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Josh Sanford, from left, Robby Sanford, Don Sanford and Connor Dougherty in the woodshop. Photo courtesy Sanford Shapes
ColumnsLick the Plate

Lick the Plate: 25 stories to celebrate from 2020

This endeavor called Lick the Plate is a labor of love, one that keeps me writing and allows me to meet and tell the stories of so many talented folks in the areas of culinary, culture and music in North County San Diego.

Yes, it’s primarily a culinary feature, but like my radio show, it’s fun to expand outside that realm, including area businesses and musicians and telling their stories through their culinary preferences. Despite the scary and crazy year 2020 has been. I was able to find folks who are powering through this in their own creative ways. Here’s a list of 25 stories from 2020, all of which were a pleasure for me to write.

I’ll start with the energetic youthful energy and delicious coffee from the Brazilian’s at Wipeout Coffee which is some of the best I’ve had. Carte Blanch in Oceanside provided one of the more memorable meals I had in 2020.

Also in Oceanside, with a style unique to Jessica and Davin Waite was their newish vegan venture The Plot. If I had someone cooking vegan food like this for me every night, I could be a vegan. Nothing new about the neighborhood gem called Just Peachy in Leucadia but after all these years I had not featured them in a column, and it was about time.

Chef/owner Tyler Mars at Moonage Food Co. in Leucadia. Photo by David Boylan

Getting to know iconic local business owner Queen Eileen and having her local roots that go way back was a treat. Hey Eileen, I hope we are still on for Crab night at Captain Keno’s when that starts up again!

Moonage Food Co. and Tyler Mars brought some of the funk back to Leucadia in a style that is all his own. His combination of killer food, music and art in an open-air space has resonated with a lot of folks. I also rediscovered Lobster West and their amazing lobster rolls and chowder.

I was educated by “the other David Boylan” who is much smarter than me on permaculture and the benefits of using its principles for gardeners. I finally caught up with local musician John Bennett and had a blast hanging out recording an interview at Moonage Food Co. John, I do plan on taking you up on the invitation for your wife’s stroganoff you extended.

Rosanna’s Pasta Shop owner Sara Martin has taken over the Italian eatery in Encinitas after her parents retired. Photo by David Boylan

Rosanna’s Pasta Shop was another revisit, focusing on daughter Sara Martin who has taken over operations from her parents and still serving up some of the best Italian food in town.

It was a treat interviewing NBA legend, broadcaster, Deadhead, and high energy lover of life Bill Walton for both my show and column. The first words out of his mouth for the show were, “David, I LOVE to lick the plate” in his booming voice. Love that guy.

Being the first carryout order at the new Chin’s in Carlsbad was a fun experience after my interview with them on their long run and a new location in North County.  The Chop Stop in Encinitas fulfilled my wish for a local joint that specializes in chopped salads that I consider to be the perfect lunch.

Stumbling upon musician Sara Rogo playing “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen at one of her pop-up performances at Beacon’s as the sun was setting was an experience I’ll never forget. Following up with her for an interview and column was fun as well.

Discovering the splendid sandwiches at the downtown Encinitas Prager Brothers outpost was another high point in the year and added to the amazing sandwich options available in Encinitas.

And that provides a perfect segue into the week I ate my way through the Moto Deli sandwich list and loved every one of their chef-crafted creations from chef Andy Halvorsen.

The delicious spicy Italian and ham and cheese sandwiches at Prager Brothers. Photo by David Boylan

I was lucky to be selected to preview and give my feedback on a manuscript called “Northern Harvest” that profiled women in the culinary and farming world and helped get it published. That was a treat and it’s a fabulous read.

I learned about distilling sustainable spirits from the folks at Misadventure & Co. in Vista who are utilizing food headed to the dumpster from local anti-food waste organizations to distill their vodka.

Mr. Moto Pizza came to Encinitas with a serious contender for the best New York City-style slice in San Diego…and a fabulous meatball sub.

Switchboard in Oceanside was one of my favorite discoveries of 2020 with their take on Hawaiian influenced food. Another Oceanside delight was the return of Gilles Knafo and Francois Pantanchon at Le Citron.

I learned a valuable lesson in plants native to the area and how they can be reintroduced from Torrey Neal at her new Neal’s Nursery in Leucadia.

Josh Sanford, from left, Robby Sanford, Don Sanford and Connor Dougherty in the woodshop.
Photo courtesy Sanford Shapes

The best doughnuts I’ve ever had came from Broad Street Dough Co. who rolled into the Lumberyard in Encinitas recently. They are taking doughnuts to a higher level and also provide gluten-free and vegan options along with having a fully kosher kitchen.

My conversation with Naomi Wentworth from The Compost Group gave me valuable insight into the importance of composting and how they make it easy for everyone.

I wrapped up the year with a takeover column from a local business. This time it was Sanford Shapes, a local skateboard company run by a group of college-age friends who are making some of the most beautiful boards I’ve seen.

So there you have it. Despite the tumultuous year, there were reasons to celebrate accomplishments and perseverance in the culinary, culture and music scenes in North County.