Saturday, October 04, 2014

Donut Bar: Not Your Average Donut Shop!

If you have been following the Craft Donut scene you are aware that places like Donut Bar exist, but finding them can be a challenge.  Not everyone has the street cred of VooDoo Doughnuts in Oregon where the phenomenon of the crazy pastry was conceived.

There have been many of these shops pop up and fizzle out as quickly as they were born. There was the short lived life of Devilicious Donuts, who quickly grew to two stores and then collapsed in a blink of an eye, and there is Psycho Donuts who hangs on to their heyday, but has had no real creative energy for almost a year now.

Donut Bar is the polar opposite of these places! It came on the scene strong,
and has exploded with success ever since the first line formed. If you are in San Diego, make a trip to the Gaslamp to visit this small, eclectic house of sweet delights!

Like everyday, there was already a line at 8am. It's Saturday morning people, why are you not asleep? I was doing my usual, trying not to wake my wife while escaping the hotel room for an early morning exploration of the area. An eight block walk to the Donut Bar seemed like just to right thing to get the blood sugar flowing.

There was an excitement on the street as the pastry chef came out with a tray of what looked like Monsters Inc themed donuts to hand out for free to the children in line, some were elated, others terrified! Most were amused. The line not so bad yet, would grow to mid block by the time I got out. They are obviously doing something right here, and I'm happy to find out what that is for the rest of you.

So lets talk donuts; for the sake of this report I chose seven donuts. Don't try this at home people, I am a trained professional with many years of donut experience under my belt. I wouldn't want anyone to get hurt!

Creme Brulee: This is a small but powerful donut. It is yeast raised and filled with a vanilla custard, and topped with a caramelized sugar topping. The donut is light and fluffy, and the filling is wonderful, and while liked the donut overall, the sugar crunch was just a little heavy for me. If you are a creme brulee fan and love the crackle of the topping, this is your donut for sure!

Cro-Bar: They had several flavors of Cro-Bar, San Diego's answer to the
Cronut. Does anyone even remember what a Cronut is? We have a really short attention span don't we? This is a pretty great pastry, topped and filled with a fluffy cream filling and topped with a dulce de leche caramel, this bad boy will get your sweet tooth singing!

Strawberries and Cream: A strawberry cake donut, with a cream cheese frosting and strawberry pop rocks! I really liked this donut. The strawberry cake was incredibly moist and intensely flavored. The frosting was cheesy and the popping candy added a cool layer of texture.

The Salted Caramel & Nutella: I'm putting these two together because they are very similar donuts. If you want basic iced donut these are just fine. They are HUGE, about three times the size of a regular raised donuts. I didn't really get salted caramel, or nutella flavors from them, but they are exceptional, fluffy raised donuts.

Apple Fritter: This is a great fritter! Lots of fruit, a nice icing, and you get the crispy, crunchy bits that you love, without the cloying sweetness of the usually glazed globs of sugar. This is a fritter done right.

There are tons of other donuts to choose from at Donut Bar; the Homer, the Elvis, Big Poppa, Root Beer Float and so on into infinity! The products these guys are putting out are top notch. If you are in San Diego and you don't mind standing in line for some tasty sweetness, Donut Bar is your
destination!

Donut Bar
2 Locations
631 B St, San Diego
18011 Newhope St, Fountain Valley
http://donutbarsandiego.com/

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Review: Fahrenheit Ultra Lounge

There is a hidden gem downtown San Jose. It's not hidden in the sense that it's hard to find, in a secluded part of town, or some back alley. In fact it is prominently located on the corner of Third and San Fernando. The Fahrenheit Ultra Lounge is a restaurant, hiding in a Nightclub's shadow!

We wandered over to Fahrenheit after a function in the area. For years we simply avoided it thinking it would be a typical club, throwing out plates of barely passable slop to half in the bag patrons who didn't care much anyways. If this is your impression as well, you couldn't be more wrong!

First of all, the dining room is a swanky lounge, with funky banquettes that can seat a party of almost any size. We were just two, and the comfortable four top near the bar was perfectly suited for pleasant dining. The room was not loud, and it was well lighted to make for a very enjoyable dining atmosphere.

The menu was not huge, but had a great selection, a little of everything; poultry, fish, and steaks, pork, and vegetarian options were all available at very reasonable prices. Christine, our server, made sure that we were aware of the daily specials, and took great care of us all evening. Such good care in fact that my dining companion is arranging to hold a small function at the restaurant.

