Brain Malarkey Cooked for Us

Screw the memes I have to do. (I really WILL do them. I promise. And my fingers are NOT crossed behind my back.)

But the MoH and I had the perfect recipe for a Monday. We went to our local cook’s haven, Great News in Pacific Beach and spent the evening with Brian Malarkey.


You don’t know who Brian Malarkey is? Feh. Where have you been? He was one of the finalists on Top Chef this year, and the recipient of Chef of the Year from the San Diego Restaurant Association. Of course he should have won Top Chef, but that’s beside the point. WE got to enjoy his magnetic personality, sense of humor, and great cuisine tonight. Here. In Paradise. It was so worth it. IMG_5180.JPG

The sky was clear, the air clean, and the Pacific stretched as far as the eye could see. That orange glow was shimmering just above the deep blue horizon. Gorgeous. But a tad cool. Okay, so about 50 degrees F.

But I forgot my camera. So how convenient that we were an HOUR early and I could whiz home to get it and then slide into my seat and look forward to a couple of glasses (well…three if you count the one the MoH didn’t quite finish) of Two Buck Chuck. And the MoH says after the class, “That was pretty good…what was it?” “Koolaide,” I replied, “and you’ll be sorry in the morning.”  The MoH does not imbibe.

IMG_5172.JPG The menu for this cooking class was “Asian Inspired Malarkey.” Brian is the executive chef at The Oceanaire here in San Diego. Of course, we seemed to be the only people in the audience who hadn’t eaten there, but that’s because we’re busy paying taxes. We love to eat out, but only do so on special occasions during the year. Actually, we thought we’d enjoy The Oceanaire before this Monday’s class, but time has gotten away from us lately. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to improve our record in that department, getting out to try local food more than we do. I know. Quite the novel concept. Where would San Francisco be without all those Food Bloggers sampling local faire? S.O.L.


The menu Brian and his right hand man prepared for the 50+ group this evening was lovely:

Kumamoto Oysters on the Half Shell with an Asian Inspired Mignonette Kumamoto Oysters on the Half Shell with an Asian Inspired Mignonette

Sesame Crusted Big Eye Tuna with Ocean Salad and Micro Wasabi Sesame Crusted Big Eye Tuna with Ocean Salad and Micro Wasabi

Shiitake Mushroom and Ginger Soup with Bean Sprouts and Cilantro Shiitake Mushroom and Ginger Soup with Bean Sprouts and Cilantro

Japanese 7 Spice Petite Filet Mignon with Ginger Butter Japanese 7 Spice Petite Filet Mignon with Ginger Butter

Green Tea Ice Cream (from a local vendor whose name I regrettably did not get)

Y.U.M. Truly. We’d never had oysters before. Clams, yes. Mussels, yes. But oysters? Um. Nope. So this was big. And I appreciated what Brian had to say about them because the information helps when you slurp something live into your mouth and do notice the slightly briny “Mermaid’s Kiss” with a hint of cilantro as you swallow the creature and smile.

I did not get a stripe on my arm for this accomplishment, but I FEEL good. DAH-duh-DAH-duh-DAH-duh-DAH.

The Ahi Tuna? Oh. My. Sesame seeds all ’round and seared and then sliced and served with a compound butter. Goodness. I love Ahi this way. But what really made it was the “ocean” salad we waited for while Brain took questions (mostly from the MoH) about his Top Chef experience. The seaweed, thinly sliced and plated under the ahi was perfect. Fresh . Crunchy. Amazing. Totally. I have seared ahi with sesame seeds, but would never have thought to have the seaweed. Who knew? Delicious. It has to be THE reason why I’m a morsel and not a lithe waif. *Make a note to strike the Barefoot Contessa like I didn’t already know this.* Just kidding, Ina. Could you send me a pound of buttah, please?

IMG_5174.JPG And Brian’s Top Chef experience details were interesting, too: He didn’t get to speak to his wife for FIVE weeks. They take away your wallet, your keys, your cell — everything. And then, if I’m getting this correctly, they send frequent letters reminding you of your obligation to remain silent on the outcome of the show. With respect to the filming, each day, there’s either a quick challenge, or a main preparation. In Brian’s opinion, the only quick challenge that mattered was the one that took place at the French Culinary Academy (I’m sure I’ve gotten this incorrect). And speaking of culinary academies in general, in his opinion, those interested in his line of work would be better served volunteering for a few hard days with a chef, then signing on to work in that kitchen (if you passed the chef’s scrutiny) and learning from the ground up. You’d earn money as you were learning, as opposed to paying nearly 50K going to an academy. Sounds good to me. Maybe in my next life since I’ve essentially learned by trial and error, reading, by example, and anything else that counts for the last 40 years or so.

