San Diego and Sandwiches

San Diego sunset over the beachImage by San Diego Shooter via Flickr

I was in San Diego for a week, celebrating my Mother’s birthday with family. I haven’t done much cooking, but San Diego is a great “food” city. The food is fresh, often locally grown or produced and the chefs are very creative.

I always come back inspired with ideas for new twists on old favorites. Years ago I ate at a Café called Zinc in Solana Beach(http://www.zinccafe.com/cafe.htm). It is a small place with a few outdoor tables. I believe they do more catering and take out than dine in business. Still, the food was good and I got my first idea for a grilled veggie sandwich from them. I don’t think the original sandwich is on the menu today.

I bought some freshly baked Kalamata Olive Bread, Manchego Cheese which I sliced and some fresh vegetables. My favorite combo included very thin vertical slices of fresh eggplant and or zucchini which I lightly grilled, slices of heirloom tomato, avocado and red bell pepper. I like to think of it as a Ratatouille sandwich. I lightly toasted the bread on the grill, rubbed it with a cut clove of garlic, then layered the vegetables and cheese, topping with the second slice of bread. I then grilled the whole thing until the cheese melted. It was my favorite sandwich for many years.

This trip one of my sisters and I did a long beach walk, while my mother and other sister had coffee at a nice local café, The Stratford Café in Del Mar(http://www.stratfordcourtcafe.com/). It is a great place for a leisurely breakfast with Gourmet Coffees, Smoothies and simple but interesting breakfast (and lunch) fare.

After our walk we had brunch there. My sister ordered a sandwich they called the Vermonster. It consisted of smoked turkey, apple, cheddar and a cranberry mayonnaise on mixed grain bread.

I thought it was a great idea. The Cranberry mayonnaise would be easy to make using canned cranberry sauce and a good quality low fat (of course) mayonnaise. I would add some toasted chopped pecans to it (and maybe some finely chopped candied ginger). We weren’t thrilled with their Squaw bread. It had garlic and cilantro in it which was not a good mix with the cranberry. A good wheat or grain bread would be best.

For a vegetarian, the sandwich could be made with a good sharp cheddar, granny smith apple and fresh lettuce or even red onion thinly sliced. I tend to want to make fresh cranberry sauce with some grated orange zest to add to the mayonnaise, but canned would work too.

Carnivores can include the slices of turkey. It doesn’t even have to be a post Thanksgiving treat! This would be a great sandwich any time of the year!

I ordered a breakfast sandwich at The Stanford which was also good. It was a croissant sandwich with scrambled egg, yellow pepper (the best part), fresh pesto and a slice of smoked Gouda. I enjoyed it but if I were to make it myself, I would leave out the pesto and use regular Gouda rather than smoked. I would also melt the cheese. I am not big on croissants so I would probably use a sourdough roll instead.

One of my favorite summer sandwiches is very simple. I made it yesterday in fact. Lightly toasted sourdough bread (can you tell I love sourdough?), slices of a big ripe tasty tomato, avocado slices, red bell pepper slices, a few basil leaves or fresh oregano whichever I am in the mood for, chopped green or black olives, low fat mayonnaise and slices of reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese (feta is good with this too). Sometimes I may use cucumber in place of the avocado if I want to lower the fat content. If you need to add meat, a juicy slice of chicken breast would be a good choice.

Zinc has a sandwich on the menu that I haven’t tried yet but plan to this week. It includes finely sliced fennel, celery, radish, sweet peppers, tapenade, aioli, arugula, hardboiled egg and vinaigrette. I probably won’t include the celery or the vinaigrette but it sure sounds like an interesting combination.

We really were on an eating adventure for the week. There are too many places to mention but another great dinner we had was at Bertrand’s at Mr. A’s(http://www.bertrandatmisteras.com/menus/dinner.htm). It is in a building overlooking San Diego with a terrific view of the Western sunset. The food is first class as was the service. Sunset was incredible and it was fun overlooking the city. If you get to San Diego, I would highly recommend it. Our choices included a fresh Multicolor Young Beet Salad with Goat Cheese which was my favorite, Escargot, Pan Roasted Sole with Lobster Mousse, Grilled Kobe Style Wagyu Rib Eye Beef and a Black Sea Bass with Seafood Sausage combination.

I have included some pictures from the trip to entice you to visit the city sometime and enjoy the culinary diversity. Right now, I am going to take a reprieve from eating and get some exercise!!

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