Saturday, January 16, 2016

Ocean to Table: A Pop Up Dinner Event at JRDN!

Recently, I attended a Pop Up Dinner Event at JRDN restaurant in the Tower23 Hotel located in Pacific Beach, San Diego.   I was invited as a guest of Chef DJ Tangalin, someone who I quickly became a fan of when I first dined at JRDN and experienced his amazing Chef's Whim Tasting menu. (See that blog post here.)

I have witnessed Chef DJ rise to become a notable culinary force here in San Diego just this past year.  During the holidays, he appeared on our local TV news station, FOX5News, and shared some Thanksgiving recipes with a Filipino twist.  I love that he embraces the Filipino culture and shares it so willingly in his food.

I was definitely not going to miss this Ocean to Table "Surf and Turf" collaboration with Pacific Shellfish and blocked out our calendar to attend with my hubby.  I SO wanted him to taste Chef DJ's food and meet the man himself!

This was the first of three events in JRDN's Feast with Friends series.  I enjoyed the evening getting reacquainted with my blogger friend, Karen, and also meeting new ones, some of whose fabulous photos I am using in this post!

We dined in the private room and table was so pretty, it set a festive mood.  Everyone was friendly and eager to start the evening as we would be eating family-style for the starters!
Photo by Carlos Walther-Meade of
Our starters included macarons. I thought it was interesting to start off with something sweet.  It was oh so good! Inside was a filling of cardamom, white chocolate and saffron.

The next amuse bouche was a smoked salmon crostini made with cream cheese, chives and lemon.

Then we enjoyed some buttermilk fried oysters with chipotle aioli and pickled tomatillo puree.

The first pairing of entrees consisted of a seabass tartare and beef heart tartare.  What I appreciated was that when the dishes came out, Chef took the time to explain the process of how the food was prepared.  He talked about how the beef heart was skillfully trimmed and soaked in milk to tenderize and remove any unpleasant odor. Not only was I entertained on this evening, but also educated!  Hands down, the seabass tartare was some of the best poke I have ever had! I would never order beef heart off a menu, but my clean plate made it known that I enjoyed it very much as well!

Next was one of my hubby's favorites of the night, Pig Ear Salad, with pan roasted scallops, frisee salad, lime vinaigrette, and pickled fresno chili.  The beauty of the dish was incredible, and the crunchy crack of the pig ears was like the best crispy lechon skin fireworks going off in your mouth!
This next dish was tuna carpaccio with foie gras torchon, on a brioche bun with octopus. This was melt in your mouth and I wish I took a picture of the dissection so you could appreciate the multi-layer sophistication of this dish, but I must have been too busy eating every bite!
The night could have ended with this and I would've sung the praises of our Chef once more, but there were still TWO more courses!  Next was a Pacific Opah dish with a oxtail croquette (kare-kare anyone?), wine-braised onion, brussell sprout leaves, thyme roasted butternut, and celery root puree. Oh my goodness, this ate like a piece of meat, tenderly fleshy and full of flavor.
Photo by Carlos Walther-Meade
Dessert was a Pavlova dome with a fresh tropical fruits, pandan (coconut) sugar glass and lemon curd diplomat. Isn't the starfruit stunning? This reminded me of a cornucopia! It was so beautiful, truly art on a plate!
And like any great hosted party, we went home with goodies! A scone and a butterscotch muffin to enjoy later. What a thoughtful sweet note to end a wonderful evening!

Our tablemates all complimented the cuisine, service and hospitality of the evening. It really was top notch! This is a credit to the one steering the ship, and that is Chef DJ Tangalin. Remember his name as he's going places. Thanks Chef for the incredible dinner AGAIN.  Please don't miss out on the opportunity to experience the next two Pop Up Dinners at JRDN, coming up on February 10th and 22nd!

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