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We were invited to check out Tostadas North Park for a food and drink pairing. Add in the owner or chef or special guests, etc. and a meal becomes so much more... I love to hear about the inspiration and background of how the meal and/or drinks came about.
Upon entry, there's the counter to order your food and to the right is a long and beautiful wood table with artisan barstools. Usually compostable plates and corn-based utensils are used at the restaurant but for this media event, they borrowed dishes and glassware! We be getting fancy!
Along with their logo, there are a lot of seahorses around the restaurant too. Here are just a few we noticed while we mingled with the other guests. I was excited to be in the company of several foodie friends (Jinxi, Sun Diego Eats, This Tasty Life, Hungry Ones).
The owner Gerry Torres excitedly talked to us about his restaurant and how everything here was made to be fresh. They typically have a special of the day that, if cooked, will be made in the huge 24 hour kitchen at City Tacos instead. They also do catering which is run out of their other kitchen.
First up for dinner was the Sandia Tostada, which Dennis and I have eaten before. It's wonderfully fresh, especially the fruity crisp of the sweet watermelon, lovely against the soft ahi bites. On the tables are three colorful house sauces but I think the lime juice marinade on the tostada is just perfect as is. Plus, all three sauces have some spicy kick so I prefer mine standalone.
The paired beer was the Chuck Alek Flycaster Lager, an easygoing light beer without intense notes. The brewery is located in Ramona but they have a biergarden that's right behind the Tostadas building!
For our second course, we had an Empanada de Cabra. Pastry dough is a magical ingredient in my mind but then stuffed with creamy goat cheese? Oh yes. The inside had a nice consistency with chunks of pepper throughout. Dennis was already comparing it to a jalapeño popper before we heard the list of ingredients, which included a flame grilled poblano pepper and goat cheese! The duo of sauce around it was chile tepin black bean on the rim & cilantro chile de arbol in the center, which made for an amazing dipping sauce.
The paired beer was the German-style Claritas from the Mike Hess Brewery event in April. This time we drank out of these artsy logo'ed glasses! I wonder if they have a keep the pint night because I'd totally come for these. =D
Did someone say filet mignon? We didn't have a menu so these courses were beginning to get interesting! This beauty was the diameter of a baseball and was topped with shallot and wild mushrooms. The boat "walls" around the meat were actually Belgian endive leaves!
There was a beautiful sear to the meat and its natural flavors shone through. A blue cheese wine reduction sauce was an extra flavor boost.
The red meat was paired with this Paoloni Nebbiolo Wine. It was very cool that winemaker Paolo Paoloni and his wife, from Valle de Guadalupe MONTEFIORI winery, were joining us that night for dinner.
We began hearing a little more about wine at this point. Paolo mentioned that to make a good wine, it required passion and some talent. They bought some property in Valle in 1997 and started their vineyard. The beautiful weather with long and dry summers made for really good wine. The Nebbiolo is an Italian wine aged for 15 months in a French barrel. They don't filter it and just let the good quality of wine and aromas stay true.
I think everyone was quite excited to hear that the next dish was an oven baked pacific lobster tail! The most captivating ingredient... tequila lobster reduction sauce! There was also a hidden bed of duxelle (mushroom, fresh herb mix) underneath the lobster meat and the tail sat on a bed of mashed potatos. This was such a beautiful presentation.
The seafood pairing was Paoloni Chardonnay Wine, which was a sweeter white wine from the same winemaker. It was also what was offered to us as part of the 'cocktail hour' before the meal.
Last but not least was the dessert course, Crepas de Pera (pear crepe) with vanilla bean ice cream. These homemade crepes were topped with tequila flambe D'Anjou pears and fresh strawberry accents and we really enjoyed these cookie crumble-like items in there, which were homemade almond marzipan. Dennis noticed right away the tequila taste in the ice cream, especially with him being the tequila lover in our household ( we have six bottles at home of various top shelf). Mine had more of the delicious homemade cajeta (goat milk caramel) so Dennis snagged a few spoonfuls for his own plate. It was a very good finish to the meal. Props to Eduardo Baeza, Chef/Partner, and Jesus Rodriguez, Sous Chef for feeding us.
Thanks to Amanda from Passion Roots PR for setting this up. Tostadas and their sister restaurant City Tacos are places I'll definitely keep in mind for my next trip to North Park! Hope you have a chance to visit as well!
Disclaimer: We were provided food and drink for this event but all opinions are our own
Tostadas North Park
3139 University Ave
San Diego CA 92104