Food & Wine

HOLIDAY COOKING DISASTERS TO AVOID

By Miriam Raftery
 
December 1, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – With many families avoiding holiday gatherings due to the pandemic and restaurants closed for indoor dining, some people not accustomed to preparing a Thanksgiving feast opted to attempt cooking at home. The rush to fix multiple dishes can lead to mistakes even by experienced chefs – and inexperience can lead to outright disasters. 
 
 
La Mesa resident Lori Kern posted on Facebook, “Ok, so let’s talk about our Thanksgiving dinner fails. This year mine wasn’t so bad. I blew up a cube of butter in the microwave. What did you do?"

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SAN DIEGO HUMANE SOCIETY OFFERS TIPS FOR A PET-FRIENDLY THANKSGIVING

East County News Service

November 23, 2020 (San Diego) - By keeping them safe, your pets will be as thankful for you as you are for them!

Thanksgiving can be a very food-centric holiday, but is it safe to share what you’re eating with your dog or cat? San Diego Humane Society has tips to help make this a safer celebration for everyone:

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DRIVE-THROUGH FOOD DISTRIBUTION FOR LEMON GROVE RESIDENTS

East County News Service
 
November 19, 2020 (Lemon Grove)—Lemon Grove residents can brighten their holiday season with free drive-through food distributions every other Saturday  from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, or while supplies last.  The next distribution will be this Saturday, Nov. 21.  The pickup site is at the recreation center, 3131 School Lane in Lemon Grove.
 
You must provide proof of residency in the city of Lemon Grove.  Food will be available to the first 240 vehicles; one family per vehicle.
 
Drivers and passengers should stay in your vehicle and be sure your trunk is clear so food can be loaded.

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‘TIS THE SEASON FOR HOLIDAY FAVORITES AT CASA DE PICO: TURKEY MOLE TAMALES, PUMPKIN FLAN AND MORE

East County News Service

Photo: Turkey Mole Tamales, courtesy of Bazaar del Mundo Restaurants.

November 19, 2020 (La Mesa) – This holiday season, Diane Powers’ award-winning Bazaar del Mundo Restaurants – Casa de Pico in La Mesa, Casa Guadalajara in Old Town, and Casa de Bandini in Carlsbad, are welcoming guests to enjoy special holiday dishes infused with authentic Mexican flavors. Each restaurant will offer an annual favorite for both dine-in and take-out orders: Turkey Mole Tamales, two handmade tamales filled with turkey, raisins, chopped pecans and apples, all topped with a mole sauce and sesame seeds.

With vibrant and spacious courtyards, the restaurant patios overflow with festive and colorful decor providing a visual feast for all, as well as ample outdoor heating and increased seating. In compliance with State guidelines, San Diego County has moved into the purple tier, limiting services to outdoor dining only and Powers is following a strict plan that will provide a safe environment for her customers.

The holiday menus are available through the New Year and vary by restaurant; with dishes including:


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RESTAURANT OWNERS SEEK REFUNDS OF STATE AND LOCAL FEES

By Miriam Raftery

October 29, 2020 (San Diego) – Restaurant owners in San Diego and several other counties filed claims Tuesday October 27, asking for refunds of state and local fees assessed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Plaintiffs seek refunds of costs incurred for liquor licenses, health permits and tourism fees at a time when public health orders shut down many businesses or forced them to operate at reduced capacity, while incurring added expenses.

The state has 45 days to respond to the claims, after which a lawsuit could be filed.


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GIARDINO IS OPEN FOR THANKSGIVING, ALSO OFFERS FEAST TO GO

East County News Service
 
You can pre-order Thanksgiving to-go, and enjoy in the comfort of your home. 
 
October 27, 2020 (Lemon Grove) – If you don’t want to cook at home this Thanksgiving Day, Giardino’s Neighborhood Cucina will be open for dine-in from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for turkey with all the fixings or some less-traditional entrée options. Or opt for take-home Thanksgiving Day specials including prime rib, short rib, butternut squash ravioli and oxtail cannelloni entrees, plus dozens of family-style dishes.
 
