Pleasantly refined but adventurous enough to pack a punch. That's what starry-eyed foodies are saying about the relaunched Delicias menu. Credit goes to the new executive chef-partner, Paul McCabe.
Since November, he's brought a contemporary jolt to upscale Rancho Santa Fe and this 21-year-old restaurant. Right now, you'll find culinary riches that are handmade, farm-sourced, sometimes embellished with Asian ingredients (dashi, kimchee) or modernist technique - the chef's not afraid of liquid nitrogen.
And Delicias isn't afraid of modernizing. When we caught up with McCabe, Delicias had jettisoned the tablecloths and remodeled with all-new furniture. "I feel cozy. I'm happy out here," the recent alum of Kitchen 1540 said. Then McCabe got revved up talking about his signature Delicias dish.
Organic Corn Agnolotti with Maine Lobster and Truffles, $14
About the overall dish
McCabe blends together these flavors, he said, "because it's cheating. Lobster and corn are made for each other. Lobster, corn and truffles? You put those three together and you've got success on a plate." This summer dish replaces the organic pea agnolotti, per seasonal demands.
Agnolotti are stuffed, ravioli-like crescents of dough. They got their Italian name because they look like "priests' caps." To get that shape, you need stiff dough (refined flour, egg, yolk, milk and a little olive oil). And you need good technique, McCabe said. "It's very time-consuming, and I'm the only one who makes it in our kitchen. I don't let anybody else touch it."
Hidden inside each agnolotti pouch is a thick corn filling. "The first thing I do is find the best corn possible, organic white corn (sourced by) Specialty Produce." He removes the kernels, then "milks the cob" - using the backside of a knife to extract the starch from the core. After a trip through the Vita-Prep Blender and the Tamis strainer, the mixture is heated in a pot for two hours. "It gets really, really thick. Even thicker than purée."
The Maine lobster
Pulled live from the fridge, the lobsters undergo a poaching technique that makes them "really, really tender and sweet," he said. Hot water is poured over them and they sit for exactly 14 minutes. The tails and claws are later sautéed in butter.
The larger mushrooms are mousseron, and, adding to the refinement, McCabe shaves one of the most expensive ingredients in the world - black truffles - over the dish. These are sourced from Italy.
Drizzled at the bottom of the bowl is brown butter emulsified with veal stock. "You get the flavor of brown butter without the coating on your palate that I so dislike." The garnishes are geranium, mustard and chives.
Read Keli Dailey's full story and more on utsandiego.com