Wondrous La Jolla Salt Company

The La Jolla Salt Company renders beautiful flake sea salt from the purified waters off the coast of La Jolla California.

La Jolla Salt Company
Courtesy photo

La Jolla Salt Company

The La Jolla Salt Company was officially founded in Early 2014 but the foundation for the company started many years prior.

It was while serving in the United States Coast Guard as a Food Service Specialist that La Jolla Salt Company owner and  proprietor Chris Polley was first introduced to the process of desalination. “Many of the ships in the Coast Guards fleet use the process of desalination to turn salt water into fresh potable water,” he says. “The byproduct of this process is Sea Salt!”

After leaving the U.S. Coast Guard, Polley returned to working as a chef in a few local San Diego restaurants. “This was right about the time when the farm to table movement began and Americans really started making more conscience food choices,” explains Polley. “The word organic was being thrown around a lot and honestly, in the beginning I really didn’t get it. It wasn’t until I landed a spot working under local chef and restaurateur Matt Gordon that this word, and the entire culture surrounding, it really started to make sense.”

Polley says that chef Gordon is strict when it comes to selecting ingredients, with never a single item brought into any of his three restaurants containing any unnatural ingredients. “This philosophy forced us to make many everyday dining staples on our own using only raw natural ingredients,” he explained. “When I saw that the menu included some items with sea salt, I decided to revisit the idea of rendering our own in house using local waters.”

When it came to sourcing water for the sea salt, the first place that came to mind was La Jolla. Known for its beautiful shoreline and strict ecological reserve limitations, Polley felt La Jolla was the perfect location to source clean mineral-rich ocean water.

With less than 10 inches of rain a year, and mostly sunny conditions year round, La Jolla turns out to be one of the best locations to render sea water into sea salt in the country.I started off a little smaller than I am doing today. In the beginning I was going down to the Scripps Pier about once a week and collecting 30 gallons at a time in small five gallon buckets. I wasn’t always lucky enough to make it back to the restaurant with all 30 gallons. I remember one time having to pull off to the side of highway 52 because about 10 gallons of ocean water fell over in the back of my SUV and I noticed it leaking onto the street out of the back window,” Polley explains. “When I did manage to make it back with all of the water and began rendering it down, everyone was intrigued. We were now making one of the most fundamental ingredients available in the culinary world. We began making salt on a weekly basis and each time it came out just a little bit better.”

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Get Napizza in Little Italy

NPZ LOGO_2014Perched on the corner of Date and India Streets, Napizza is not only one of the newest establishments in Little Italy, but it also has a new concept that is gaining attention. Green-certified and committed to utilizing locally sourced, organic ingredients with no preservatives or chemicals, this is not your typical pizza joint. But that new philosophy is underscored by one of the oldest traditions in pizza-making techniques. Pizza al taglio is the centuries-old art of utilizing special flour, yeast and water and allowing for a slow rise, creating a product with no equal. The large, square-cut pieces are familiar to anyone who’s sampled street food from Italy’s larger cities. Produce is sourced daily from local and organic farmers, whether you enjoy it on a pizza or sample it from the organic salad bar. Read more about Napizza in my new book: San Diego Italian Food: A Culinary History of Little Italy and Beyond.

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Napizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mexican Fare at Puesto

Puesto La Jolla
(Courtesy photo)

Located in downtown La Jolla, this upscale fast-casual eatery features a walk-up counter where you can dine in or get your food to go. The menu offers a variety of authentic Mexican food ingredients including all-natural meats, sustainable seafood, local and seasonally organic vegetables, homemade all-natural stone-ground corn tortillas, and 6 homemade signature salsas made from scratch daily. Customize your guisados (grilled foods), which can be mixed and matched and are served as tacos that are layered with crispy hot cheese. Diners can choose from a variety of toppings such as fish, shrimp, chicken, carne asada, and gourmet Mexican vegetarian items like zucchini flower, corn truffle, and soy chorizo potatoes. For a healthy dessert or refreshing side, Puesto serves a Mexican street cup of sliced jicama, cucumber, carrots, mango, and dried mango sticks with lime, chili, and sea salt. Puesto Mexican Street Food, 1026 Wall St., La Jolla, CA 92037; (858) 455-1260; eatpuesto.com; Mexican; $$.