Giardino's Neighborhood Cucina in Lemon Grove is very popular in several online review websites, with 4.5 (out of 5) star review averages, or better, in YelpGoogleFacebookTrip AdvisorGrubHubMenuPix, and Z Menu.
 
Options include many seafood such as shrimp Alfredo, stuffed sole, or crab and shrimp ravioli, chicken and pork dishes, vegetarian options, pasta dishes, salads, appetizers, vegetable side dishes, a dessert sampler or individual desserts including a whole Limoncello cake, Nutella cheesecake, Tiramisu ray or Cannoli.

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FRAZIER FARMS MARKET BRINGS NEW NATURAL FOODS STORE TO LA MESA

East County News Service

 

Photos, top, by Miriam Raftery 

 

October 26, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting October 20 at the new Frazier Farms Market at the corner of Jackson Drive and Fletcher Parkway.

 

“We are pleased that they had the vision to open their third market in La Mesa. We were thrilled to welcome this family-owned business to our community,” says chamber president Mary England.  La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis joined the celebration along with Frazier Farms owners Norman and Kathe Frazier and their sons Matt, Nick and Alex Frazier.


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RESTAURANTS ADVISED TO COMPLY WITH COMPLEX ‘PARKLET’ DINING RULES

Many restaurant owners don’t understand regulatory layers and risk running afoul of laws

By Marco Polo Cortes, Owner of Marco Polo Permits 

October 15, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- Restaurant owners say that outdoor dining has allowed them to survive the recent COVID-19 closures. Since August 31, restaurants in San Diego County can serve customers indoors – but only at 25% capacity. Sidewalk cafes and “parklets” can allow these struggling businesses to provide outdoor dining, but there are many misconceptions about the rules.


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HEALTHY VEGETARIAN RECIPES TO SAVOR

East County News Service

September 30, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- The Daring Kitchen has shared these tasty and nutritious vegetarian recipes for our readers to savor for rainbow veggie skewers, lettuce wraps, and stuffed banana peppers.


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PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: DINNG AL FRESCO AT GIARDINO’S IN LEMON GROVE



 

By Miriam Raftery

September 27, 2020 – Giardino’s Neighborhood Cucina in Lemon Grove has set up a large outdoor dining pavilion where you can dine al fresco in the COVID era. (There are also indoor tables available, if you prefer).  Doing our part to help support local restauranteurs in these challenging times, our family recently savored the flavors there.

We started with a cheese and meat charcuterie board I enjoyed a house specialty Anchovie Parpardelle, a wide pasta noodle dish served with anchovies, capers, olives, roasted tomatoes and bread crumbs, which was delicious.


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RAMONA WINERIES WIN BIG IN SUNSET INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

By Miriam Raftery

 

September 24, 2020 (Ramona) – Judges in the prestigious Sunset International Wine Competition in Santa Rosa received over 2,7000 entries from around world. Ramona Ranch and Hatfield Creek Winery in San Diego’s Ramona wine region took home five silver medals: 


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DINING AL FRESCO AT ANTICA TRATTORIA

By Miriam Raftery

September 19, 2020 (La Mesa) – Antica Trattoria is one of the latest restaurants to set up space outdoors for aficionados of fine Italian foods to enjoy al fresco dining amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  My husband feasted on Cioppino, a seafood stew that originated in San Francisco, while I enjoyed Parmigiana Di Melenzane, a Sicilian-style eggplant dish. Both were excellent.

The restaurant has created a raised wooden deck with latticework side and outdoor lighting in the parking lot at its location on Lake Murray Blvd., a relatively quiet street at nighttime.  There are also tables along the walkway in front of the restaurant.


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JAMUL’S CHANDELIER LOUNGE CUISINE SUPPORTS FIRST RESPONDERS AND THOSE DISPLACED BY VALLEY FIRE

By Henri Migala

 

September 15, 2020 (Jamul) - One of Jamul’s newest restaurants, Chandelier Lounge Cuisine, has not only become a local favorite, but is on the front lines in supporting our first responders and those displaced by the Valley Fire.


