joe's Whole Wheat Tandoori Naan and their cilantro & chive dip made out of yogurt. It was tasty, if not a tad too sweet for me. But I thoroughly enjoyed it. Husband did as well and I will be attempting to make it from scratch next time. I found organic yellow curry powder at OB People's Coop today. I'm officially a member now!

I hope to share my scratch recipe soon, for those of you who would like to forgo the bottled sauce. It's a great time-saver for dinner parties though. I bet the whole shootin' match would work great in a slow cooker as well.

Sorry there are no pictures. Yellow just isn't a good color on me!