©Food Lovers’ Guide to San Diego by Maria Desiderata Montana

Puesto Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Family Friendly Waypoint Public

Waypoint Public
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Nestled in the heart of North Park. Waypoint Public highlights their commitment and enthusiasm for great food and beer pairings while trying to hit the trifecta of great food, great beer, and a determination to appeal to a neighborhood demographic, which includes a growing number of young families. “There’s a growing demand for dining environments that cater to both children and adults and being family-friendly was an essential element when conceptualizing Waypoint Public from the get go,” says John Pani, co-owner of Waypoint Public. “I’m the father of three young children, and like many other families around our Kensington neighborhood, I want to enjoy great food and drink without sacrificing quality time with my family.” For group dining, Waypoint Public can accommodate larger groups in the main dining room, or the private “Bear Den” in the back of the restaurant. (www.waypointpublic.com)

©Written by Maria Desiderata Montana

Waypoint Public Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Isola Pizza Bar

Sophisticated and modern, Isola Pizza Bar offers warm and friendly service to every guest whom walks in the door. Located in a tiny storefront in the heart of San Diego’s Little Italy, the menu is a surprise that will leave you craving more for your next visit. Read more in the ‘San Diego Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes From America’s Finest City’, now available for pre-order.

(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Bruschetta with Fresh Figs and Pistachios (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Bruschetta with Fresh Figs and Pistachios (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Fegatini de Polo Alla Toscana: Organic Chicken Liver, Capers, Crispy Pancetta and Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Fegatini de Polo Alla Toscana: Organic Chicken Liver, Capers, Crispy Pancetta and Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Caramel and Chocolate Budino (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Caramel and Chocolate Budino (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

(619) 255-4230

Isola Pizza Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Back to Roots San Diego

BacktoRootsBilled as an Artisan Foodie’s market, the Banker’s Hill mini-specialty market will showcase local and international artisanal purveyors, spotlighting the importance of craft in the food industry.

Back to Roots

Philip Ariza, who along with his brother Jan, heads El Campito Farms located in Descanso, specializes in heirloom varieties of produce which are hand-harvested daily, using deep-organic methods to create very rich soil without the use of organic fertilizers or pesticides, providing local distribution to noted San Diego restaurants and a biweekly farm stand.

Spaniard Alvaro Miranda, whose family has long been involved in making cheese and raising pigs, established Iberico Taste 3 years ago, specializing in importing products including Iberico ham, chorizo, and truffle oil mainly from Spain. Limited production, high quality artisanal producers make up a portfolio which includes unique items such as Jamón Ibérico (Iberico Ham) is a unique ham, cured for up to four years, which comes from an ancient breed of pig found only on the Iberian Peninsula, known as Cerdo Ibérico, or “Pata Negra” for its black hoof. Philip and Alvaro together identified a need among food connoisseurs to source handcrafted items locally and abroad, created a partnership, and Back To Roots Market was born. Back to Roots is designed to bring people back in touch with what they eat, according to Philip, “offering varieties and products that don’t necessarily last the longest on the shelf, but are flavorful and hormone and chemical-free”.

Back to Roots
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With Iberico Taste and El Campito Farms as permanent vendors, Back to Roots brought in renowned regional Chef Flor Franco’s healthy food to go, including organic roasted chicken and seasonal items, to feature in her “Esquina de Flor” (Flor’s corner). Other purveyors brought on board include Prager Brothers Artisan Breads, started by Louie Prager, a plant biologist with a degree from Cal Poly, and his brother Clint, a professional musician, with their production of handcrafted and naturally leavened whole grain and rye bread. Taste Enoteca’s Chef, Martin Gonzalez, will have fresh-made pasta and sauces available including carrot and ginger tagliatelle and sugo al pomodoro.

Back to Roots Market is located at 3318 5th Avenue, San Diego, CA, 92103 and will open November 19th, 2014

To round out the mix at Back to Roots Market, Descanso Valley Ranch, with their locally raised chickens and eggs from Farmers Carl and Tamara, was also selected along with Baja Food + Wines for its cellar curated by Fernando Gaxiola, offering boutique, family-owned and artisan wineries from Valle de Guadalupe in northern Baja California, from where 90% of the Mexican wines are produced. Also featured are ceramics by Karla Patterson, abstract and organic pieces which bring together elements of nature, color and texture, as well as custom furniture from Planet Rooth Design Haus.

