KQED Food Blog: Bay Area Bites: Big Night at Region
Bay Area Bites: culinary rants & raves from bay area foodies and professionals
Previous Posts
Ros&eacute Colored World
Stirring the Cauldron: Locavores
Fish Friday at Sea Salt
La Fondue Savoyarde d'Haute Savoie
I'm Just Mad About Saffron CHICKEN
Martin Yan Quick & Easy
Sweet Chenin!
A Tour of Old Oakland
Waffle!
Soupe de Melon Jaune
 
 
BAB Guidelines

'Bay Area Bites' is part of KQED's Blog Authors Collaborative. Blog contributors and commentators are solely responsible for their content. If you're interested in writing or contributing to a blog on kqed.org, email us with your idea.
 
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Big Night at Region
Thank you, San Diego and good night!

Seriously? Best meal in San Diego EVER! Wow. I didn't think I'd find a place like this here. I humbly apologize to all San Diegans for being faint of heart and of stomach, but I just didn't. Excluding Saffron's Thai roasted chicken, which, yum, Region is the place I can definitely say we're going to go back to again in the little time we have left here. I'm sitting in the corner hyperventilating over the idea of trying their "Trust the Chef" menu of four courses for $45.00.

As a last minute decision, we decided to check Region out on a Tuesday night. It's their Big Night night (and yes, we confirmed the name comes from the movie) where they have a fixed menu for $31.00. You get a choice of two starters, three entrees, and two desserts and you can't order anything from the regular menu. No problem there. I would have chosen the Big Night menu for the grilled octopus alone.



Before the starters, we were brought some crusty hunks of bread from the local artisanal bakery, Bread & Cie, which is our next San Diego Food Foray. Alongside the bread, instead of the usual lump of butter or dish of indifferent olive oil, we were given a chilled pot of citrus-braised summer tomatoes. After the first bite, my husband said (somewhat garbled as his mouth was stuffed), "You HAVE to learn how to make this." For me, braising conjures up pots of sulky stewed meat, which smell much better than they end up tasting. This was not the case with these tomatoes -- the yellow and red cherries were as bright and fresh tasting as though they had just been picked after spending the day being gently warmed in the sun.



God, that grilled octopus. I want it for an entree. I want it all night every night. I want it because of the wine corks. Wait. Let me back up a bit. Our waitress explained that the octopus is boiled with wine corks to reduce chewiness before grilling. Ingenious. After the cork boil (we didn't ask if they were new or used corks), the octopus is marinated in a whole mess of stuff, slapped on the mesquite-fired grill, and served with farm fresh greens and a big ol' lemon wedge. Whatever ancient chemical secret those wine corks import, man, that octopus wasn't tough at all. It wasn't soggy either. In fact, it was pleasantly chewy without the remotest resemblance to an eraser. But texture is nothing if it doesn't taste good, right? No worries -- the octopus was stupendous. We even fought over the red pepper-flaked tentacles -- each of us insisting that the other got a larger tentacle. Here's some trivia for you that I picked up a few years ago, the plural of "octopus" is erroneously assumed to be "octopi." Fowler, of the eternally snarky Fowler's English Usage tells us, "the only acceptable plural in English is octopuses." He deems the even more correct plural "octopedes" as being "pedantic." There's a little something for you to toss around at cocktail parties.



The other starter on the Big Night menu was a summer fruit salad. Now, this isn't your mama's lime Jell-O with bananas and mandarin orange segments. Well, it isn't my mama's lime Jell-O with bananas and mandarin orange segments. The plate was heavy with two kinds of melon, Japanese grapes, Brown Turkey figs, Chino Farm wild strawberries, drizzles of balsamic vinegar, and a sturdy flat wedge of Gorgonzola Piccante from Lombardy. The fruit composition was refreshing, obviously, succulently in season, and lovely with the spicy cheese and sour-sweet balsamic.



I'm not always a fan of peppers because they can overpower everything else they touch, but I was happily surprised by the grilled Australian lamb chops. The perfectly pink and juicy lamb stood up well to the three kinds of smoked peppers and gained significant depths of flavor from them. Normally, I love lamb nearly naked because I can revel in the lambiness of the chops, leg, or whathaveyou, but those peppers were a smoked stroke of heavenly genius.

