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Apr 9, 2010 10:54 AM

Food trends in SD that you are so over with..

Got me thinking when stevewag23 brought up the the 'ahi tartar' and the 'caprese salad' which were so overplayed and still being played at restaurants all over this town.
I'm drawing a blank and the only ones I can come up with at the moment are apple martini's, stacking of food and bok choy..

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  1. Braised short ribs, burgers, steamed mussels, truffle fries etc. - Nothing wrong with using these but San Diego restaurants are serving them (with very, very few exceptions) with hardly any creativity.

    1 Reply
    1. re: honkman

      I gotta give a positive shout out for the steamed mussels (with fennel and linguica sausage) at The Fishery. Maybe it's because I live out in the sticks where steamed mussels are a rarity, but when I had that just before Christmas, I was very very pleased. Super fresh mussels, excellent broth, nice combination of flavors.

    2. Caesar Salad or Grilled Chicken Caesar

      1. Slightly upscale burgers.

        1. "Sustainable" restaurants serving Brandt/Niman beef and Jidori chicken.

          26 Replies
          1. re: Josh

            Aren't Jidori chickens free-range?

            1. re: DougOLis

              Jidori -- Raised indoors, cage-free, grain-fed. Central Valley farms.

              "Free-range" would mean that the chickens had access to the outdoors, they typically are also raised (principally) indoors, cage-free, and grain fed.

              "Pastured" would mean the the chickens were raised primarily outside and could eat grass and bugs (often, depending on the farm, in addition to feed).

              Pastured chickens are generally what people think of when they hear "free range", but chicken labeled "free range" is labeled that way because it's *not* pastured.

              1. re: jayporter

                thanks for the breakdown. good to know

            2. re: Josh

              Just read that Barrio Star bills itself as sustainable, but sells Brandt, so I guess I'm over Barrio Star before eating there. ;-)

              1. re: Josh

                Well the produce is local, organic and there are LOTS of vegetarian options. Just no carne asada tacos for you.

                1. re: Josh

                  Not really sure how you can consider Brandt not within the wide, WIDE parameters of sustainable. Maybe a jab at corn fed, which is a superior product no matter how you cut it but they are doing all the right things as for as utilization of resources and treating the land.


                  1. re: mjill

                    Why should corn-fed be superior to grass-fed ? Grass-fed is superior in terms of taste and sustainability.

                    1. re: honkman

                      That is incorrect. You realize Vons, Ralphs or any chain grocer's select meat is all grass and not corn fed, right? I'm sure you also realize marbling, ie. intermuscular fat also produces the best flavor too which grass fed and work animals lack. Well at least the best flavor where the overwhelming majority is concerned. Can billions of people really be wrong about the taste?

                      You might be confusing or maybe not fully understanding the way the cattle is being raised versus what it is being fed. Either way, it appears Brandt is making the right moves in maintaining the land, which is one of the bigger concerns regarding sustainable practices.

                      1. re: mjill

                        You are aware that commodity beef in supermarkets is corn-fed beef not grassfed. And you are also aware that most beef in Europe and Southamerica is grassfed and that the preferred taste for Americans might be cornfed but outside of the US most peole prefer grassfed for the stronger beef taste. So yes i think most Americans are wrong to prefer cornfed beef over grassfed. And are you also aware that cows can't digest corn and that therefore it shouldn't fed to them. I would recommend reading books like Omnivores Dilemma, Fastfood Nation and What we eat

                        1. re: honkman

                          never knew cows couldn't digest corn, I thought it was just us humans, think about that!

                          1. re: honkman

                            feeding cows corn means pumping them full of antibitoics to get it to digest.

                          2. re: mjill

                            Select, Choice, and Prime have to do with degree of marbling, but are not related to how the cattle are fed. Grass-fed beef might be graded as Select by the USDA because it's not highly marbled, but the USDA grades are unrelated to the cows' diets.

                            1. re: mjill

                              mjill: Are you serious with these assertions?

                              Please divulge how you came about thinking Von's, Ralph's, etc. sell grass-fed beef.

                              "I'm sure you also realize marbling, ie. intermuscular fat also produces the best flavor too"

                              Many people who have only tasted McDonald's hamburgers perceive that "meat" as "the best flavor". Imagine if said people instead grew up eating grass-fed beef, akin to what is being served in places like Argentina. You can bet their perception of best flavor would be significantly changed.

                              1. re: globocity

                                This is getting about as amusing as the "Bully's has prime grade steak" claim.

                            2. re: honkman

                              You just are using the wrong criteria, honkman. If you judge beef by its flavorlessness then clearly corn-fed beef is superior!

                              1. re: Josh

                                Just want to add my experience with cornfed vs. grassfed. They're different, but it will come down to personal taste. My impression is that Americans like cornfed because you can cheaply and more rapidly achieve higher fat levels with it. And if you think fat = delicious then yes you will like cornfed. It is possible to achieve high fat levels with grassfed but much harder and more expensive to do so. Hence for the same price some Americans are going to like cornfed more for that reason alone. Grassfed beef tend to have a better defined "beef" flavor whereas cornfed is more generic in flavor in my experience. That said, there is a huge range of quality with both types of beef. But it's fair to say that budget beefs tend to be cornfed for practical reasons.

                                What's a good thing for one person is bad for another. To use another example, some people hate duck because it tastes gamey. Some people love duck because it tastes gamey. In the same way, I think in the US we are just too much in love with quantity vs. quality when it comes to fat.

                            3. re: mjill

                              I don't know, mjill, I think you must not have a very good grasp of what the word sustainable means. Perhaps that's why you put it in scare quotes in your comments about Barrio Star.

