“Raw” Pleasure: Crudo by Pascal Lorange

by Wendy Lemlin

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Splashes of bright color enliven the white interior of Crudo by Pascal Lorange.

In Italy and Spain, “crudo” means raw, and, while several of the dishes served at Crudo by Pascal Lorange are centered around raw fish or beef, the name also accurately implies the light touch and fresh ingredients Chef Lorange uses in preparing his culinary creations.  You could call his style “Mediterrasian”, rooted in Mediterranean cuisine, but expressing itself with an Asian/Japanese accent. Or, in Lorange’s own words, “I cook what I love to eat. I am trying to bring something fresh to San Diego—Crudo is about my passion for the traditional cuisine from the Mediterranean coast, executed with Japanese-inspired fusions. I love authentic, yet delightful ingredients, with simple presentations.”

Chef/owner Pascal Lorange

Chef/owner Pascal Lorange

Lorange opened Crudo last summer in Carmel Valley’s The Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch complex. Born and raised in Belgium, the third-generation chef launched his culinary career in the kitchens of some of Europe’s most distinguished Michelin-star restaurants. He traveled the world as personal chef for singer Julio Iglesias, cooking for celebrities and luminaries, and became further known during his 10 year tenure with Fig & Olive Restaurants, which he helped create. He and his French-born wife, Sylvie Jourdan, designed Crudo’s sophisticated, contemporary interior. Sleekly white with vibrant splashes of color—think of a wall p1020335arranged with numerous small shelves, each one holding a perfect, deep red pomegranate or bright orange mini pumpkin— the decor successfully echoes the style of the menu offerings: serious, flavorful food that keeps it light and engaging. And, by light I mean, as in Asian food, there is no cream or butter in anything except the desserts! A meal at Crudo leaves you feeling comfortably satisfied, but not food coma bound. Most of the offerings are gluten-free, and there are sufficient choices for vegans and vegetarians. There’s nothing pretentious here, in either ambience or culinary experience, just high quality food, artfully presented. Continue reading

What’s New at San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival?

By Wendy Lemlin

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   With 43 events over seven days, the 14th annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival, November 14-20, is a really big deal. As one of the nation’s largest gastronomic festivals, it brings together celebrity and local chefs, sommeliers, winemakers, brewmasters, and gourmet food artisans to present gala dinners, tastings, classes, competitions, and even a golf tournament. Continue reading

TRUST Me, You Need to Dine at TRUST

By Wendy Lemlin

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p1020289When Trust Restaurant opened earlier this year in Hillcrest, I was invited to a media preview. With its enviable location on the corner of Robinson and Park, I could see at once that the 1300 sq ft patio, with its eye-catching red accents, ample table seating, and comfy couches, was going to be an immediate neighborhood success. Inside, the décor was inviting as well, contemporary casual,p1020256 all light woods and black accents, with a decent sized bar taking up the entire north wall of the dining room and an open kitchen on the east side, giving diners something to look at, besides their phones, as they wait for their orders to arrive. At that media preview, I recall, I was impressed with the space, but not so much with the food.  To be fair, we were served tray-p1020257passed “bites” of various menu items—never a good way to fully appreciate all the nuances of a dish, IMHO—and the large crowd was aggressively pouncing on whatever tidbits came their way, so I only managed to taste a few things. All of which I felt were “okay”, but didn’t wow me, as I remember, not enough for me to make a special trip to the restaurant now that I no longer live in the neighborhood. Continue reading

KAABOO Year Two

By Wendy Lemlin

 

logo.kaaboo_2x.ext-33c58bcd750728837ef4a610f4c28a16Music, Art, Food, Comedy –- KAABOO Del Mar brings all the elements of a good time together in one multi-focus three day event billed as a “mixperience”.  Ambitiously begun in 2015 as the largest multi-faceted cultural event to hit the San Diego area, the 2nd annual installment of KAABOO Del Mar takes place September 16-18 and sprawls throughout the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The festival organizers define KAABOO as “an adult escape, created by music lovers for music lovers, uniquely curated to appeal to all five of your senses, with world-class music, dancing, incredible cuisine, craft libations, inspiring contemporary art, and personal indulgences”.

At the heart of KAABOO Del Mar is the music, with over 78 eclectic artists appearing on 5 stages, performing everything from Americana/Roots music to classics, to Hip Hop. Those who spring for the VIP “Amplify” ticket, get to start the party early on Thursday evening, with entertainment by Chris Isaak and Macy Gray. Continue reading

AmiLoan.com San Diego Blues Fest Happening September 10

By Wendy Lemlin

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The fight against hunger in our community has been waged on many fronts, but perhaps the most pleasant battlefield happens each year at Embacadero Park with a soundtrack that includes the hottest national and local blues artists around.

