Dinner last night started in Estancia’s Bodega Wine Bar. I was told to go there and have a cocktail, and I’d be met by the property’s executive chef, Jesse Frost. I decided to take my instructions literally and had a cocktail instead of a glass of wine. Being near the Mexican border, I had a Margarita.
I showed up just as the bar was in the middle of a little rush. It seemed that everyone in the hotel wanted a pre-dinner drink.
The bar rush ended as fast as it had begun and soon the bartender and I were practically alone.
Soon enough, Jesse came out and we had a chat. He’s an interesting guy. His father is a New Yorker from Queens (Astoria), who ended up working for Pepsi and was stationed in Mexico City, where Jesse spent the first ten years of his life. He later studied cooking in the San Francisco area and then came down to the San Diego area. He has been at Estancia for about three years.
His favorite color is the earth-tone red that is so prevalent in the terrain of the Southwest.
A note at the bottom of the menu requests that guests not use cellular devices because the ultra-high frequencies interfere with chef jesse’s sauces.
His food isn’t as precious as that — it is Southwestern enough to remind us of where we are without hitting us over the head with that fact. Still it’s a cute note.
I was taken next door to Adobe El Restaurante, and this is what I ate and drank:
Jesse started out by bringing me an oblong plate with eight indentations in it. In each one was a little amuse-bouche:
poached lobster with heirloom tomato and citrus crème fraîche
red pepper and white bean hummus with toasted lavosh
saffron poached prawns with silken mayonnaise (made with tofu)
salt roasted beets with olive oil and sea salt
tomato-raisin compote with a tempura croquette of confit pork belly
ahi tuna pastrami with haricots verts and Madras curry emulsion
roasted pecans with cabrales cheese, pears and endive
tequila-cured foie gra with blackberry compote and sourdough wafer
With that I drank a 2006 Campalou Vouvray
I continued drinking that with seared scallops with orange-onion marmalade, lemon beurre blanc, a sweet onion tartlet, corn-crayfish salsa, balsamic vinegar and fried caperberries
Then Jesse sent out a Kobe beef flat iron, topped with a bordelaise sauce and served with a short rib tamale, fried lotus root chips, pumpkin seeds, red pepper purée and chive oil over Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccolini.
It turns out the beef was actually a Wagyu-Black Angus hybrid from Texas. To go with it they poured a 2004 Arrendell Vineyards Pinot Noir (Russian River)
With dessert, a pineapple upside-down cake with toasted coconut, pineapple sorbet and a chile-spiked tuile, they poured a surprisingly raisiny 2000 Freemark Abbey Edelweis Gold late harvest Johannesberg Riesling