Back to Roots Market

3318 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 882-0947




*Courtesy information Yolanda Selene Walther-Meade 

A Slice of New York at Village Pizzeria

village pizzeria
(Courtesy photo)

Established in 2002, locally owned and family operated Village Pizzeria offers an authentic slice of New York City in the heart of beautiful Coronado, California.  “We don’t want to sell New York style, we want to sell authentic New York pizza in Coronado,“ says Owner David Spatafore. “It may seem a tad obsessive to truck in water in 1-gallon jugs all the way from New York, but the end result is worth every penny.”

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Mayan Hot Chocolate Recipe

Mayan Hot Chocolate Recipe
(Courtesy photo)

Mayan Hot Chocolate recipe is perfect for the holidays

Small quantities of dark chocolate offer health benefits in this luscious hot chocolate drink from Rancho La Puerta.

Chocolate (xocolatl) was originally developed by the Mayan people of southern Mexico, long before the Spanish conquest. This creamy sorbet is based on an authentic Mexican drink recipe and has a secret ingredient. Enjoy!

Rancho La Puerta’s Mayan Hot Chocolate

Makes 4 small cups

  • 1 cup cooked and mash butternut squash
  • 3½ cups whole milk
  • 3 ounces Ibarra brand Mexican chocolate
  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. In a blender, puree the squash with 1¾ cups of the milk until perfectly smooth.

2. In a large saucepan, mix the remaining 1¾ cups of milk, chocolate, and spices. With a whisk, stir over low heat until the chocolate is melted, then add the pureed squash. Do not boil. Strain through a coarse sieve to remove any trace of the squash fiber.

3. Reheat gently in a heavy saucepan. Serve in little demitasse cups, with your favorite cookie for dipping.

*Information courtesy of Rancho La Puerta

Indigo Grill Corn Pudding Recipe

Located in the heart of Little Italy, Indigo Grill’s new menu draws heavily on Latin influences and places an emphasis on shareable items such as anticucho boards, small plates and bold crostinos.

Indigo Grill Corn Pudding
Executive Chef Deborah Scott of Indigo Grill (Courtesy photo)

About Chef Deborah Scott

Deborah Scott can create a delicious meal with just about any ingredient. When she was a student at Baltimore International Culinary College, she not only had the highest grade point average, she also was awarded the gold medal in the school’s Cooking Competition. With only a brown shopping bag of various unrelated food items, Deborah concocted a recipe so delectable she received two awards from judges at the American Culinary Federation.

As a native of Virginia Beach, Virginia, Deborah perfected her talent of pairing eclectic flavors during her graduate course program from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. With plenty of knowledge and skill, Deborah quickly gained hands-on experience at the award-winning Clark Cookhouse and Whitehouse Tavern in Newport, Rhode Island. She then moved on to be Executive Sous Chef for two years at Monterey Plaza Hotel’s Delfino’s On The Bay.

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Stake Chophouse and Bar

Coronado Steakhouse
Courtesy Images

The new chef-driven steakhouse concept by Blue Bridge Hospitality has officially opened its doors to the public with the launch of take Chophouse & Bar in Coronado.

David Spatafore, Principal of Blue Bridge Hospitality, has officially opened doors to his newest and swankiest 4,600 square-foot dining endeavor yet with the launch Stake Chophouse & Bar. The indoor-outdoor rooftop destination exists as the island’s first tried-and-true steakhouse, with sleek hues of indigo, cream leather, a quartzite bar, six linear outdoor firepits and an 18-foot backlight onyx wall that doubles as décor in the dining room.

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New Parq Restaurant in San Diego


Parq Restaurant
Courtesy photo

After two years off the market, the legendary 6th and Broadway location in the historic Gaslamp District in San Diego will again have its premier dining and club destination. The brand new Parq restaurant in San Diego has opened its doors to eager fans after having undergone a multi-million dollar gut renovation.

From world-renowned interior design firm Davis Ink. (of Cake Scottsdale, & Pink Cadillac fame), Parq exquisitely captures this husband/wife duo’s famous ability to transform creative vision into physical reality. Davis states, “We approached the revamping of On Broadway with the mindset that we wanted to change the entire guest experience from the time they enter the space to when the night is over.” Showing why they’ve earned a spot on Conde Nast Traveler’s hot list, Davis notes that, “Overall, the most exciting part of designing this project was creating two very different spaces with different experiences, that can both work independently but that work together as a whole.”

