The Cheese Store of San Diego

The Cheese Store
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The Cheese Store Opens Today!

Owners Aaron and Marci Flores, with partner David Fremo, are celebrating the opening of The Cheese Store San Diego. “First and foremost we are a cheese store and everything else we provide enhances the beauty of cheese,” says Marci Flores. “David Fremo discovered us at the farmers market about two years ago. He saw our vision from the start and believed in us. We are so grateful for him!”

The Cheese Store
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This cheese loving husband and wife team say they have a strong passion for delicious and beautiful food. Their new store is inspired by small specialty cheese stores they’ve visited throughout the United States and Europe. “The details in our new shop are inspired by the places we’ve visited, namely our trip to Italy, where we were engaged,” Marci explains.

Cheese Store
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The Cheese Store will offer over sixty-five cheeses as well as a large menu filled with soups, salads, sandwiches, mac n’ cheese, cheese and charcuterie boards, cheese-inspired desserts and beer and wine. In addition, ninety-five percent of the pairing items are sourced domestically by small batch artisan producers.

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When I asked Marci about her favorite cheese, she said “That’s a tough one. Today its Winnimere, a raw cows milk cheese made by Jasper Hill Farms. They use winter time milk so its rich, and such a treat. Its wrapped with spruce bark and washed with a brine. You can really taste terroir from where the cows graze. It just arrived and we are all obsessed!”

The Cheese Store of San Diego/1980 Kettner Blvd, Ste 30/San Diego, CA 92101 (b/t Fir St & Grape St)/(619) 544-0500

©Written by Maria Desiderata Montana

The Cheese Store Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Grounds and Hounds Coffee Co.

Grounds And Hounds Coffee Co
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Launched on March 20, 2014, Grounds and Hounds Coffee Co. is a premium coffee company with the mission to eradicate the unnecessary killing of sheltered dogs. Each year approximately 2.1 million dogs are euthanized due to shelter overpopulation, roughly 90% of which are deemed “adoptable” but simply run out of time. This number represents an astonishing 1.9 million best friends killed for no fault of their own.

Fortunately, there are thousands of no kill shelters around the United States providing their adoptable pups with a second chance, but they face the difficult constraint of relying on public donations to fund their operations.

Grounds and Hounds donates Twenty-Percent of all revenue generated by their 100% organic, environmentally friendly, coffees to their hard working no kill partner shelters around the United States.


How it All Began

In the spring of 2012, Grounds and Hounds Founder, Jordan Karcher, unexpectedly stumbled upon a dog adoption operating on the side of Montana Avenue in Santa Monica, CA. He was not planning, or prepared to adopt a rescue animal when he left the house that morning, but when a malnourished, brown and white, Dalmatian crawled into his lap, it was clear that he would be welcoming a new member to his family. She immediately became the center of his life and he cannot imagine a day without her.

Grounds And Hounds Coffee
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Similar stories occur thousands of times each week, yet there is still a drastic shortfall of suitable homes and safe haven shelters for abandoned dogs. Karcher strongly believes that every dog, young and old, deserves a second chance at a better life with a loving family.

Why coffee?

Karcher has loved coffee since he took my first sip on a cold Pittsburgh morning as a 12 year old. His passion for the perfect brew has led him to seek out amazing coffees all over the world. It is his dream come true to be on the other side of the bag, bringing delicious, fresh roasted coffee to your home.

*Information courtesy of

The Privateer Coal Fire Pizza

ThePrivateerCoalFirePizzaThe Privateer Coal Fire Pizza

Set in a laid-back and relaxed atmosphere, The Privateer Coal Fire Pizza is a local, family owned restaurant in Oceanside, California, offering fresh, made-to-order food using high quality produce, namely organic greens, spices, veggies and herbs grown on their roof top garden. The Privateer is the one and only gourmet pizza restaurant in Southern California with a coal-fired oven using 100% coal fire, no gas. The restaurant was built around this special and very large oven, which is is 7 feet in diameter and weighs 6,500 pounds. Coal fire is the secret to the pizza pies which are cooked at a temperature of 850-to-900°F. The oven cooks these Neapolitan-style pizzas in three to four minutes, leaving the crust thin and crisp on the outside, with a nice, chewy texture on the inside. A sushi-style bar allows for a private viewing of their “pizzaiolos” in action. A changing menu of lunch and dinner specials consists of unique items such as the Soup of the Day, House Made Ricotta Gnocchi, Neapolitan Meatballs, Fried Green Beans, Citrus Salad, Pecorino Fries and Prince Edward Island. Cold craft beers and fine wines are also available.