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THIEVES STEAL OUTDOOR DINING SETUPS AT HACIENDA RESTAURANT

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photo by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson)

Sept.2, 2020 (El Cajon) These were the worst of times and the worst of times, to repurpose author Charles Dicken’s classic phrase. After first suffering closure due to COVID-19,  Hacienda Casa Blanca Restaurant & Cantina in El Cajon moved outdoors into a parking lot as well as on the patio. But soon, they faced yet another setback—theft of their outdoor tents, tables and chairs.

Cindy Gomez and her husband, Tony, run the business. Cindy Gomez says the thefts occurred on two separate occasions, the first around three weeks ago, and the second about a week later.

In the first theft, security cameras revealed “two men, who appeared to be homeless men, removing the tents, one umbrella that was left outside by mistake, and a chair,” Gomez told ECM in an e-mailed response to questions.


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2020 RAMONA ART & WINE FESTIVAL EXPANDS TO 3-DAY PROGRESSIVE EVENT NOV. 6-8

East County News Service

 

September 1, 2020 (Ramona) -- The 8th annual Ramona Art & Wine Festival is expanding to a progressive Festival from one day at one location, to three days at six Ramona wineries, with wine tasting, gourmet bites, silent auction, and art and vendor exhibitors at each participating winery on Friday to Sunday, November 6th to 8th, 2020.


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EAST COUNTY EATER: LE BON BO-BEAU REOPENS IN LA MESA

 

By Henri Migala

 

August 23, 2020 (La Mesa) - After being closed for several months, BO-beau in La Mesa has re-opened with reconfigured sitting areas that not only conform to mandated social distancing guidelines, but in an elegant way actually enhances the sense of intimacy for diners and patrons.

 

A member of the Cohen restaurant group, BO-beau is located in the historic downtown village in La Mesa.  The website describes the restaurant as where “Bohemian-chic meets industrial elegance.”  That is probably an accurate description when all sections of the restaurant are open, but with only the outdoor seating areas being available, the full experience of ‘Bohemian-chic and industrial elegance’ is replaced more by a comfortable, delightful and stylish experience of open-air garden dining.


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'GREAT PLATES’ TO CONTINUE, EXPAND MEAL DELIVERY TO HELP MORE ADULTS WITH HEALTH CONDITIONS

Source: County of San Diego

August 25, 2020 (San Diego) - More than 2,000 older adults in the “Great Plates Delivered” program will continue to receive three free and healthy meals a day. Launched in mid-May, the program is a collaboration between the County and 31 local restaurants. Now the County is expanding the service, originally for seniors with health conditions, to include all adults with a disability or health condition that puts them at higher risk from COVID-19.


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ONIONS AND ONION PRODUCTS RECALLED AFTER HUNDREDS SICKENED WITH SALMONELLA

East County News Service

August 11, 2020 (San Diego) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that hundreds of people have been sickened nationwide including 76 in California due to tainted red, yellow and white onions.  Around 86 cases resulted in hospitalization. In addition to fresh onions sold at major retailers, the onions have also been sold in pre-packaged foods such as pizzas, macaroni salad and fajita kits as well as in freshly prepared food items such as salads, sandwiches, tacos, salsas and dips.


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DEBUNKING HOT PEPPER MYTHS

By Melinda Myers

 

July 28, 2020 (San Diego) -- Enjoy the spicy heat hot peppers add to your meals without concern for the many myths surrounding these garden vegetables. Here are a few you may have heard, but that are not true.


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FEEDING THE HUNGRY AMID A PANDEMIC

By Helen Horvath

 

July 27, 2020 (San Diego) -- In an interview with Jim Floros, president and CEO of the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, ECM discusses the push to end hunger in San Diego during the COVID-19 pandemic.


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CASI CIELO FARM AND WINERY ADDS WALKING TOURS

By Miriam Raftery

 

July 25, 2020 (Jamul) - Casi Cielo Farm and Winery in Jamul now offers free, self-guided vineyard and garden walking tours to wine-tasting guests.  

 

Owners Greg and PJ Maness have nick-named the elevated vegetable, flower and herb garden “Little Eden.”  From heirloom tomatoes to towering giant sunflowers to farm animals, the farm is a haven situated in Jamul just south of Rancho San Diego.


