It’s no easy task keeping up with the renovations at La Valencia, La Jolla’s landmark Spanish Colonial hotel. In a previous article, I mentioned some of the exciting changes happening to the building, but last night I experienced another wow factor.
Chef Daniel Barron has taken over the kitchen at La Valencia and introduced new and exciting flavors. During dinner with friends on the Ocean Terrace, I enjoyed the chilled pea bisque – stone crab – truffle – tomato starter. The freshness of the pea puree worked beautifully with the crab, truffle, tomato parcel in the center of the soup plate.
I also enjoyed a serving of positively divine Brussels sprouts infused with melted parmesan and covered with a dusting of candied salted cashews. These veggies preceded the daily feature – local grouper – which led to an introduction to a legendary San Diego fishmonger, who happened to be seated nearby.
Chance meetings like this happen at La Valencia, where interesting people tend to gather and enjoy the timeless atmosphere and authentic surroundings. In fact, it would have been easy to forget that I was dining at the hotel’s Mediterranean Room and Ocean Terrace – and not in the actual Mediterranean. Sommelier Tami Wong walked us through the extensive La Valencia wine list and introduced us to new vintners and vintages.
At some point during the meal, I looked out over the water and had a momentary spell of deja vu to dinners in the South of France. La Valencia occupies a prime spot on the La Jolla coast, overlooking Scripps Park, palm trees, and the Pacific.
I thought I didn’t have room for dessert until I spotted “Peanut Butter & Milk Chocolate Bar” on the menu.
“OK, I’ll just have a bite,” I assured fellow diners. That was before I tasted this amazing combination of milk chocolate fudge cake, peanut butter crunch, and peanut butter mousse accompanied by banana gelato crreated by pastry chef Mary Katherine Woods.
Seriously – I will never again say that “only dark chocolate is worth the calories.” This La Valencia special may just be the very best dessert I’ve ever eaten – and I intend to return soon to taste it again just to be sure.