From the Flirtations section of the menu we ordered a couple of starters to share; Pastrami Pork Belly: Kurabota Pork Belly | Whole Grain Mustard | Bubbie's Sauerkraut $9 and The Chef's Daily Soup: Broccolini with Basil oil $6. The pork belly was melt in your mouth tender, with light grill marks; you could really taste the smoky, fatty pork. The mustard and sauerkraut was the perfect amount of acid to balance the fattiness. It was served with toast points. The soup was wonderful; our server split it into two bowls, making it very easy to share. It was light and brothy, yet still a cream based soup. It was drizzled with a touch of basil oil and garnished with micro greens.

On to the main plates, or as they call them, Commitments; I ordered the Crispy Duck Breast: Maple Leaf Farms Duck Breast | Forbidden Rice | Broccoli Rabe | Citrus Demi  $23. My dining companion, being an avid fan of fine beef chose the Cowboy Bone-in Rib-eye: 22oz Creekstone Natural Beef | Creamed Cauliflower $38. Both dishes are absolute winners, in terms of value however, if you love beef, you have to get this steak! I'm not even sure how they can afford to sell this monster so cheap! The duck was sublime! Flawlessly seasoned, the skin was crispy as promised, and the breast a perfect medium rare. The forbidden rice had the right amount of texture, and layers of flavors including a light back note of vanilla, the broccoli rabe had a light smokiness, and the demi was just the right amount of acid and sweet. It was like a game, building the perfect bite, a little of each on my fork.

The Cowboy Steak was Epic! The sheer magnitude of this slab of beef made us cry out whoa when it arrived at the table. Served atop a cauliflower puree, with roasted Yukon Gold potatoes, it was cooked to a perfect mid-rare, and was juicy, tender and flavorful. This gargantuan tomahawk steak was exquisitely seasoned, and had a crusty char that made you want to pick up the bone and gnaw on it!

For dessert we shared Fahrenheit's version of Banana Fosters, it was a lighter version, not as sweet as the original, and it made a great finale to our meal. Served with fried won tons that had been tossed in cinnamon sugar, it was akin to eating dessert nachos. The bananas were warmed and the entire dessert was drizzled in a caramel rum sauce and raspberry coulis.

The amazing thing about Fahrenheit is that on a Friday night, you can go there and get a fantastic meal, at a reasonable price, with great service. Why? Because this great restaurant is hidden inside of a nightclub.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Review: Grasing's Coastal Cuisine

This weekend I was swept off to Carmel by my lovely spouse for some get away and relax time. In the context of achieving this we decided to treat ourselves to a fancy meal. Not a lavish, opulent seating, but perhaps in the realm of finer dining. After doing a little research; Open Table led us to Grasing's. Pair up one highly decorated Chef Kurt Grasing, with celebrity Chef Narsai David as a partner, and you have yourself a pretty impressive meal, one would surmise.

Our reservation was a 9pm on a Saturday night, when we arrived, the restaurant was busy, but not filled. We were seated in a small window seat, the window box actually being part of the seating. It was stuffed with oversized pillows that made seating somewhat less than comfortable, and wrangling the falling pillows became a chore of which both of us would have to participate.

Our server was quite attentive; He even brought a small flashlight so that we could see the menu in the dimly lit dining room. He described the specials, and the Soup du Jour; Vegetable Beef Barley, which I found to be a very odd selection for this caliber restaurant. There was a big push on the Dom Perignon, on sale for $190, a significant savings we were told. During the course of our meal we were helped by several members of his support staff. They engaged us, and made us feel welcome, without being imposing.

Looking for a light starter we opted for the Grilled Artichoke; Dungeness crab salad, lemon vinaigrette, lemon-thyme aioli $13.50. The half artichoke was grilled nicely, while there was no noticeable grill marks or char, the smokiness was evident. It was filled with a salad of Dungeness crab that was fresh, and flavorful, and the vinaigrette was the right balance of acid to the sweet, rich crabmeat. The problem here was the diced red onion. In fact, the raw onion flavor destroyed the balance of the crab salad, and completely overpowered the delicate flavors of the dish. It was served with some undressed field greens, and the aioli was very heavy, similar to gloppy, whole egg mayo that you might find on a deli sandwich. When asked, I was truthful about my opinion of this dish. Our server thanked us for the feedback.

The main courses were next to arrive. My dining partner chose the 16oz Bone-in Rib Eye $48. Served with whipped garlic mash, and sautéed mixed vegetables. I chose the Heritage Pork Medallions served over creamy polenta, shitake mushrooms, bacon, fresh peas, red wine reduction $27.50.

