Green Acre showcases Farm-to-Table concept

Yesterday I got the chance to visit a fabulous new farm-to-table restaurant in La Jolla — Green Acre at Campus Pointe, run by celebrity chef Brian Malarkey.

green acre

Green Acre is located in the Alexandria Center for Life Science, a state-of-the-art building housing multiple science companies, and the building itself hosts weddings and other celebrations and conferences.

The center itself is pretty amazing, with lush gardens and a full outdoor dining, gathering and recreation area adjacent to the actual restaurant.

033

It’s pretty incredible. As you enter the parking lot, you pass the garden where many of Green Acre’s food is grown, and it’s open to visitors.

garden

It’s definitely worth a stroll through the garden.

kale palm trees

The kale plants have been adorably trimmed to look like palm trees, and they made excellent kale chips.

grapes

artichoke plant

And I am glad they opted to let some of the artichokes bloom (even though they’re delicious), because the purple flowers are so beautiful.

berries

The food itself is all fresh and organic, and we started off with a plate featuring a few of Green Acre’s special sides, including root fries topped with chilis and cotija cheese, a jar of pickled seasonal veggies, and a few bits of pickled pineapple and yellow beets, which were really delicious when sampled together.

sides

In addition to the regular menu ….

menu

… there are also daily specials. The special of the day when I visited with my food blogger friends, it was a light chicken Parmesan with zucchini noodles.

zoodles and chicken parm special

Although a stroll through the gardens mentally prepared me for the big lunch I was about to eat, I artfully dodged the waiter’s suggestion of a smoky and spicy tuna melt (it comes with jalapeno and smoked cheddar) or the “Havana Affair” panini, with slow-roasted pork shoulder, Oregon ham and Gruyère …

Havana affair

… yet still managed to get the least healthy salad option; the corn cobb salad. It was a fabulous (and huge!) arranged salad with egg, chicken, bleu cheese, avocado, bacon and greens, as well as a light-as-air roasted corn vinaigrette.

corn cobb salad

To me, the salad is a perfect example of seasonal California cuisine, right down to the summery corn flavor and accompanying pretzel roll.

fig pizza

Our table also got to split a couple of their specialty flatbread pizzas, prepared in the open-air restaurant’s brick oven. Above is the fig flatbread, which is also topped with bleu cheese and prosciutto, and below is the mushroom, with garlic, burrata and truffle oil. Both were excellent, with fresh cheeses and delicious greens.

mushroom pizza

Both Green Acre locations are open for breakfast and lunch only, but the Campus Pointe location also has Happy Hour Thursdays and Fridays, and is open for special occasions and events in the evenings and weekends. Check out http://www.greenacresd.com for more info.

Grand Opening of Fresh Catch Fish Market and Grill

April 30 is the grand opening party of Fresh Catch Fish Market & Grill in Hillcrest – from 5:30 to 9:30 tonight, you can enjoy complimentary tastings and free wine.

070

I got a sneak peek of a few of their specialties before the big event. The shop is full of fresh seafood offerings, right there in the window for your inspection when you walk in the door.

097

099

The menu is deeper than it looks … every type of fresh seafood they offer is available in a salad, sandwich or plate … making a decision is really, really hard.

075

But I managed. I seriously considered the oysters and the salmon burger, then waffled about a fish taco or some sea bass, when I finally settled on the shrimp mac and cheese.

 

061

I did not regret my choice. The shrimp mac and cheese was just the way I would make it at home – big, meaty shrimp, a thick, yet delicate creamy cheese sauce, and extra crumbs on top – served in a perfectly adorable teeny-tiny cast-iron skillet. (You know I would totally do that part!)

shrimp mac and cheese

I also shared a salad of lump Blue Crab and shrimp.

blue crab and shrimp salad

The night I visited, they offered three different varieties of ceviche … red snapper / jalapeno, octopus and shrimp.

066

065

Fresh Catch Fish Market & Grill is located in the Hillcrest area, at 3650 5th Ave.

They’re open all day, but the event tonight is only from 5:30-9:30.

Don Chido for San Diego Restaurant Week

I’ve mentioned a number of times how lucky I am to live in San Diego, which has some of the best food and restaurants in the world. Locals get to take advantage of this bounty several times a year during San Diego Restaurant Week, where some of the best restaurants give a sample of their most groundbreaking dishes for a great value.

I was already planning to visit more than one of the restaurants this week, when McFarlane Promotions hooked up this awesome pre-SDRW deal for local food bloggers. I won a visit to Don Chido, a really authentic and trendy Mexican restaurant in the Gaslamp District in downtown San Diego.