                              That said, I don't care how wide you perceive the parameters to be, it should be painfully obvious that shipping in train boxcars of corn grown in another state does not meat any conceivable definition of sustainability.

                              1. re: Josh

                                Hey Josh, I agree about the flavor grass-fed vs corn but, here's a def of sustainability, I think corn qualifies:

                                Sustainable agriculture integrates three main goals: environmental stewardship, farm profitability, and prosperous farming communities. These goals have been defined by a variety of disciplines and may be looked at from the vantage point of the farmer or the consumer. Sustainable agriculture refers to agricultural production that can be maintained without harming the environment

                                1. re: cstr

                                  Brandt, while local-ish to us here in San Diego, and admirable in many ways, is not sustainable farming -- including by the definitions proposed above by cstr.

                                  The production of commodity corn for processing and livestock (i.e., all the corn that is fed to feedlot beef including Brandt) is done using patently unsustainable methods. Commodity corn in the US is raised on large monoculture or duoculture (along with soy) farms, and the calorie energy in the corn comes not from the sun or the soil but from the energy in petroleum products (obviously, not sustainable) which are fed to the plants.

                                  This kind of farming destroys the soil and its petroleum and pesticide runoffs have created a huge dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. It also has destroyed the fabric of healthy small farm communities in the Midwest as small farms have been replaced by huge corporate farms that operate on much thinner margins.

                                  The farmers themselves make much less money as they are now dependent on Monsanto for seeds (they are not able to save their own seeds as they once did) and on processors such as ADM and livestock companies to buy their products, both of whom squeeze the farmers, who in effect work as sharecroppers for these companies. The farms are unprofitable and the difference is made up in government subsidies.

                                  Meanwhile, the processors -- including feedlots, who convert the corn into protein -- of this corn, and the manufacturers of the genetically modified seeds and pesticides (such as Monsanto) are hugely profitable, as are the companies that convert petroleum into energy that the corn plants grow from.

                                  As you saw in 2008 when gas prices spiked, so did the prices of meat, because feedlot beef, factory pork and chicken are all petroleum converted into corn converted into protein. That fact, and its damaging effects, are why Josh et al balk at the notion of Brandt beef being sustainable.

                                  I personally really like the Brandt family and appreciate that they do feedlot beef better than anyone, and they care a lot about not wasting any of the resources they use. They are true stewards of the land they occupy in the Imperial Valley and should be commended for many practices they undertake which are not profit driven. That said, as long as they are feeding their animals Midwestern corn by the trainload, it is inappropriate to include them in with "sustainable farming".

                                  1. re: jayporter

                                    Jay, you're not reading the sustainability definition or my statement correctly, which just says 'corn' not 'the production of commodity corn for processing and livestock'. Is corn sustainable? Do you serve native/organic corn?

                                    1. re: cstr

                                      Sorry for the confusion.

                                      The word "corn" in contemporary usage means two different things. What people call "corn" in talking about dinner is "sweet corn", a specialty crop that domestically is grown, I believe, mostly in California, not the Midwest. It's a small-scale agricultural product in the US, and like most specialty crops is available as a "conventional" (i.e., not organic), organic, and sustainably/locally farmed.

                                      If my memory serves, in San Diego, sustainably farmed corn is available (or, at least, has been in past years) seasonally from La Milpa Organica. As for us, we've bought it from a small farm that basically grows all their food exclusively for us (Wingshadows Hacienda) and are planning to get some from Suzie's Farm this summer. For reasons that escape me, local corn grown without pesticides has these (harmless) little worms in it that make it unattractive for many people. Short answer, sweet corn is grown in various levels of sustainability.

                                      However, sweet corn, the kind of corn you cook and serve, has basically nothing to do with corn that is being referred to in the phrases "corn-fed beef" or "The Corn Belt". "Corn" when people are talking about feeding livestock, or making processed food such as corn syrup or Busch Light, is a crop also called "Field Corn" that is not edible by humans. This is the corn that we are referring to when we say that Brandt beef is corn-fed.

                                      "Field Corn", which is the basis for our entire food system and also for the ethanol industry, is grown unsustainably using the methods I described above. (There are very tiny exceptions, but those growers don't sell their corn into the market, they keep it and use it for raising their own organic meat.)

                                      So, my answer to your question "is corn sustainable" is, when we're talking about the important kind of corn, that is used for raising meat and feeding America, "no". If you're talking about sweet corn, the answer is "sometimes".

                                      Feedlots such as Brandt that raise beef on field corn (or distiller's grain, which is a byproduct of ethanol, meaning corn that's already been processed once) -- in other words, every grain-fed beef farmer is using a deeply unsustainable process (the growing of field corn) in order for their feedlot to function. That's why grain-fed beef is unsustainable, even if the land of and near the feedlot itself is well-stewarded.

                                      1. re: jayporter

                                        Chino Farms has corn (presumably sustainable but not certified organic) over the summer too.

                                    2. re: jayporter

                                      I was wondering why more restaurants don't use bison as a protein source. Since bison are native to the American west, They can eat just about anything that grows out there with the need for extra water and grains. I personally like the taste if it. It is really much milder than elk or venison. I know the cost is more but wouldn't that go down if the demand went up. It also has to be cheaper to raise one pound of bison compared to one pound of cow. Is it really a huge Monsanto conspiracy?

                                      1. re: littlestevie

                                        Mmm. Cowboy Star bison ribeye. Kitchy decor, great food.

                                        1. re: Fake Name

                                          Yeah, and how is that music at Cowboy Star working you?

                                          1. re: foodiechick

                                            Jes fine, 'lil hunny. Now dont yew fret none.

                          3. Kobe beef anything, California Burritos and Chef's or Cobb Salads.