The Endless Road Trip — San Diego’s Top 10 Eats: 2. Tostada Loca

As has been mentioned many times previously on ES, I have a crazy addiction.

Because I am so obsessed with bringing you, dear readers, news of the outrageous and over-the-top food world, I always, always, always have to order the craziest thing on the menu. If the item actually has the word “crazy” in its name, it’s just over.

The well-reviewed Mariscos German Taco Truck (that’s pronounced her-man, they’re Mexican, not some kind of weird Bavarian taco truck) in San Diego had tons of exciting, classy menu items on the day that I went. There were smoked marlin tacos. There was shrimp ceviche. There was calamari. There was also something called “tostada loca,” so I pretty much had no choice.

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Octopus Hot Dogs. Seriously.

Earlier this week I attended an event called Foodportunity (don’t read that as Foodporntunity as I originally did), a networking party for Seattle-area food journalists and restauranteurs. I had an enjoyable time mingling and chatting, but let’s get real. I was there for the food. Washington restaurants, farms, and local markets were catering the event and handing out generous samples. Clearly I could not pass up the chance to stuff my face with a bunch of snacks I wouldn’t ordinarily get to try.

As we’ve already covered here on ES, I love unusual hot dogs. So you can imagine my excitement when I saw what James Beard Award-winning chef Tom Douglas was offering: Octopus chorizo & pork belly hot dogs with pickled fennel and lemon aioli!

How were they? Do you even have to ask? They were spicy, sweet, and slightly oily. The buns were soft and buttery (ugh, I feel like I am writing about actual food porn now). That doesn’t come as a surprise since Tom Douglas is known to have some of the best baked goods in the city, at Dahlia Bakery and all his other restaurants. Would I have guessed the meat was made from octopus? And how do you make octopus into chorizo? I don’t know the answer to these questions, I just know this was one of the best damn dogs I’ve ever put in my mouth.

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Sandwiches in the City

New Yorkers are obnoxiously proud of our lunchtime options. We don’t do chains because we don’t have to. Not when you can find everything from banh mi hot dogs to Brussels sprouts sandwiches for under $10. That’s exactly why I’ve been so bothered by the rapid proliferation of Cosi, Pret a Manger and the like across Manhattan in recent years. Are New Yorkers really lunching at these places now? Sure, these semi-upscale sandwich chains are better than Subway or Quiznos, but I’d still take a Boar’s Head bodega roll any day of the week.

Recently entering the midtown sandwich contest and blowing the chains out of the water is City Sandwich, a Portuguese-style sandwich shop from chef Michael Guerrieri. Now, you foodies may be noting that there’s not really any such thing as a Portuguese-style sandwich. This is true. Like most refined Europeans, the Portuguese prefer to sit down and eat their meals with knives and forks. So Guerrieri, who was born in Naples, raised in New York and spent 13 years cooking in Lisbon, has taken traditional Portuguese meals and turned them into an array of newly-invented sandwiches.

The crispy bread is brought in twice daily from a Portuguese bakery in New Jersey; the insides scooped out to make room for fillings and to ensure the sandwiches aren’t too heavy. Each one is spread with high-quality olive oil and built using unique ingredients you’d be hard-pressed to find in any other sandwich shop in the world. For example, the Bench Girl, pictured above, contains alheira, a smoky, spicy sausage that was pioneered by Portuguese Jews during the Inquisition. In an effort not to stand out among their pork-eating compatriots, the Jews invented this chorizo-like link that is actually made from chicken, but looks enough like the real deal that no one could guess they weren’t dining on swine. Apparently, back in the day on the Iberian peninsula, not eating pork was enough to get you burned at the stake. Today, a little bit of pork has managed to sneak into most versions of alheira currently produced in Portugal, but it’s still a superbly rich and flavorful sausage that’s not quite like any other. It’s paired here with an omelet, grilled onions, spinach, and melted mozzarella, for a savory breakfast-y sandwich that is appropriate any time of day.

For a look at City Sandwich’s other inventive, Portuguese-influenced sandwich creations, keep reading after the jump.

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They Don’t Give Away Michelin Stars For Nothing

We as people are always in search of something bigger, better, faster, stronger. But isn’t it great when you can enjoy dinner at a restaurant that actually tries to make you happy (and dine with someone who makes you happy) and just simply enjoy the moment, for a moment? I had my first Michelin star dinner in the stunning Italian alps at La Stüa de Michil in the La Perla Hotel in Corvara, Italy. Did they think I was a Michelin inspector? Maybe. (Probably not). As I sit here, back in America, contemplating, munching on a Kinder Bueno (my favorite European candy), wishing I were still in Italy, I think to myself, “What makes a Michelin star meal? Is it any different than any other meal?” The answer is yes.

 

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Do or Dine: Dumpling Nachos

We thought we’d found the limits of nacho creativity when we told you about wonton wrapper nachos, but then the chefs at Brooklyn’s new Do or Dine had to go and make dumpling nachos. Yep, their “Nippon nachos” are basically nachos made with dumplings instead of tortilla chips. Not dumpling wrappers—entire dumplings. Deep-fried pork dumplings are topped with melted cheddar, sour cream, salsa and scallions.

Game on, ESers — what’s the craziest food you can turn into a nacho? Eggs Benedict nachos? Foie gras nachos? Steak tartare nachos? I honesty can’t think of anything I wouldn’t want to eat in nacho form (And big up to Lorie Marsh, who has already written in with her amazing chili cheese nachos. Thanks, Lorie!)

A little more about the awesomely named Do or Dine: two front-of-house workers at Manhattan’s fancy-pants restaurant The Modern branched out to Bed-Stuy with one of the most creative high-end/lowbrow menus we’ve seen yet. They also officially win our search for America’s most creative deviled egg with this:

 

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