The Privateer Coal Fire Pizza is located at 1706 S. Coast Hwy. (Kelly St.), Oceanside, CA 92054 (760/453-2500)

©Written by Maria Desiderata Montana

The Privateer Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Solterra Winery and Kitchen

Solterra Winery and Kitchen
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Solterra Owner and Winemaker Chris Van Alyea grew up in Sonoma County and has been making wine for the last 14 years from grapes sourced from Sonoma county, Lake County, Paso Robles, San Diego County, and Baja Mexico. While the majority of wineries are set amongst vineyards in the warm inland valleys, Solterra Winery and Kitchen is situated a couple of blocks from the beach in north county, San Diego. Solterra utilizes grapes from locally sourced vineyards along with grapes from all over California and Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico. All red wines are predominately aged in French oak barrels for a minimum of 14-24 months depending on the varietal and style of wine. Currently, in barrel and bottle, Solterra has 14 different red varietals, 3 whites, rose’, port, and late harvest wines.The wines have garnered Golds and Best of Class at top competitions in California. The menu is seasonal and features rustic Mediterranean tapas. Some of the wines are on tap, as well as a few San Diego produced beers. -written by mdm

Solterra Winery and Kitchen
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Solterra Winery and Kitchen is an ideal place for your next event, corporate meeting or special occasion. They are a working winery and all of their equipment is on site, with full barrels stacked 15 feet high. They can accommodate small groups all the way up to 160 attendees.

Solterra Winery & Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Nothing Bundt Cakes in Carlsbad

nothing bundt cakes
(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

In 1997, long-time friends Dena Tripp and Debra Shwetz joined forces and fulfilled their life long dream of becoming entrepreneurs. For six months, Tripp and Shwetz worked to perfect their bundt cake recipe with the result being the mouth-watering Nothing Bundt Cakes. Made fresh daily using real eggs, real butter, and real cream cheese, Nothing Bundt Cakes are hand-made, premium quality desserts with an irresistible taste and a timeless aesthetic. In 2006, new marketing efforts resulted in a modern yet nostalgic Nothing Bundt Cakes brand that appeals to all age groups who love great cake coupled with great design.

Nothing Bundt Cakes are available in numerous sizes to accommodate gatherings both large and small, from bite-sized Bundtinis, to single serving Bundtlets, to larger 8″ and 10″ cakes and even double-tiered cakes. In addition to cakes, their bakeries feature an assortment of artfully designed gifts and decorations with a playful, timeless quality to help make any occasion ever more special.

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Nothing Bundt Cakes Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pacific Coast Grill

Pacific Coast Grill
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Pacific Coast Grill uses fresh, local, free range ingredients to produce delicious food at friendly prices. The oceanfront venue features the same unique “Pacific Coast” cuisine and an oyster bar as well as select sushi rolls, black mussels, baked oysters and a plethora of seafood choices.

The kitchen grinds Certified Sterling beef for burgers, makes fresh-cut Kennebec fries with house-made ketchup. Menu favorites include its best-selling lobster tacos, pan seared sea bass, and delectable white chocolate bread pudding with caramel bourbon sauce. New comers on the menu include Margarita-Braised Short Ribs & Coconut-Crab crusted Mahi Mahi. Patrons will find a variety of seafood items plus options from the land.

There are two levels of dining at Pacific Coast Grill with every dining seat in the house carefully planned to have an ocean view. There are bars on both levels and a heated outdoor patio and a deck with one of the best views of the Pacific Ocean and the line up at Cardiff Reef. Guests can watch surfers, kite surfers, dolphins, whales and spectacular sunsets from throughout the restaurant.

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Pacific Coast Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fresh Italian at Trattoria Fantastica

San Diego Food FindsOpened in 1995, this is the perfect choice if you’re in the mood to savor great Italian fare in a more rustic, country farm house atmosphere. Located adjacent to the casual Café Zucchero, Trattoria Fantastica offers a more refined dining experience. Wood-fired pizzas are the centerpiece of the menu, but plenty of salads and pastas are offered, as well as paninis, soups and more. Directly in the shadow of the Little Italy sign, the patio seating is especially popular. Trattoria Fantastica 1735 India St, San Diego, CA 92101; (619) 234-1735,

©San Diego Italian Food: A Culinary History of Little Italy and Beyond, By Maria Desiderata Montana

San Diego Food Finds

sandiegofoodfinds.comAs 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.

Trattoria Fantastica Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eddie V’s at The Headquarters

(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

Eddie V’s at The Headquarters is a fine-dining restaurant that offers fresh seafood creations and premium hand-carved steaks.

The new Eddie V’s boasts 10,768 square feet, including a 635 square-foot patio (seating for a combined total of 302 guests). The interior color palette showcases soft, sultry variations of earth tones, including mixed-wood finishes, natural tiled-stone walls of travertine, and shimmering stacked-glass accents. The contemporary design is marked by a two-story, glass-encased wine cellar; custom, Art Deco-styled light sconces and original local artwork adorns walls throughout the space.