My husband is allergic to scallops. He loves them but he's allergic to them. Not in the deadly anaphalactic way, you understand, they just tend to seriously upset his stomach. Every five years or so he tries a bit of scallop at a reputable establishment to see if he's outgrown the allergy. It hasn't quite been five years since his last test at Ming Tsai's Blue Ginger, but as fate would have it scallops were on the menu at Region. The Big Night menu originally had a choice of three entrees, the lamb, the scallops, and braised beef shortribs with pasta. By the time we got there, they were all out of the shortribs. If you see my above opinion on braising, this was not a problem for me. However, since I'd be able to sample both lamb and scallops and my husband could really only eat the lamb, I felt sort of bad. But not bad enough.



After staring hungrily at my plate of seared Maine Diver scallops resting lazily on top of a bright red tomato and arugula salad, Mark stabbed at a few tomatoes. He also managed to snag some of the basil salsa verde and a few leaves of arugula. I slowly and sighingly made my way through the fat scallops, savoring every mouthful of dense flesh accented by the salsa verde and the tomatoes. I had a smallish piece of scallop on my fork when my husband couldn't stand it any longer. "Hand it over," he ordered, staring at my fork. I did. He ate the bite, rolled his eyes backward, and smiled. His stomach is still fine today.

Region is a gem of a restaurant and one that would easily be at home in the Bay Area. They are devoted to free-range meat, farm fresh produce, sustainable fish, and are a member of the Slow Food Movement. To quote from their own newsletter, "Region was founded on the idea that the best food is that which is grown close to home -- in this climate, in this season. We do not rely on a major, national industrial food supplier to unload an 18-wheel truck at our doorstep. Instead, we believe in cultivating relationships with local farmers and producers...not only do we get incredibly fresh vegetables harvested from the earth that morning but, more importantly, we know the people who are growing our food." Amen and *burp*!

The knowledgeable and gregarious staff told us that Chef Michael Stebner recently took them on a field trip to San Francisco. They supped at Chez Panisse, Zuni, and Oliveto because Chef Stebner wanted his crew to understand what inspired him. All I can say is that was money well spent. Not only do the staff know their food down to the last salt flake, but they are excited about it and -- even more impressive -- they SHOULD be excited about it. This is DAMN good eats.

Region
Farm Fresh Cuisine
3671 Fifth Avenue
San Diego, CA 92103

619.299.6499

Dinner: Tuesday-Sunday 6 to 10 PM
 
 

7 Comments:

Anonymous Fatemeh said...

I sure do miss Bread & Cie... not that it's better than Acme, but the shop in Hillcrest is just so charming and wonderful.

BTW - I forgot to post a comment, but I used to live walking distance from Saffron. A light dinner and a stop at the Aero on the way home comprised a lovely evening.

Thanks for keeping us in the loop while you're in San Diego

8/11/2005 8:52 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just returned to the Bay Area from a weekend in San Diego. We tried Laurel and were extremely satisfied. Great food, service and just recently redecorated.

8/15/2005 12:38 PM

 
Blogger Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic said...

Oh, Fatemah -- I didn't know you lived down here. We'll have to dish when I get back. By the by, made rezzies at Region for Wednesday and I'm already hungry.

8/15/2005 10:17 PM

 
Anonymous Tiffany Stebner said...

Wow! We posted your wonderful review in the kitchen at Region. My husband is the Chef/Owner and we have had an overwhelming response to your posting about Region. Several guests from SF have been into dine with us this week and mentioned this website is how they found us. We just wanted to Thank you for your support and most importantly that you and your husband had a wonderful evening. Please come back and join us again! We can't thank you enough!!!!
Best Wishes, Tiffany Stebner

8/19/2005 8:35 PM

 
Blogger Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic said...

You're so very welcome, Tiffany, and we will be coming back for our third time in three weeks next week! You have an excellent thing there and I wish you all the best.

8/20/2005 4:04 PM

 
Anonymous Tiffany Stebner said...

Hi Stephanie,

Michael told me you were coming in for dinner this week and I found your reservation on OpenTable..Can't wait to have you back at Region! The whole staff is looking forward to your visit!

Best Wishes,Tiffany Stebner

8/22/2005 8:34 AM

 
Anonymous tom said...

Thank you, very interesting!