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ANTHONY'S EXPANDS OUTDOOR DINING AMID TROPICAL MOTIF

By Miriam Raftery

July 17, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Just a few weeks ago, Anthony's Fish Grotto had announced its intent to close permanently due to the COVID-19 shutdown's devastating impact on restaurants. Then an outpouring of support from customers persuaded owner Craig Ghio to keep the doors open until dine-in resumed.  The state reopened dine-in only briefly. Now, with only outdoor dining allowed, Anthony's has substantially expanded its socially-distanced seating alongside a private lake, provided probably the most delightful outdoor dining experience in East County.

Tropical music added ambience when I visited this week, sipping a signature Tropical Cruise with rum, pineapple juice and peach Schnapps.  Homemade clam chowder in a sourdough breadbowl provided a hearty and affordable meal. My dining companion, an ECM reporter, chose a  healthy salad topped with fresh fruits; you can opt to top it off with shrimp, salmon, or chicken. The menu also includes an array of fresh seafoods, sandwiches and more.

Lush landscaping and fountains with the sound of running water, creating an illusion evocative of beaches in some far-away enclave.


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LA MESA AUTHORIZES RESTAURANTS TO SET UP OUTDOOR DINING AREAS

By Miriam Raftery

File photo, taken prior to the pandemic: Curbside, one of La Mesa's newest eateries, was designed for only limited outside seating. The new executive order could enable restaurants such as Curbside to expand onto sidewalks or streets, with permission of the City Manager and adherance to other laws.

July 9, 2020 (La Mesa)  -- The La Mesa City Manager today issued an executive order under emergency powers granted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order temporarily allows use of public and private outdoor areas by eating establishments for dining, after county health officials banned indoor dining for three weeks starting July 6 due to a growing number of coronavirus cases including some tied to restaurants and bars.

Restaurants must obtain written authorization from the Director of Community Development and comply with all social distancing and other COVID-19 related health orders, as well as all other laws. This includes city and county emergency orders, state laws such as Alcoholic Beverage Control rules, and federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Per the executive order, there is no City fee charged or permit required for businesses that receive authorization to use public and private outdoor areas for dining.  Businesses interested in obtaining written authorization for temporary use of public and private outdoor areas should contact Allyson Kinnard, Senior Planner at akinnard@cityoflamesa.us.


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RESTAURANT IN A DAY: COMMUNITY PITCHES IN TO HELP POPULAR RAMONA EATERY MOVE OUTSIDE

By Miriam Raftery
 
Update: Photo, left: Marinade on Main's parking lot has been transformed into an outdoor dining patio, thanks to the generosity of community members.
 
July 8, 2020 (Ramona) – When San Diego County Health officials ordered indoor restaurants closed effective yesterday, Vineyard Grant James owner Susanne Sapier leaped int action to help Marinade on Main, a farm-to-table fresh restaurant in Ramona, remain viable.  So she sent out an email to community members asking for help to create a “restaurant in a day” – in the parking lot.
 
The email asked community members to donate pop-up tents, umbrellas/shade coverings, tables, chairs, café lights, misters, ground covering, wall coverings such as lattices or antique doors, plants, large pots to hold plants or trees, and old furnishings to serve as a hostess station and stand for dishes.

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INDOOR DINING AND THESE OTHER BUSINESSES MUST SHUT DOWN FOR THREE WEEKS STARTING TONIGHT

 

Congressional candidate calls for new round of relief for businesses ordered to shut down again

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Dr. Wilma Wooten briefing (screenshot from video)

July 6, 2020 (San Diego) – Starting at midnight, all indoor service must stop in restaurants and wineries. Outdoor dining and activities can continue, as well as curbside pickup services.

Indoor family entertainment venues such as movie theaters and bowling alleys also must shut down, though outdoor facilities such as zoos can remain open.  The order is in effect for the next three weeks.

County health officials ordered the closures today in response to being placed on the state’s watchlist due to exceeding three COVID-19 pandemic trigger levels for positive cases in the past two weeks, the number of active community outbreaks, and a backlog in tracing new cases.


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THE ZERO WASTE FAMILY SUPPLIES BUDGET-MINDED RECIPES AND IDEAS DURING THE PANDEMIC

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson
(Photos courtesy of The Zero Waste Family) 
 

July 3, 2020 (San Diego) Many families and individuals have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic – with some experiencing unemployment coupled with financial insecurity, health issues and/or medical expenses.  