Other points of interest in the evening: Brian recommended many local places to find great ingredients, and fresh food. I did know of a few, but a couple I can’t wait to schlep to are San Diego Coffee, Tea, and Spice which concocts the spice mixtures Brian used, and Specialty Produce which is where the chefs in San Diego get their goods. Now how could I have NOT known about this? Unbelievable. I’m there this coming Saturday.

News at Eleven.

Anyway…it was a lovely evening. The worst part about it was the ending, and finding out that it was still Monday, instead of Friday, which would have been perfect.

An early birthday present for the MoH with more to come later in the week.

What’s up with these December babies, anyway?






10 responses to “Brain Malarkey Cooked for Us”

  1. you’ve never had oysters before?

    my mother says she used to hold them above my head when I was 2 years old and I would do a seal imitation so she would drop them down my throat… then I’d clap my flippers 🙂

    I can’t remember that far back but I still LOVE oysters

  2. It doesn’t matter what people say about oysters, all I think of when they mention them is how they moved when my dad and my sister poured lime juice over them right before sucking them. I was only 5 and got so disgusted with eating something that was still alive and moving that to this day can’t get to eat them :/

    Other than that you guys seemed to have a great evening 😀

  3. I am so jealous…….. I have FLAMES ON THE SIDE OF MY FACE

  4. “Screw the memes.” Ha! Hahahaha!

    Yes I *am* easily amused, why do you ask?

  5. well i live in the oyster farm capital of northern california,, so they are a local favorite… but they can be a little nasty if you get the big ones!!!!!

  6. Hey nursemyra…Nope. No oysters. Humble beginnings. Do I get points for squid? YUM. The image of your mom dropping those down your throat is hilarious — especially the clapping.

    Ben, I get it. Some guy was doing one of those essays on NPR the other day and he was describing some sea creature — a shrimp? — with the outside removed, head still on…and then eating it just to put it out of its agony because it’s shell had been removed while it was alive. Now THAT’S disgusting.

    meleah…you would have been seriously CHARMED out of your pants. But he’s married…

    Hey RJ! Good to hear from you. I know you’re easily amused as evidenced by that yodelling pickle that they subsequently sold out of for gawd’s sake. I laugh every time I visit that site and look at those “toys.”

    hey paisley — since I know almost nothing about oysters, I’m afraid to ask about the Big Ones…do they snap back?

  7. That all looks like aproper feast and I will say I am relieved as I read the title via my readers as Brains…and I thought…no please….

  8. I came over here from Meleah’s post…and can’t express enough how throughly i’m impressed with you!! OKay, I still can’t stop laughing at the name “Malarkey”, but I’m just being childish. As a chef, I am SO impressed with your love and knowlwdge of food. I am also SO jealous that you got to do this!! I get to do things on the NYC end, but usually choose fun exhibits like the Chocolate show, or the Food show at the Javits, center, (which I know is in San Diego now or will be soon). I love your pictures, and just wanted to give the kudos you deserve for this post, you know your food!!

  9. Oh Joy I am know going to have my Kraft Dinner and wieners for supper now….:):):)

  10. Cooper, good thing I didn’t have to get out the smelling salts or anything. Nope, no brains. Oysters are about as far as I go. But I can picture your expression as your brain caught up with your eyes…

    Hey Chefmom — Thanks! Truly! The evening was much fun, and if I could hang out with chefs once in a while to learn a few more tricks, I’d be in fat city. Well, actually I spend quite a bit of time there, and I’m not talking about the restaurant in San Diego…Ahem. I love my blogs and cooking, so I appreciate the feedback. And doncha just love meleah? In my next life, I’m going to have her organize a good 25 years so I can be famous.

    Robert — I just stuffed a cup of left over pasta in my mouth when I got home, so don’t even be thinkin’ that you can take the redneck outta me. Of course, the pasta was orichette with brown butter, garlic, and thyme sauteed chicken and whitebeans. I think there was spinach in there somewhere. Totally excellent.

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