Monthly Archives: August 2010

instead of packing

Look at that face!

Tonight is one of four nights between my San Diego stay and my Haverford departure, so spending time with my brother was also a priority. Solution? Make goat cheese with Johnny. kiss my spatula has an absolutely gorgeous blog post about making homemade goat cheese that inspired me to make some myself. I made some in the past with condensed goat’s milk – mistake. This one came out so much better.

As we looked at the recipe on, we found out that the blogger pairs her recipes with songs. The goat cheese pairing was a Yann Teirsen song from the Amelie soundtrack, one that my brother is learning how to play on the piano. How perfect!

Goat Cheese with Lemon, Herbs, and Pine Nuts

1 qt. goat’s milk (we got ours at Trader Joe’s)
1/4 c. lemon juice, or the juice of three medium-large lemons
2 tsp. lemon zest
2 tbsp. pine nuts, finely chopped
1 tsp. herbes de Provence
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

Place several layers of cheese cloth in a medium-sized mesh strainer resting in a bowl.

Heat the goat’s milk to 180° (measured with a candy thermometer) in a saucepan over low heat. While it is heating, zest the lemon, and squeeze the juice into a measuring cup until you have over one-quarter cup. Be careful to attend to the milk, though, because you don’t want it to surpass that temperature because it may start to boil or even caramelize. Once the appropriate temperature has been reached, remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.

Let it sit for 15-20 seconds. This time allows it to curdle. You can let it sit for more time; in fact, I chopped the pine nuts together with the lemon zest, herbs, and salt for about a minute while letting the lemon juice and the warm milk mix n’ mingle.

Pour the liquid conglomerate into the cheese cloth-lined strainer. As it strains, a very watery, clear liquid should strain, leaving the curdled cheese behind. If it strains through very fast and cloudy, you can return the mixture to the saucepan and repeat the process, adding more lemon juice once the temperature has reached 180°.

Let it sit for 1-2 hours, or until it reaches your desired consistency. Gather the cheese cloth ends in a bundle, and squeeze the remaining water out. Then, transfer goat cheese off the cheese cloth into a bowl.

Mix in the flavorings, and eat.

taco tuesdays

Before I came to San Diego, hearing “El Camino” triggered visions of my dream car, the Chevrolet model of the same name. Since being in this city,  I have become aware of a trendy, tasty Mexican restaurant in Little Italy called El Camino, and it has beckoned me back for seconds and thirds, due in part to the quality of the food and in part to the great special they have on Tuesdays. Taco Tuesdays involves half price on all taco options. Happy hour specials are half price quesadillas and nachos, along with $3 Coronas, sangria, and house made margaritas. Tuesday happy hour is clearly a recipe for fun.

Look what their menu promises! I don’t know how they can claim to be allergy free because people are allergic to all kinds of things, but their commitment to organic, locally grown food is a nice plus. They also have a location in North Park, but I have stuck to the Little Italy location because it is in the design district, and I can antique/fantasize about my future dwellings as an appetizer.

My first time at El Camino was with my friend Justin. We went on his first night in San Diego. After a margarita at the bar, we were seated and quickly met with fresh tortilla chips and a trio of dips: chipotle Mexican cream, salsa verde, and roasted pepper salsa. They also provided a couple roasted hot peppers in a bowl and a small bucket with marinated cucumber and jicama. YUM.

We both ordered the Camaron Asado tacos, or pan seared garlic cilantro shrimp finished with lime juice. They were served with some really good sauce, as well, and taco plates come with four tacos in corn tortillas, a pot of rice, and a pot of house black beans. Such a delicious way to satiate!

(This picture blows because I used a flash and edited it in iPhoto afterwards. Apologies.)

My cousin and I took our moms to El Camino twice: once to when they got off the plane (this place is a really great intro to SD) and once before we dropped them back off at the airport. These days were conveniently Tuesdays, and on both nights, we had our fill of food and drunk for under $30. We ordered three plates of tacos to split.

Carne Asada Tacos

Intensely seasoned, tender, and topped with onions, cilantro, and some chopped tomato.

Mahi-Mahi Tacos

Succulent grilled fish topped with cabbage. Simple, and always tasty.

Rajas Tacos

The surprising standout, packed with grilled poblanos, mushrooms, corn, onions, and bell peppers doused in Mexican cream (basically a more watery sour cream).

When you get the bill, they leave you with a bunch of these really cute pieces of gum. Before she left, my mom grabbed approx. 3 giant handfuls to “give my brother” because she thought they were so cute. Guaranteed they’re still in her wallet.

Above all, I need to thank El Camino and San Diego for turning my mother into a lover of Mexican food. It was never something she enjoyed, always a contentious topic in my household. Her SD vaca inspired her to make quesadillas for dinner, paired with radishes and salsa, a duo I introduced her to one night during her stay. Now I just need to work on her distaste for Indian.

99 bottles

Kearny Mesa has this little gem called 99 Ranch. It is a chain of supermarkets that carries anything you could want for Taiwanese/Chinese cuisine, with a smattering of other ingredients and specialties from other Asian countries.

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They have quite the assortment of beverages. Pocari Sweat is such a no frills name for  an electrolyte beverage. Gatorade should take some cues from Japan.

At 99 Ranch, I discovered that I hate bitter melon. I decided to pair my whole soy-marinated mackerel (which was absolutely, fabulously dericious) with a side of garlic string beans and a few pieces of bitter melon salad. I thought, oh heck, I’m here, I might as well try something I’d never before had, right?