San Diego resident Fredrika Syren, founder of The Zero Waste Family, offers up tips to reduce the cost of feeding a family or individual and eating healthy at the same time.

(Photo at left: The Syren family)

“There are so many people who have lost money and their income during the pandemic,” said Syren, an environmental writer, in a phone interview with ECM. “We were prepared more than most.”


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LA MESA FARMERS MARKET IS OPEN AGAIN

By Miriam Raftery

July 2, 2020 (La Mesa) – Now you can once again purchase farm-fresh produce directly from local farmers. The La Mesa Certified Farmer’s Market has reopened for in-person visitors on Fridays from 3 to 7 p.m. The market is  located along La  Mesa Blvd. between Palm Ave. and 4th Street, but with some changes due to COVID-19.

The farmer’s market was briefly closed, then opened for pre-ordered curbside delivery only. Now the market is back open to the public, but with the following rules, provided by the La Mesa Village Association:


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COUNTY EASES RULES FOR WINERIES AFTER ECM REPORT, BUT IMPOSES CURFEW FOR RESTAURANTS AND BARS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Woof N' Rose Winery in Ramona wil now be able to remain open, serving wine on an outdoor patio, under the county rule change allowed today.

June 30, 2020 (San Diego) – One day after ordering bars, breweries and wineries to shut down, county health officials today revised that order to allow most to stay open. That’s a big relief to East County wineries, which can now continue to offer winetasting outdoors without food. Wineries, breweries, distilleries and bars with indoor seating can also stay open, provided they serve alcohol with food. Those without food service licenses can team up with a restaurant or food truck.

The changes came after East County Magazine published an article quoting prominent wine owners voicing concern over the future of our region’s wine industry and hours after ECM's editor reached out to Supervisor Dianne Jacob to inform her staff of the winery owners' concerns. ECM's editor also posed a question on this issue during a virtual press conference with county health officials.

Today, the County also imposed a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew on all restaurants, bars and other eating/drinking establishments that serve alcohol. Patrons in the door by 10 p.m. may stay until 11 p.m. nightly.  Violators are subject to a $1,000 fine.


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WINERY OWNERS SAY SHUTDOWN OF BARS UNFAIR TO RURAL WINERIES, THREATENS TO CRUSH BURGEONING WINE INDUSTRY

Story and photos by Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Outdoor patio at Vineyard Grant James in Ramona provides ample social distancing for wine-tasting guests

June 29, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – East County’s once-thriving wine industry is struggling under COVID-19 restrictions – and some local wineries may die on the vine now that the county has once again shut down all bars effect July 1, including wineries and breweries.

Now, some winery owners are criticizing the shutdown as overly broad and unfair,  since many rural wineries have outdoor patios or spacious tasting rooms and have been providing ample social distancing – unlike urban bars and crowded venues such as the Gaslamp District.


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COUNTY ORDERS SHUTDOWN OF BARS, WINERIES AND BREWERIES, HALTS REOPENING OTHER BUSINESSES

By Miriam Raftery

June 29, 2020 (San Diego) – San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency today ordered  bars, wineries and breweries to shut down starting July 1 to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The county also halted reopening of any additional businesses until at least August 1, due to a spike in cases locally.

Although Governor Gavin Newsom earlier this week ordered bars in six counties to close and recommended closures in eight other counties, San Diego was not on those lists. However local officials made the decision to shut down the alcohol establishments after nearly 500 new cases were reported yesterday, the highest number since the start of the pandemic. Also, 7% of test results reported yesterday were positive, up sharply from the 4.1% rate over the prior two weeks.

Concerns are also rising over hospital capacity, since San Diego has taken some patients from neighboring Imperial County, where 23% of tests have come back positive in recent days prompting the state to order a return to a full lockdown there.

Today, Riverside County’s hospital ICU units hit 99% capacity, forcing hospitals to resort to surge mode, converting other hospital bed areas into ICU units to accommodate COVID-19 patients. San Diego could be asked to accept yet more patients from its neighbor to the north if Riverside's surge in cases continues.


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