I’ve known for some time now that the most vital district in San Diego County is that business and residential area between University City and Del Mar.  If you take a good look at a county map, it’s the geographical center of this vibrant part of Southern California. 
It’s no surprise that stunning new restaurant formats have positioned themselves in two multi-faceted shopping centers in this dynamic consumer magnet. The first dining room we’ll visit is Seasons 52, with a front porch location in University Town Center.
Seasons 52 is a fresh grill and piano bar that provides a dining experience with no menu item more than 475 calories.  The Executive Chef at the UTC location is Steve de Barril who oversees lunch, dinner and snacking, from signature flatbreads to entrees that change weekly with seasonal and farmers’ market visits. You must order the Scottish Wild Salmon on Cedar Plank.  The British Isles have some of the coldest salmon waters in the world. That and a vigorous spawning grounds, make this wild Scottish Salmon a delicious culinary masterpiece. 
Two weeks ago, I revealed my Top Ten Wine Tastes highlighted by a Riesling  discovery, the Selbach Mosel, Germany 2011, that fit with this Cedar Plank Salmon.  Seasons 52 has an award-winning wine program of over 100 selections, 52 of which are offered by the glass, in the restaurant and the wine bar which also offered mixed drinks.  It is the work of International Master Sommelier George Miliotes, one of only 180 in the world.  Miliotes commented he likes to find wine “before they become famous.  I love the Mosel River District. I visit as much as I can with a smile on my face,” he revealed.  Try a few sips before stardom at Seasons 52. Free valet parking all day.  Call 858-450-1252 for a reservation.
Davanti’s Introduces Rocking Piemonte Reds  Davanti’s Enoteca in Del Mar Highlands Center and Little Italy San Diego is no stranger to TASTE OF WINE.  Under GM Maris Laipenieks, the format of fresh, upscale small bite Italian, tested in Chicago, has been a hit in San Diego. We’ve featured them twice.  So when I got the call to taste a new lineup of Italian Piemonte reds, I made sure I was there on time.
It was Davanti’s first wine dinner and Executive Chef Jaysen Euler who collaborated with Italian Wine Importer Luciano Brussolo to put the passion on the plate for the packed house.
Brussolo paraded out his heavy hitters and sparklers: wines like Soave, Gavi di Gavi, Barolo and Barbaresco.  But the wine with the buzz around the table was the 2010 Damilano Barbera d’Asti DOCG ($15).  
Barbera is the Chianti Classico of the north in Italy.  This is a friendly, accessible red that makes any food taste rich and flavorful with its high acidity.  Barbera is best served at 65 degrees.  The coolness brightens the wine’s red berry texture and hints of vanilla. On this occasion, Chef Jaysen chose to go with a “Tartara Di Cervo” with the Barbera accompaniment: a venison, quail egg and frisee salad with truffle oil complexion. The wine is at home with other dishes as well, like cold cut appetizers, rich beef roasts and stews and medium aged cheeses.  For more on this wine and others from Piemonte, see www.viaswine.com.
Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.  He is one of the leading wine commentators on the web. View and link up with his columns at www.tasteofwinetv.com.  Reach him at mangiompc@aol.com.

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