I’ve had the pleasure over the past 10 years of getting to know Carlsbad couple Peder and Julie Norby on both a personal and professional level.
Our shared passions for solar energy, food, wine and sustainability has had our paths cross on many occasions for both business and pleasure.
Peder and Julie’s solar-powered Carlsbad home, complete with vineyard, wine cellar, chickens and electric cars, is a shining example of what is possible with renewable energy. They also have one of the most fabulous kitchens I’ve ever seen.
But this column is about food, and the Norby’s know more about the North County food and wine scene than most so I connected with them recently to discuss the burgeoning epicurean explosion.
Given your roles in the planning of San Diego County, Encinitas and Carlsbad, you have seen firsthand many changes in the restaurant scene over the past five years. What are some of the positive things you have observed and some developments you may have questioned?
I serve as the chairman of the San Diego County Planning Commission, my roles in Encinitas and Carlsbad involve long-term community planning and special projects.
From my perspective, the biggest change is that the individual food craftsman and chefs are competing and winning over more customers from the large regional and national chain restaurants.
Consumer habits have changed in a big way from just going to the chain restaurant to searching out unique, authentic and ethnic food experiences. Design excellence and al fresco dining blending the inside space with the outside space go along with that.
Another change is the re-localization of the sourcing of food. Restaurants and consumers are searching for the shortest supply line with locally grown products being in high demand.
The boom in microbreweries and boutique wineries has also been great to see across San Diego County.
The flip side is there can be too much of a good thing and an oversaturation of alcohol establishments that are open late and early into the morning near residential neighborhoods can cause serious issues, so balance is key.
You have your own vineyard at your home in Carlsbad and bottle your own wine so I trust your judgment in wine and restaurant wine lists more than most people. What restaurants in the area do you give high marks to for their combination of great food and an affordable, yet quality wine selection?
I love the model that the Third Corner has.
When you dine there you pick out a bottle of wine that is priced at or below retail or winery prices, then for $5 that wine is served at your table.
With this format you can go with a less expensive or more expensive bottle of wine and not worry about being overcharged. The selection is awesome and the wine buyer is very good.
I love ethnic restaurants that feature wine from their region. Q’ero does an excellent job with South American wines paring with their Peruvian dishes. Cordiano Winery of Highland Valley Road with breadsticks, salad and wood fired pizza is reminiscent of a Tuscan hilltop restaurant. It’s very casual but a world class experience during sunset.
We all know that a killer bottle of wine, paired expertly with a meal can take that meal to another level. What are your top five food and wine pairings during the summer months?
A Vesper Vineyards Alcala white wine blend paired with a seared scallops and mixed green salad harvested from our vertical earth hydroponic garden with homemade vinaigrette.
A taco bar with fresh tortillas, guacamole, cilantro, with a variety of seafood and salsas paired with a well-chilled Hibiscus and Habanero Rose from San Pasqual Winery.
A Solterra Viognier well chilled, made from grapes from Lake Wolford in San Diego County, paired with a Charcuterie and Cheese Platter and patatas bravas.
A 2007 Cabernet from Darioush winery in Napa, outdoors after dinner, paired with salted chocolates and enjoyed for hours with good friends. Our 2010 Estate Brunello served with a spiced marinade pork loin, grilled asparagus, and parmesan crusted potatoes.
Let’s see if you and your wife Julie can agree on a top 10 North County restaurant list, with no boundaries on cost — so just your 10 favorite places to eat right now.
These are in no particular order, and we are somewhat locals to Carlsbad so apologies to great destinations further afield. Karl Strauss Restaurant, Solterra, Mother Earth Brewery (with dinner from one of several nearby restaurants delivered to your table), Third Corner, Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant, The Compass, Cordiano Winery, Q’ero, Pacific Coast Grill and finally, Mastro’s (Newport Beach or Palm Desert, we need one in North County).
We are also exploring San Diego County wineries and breweries. That exploration makes for a great Saturday or Sunday out and about.
We have 3.1 million residents in San Diego County and I would encourage all to support San Diegan’s who are growing food, making beer and wine, and serving us in amazing restaurants that are on the upswing in terms of quality and uniqueness.
Lick the Plate can now be heard on KPRi, 102.1 FM Monday through Friday during the 7pm hour. David Boylan is founder of Artichoke Creative and Artichoke Apparel, an Encinitas based marketing firm and clothing line. Reach him at email@example.com or (858) 395-6905.