Continue reading Eddie V’s at The Headquarters

Urban Plates Del Mar

(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

Urban Plates is dedicated to providing guests with foods made from scratch using high quality natural and organic ingredients where it makes sense for their customers—-all at prices that won’t break the bank!

(Photo by Maria Desidertata Montana)
(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

Urban Plates spent a great deal of time over the last few years trying to find restaurants that conveniently provide food and service that are consistent with the way we should be eating and feeding our families. They spent the better part of two years touring restaurants around the country to see who was doing food right. While many fast casual restaurants had bits and pieces right, none had evolved into the right solution that fits our lifestyles. So they took the best of what they observed, coupled with decades of their combined experience in the food industry and absolute passion for high quality food grown in a sustainable fashion, and created Urban Plates.

Urban Plates Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

My Calabrian Christmas

My parents, Lucia and Natale, on their wedding day in 1957 in Italy.

Growing up in a large Italian family, I learned how to respect tradition and embrace family ties through cooking.

I think my passion for cooking started when I was 7 years old, waking up early Christmas Eve morning to make homemade ravioli for our big Christmas dinner. When I say early, I mean the crack of dawn. You see, my mother couldn’t rest until the ravioli was finished. It was as if she, a perfectionist by nature, just couldn’t wait to see how beautiful they would turn out.

While the rest of the house was quiet, my mom would play soft Italian music really low and share her childhood stories, as my sister and I helped roll out the pasta dough. Forget about the men in my family ever helping in the kitchen. Our Italian tradition was that the cooking was for the women only.

Today, we all live down the street from each other, and my mother and sister come to my house to help my daughter and me make the ravioli, while I play Italian music and throw in some of my own cooking tips. We prepare the ravioli a few days ahead of time and freeze them for Christmas Day.

Continue reading My Calabrian Christmas

Sugar and Scribe Bakery

photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

Executive Chef Maeve Rochford and her partner, local attorney and restaurateur Patrick Daniels offer a full-service bakery, fine foods emporium and gourmet-to-go.

Maeve’s vision for the new home of family-inspired recipes from the Emerald Isle was influenced by her grandmother Kate Ann, a cook (and quite a personality!) in England for Sir Patrick Brown, a barrister for King George VI. The menu will feature breakfast, lunch and dinner classics with tasty twists and a mix of daily special salads and meals that are inspired by the season’s fresh produce.

“I want the ambience of Sugar & Scribe Bakery and Fine Foods in La Jolla to be a place where I imagine a farmer enjoying his hearty lunch and a princess planning her dream wedding,” said Maeve.

photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

A cake decorating station will be the major centerpiece of the layout and design so guests can watch the bakers work their magic in creating their sugar and buttercream masterpieces. A permanent resident of Sugar & Scribe Bakery and Fine Foods, Mr. Bug, Maeve’s dear old pug, will be welcoming his four-legged guests daily. All dogs are welcome.

Continue reading Sugar and Scribe Bakery

Bigger is Better at Regents Pizzeria

Regents Pizzeria
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Bigger Space and More Pizza at Regents Pizzeria

The new and modern 4,100 square foot space at Regents Pizzeria will allow the well-established pizza purveyors to provide guests with the same high quality American craft New York and Chicago style pizzas and American craft beer selection accompanied by authentic Chicago blues music. With enough seating for up to 125 people, guests can opt for one of 25 specialty flavor-driven pizzas either inside the restaurant, or outside in the convivial beer garden.

In addition to a spacious casual dining area, the new kitchen has more than doubled its production capabilities with eight traditional stone-deck ovens – all imported from the Italian city of Treviso. Mimicking the style of the popular Italian beehive ovens, the Cuppone ovens are temperature-regulated, allowing for controlled distribution of heat on the top and bottom of each pizza. The ovens allow Regents to deliver a consistent, quality-driven pizza to every guest.

Through a combination of top-of-the-line equipment and time-tested recipes including dough meticulously developed through trial and error in collaboration with revered Bread and Cie bakery, Regents Pizzeria plans to continue its reputation for achieving the ideal balance of perfectly browned crust, flavor-forward sauce and bubbling cheese.

Each of the handspun pizzas are made from scratch daily using local produce and some of the freshest ingredients within reach, all made to order

“Our mission at Regents is rather simple in that it all harkens back to an underlying passion to transcend the traditional dining experience by delivering fresh, quality ingredients in an inviting atmosphere,” said co-owner Bill Vivian. “I firmly believe this commitment has been the key to our success and we now look forward to the expanded opportunities that lie within this new location.”

Continue reading Bigger is Better at Regents Pizzeria

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
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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.”

Continue reading Wondrous La Jolla Salt Company

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.

click on the images to buy my books on AMAZON

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

Mexican Fare at Puesto

Puesto La Jolla
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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;; Mexican; $$.

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

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

Best Restaurants and Local Eats/PO Box 675362, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067

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