The Rib Eye was cooked perfectly; it had a great char, and was well seasoned. This was the highlight of the meal for sure. The whipped potatoes were OK, and that's about it. They seemed a bit watered down, well seasoned, but lacking in substance. The texture was definitely the flaw, as was the case with the vegetable. I like an al dente, veg, a little tooth to the carrots, and broccoli. These were downright crunchy. You know, when your knife makes that clinking noise as it hits the plate as the carrot finally lets it through!

The pork medallions were also just OK. Now I'm a lover of all that is pork, and this dish was like a marquee of Oscar winning names to me; Pork, bacon, polenta, peas, wine reduction. How could this go wrong, I love every element described! First and foremost, where is the bacon? I'm not even sure I taste bacon in this dish. Don't say bacon, if it's going to be hidden! Second; why are the medallions of pork pounded paper thin? Points for not drying them out, I guess. The mushrooms in red wine reduction with the peas were delicious, but the same crunchy veg was on my plate. The real tragedy of this entire dish was the polenta. It was as if someone had taken yesterday's polenta and crumbled it on my plate, then tried to hide it under the pork. I even tried to reconstitute it by stirring some of the tasty wine sauce into it. The menu said creamy polenta, could you at least have to courtesy to stir a little cream or butter into it to make it edible! Once again our server was thankful for the feedback, but did nothing to correct the culinary faux pas.

Dessert comprised of a simple crème brulee, and two spoons. The top was layered with sliced strawberries; white, flavorless, and crunchy. Guess what, strawberries are not in season! The custard was nicely flavored, with a great texture; however, it was presented in a very thin ramekin, so the ratio of bruleed sugar to custard was complete off. Most of the topping was peeled away and discarded.

In summary, Grasing's in Carmel, with all of its accolades, celebrity Chefdom, and awards was somewhat disappointing. While the service was good, and the staff was very friendly, they failed to make us feel like they were taking responsibility for the kitchen shortcomings.  The food was clunky and lacked finesse. The finer and not so finer details that could have made our dining experience remarkable were completely overlooked. Sorry to say that Grasing's Costal Cuisine truly missed the mark.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

A Break From Food to Support a Great Person!

On June 3rd 2011 Monica was on her way to work when the phone rang and the Dr. on the line gave her the horrific news; “it’s bad… really bad, I’m sorry, you have cancer”. This news came on the heals of three years of very serious pain in her left breast where doctors have been telling her “it’s not cancer, cancer does not hurt”.

And so started the battle; Monica was diagnosed with grade three, invasive ductile carcinoma. To make matters worse it was quickly discovered that her cancer was “Triple Negative”, a rare form of cancer that does not respond to the treatment that women are given to fight recurrence after the chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery are over.

http://www.giveforward.com/helpmonicawinherbattle

Monday, November 14, 2011

My New Creative Outlet: Psycho Donuts.

Here is a post from the PD Blog describing some of my Holiday Creations. Since starting at Psycho Donuts I have produced many innovative items that are currently receiving much press.
 
The Drunkin' Punkin' is a Chef Ron masterpiece; his own Plymouth Rock. We start with a bourbon-spiked pumpkin cake donut. Seriously. We top it with cheesecake icing, fresh pecans, and a cross-hatch of maple and caramel drizzle. If the pilgrims knew of this donutrocity, they may have landed in Santa Cruz rather than Plymouth Rock.

Bourbon donuts a little much for ya? Check out the Punkin' Spice Latte. This pilgrim is filled with spiced pumpkin, and topped with coffee and cinnamon icing.

Maybe your real Thanksgiving headliner is our Psweet PotatOnut. This crazed concoction is a raised donut topped with torched marshmallows, graham crackers, and a pumpkin spice filling.


Ready for dessert? How about some Punkin' Pie? Our Punkin' Pie Donut has pumpkin filling, and a topping of maple icing and crushed graham crackers.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hot Sauce For Your iPhone!

PAIA, HI October 21,2010
A First for the Iphone, an app dedicated to hot sauce for sauce lovers. A growing list of over 500 sizzling sauces from around the world. www.jimsburningringoffire.com

Jimʼs Burning Ring of Fire empowers you to ignite your inner pyro and manage your flaming tastebuds through hot sauce reviews and ratings on the Scoville heat unit scale. Also included, up to 20% off from our friends at Ashley Foods, makers of the world famous Mad Dog brand. Be one of the first 20,000 to purchase and receive a chance to win a 3 day trip for two to Baldface Lodge www.baldface.net one of the worlds premier snowcat ski lodges. Value $5,500.

Manage all your favorite flames.