I had already visited Don Chido once a few weeks ago for another event called the Toast of Downtown, where we got to sample small plates of food as well as each restaurant’s signature cocktails, and I really loved their lovely little street tacos.

This is one of those places where “handcrafted” is not just a slogan. You can taste it.

toast of downtown

One of the best things about SDRW for me is to see what dishes the chefs choose to highlight. It’s even great to go to places where you’re already a regular, just to see what foods the staff thinks will make newbies want to come back again.

Don Chido actually had a whole new menu for SDRW. For just $20 per person (a steal for dinner in the Gaslamp District!) you get three amazing courses:

sdrw menu

Being a good food blogger, I checked out the SDRW restaurant list online (each restaurant has their full SDRW menu posted). I was pretty sure I wanted to try the pozole and the stewed lamb.

Pozole (or posole) is one of my favorite soups ever —  I make a slow-cooked version of it at home with smoked chicken — so I was really excited to taste this one.

pozole de verdura

It definitely did not disappoint. Pozole, although traditionally pretty thin, was stuffed full of lots of hearty hominy and black beans, and the broth was obviously slow-simmered and well-spiced. You can also get it with chicken, but I kept mine vegetarian.

more pozole
My boyfriend got the empanadas, which were stuffed with pollo adobado and cheese. The masa dough was also obviously fresh and homemade (as are the tortillas, and pretty much everything else at Don Chido), and the pollo adobado was hearty and saucy but not too heavy for the dough. That might seem like an easy balance to achieve, but anyone who as ever tried to make their own empanadas knows better.

empanadas
For the main course, I got the Borrego en Mole Amarilla de Oaxaca, or stewed Colorado lamb shoulder with mole, rice and root vegetables.

stewed lamb shoulder

It was so amazing! The mole was really flavorful, yet it still allowed for the lighter flavor of the stewed lamb shoulder to come through. The meat was piled on top of spicy rice and root vegetables and covered in a delicious sauce. If you order this, tell the waiter he can keep the knife — you won’t need it.  In fact, if it wasn’t accompanied by crunchy fresh green beans, I don’t think you’d even need a fork.

Borrego en Mole Amarilla de Oaxaca

The lamb is extremely tender and juicy, and you can practically eat it with a spoon.

So, I have this thing called Entrée Envy. It’s a completely untreatable foodie disease, and it manifests itself at great dinners and lunches like this.

I see a menu.

I narrow my choices down to two or three.

I settle on one.

Someone else orders another one of the two or three.

We get our food.

No matter how delicious my dish is, I also want the one I didn’t choose.

Note I did not say “instead.”

I said “also.”

I thoroughly enjoyed every bite of my stewed lamb. But my handsome boyfriend got one of the other dishes I was considering, the seafood enchiladas, and I had to have a taste or two. (Note about the photo: they come with beans and rice, but he’s allergic to beans so had to get rice only.)

seafood enchiladas

These enchiladas were killer! Stuffed with scallops, shrimp, bites of fish and lots of cheese — and topped with a poblano cream sauce that made all of the rest of the ingredients come together beautifully.

I really can’t say enough about the poblano cream sauce. It’s not on any of Don Chido’s regular menu items, and when I spoke to the chef, she said it was a new sauce they came up with for this particular menu item — one that they will only have for SDRW.

The lovely chef was also kind enough to share: it’s just roasted garlic, roasted poblano peppers, cream, cheese, and salt and pepper. I will definitely be attempting to make this sauce for my next batch of homemade enchiladas, so I will let you know how it works out. In the meantime, I suggest you use your SDRW time to try it yourself at Don Chido. You won’t be disappointed: the way it combines with the seafood and the (obviously fresh and homemade) tortillas, it’s insane.

I say the tortillas were obviously fresh and homemade, as was the masa dough for the empanadas, because when you taste a freshly made tortilla, you just know.  In this case, you will know for sure when you taste them.

There were only two options for dessert, so my honey and I got them both: the dulce de leche cheesecake had dulce de leche IN the cheesecake and then a spiced caramel sauce on top.

dulce de leche cheesecake

The almonds on top are also a nice crunch that blends really well with the cinnamon and salt in the caramel sauce.

mexican fried ice cream

The Mexican fried ice cream was a fabulous twist on the traditional: it has toasted coconut and corn flakes forming the crunchy shell, and it comes with a slightly sweet strawberry compote. They’re both pretty small in size, but after the other two courses, good luck finishing your dessert anyway.

The whole meal overall was amazing, yet understated. This is one of the best options I have seen on the SDRW menus in a really long time.

 

* Disclaimer: This was a sponsored review, but the thoughts and opinions are all my own.