Bitter melon is horrible. It starts off okay but then overwhelms your entire mouth with the most chemically bitter flavor I could imagine. Ugh. Thankfully I had that strength of the garlic and the fish to compensate, but it was a rough few minutes there with the bitter melon.

coffee and cupcakes

My cousin and I went to Cups after our snorkeling adventure, and our moms stopped by the La Jolla cupcake lounge one morning while waiting for stores to open. The four of us returned one evening after watching the sunset from Mount Soledad, a beautiful but freezing location.

My cuz and I split the Raspberry Basil Cupcake. Cups’ selection rotates every day, and while all varieties seem delicious, I always go for savory elements in my sweets. Always. You could taste the butter in the icing, as well as a shade of raspberry essence, but the star was the cake portion of the cupcake. Even at the end of the day, the cupcake tasted fresh with a light but chewy texture. The basil flavor fit in seamlessly, and the entire experience was very reminiscent of eating a slice of carrot cake, with strong notes of cinnamon and an ingredient fondly remembering its savory applications, but not missing them.

Sera’s Chai is pictured above, but it was way too sweet for either of us to enjoy. Overwhelmingly saccharine, like those kind folks who sometimes overdo it.

I ordered a Brazilian coffee: a shot (or two?) of espresso brewed with spices. Every few sips, a little speck of cinnamon stick would land in my mouth. Sounds unpleasant, but chewing on these was warmly refreshing and a great complement to the bitter strength of the coffee.

gelato bravado

Chocolat Cremerie, situated in San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood, was the prime place for me to sample my first West Coast gelato. I had been asking around for recommendations of San Diego’s best, and Chocolat came with the most emphatic recommendation. A Sicilian waiter told me that it was the best gelato he had ever had in his life, including the twenty years he spent in Italy. Translation: I needed to have it.

After trying Lemon Poppy Seed, Cinnamon Chocolate, and Sweet Basil, I settled on Grand Marnier Chocolate combined with Cioccolato di Peperoncino, or chili chocolate. Orange and chili are two of my favorite chocolate accompaniments, and since I have been in San Diego, I realized the merits of pairing chili powder with fruit, so this combination was perfect for me.

This gelato was the creamiest, densest I have ever had. It was the consistency of cold batter for really chewy brownies, necessary to hold up the rich chocolate flavor and its complements. It was so filling and fulfilling that I could barely finish it, especially since I had just eaten dinner at La Pizzeria Arrivederci. The pizzeria had high marks on the UrbanSpoon iPhone app, and boy, did it deliver! My aunt, cousin, mom and I split a small Pizza Margarita, the standard marinara-mozzarella-basil trifecta of perfection, and a small La Bianca, a white pizza baked only with mozzarella and parmesean, then topped with cold prosciutto and arugula. The crust was superb — light, with appropriate amounts of crunch and give — and the toppings were fresh. I couldn’t ask for much more.

There are times when I am proud to be Italian. Most of those times come from experiencing really good Italian food. That night, with three members of my family in San Diego, our bellies full of Italian wine, fantastic and authentic oven-charred pizza, and unreal gelato, I was the most proud I’ve been in a long time that my last name is Cherichello.


Ani just gave me a cookie. Very chewy, very dense, very delicious. He didn’t tell me what flavor it was but instead asked me to identify it. I tasted some cardamom, but the main herb was rosemary! Rosemary in a cookie!

Ani knows me too well.

it’s just like fruit, but better

When I was a kid, I would take overripe bananas and turn them into “banana soup”: mashed bananas with cinnamon, milk, and sometimes a small handful of raisins. I graduated to freezing them on popsicle sticks and eating them as banana pops. After seeing a blog entry offering the idea to blend the bananas once frozen, banana ice cream it was. I have also been experimenting with mix-ins like cookie dough, nuts, peanut butter, and chocolate chips. All are delicious, esp. cookie dough.

Today, I found a bag of frozen pineapple chunks in my freezer. With my days in San Diego dwindling, I am determine to eat all of my food so I don’t leave my host family with a mess of weird food they will never eat. So, with a bottle of Malibu Coconut Rum in one hand, a blender in the other, and banana “ice cream” on the brain, I made a Pineapple-Coconut Rum Sorbet for dessert and served it with one of my mother’s Coconut Biscotti.

Pineapple-Coconut Rum Sorbet

3 c. frozen pineapple chunks
1/8 c. coconut rum

Blend these ingredients together until it reaches your desired consistency. Feel free to deviate, but I used the following ratio:

1 cup: approx. 1 tablespoon:: pineapple chunks: rum

It will probably be necessary to start and stop the blender a few times to stir. I even had to push the chunks down so the blender blade would act on it.

Now that I’ve moved from banana ice cream to pineapple sorbet, I am getting excited about all of the other possibilities. Strawberries and cream sherbet? (FYI: I thought sherbet was “sherbert” until I typed this blog entry.) Blueberry sorbet with lavender honey and lemon zest? Avocado, lime, cucumber? Spicy, salty mango? Maybe I’ll even make some mustard ice cubes and blend them into ice cream to top gazpacho like this NPR recipe suggests. Gotta catch ’em all!

And speaking of frozen delights, I found this idea for the Beer Popsicle today on The Daily What and some variant is in my near future. I have a couple beers that need to be consumed before I leave, and completing this chore in popsicle form sounds, well, delightful.