By Frank Sabatini Jr. | Dining Out in San Diego
Bring an iron stomach or a roll of antacids if you’re delving into the new, outrageous foods at this year’s upcoming San Diego County Fair (June 2–July 4) at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Here’s a partial list of what to expect:
From locally based Chicken Charlie’s comes Krispy Kreme chicken ice cream sandwiches, peanut butter and beef meatballs, fried pineapple with ice cream, and beignets on a stick.
The vendor, Bacon A Fair, will introduce bacon-wrapped cactus, plus Brussels sprouts and asparagus wrapped in the cured meat, and bacon-wrapped grilled pineapple rolled in Parmesan cheese and served on skewers.
Grantburger presents the Maui cowboy burger featuring an Angus beef patty stacked with fried Spam, cheddar, marinated vegetables, lettuce and spicy sauce.
Tamer in comparison perhaps are two hot sandwiches on sourdough from Grilled Cheese A-Fair: one encasing jalapeno poppers, bacon and double cheddar; and the other containing a Brandt beef patty, double American cheese, caramelized onions and secret sauce.
And hidden off the beaten track this year is a speakeasy called The Jade Peacock, which offers an Asian-inspired saloon experience with the support of local distilleries selling craft cocktails. Getting there requires a password given out on cards at the fair’s bars — Into the Sunset, Spurs & Spirits, and The Painted Cowboy.
For detailed information on operating hours, admission prices, events and concerts, visit sdfair.com.
The annual Maine lobster festival at King’s Fish House in Mission Valley kicked off May 23 and will continue for at least three weeks, said a company rep. The imported, sweet crustaceans appear in lobster bisque, classic or Connecticut-style rolls, in a New England clambake with potatoes and corn, and in whole, steamed form with weights ranging from 1.5 to 3 pounds. 825 Camino de la Reina, 619-574-1230, kingsfishhouse.com.
Pizza in a cone? The crafty invention was first introduced in Milan several years ago and is the staple of New Jersey-based Kono Pizza, which recently opened a walk-up kiosk in Westfield Mission Valley Mall.
The baked cones are made from fresh dough and filled with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and a variety of options such as meatballs, sausage, chicken or vegetables.
They also serve as dessert vessels when stuffed with cannoli cream, Nutella and bananas, and various combinations of Ghirardelli chocolates. The company’s San Diego debut brings the number of U.S. franchises to more than a dozen. 1640 Camino Del Rio North, 619-546-9557, konousa.com.
Inventive dishes such as coconut-braised pork belly, tahini chicken burgers and jalapeno-glazed shrimp are in the offing at the new OB Surf Lodge, which was previously home to Shades Oceanfront Bistro. The restaurant-bar was recently unveiled by the Social Syndicate, a hospitality group with a portfolio that includes The Rabbit Hole, Bootlegger, The Local, and Wonderland Ocean Pub, located upstairs from OB Surf Lodge.
The kitchen is headed by executive chef James Ausem, formerly with The Prado and Barefoot Bar & Grill. And the bar program features classic drinks with contemporary twists, such as Mai Tais with passionfruit foam on top, and margaritas made with rosemary-ginger syrup and served with black salt on the rim.
Bar manager Sean Ward said that despite some final menu revisions in the works and a fire pit that’s yet to be installed on the patio, the establishment “is fully functioning.” It will hold a grand opening sometime in the coming month. 5083 Santa Monica Blvd., 619-955-5475, obsurflodge.com.
The San Diego Oysterfest Music Festival featuring a “shuck and suck” contest and more than a dozen bands and live DJs will be held June 9–10 at Embarcadero Marina Park North. The gates open each day at 2 p.m. as oyster vendors from both coasts sell assorted varieties of the bivalves.
In addition, patrons slurping an oyster for the first time can record the moment in the “My First Oyster Booth.”
Beers from Sierra Nevada, cocktails and wine will also be sold. Bands include Ghostland Observatory, The Schizophrenics, Matisyahu and more.
Attendees must be 21 years or older. Tickets range from $30 to $200 and do not include food and beverages. For more information, visit oysterfest.me/san-diego. 400 Kettner Blvd.