Since 2011, the AmiLoan.com San Diego Blues Fest has partnered with the Jacobs and Cushman San Diego Food Bank with a two-fold mission: present top name blues artists at an affordable price while raising much needed funds—-and awareness—-to benefit the Food Bank. It’s been a rousing success; to date,sponsors and festival goers have helped contribute 20 tons of food and more than $435,000 to help the Food Bank fight hunger in San Diego County. And no one’s crying the blues about that!

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The Flavors of Florent

Words & Photos by Wendy Lemlin

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Like most San Diego locals over 30 years old, I rarely venture into downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter, and, despite the blocks of cheek-to-jowl restaurants, even more rarely do I ever dine there. I’ve always had the impression that, with a few notable exceptions, most of the restaurants serve overpriced, mediocre “tourist” food, or unsophisticated bar bites. On a recent visit, however, I’ve found that Florent Restaurant & Lounge, on the prime corner of 5th and G,  is one of those notable exceptions,

Executive Chef Brad Hightow

Executive Chef Brad Hightow

Executive Chef Brad Hightow has been running the culinary show there for the past 15 months, and his high quality take on New American cuisine is creative and delectable.  Flavors are balanced and complementary, presentations are attractive, and ingredients are sourced from such local standout purveyors as Specialty Produce and Catalina Offshore Products. Continue reading

Birthday Staycation

Words & photos by Wendy Lemlin

Under the therapeutic cascade at Rancho Bernardo Inn

Under the therapeutic cascade at Rancho Bernardo Inn

Sometimes you just need a break.  Not a long vacation, but certainly more of a change of scenery than just hanging out in your own home.  Get away from the kitchen, get away from the computer, and get away from all the little chores around the house that nag to be done when you just want to relax.  I’m talking abdication of all responsibility, here, with a side order of pampering thrown in for good measure.  You don’t even need to go away to get away, distance-wise, to be amazed at how a change of environment makes for a change in temperament. You just need a great staycation. Continue reading

Grill 23 & Bar: An Iconic Steakhouse Not Only For Meat Eaters

By Wendy Lemin

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   I don’t eat meat.  My Significant Other doesn’t eat seafood. I’m picky; I like my food locally sourced and artistically presented. S.O. doesn’t care as long as it tastes good and there is enough of it. Deciding on a restaurant at which to dine together can often be a challenge.

But not always.

On a recent trip to Boston, we had the pleasure of dining at Grill 23 & Bar, a Back Bay icon that is still packing them in, winning awards and accolades after 33 years of popularity. A classic steakhouse, which rightly brags about sourcing 100% of its all-natural, humanely raised beef from Brandt Beef in Southern California, Grill 23 also touts sustainably and locally raised produce and dayboat seafood in several menu selections. So, even though I usually tend to avoid meat-centric eateries where it seems that anything else is merely an afterthought, the seafood choices swimming through the meaty menu were sufficient to entice me. Continue reading

Baja Bash to Benefit WILDCOAST

by Wendy Lemlin

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Having fun and conserving our coastlines on both sides of the border..

These days, everyone loves Baja, especially her beaches and coastal areas.  In fact, people love Baja so much, that much of her once mostly-deserted 1900 miles of coastlines have fallen under targeted assault from increased development and industrial growth. Coral reefs and mangrove forests teeming with fish and sealife, pristine beaches where endangered sea turtles nest, and bays that are the birthing areas for gentle California grey whales—all are in danger of disappearing, and the marine species and other fauna that depend on these fragile ecosystems are also in peril.

Luckily, 16 years ago WILDCOAST (aka COSTASALVAJE in Spanish) began working to watchdog and protect the marine ecosystems and wildlife on Baja’s coasts, as well as coastal areas in San Diego and in other Mexican and Latin American regions. Continue reading

Baja Exchange: A Crossborder Celebration of Baja Med Cuisine and Wines in San Diego

By Wendy Lemlin

Chef/owner Miguel Angel Guerrero

Chef Miguel Angel Guerrero

Fifteen years ago, Chef Miguel Angel Guerrero opened La Querencia in Tijuana, and BAJA MED cuisine was born. These days, the term “Baja Med” is bandied about constantly in foodie circles, but, what many people don’t know is that the term originated with Guerrero and is now copyrighted in the names of his restaurants. “Baja Med is what this region is all about”, he defines. “It melds together the street food from Tijuana, the seafood that fills the market stalls in Ensenada, Asian influences from Mexicali, and the Mediterranean-type ingredients, such as olive oils, wines, cheeses, meats and produce grown and produced locally, from the coast to the Valle de Guadalupe.” Continue reading