I wasn't the only food writer standing on the diving board, about to plunge into a review of Chad White's aspirational menu.
Now it's too late to talk about White's spicy kimchee Brussels sprouts, his intellectual takes on faro risotto and wild boar Waldorf salad. After three months at Counterpoint, his third restaurant stop of 2012, the chef jetted...
...And just announced plans for pop-up dinners.
I call dibs on a story about how White left the security of the nightly dinner-den for a sporadic series without a permanent address.
For the first Plancha Baja Med, as the pop-up series is called, White's taking over Carnitas' Snack Shack on Tuesday, Dec. 4 (the Shack's normally closed Tuesdays). What's on the $55 Plancha Baja Med menu?
First a one-sentence recap of White's year: The chef was leading Sea Rocket Bistro's sustainable-fish kitchen when he got tapped for a marquee post at Brian Malarkey's largely pescaterian Gabardine before unfortunate events there - e.g. Point Loma residents not liking live spot prawns on their plates - sent White to a funky/cool wine bar in Golden Hill called Counterpoint.
White served up niceties about Counterpoint, and keeps his recent departure brief:
"Counterpoint was an amazing place to work. I needed to do my own thing. I need to start this career off. I have my own my own goals and dreams and I need to pursue them with aggression."
About the new enterprise's concept: "Plancha" is the cast-iron griddle plate common in Mexican and European cooking. And "Baja Med" is the culinary term chefs Miguel Angel Guerrero (La Querencia) and Javier Plascencia (Mision 19) coined for their celebration of gourmet Mexico.
White said he's never categorized his food to a single genre. But he's drawn to the Baja Med cooking style -- He did recently win a cooking contest at Tijuana Innovadora, with teammates/chefs Plascencia and Diego Hernández (Corazón de Tierra).
"Baja Med isn't just Mexico. It's cooking what's available," White said. "I love the ingredients you can find down in Baja."
Finally, the Plancha Baja Med inaugural pop-up menu: For the premiere of his dinner series, there will be two seatings (6 and 8:30 p.m.) for around 30 people. The event takes place on Carnitas' Snack Shack's patio (there are standup heaters).
Your $55 includes tax, covers an amuse-bouche plus three courses and a non-alcoholic beverage (there's no liquor license, boozers). Expect:
Cauliflower tossed with olive oil and anchovy, Serrano ham and chervil with goat milk ricotta.
Charcoal-cured yellowtail crudo with piquillo peppers, compressed papaya and lime aioli.
Birria (aka goat belly stew) with arepas (corn flour cake), onion confit and chicharrones.
Pineapple upside-down cake with a shade daisy gelato (using a tea blend from Café Moto) with bacon salt, coconut froth and Brazil-nut brittle.
Read Keli Dailey's full story and more on utsandiego.com