12/08/2005 5:51 PM

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Locate CP Restaurants:
Check, Please! Google Map
 
KQED Food Sites
Check, Please! Bay Area
Jacques Pépin Celebrates!
Jacques Pépin:
Fast Food My Way
Jacques Pépin:
The Apprentice
Jacques Pépin:
The Complete Pépin
KQED Wine Club
KQED.org Cooking
Weir Cooking in the City
 
Tasty Food Sites
CHOW
Chowhound SF
Crushpad
CUESA
CulinaryCorps
Eat Local Challenge
Edible San Francisco
Epicurious
eGullet.org
Food Network
Food Talk
Group Recipes
Hungry Magazine
KTEH Food
Leite's Culinaria
Locavores
Mighty Foods
NPR: Food
Om Organics
Serious Eats
SFGate: Food
SFGate: Wine
SF Station: Restaurants
Slow Food SF
Top Chef
Wikimedia Commons: Food & Drink
Yahoo! Food
Yelp: Reviews
 
Tangy Food Blogs
101 Cookbooks
A Full Belly
Accidental Hedonist
agoodfoodblog
An Obsession with Food
Anna's Cool Finds
Becks & Posh
Between Meals
Blogsoop
Bunny Foot
Butter Pig
Cellar Rat
Chez Pim
Chocolate & Zucchini
Confessions of a
Restaurant Whore
Cooking For Engineers
Cooking with Amy
Cucina Testa Rossa
Culinary Muse
Denise's Kitchen
Digesty-SF
Eater SF
Eggbeater
Extramsg.com
Feed & Supply
Food Blog S'cool
Food Musings
Food Porn Watch
Gastronomie
Hedonia
I'm Mad and I Eat
In Praise of Sardines
Jatbar
Knife's Edge
Life Begins at 30
Love and Cooking
MeatHenge
Mental Masala
Moveable Feast
Nosheteria
Organic Day
Passionate Eater
San Francisco Gourmet
SF City Eats
Simply Recipes
Spicetart
The Amateur Gourmet
Tablehopper
The Ethicurean
The Food Section
The Grub Report
The Petite Pig
The Wine Makers Wife
Vin Divine
Vinography
VirgoBlue
Wandering Spoon
Well Fed Network
Word Eater
World on a Plate
Yummy Chow
 
 
   
Search BAB

Eye Candy: Food Photos
BAB on flickr.com
Join Flickr for free and share your photos with the Bay Area Bites and Beyond group pool.
 
Food Books
 
The Moosewood Cookbook
by Mollie Katzen
 
Baking: From My Home to Yours
by Dorie Greenspan
 
Grand Livre de Cuisine: Alain Ducasse's Desserts and Pastries
by Alain Ducasse, Frederic Robertmison
 
The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking and Entertaining
by Cheryl Alters Jamison, Bill Jamison
 
Tasty: Get Great Food on the Table Every Day
by Roy Finamore
 
Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way
by Lorna Sass
 
The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa
by Marcus Samuelsson
 
Michael Mina: The Cookbook
by Michael Mina, Photographer: Karl Petzktle
 
What to Eat
by Marion Nestle
 
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
by Michael Pollan
 
Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate
by John Scharffenberger, Robert Steinberg
 
Romancing the Vine: Life, Love, and Transformation in the Vineyards of Barolo
by Alan Tardi
 
What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea -- Even Water -- Based on Expert Advice from America's Best Sommeliers
by Andrew Dornenburg, Karen Page, Michael Sofronski
 
The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners
by Matt Lee, Ted Lee
 
Bread Matters: The State of Modern Bread and a Definitive Guide to Baking Your Own
by Andrew Whitley
 
Coloring the Seasons: A Cook's Guide
by Allegra McEvedy
 
All-new Complete Cooking Light Cookbook
by Anne C. Cain
 
Modern Garde Manger
by Robert B. Garlough
 
The Spice and Herb Bible
by Ian Hemphill, Kate Hemphill
 
The Improvisational Cook
by Sally Schneider
 
Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children
by Ann Cooper, Lisa M. Holmes
 
Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia
by James Oseland
 
My Life in France
by Julia Child, Alex Prud'Homme
 
A Passion for Ice Cream: 95 Recipes for Fabulous Desserts
by Emily Luchett, Sheri Giblin (photographer)
 