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Pasta al Pomodoro

Pasta al Pomodoro

This is an easy and light dish I make for my family on a regular basis. Just a few fresh ingredients from the Farmers’ Market and everybody’s happy.

  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup red pear tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup greek olives
  • 1 pound spaghetti, cooked and drained
  • Small block of Parmigiana Reggiano cheese, grated, for garnish
  • Fresh basil, finely chopped, for garnish
  • Sea salt, to taste

Heat olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan over low heat; add garlic and sauté until opaque, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and olives and sauté for an additional 2-4 minutes. In a large bowl combine spaghetti with tomato and olive pomodoro sauce; lightly toss. Garnish with Parmigiano Reggiano and basil. Season with salt and serve family style.

Pasta al PomodoroGet more of my Italian recipes in my newest book San Diego Italian Food: A Culinary History of Little Italy and Beyond

As ethnic neighborhoods in other cities assimilate to American life, the exuberant local flavor of San Diego’s Little Italy remains both culturally and culinarily distinct. Tucked between Interstate 5 and San Diego Bay southeast of San Diego International Airport, the blocks surrounding the landmark Our Lady of the Rosary Roman Catholic Church contain many of the most notable eateries and gourmet cafés in “America’s Finest City.” Join Maria Desiderata Montana, a daughter of that Italian heritage and one of the city’s most notable food writers, on this savory tour through the zesty Italian food traditions, businesses and recipes both in Little Italy and across San Diego.

Jamaican Jerk Recipe From Nine-Ten

Jamaican Jerk Pork Belly By Jason Knibb of Nine Ten (Courtesy photo)

From curing their own salmon, to the charcuterie, sauces, stocks, and pastas, to making their our own salami, cheeses, ice creams, and sorbets, NINE-TEN is a casually elegant and food-driven restaurant that seems to remain timeless. This is a restaurant where people come for great food and wine, whether wearing a coat and tie or jeans and a button-down shirt. The staff is exceptionally well trained and educated on the food and preparation methods, as well as wine selections and pairings.

Spending a great amount of time working on the line, doing the actual cooking and plating, Executive Chef Jason Knibb is a hands-on chef, with almost every dish that leaves the kitchen having something on it that he actually touched. “There is no pomp and circumstance for me, I just want to cook,” he says. “I don’t have a culinary degree, and am pretty much a self-taught chef who has spent years practicing and learning from all the great chefs I’ve had the privilege to work under.” -Maria Desiderata Montana

Read more about Nine-Ten in my award-winning book: San Diego Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes From America’s Finest City and Food Lovers’ Guide to San Diego.

Jamaican Jerk Pork Belly with Black-Eyed Peas & Garnet Yam Puree


For the jerk marinade:

3 medium-size yellow onions, chopped
1-1/2 cups finely chopped scallions
6 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
3 teaspoons kosher salt
3 teaspoons brown sugar
3 teaspoons allspice
1-1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 teaspoons black pepper
3 whole scotch bonnet peppers or habaneros
9 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

For the jerk pork belly:

1 (5-pound) slab uncured pork belly
Salt and pepper to taste
2 medium yellow onions, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
4 stalks celery, diced
1 gallon chicken stock
2 quarts veal stock
For the garnet yam puree:
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups peeled and diced yams
6 cups water

For the black-eyed peas:

1 cup cooked black-eyed peas
1 cup diced and fried plantains
6 baby carrots, braised and halved
1 tablespoon thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

To make the jerk marinade: Place all ingredients in a food processor and puree. The mixture should be slightly chunky and smooth. Makes 1-1/2 quarts marinade.

To make the jerk pork belly: In a large, covered bowl, marinate pork over night with 4 cups jerk marinade. Remove the pork from marinade, scrape off excess marinade, and reserve. Cut pork belly in half and season with salt and pepper.

In a large sauté pan, sear pork on both sides until golden brown. Place the pork into a large roasting pan that is at least 3 inches deep. Add onions, carrots, and celery to the same sauté pan and caramelize. Add remaining jerk marinade and stocks, bring to a boil, and pour over pork.