Ever had your tongue ignited with flavor and fire and forgot the name of the sauce? Sometimes it is just the effort to fetch paper and pencil that keeps us from writing it down. Jimʼs Burning Ring of Fire lets you retain your memory quickly and easily. Your return on Jimʼs Burning Ring of Fire app will be immediate when you can instantly recall the name of your favorite flame for your next outing.

Meet some cool and hot sauces.

In addition to hot sauces, you have a scoville scale with peppers and sauces rated from 0 to 16,000,000 Scoville heat units. The fire of love will be stoked as you meet and mingle with fellow arsonists and chili heads from around the world. Share your ratings and reviews with friends on Facebook and Twitter and dynamically search for sauces by name or company to quickly read and write reviews on your flaming flavorful favorites. To cool the burn we also include ideas on how to tame the flames.

Discover your true pyretic tendencies.
Whether you discover new ways of eating fire or simply adding some cool chipotle to your BBQ, itʼs good to know what your getting into before it come out the other end. So whether itʼs cayenne, chipotle or red hot habanero...you will impress them all with your flair and flavor as you bring the hottest party favor. A must have for all CHILI-HEADS!!



Going Mobile LLC After 12 years of owning and operating one of the largest backcountry ski resorts in Canada, Jim Fraps needed a change and moved to Maui. After a year of learning to surf he needed a project. Seeing Iphone apps booming but having no real computer skills, but lots of marketing talent, Fraps got in touch with an old high school pal Paul Yago who has worked in the computer industry for 20+ years. Seeing that they were both “chili heads” the hot sauce idea came to life. Together they have created JimʼsBurning Ring of Fire, a hot sauce app to share with the world. Jimʼs Burning Ring of Fire will be available for purchase for $2.99 at the Iphone app store.

Please contact:
Jim Fraps for more information.
808-214-7557
jim@jimsburningringoffire.com
www.jimsburningringoffire.com

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fresh from the Farmers Market: Scotty B’s Hot Sauces

Our good friend and fellow hot sauce maker Scott Bailie asked me to help spread the word about his awesome sauces. Here is an article that recently appeared in the Agoura Hills Patch.

Fiery, scorching and burning were used to describe not the weather last Sunday, but Scotty B's Hot Sauces. The Capistrano Beach-based company is one of several vendors at the year-round Agoura Hills Farmers Market.

Marinade, hot sauce, dip and salad dressing in one, the gourmet hot sauces come in 12.75 oz. bottles, larger than your usual table hot sauce, and six variants, ranging from mildly hot to the over-the-top, triple X hot. They sell for $8 a bottle, except for the Nemesis triple X type, which sells for $9. Volume discounts are also available.

"Most hot sauces are vinegar-based, but ours are tomato-based and natural," said Brotha Zeigler, a sales representative for Scotty B's. Additionally, Scotty B's hot sauces have no corn syrup, no preservatives and no artificial flavors. The sweet versions have only one gram of sugar in each bottle.

Many levels of hotness

Among the six types, Zeigler said the Sweet Jalapeno Heat is the most popular and sells out every Sunday. California-grown red jalapenos, which Zeigler said are sweeter than their green counterparts, are the main ingredient. This variety is good as a glaze or dipping sauce for pork, chicken, lamb and turkey, Zeigler said.

Chipotle Fever is considered the mildest among the hot sauces. It goes well with most Mexican dishes, as well as pizza and pasta dishes. The use of chipotle peppers gives this hot sauce a unique flavor.

Berries in Heat is good with salmon, beef and chicken, and as a dip for egg rolls and other Chinese dishes. "Most people cannot imagine how we were able to combine strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries with a hot sauce, because the combination is just astounding," said Zeigler. This hot sauce uses serrano peppers, noted for their crisp and biting flavor.

Jalapeno Scream, a green hot sauce, is good with eggs, breakfast burritos, nachos and tortilla chips, Zeigler said. It is also good as a marinade or basting sauce for barbecue chicken or pork. The main ingredients are green serranos and green jalapenos.

Sweet Habanero uses the same recipe as the Sweet Jalapeno Heat but with more heat thanks to the habanero peppers, which are at least 10 times hotter than jalapenos. Sweet Habanero is recommended for use with pork, lamb, chicken and turkey. It also goes well with many Thai and Chinese dishes, according to Zeigler.

"There is nothing hotter and more wicked than the Nemesis Hot Sauce, said Zeigler. The "hottest of the hot" has red habanero peppers as its main ingredient. It is considered a triple X hot sauce because of the habanero peppers' elevated heat level of 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville units.