Au Pied De Cochon -- The Album
by Martin Picard
 
Memories of Philippine Kitchens
by Amy Besa, Romy Dorotan
 
Simple Chinese Cooking
by Kylie Kwong
 
 
An Invitation to Indian Cooking
by Madhur Jaffrey
 
Hungry Planet
by Peter Menzel, Faith D'Aluisio
 
Sunday Suppers at Lucques : Seasonal Recipes from Market to Table
by Suzanne Goin, Teri Gelber
 
Simple Soirees: Seasonal Menus for Sensational Dinner Parties
by Peggy Knickerbocker, Christopher Hirsheimer (Photographer)
 
The Cook's Book
by Jill Norman
 
Molto Italiano : 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home
by Mario Batali
 
Nobu Now
by Nobuyuki Matsuhisa
 
Cheese : A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best
by Max Mccalman, David Gibbons
 
Bones : Recipes, History, and Lore
by Jennifer McLagan
 
Whiskey : The Definitive World Guide
by Michael Jackson
 
The New American Cooking
by Joan Nathan
 
ChocolateChocolate
by Lisa Yockelson
 
Easy Entertaining: Everything You Need to Know About Having Parties at Home
by Darina Allen
 
Cooking at De Gustibus: Celebrating 25 Years of Culinary Innovation
by Arlene Feltman Sailhac
 
Dough: Simple Contemporary Breads
by Richard Bertinet
 
Chocolate Obsession: Confections and Treats to Create and Savor
by Michael Recchiuti, Fran Gage, Maren Caruso
 
The Food Substitutions Bible: More Than 5,000 Substitutions for Ingredients, Equipment And Techniques
by David Joachim
 
Recipes: A Collection for the Modern Cook
by Susan Spungen
 
Spices of Life: Simple and Delicious Recipes for Great Health
by Nina Simonds
 
Mangoes & Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent
by Jeffrey Alford, Naomi Duguid
 
Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light
by Mort Rosenblum
 
Vegetable Love: A Book for Cooks
by Barbara Kafka, Christopher Styler
 
A History of Wine in America: From Prohibition to the Present
by Thomas Pinney
 
Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years Of Food And Art
by Tom Gilliland, Miguel Ravago, Virginia B. Wood
 
Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South
by Marcie Cohen Ferris
 
Washoku: Recipes From The Japanese Home Kitchen
by Elizabeth Andoh, Leigh Beisch
 
 
Weir Cooking in the City: More than 125 Recipes and Inspiring Ideas for Relaxed Entertaining
by Joanne Weir
 
Rick Stein's Complete Seafood
by Rick Stein
 
The Great Scandinavian Baking Book
by Beatrice A. Ojakangas
 
Serena, Food & Stories: Feeding Friends Every Hour of the Day
by Serena Bass
 
John Ash: Cooking One on One: Private Lessons in Simple, Contemporary Food from a Master Teacher
by John Ash
 
The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook: Eating Well for Better Health
by Donald Hensrud, M.D., Jennifer Nelson, R.D. & Mayo Clinic Staff
 
Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions
by Fernando and Marlene Divina
 
The Provence Cookbook
by Patricia Wells
 
Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World
by Gil Marks
 
Last Chance to Eat: The Fate of Taste in a Fast Food World
by Gina Mallet
 
Bouchon
by Thomas Keller
 
A Blessing of Bread: The Many Rich Traditions of Jewish Bread Baking Around the World
by Maggie Glezer
 
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
by Molly Stevens
 
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
by Harold McGee
 
Entertaining: Inspired Menus For Cooking with Family and Friends
by George Dolese
 
The Breath of a Wok: Unlocking the Spirit of Chinese Wok Cooking Through Recipes and Lore
by Grace Young, Alan Richardson
 
Cooking New American: How to Cook the Food You Love to Eat
by Fine Cooking Magazine
 
The Japanese Kitchen: A Book of Essential Ingredients with 200 Authentic Recipes
by Kimiko Barber
 
Arthur Schwartz's New York City Food: An Opinionated History and More Than 100 Legendary Recipes
by Arthur Schwartz
 
Poet of the Appetites: The Lives and Loves of M.F.K. Fisher
by Joan Reardon
 
Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes
by Jeffrey Hamelman
 
Everyday Dining with Wine
by Andrea Immer
 
 
Copyright © 2005-2008 KQED. All rights reserved.