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Place a piece of parchment paper onto the pork and then cover with foil. Place pork in the oven and cook for 3 to 4 hours, until fork tender. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature. Remove the pork from the braising liquid and strain the liquid into a large saucepan. Skim the fat from the liquid, place the pan on medium-high heat, and reduce liquid by half. Remove the pork belly from the liquid and reserve liquid for later. Place the pork belly into the refrigerator and let cool until firm. Once firm, cut the belly into sixteen 11/2 x 11/2-inch cubes. Set aside until ready to deep-fry.

When ready, deep-fry three cubes of pork belly in a deep-fryer until golden brown and crispy. Glaze the belly with some of the braising liquid.

To make garnet yam puree: In a medium sauté pan over high heat, add the oil and yams. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes and add the salt and water. Reduce heat to medium-high and simmer until yams are soft and the liquid is just about dry (add more water if yams are not cooked). Strain yams and place into an ice bath to cool. Once the yams are cool, add to a blender and puree until silky smooth. Season with salt to taste. Set aside.

To make the black-eyed peas: In a large pan sauté the black-eyed peas, plantains, and carrots in the remaining braising liquid. Simmer liquid until it is reduced to a glaze. Season to taste with thyme, salt, and pepper. Warm the yam puree and, using square serving plates, dollop yam puree off-center of the bottom of the middle of each plate, creating a decorative “swoosh” by swiftly dragging the spoon across the plate to give the dollop puree a little “tail.” Place one pork belly cube at the left top of the swoosh, another in the center of the plate, and another at the bottom of the plate. Spoon the black-eyed pea mixture on top of each piece of pork.

Jamaican Jerk Pork Belly with Black-Eyed Peas & Garnet Yam Puree Recipe appears in the San Diego Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes From America’s Finest City

Portobello Mushroom Recipe

A graduate in 2009 from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France, with a Grand Diplôme in Cuisine and Pastry, Executive Chef Katherine Humphus of BO Beau Kitchen and Bar cares about using sustainable, local and organic ingredients with presentations that are quite modern and approachable.

Portobello Mushroom Recipe
Courtesy photo

She prefers to source most of her products from Specialty Produce and local farms, Point Loma Farms, as often as possible. Her menu is filled with classic dishes including Boeuf Bourguignon with baby carrots, pancetta, mushrooms, pearl onions and fingerling potatoes and Ancho Chili Braised Pork with house-made orange-thyme gnocchi, roasted mixed mushrooms, kale, pickled shallots and bone-marrow griddled baguette. Chef Humphus credits her parents for their support and her grandmother for keeping her engaged in the kitchen—helping her understand that cooking is fun and creative. -Maria Desiderata Montana

Portobello Mushroom Recipe

Almond-Crusted Portobello Mushroom on Fresh Arugula
(Recipe by Chef Katherine Humphus of BO-beau kitchen+bar)

(Serves 1 as a main course or 4 for appetizers)


  • 1 portobello mushroom
  • 1.5 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 splash lemon juice
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 3 T ground almonds
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • 1 C arugula
  • 2 lemon wedges
  • 3 T toasted sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel and clean portobellos by holding the mushroom in your hand, stem side up, and tearing the top layer of outer skin off gently. Remove stem with a small knife so there is no remaining stump. Place mushroom face up on a lined baking dish.

Smooth Dijon mustard over gills of mushroom. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top of the mustard. Squeeze lemon juice on mushroom, and then add the ground almonds on top of that. Place the thyme and rosemary sprigs over the almonds and bake for 12–15 minutes.

To serve, remove the rosemary and thyme from the mushroom and discard. Garnish a plate with fresh arugula. Cut the mushroom in quarters and lay decoratively on top of the arugula. Add a good amount of toasted sliced almonds on top of the mushroom. Finish with lemon wedges on the side.

San Diego Cellars Urban Winery

Courtesy photo

As the only winery operating in Downtown, San Diego Cellars features a variety of ultra-premium California wines as well as an innovative wine on tap program with a fully operational urban winery, tasting room, kitchen, wine preparation area and outdoor garden patio.

As the first and only urban winery in the Downtown/Little Italy area, San Diego Cellars is also the first in the area to serve wine on tap and to offer one liter refillable bottles (“CRUzers”). Initial wine varietals (bottles and on tap) at the new venue include three Syrahs, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Old Vine Zinfandel, Viognier, and a Viognier/Chardonnay Blend. The winery sources grapes from several vineyards throughout California including locally grown San Diego County grapes.

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