Electric with energy, downtown Fallbrook buzzed with an estimated one thousand celebrants who came to sample the best local cuisine as well as enjoy classic cars and listen to the happy sounds of Aunt Kizzy’z Boyz, a blues, rock & soul band. In the perfect 78-degree evening, the chatter and laughter was broken by an occasional roar of a motor.
Friday’s Hot Summer Nites Taste of Fallbrook, sponsored by Connections Fallbrook, was certainly one of the most outstanding of the series. On July 27 the event drew 16 participating restaurants. With a focus on creativity that led to exciting tastes, all 16 establishments presented award-worthy cuisine.
Best Taste of Fallbrook – People’s Choice went to “Oink and Moo,” a restaurant owned by Jennifer and Jonathan Arbel of De Luz. After a year of preparation, this establishment on North Pico Ave. will soon open its doors. “We really want to get it right,” Jonathan explained.
Barbequed pulled pork, cilantro and mysterious, unnamed spices was the surprise they had for Friday’s guests. This dish doesn’t just add a few notes of originality; it plays an entire symphony
The pork is first brined (soaked in a saltwater mixture which tenderizes the meat and adds flavor). This process takes 24 hours. The meat is then rubbed with spices which are allowed to infuse for another 24 hours, then finally the pork is smoked in applewood and cherrywood for about 20 hours.
“We spend about three days with the meat to get it to taste the way it does,” said Jonathan.
The spices are a blend of secret Asian spices and traditional spices used in Texas. Jonathan has dubbed this much-admired creation, “Asian Beauty Meets Mysterious Texan.”
Best Taste of Fallbrook Second Place was awarded to Trupiano’s, which has been a favorite for several years. Faro Trupiano, proprietor/chef, presented a zesty and memorable spiral pasta with marinated artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, shrimp and pine nuts slathered with cream sauce.
Best Taste of Fallbrook Third Place went to Brother’s Bistro, owned by Ron and Dee Nusser. The restaurant offered an outstanding Stromboli, which is time-consuming to make. This delightful Italian dish is created from soft pizza dough folded with cheese, sausage and olives, then baked to perfection. Chilled gazpacho soup chock full of onions, cilantro, tomatoes, sour cream, cucumbers and wonderful unnamed spices made diners take notice.
Best Dessert – People’s Choice honors were bestowed upon Jennifer Duarte’s “Elegance on Display.” Diners raved about her three different tarts (all nestled in flaky crust): caramel apple, banana split and chocolate mousse. The chocolate mousse was dreamy with a light, smooth texture and balanced flavor. It wasn’t too chocolaty or too mild.
Celebrity judge Maria Desiderata Montana, an award-winning food and wine writer, chose the Wayside Café’s Rhubarb and Strawberry Pie as Best Taste of Fallbrook – Critic’s Choice. This dessert sensation developed by line cook Grace Laico, boasted a flakey crust with a perfect blend of strawberry and rhubarb.
Honorable Mention for Critic’s Choice was The Vines at Regency, a local senior residence. Their chefs prepared tomato and bacon bisque soup. Accompanying the soup was a grilled gruyere and Swiss cheese wedge. The presentation was creative and the savory flavor of the soup added an extra punch.
Among the standouts was Café de Artistes’ Wild Boar Chili, which is a specialty item (not on the menu). This chili is mild with a smoky flavor. The wild boar is raised on a million-acre ranch in Texas called Broken Arrow.
La Caseta’s Kahlua and Espresso Flan also generated a buzz of compliments. This flavorful flan was dribbled with Kahlua sauce and topped with whipped crème.
Sandra Buckingham, chair of the event, had a few thoughts on why this Taste of Fallbrook was so outstanding, “The judge (Maria Desiderata Montana) is an award-winning food and wine writer who is also a chef herself…she has a book coming out, ‘Food Lovers Guide to San Diego’ – that is what made the chefs sit up and take notice.”
The next Fallbrook Hot Summer Nites event will take place on Friday, August 10 with an “Off Road, Race Car & Open Header” theme. For further information, access
Taste of Fallbrook
• La Caseta
• Rocky Peak
• Wayside Café
• Oink & Moo
• Firehouse Broiler
• Magee’s Tavern
• Aquaterra at Pala Mesa
• Brother’s Bistro
• Peking Wok
• Fallbrook Café
• The Vines at Regency
• Café Des Artistes
• Elegance on Display
• FroYo Yogurt
• Le Bistro