It’s nice to write a column like this in an area where the restaurant, brewery, farming and wine scenes are all exploding. There is never a shortage of topics to write about and as you have probably figured out by now, I’m not all about the hot new restaurant or brewpub. Yes, I cover those, but I like to let them get their legs and prove themselves. Lick the Plate is more about the stories behind the folks that, in many cases take huge risks and work their tails off to see their passion come to life. To date, I’ve got a pretty good track record of writing about the businesses that have survived and have provided great content for Lick the Plate.
During this time of thanks, I’d like to highlight some of the stories from the past year that were a blast to write about and are worth going back for.
I’ll start last January at the Moonlight Lounge in Encinitas and their amazing fried chicken that they only serve on Sunday night. It’s among the best I’ve had and combined with a Boylan soda on tap and some live music as the sun is setting over Encinitas…it’s a good thing. www.eatatsolace.com
Rediscovering Basiltops Pesto at the Leucadia Farmers Market was another reason to be very thankful. It’s now a regular weekly purchase and what I consider to be the best packaged pesto available in these parts by far. www.basiltops.com
That Boy Good BBQ in Oceanside was an unexpected delight. Everything is cooked low and slow and the fried chicken thigh sandwich is out-of-control, in the best possible way. www.tbgbbq.com
The North Eats festival organized by Nino Camilo was the perfect showcase of North County culinary and surf culture. Held at the Hilton Oceanfront Resort in Carlsbad, the samples were hearty and the music perfect for the scene. Can’t wait for the next one Nino!
Those amazing stuffed potatoes Spudz at the Leucadia Farmers Market have to win the newly created most innovative and delicious food I’m thankful for award. If you are feeling a little sluggish from a big Saturday night, one of these stuffed hash brown concoctions with a Mexican Coke can really hit the spot. www.spudzpotato.com
The employee owners at Fresh Tamales provided an education on how co-ops function while making very authentic tamales. It’s that time of year so I’d be hitting those folks up. www.fresh-tamales.com
And while I’ve not made the move to a gluten-free diet, I did discover that if I had the folks at Curious Fork in Del Mar cooking for me every day, I could probably pull it off. Besides that they offer great classes and have a store perfect for your foodie holiday shopping. www.thecuriousfork.com
I had an epic Lick the Plate night to be thankful for when the Ringling Bros. & Barnum Baily Circus came to town. I checked out the circus with some friends then hung out in the Pie Car on the circus train with circus chef and some of the performers.
And then we have Betty from Betty’s Pie Whole in Encinitas. I am truly thankful for this one-of-a-kind bundle of energy who is making some of the best sweet and savory pies I’ve ever had. Besides that Betty’s is just a cool place to hang out and she is a character in the best possible way. Get to Betty’s now if you have not already. www.bettyspiewhole.com
I love that I got to go behind the scenes with the team at the Belly Up who book all the fun bands that come through that killer venue. They were part of my occasional look at where local businesses eat and drink around town feature and they had some solid picks. www.bellyup.com
My knives are thankful for the column on Bud Solaegui and his Perfect Edge mobile sharpening truck that is at the Leucadia Farmers Market on the first Sunday of each month. Do your knives a favor and bring them to Bud, it will make a huge difference in your food preparation. www.2sharpen.com
Jerry’s Woodfired Dogs in Carlsbad made me give thanks that people get the fact that food cooked over wood tastes better. Their burgers, dogs and sausages are the bomb and they offer any of their sausages on a salad which is a great lunch option. www.jerrysdogs.com
I’ll wrap this up by expressing a sincere thanks for people like Dawn Mayeda from the Sage Garden Project at Ocean Knoll Elementary. Dawn is providing a garden and classroom experience for students that is going to last a lifetime and make this world a better place. www.sagegardenproject.org