Generally speaking, seasons are overrated. In other places, it's six months of ice and snow that makes those spring flowers so magnificent, and it's the hellscape of summer most of the country has to endure that makes fall so glorious—sweet, crisp relief! That said, I can get wistful about autumn, and we San Diegans tragically miss out on its glory. However, we can come close with a well-timed trip up the mountain to apple country.
Dudley's bread doesn't taste as good if it's not purchased directly from the bustling Santa Ysabel headquarters. And I never tire of digging through the nuts and candies at the Julian Cider Mill.
But what if you want a quiet meal on the mountain that's a bit more sophisticated than pizza or barbecue? You take your puffy-vested self to a sweet little outpost known as Jeremy's on the Hill.
Young Jeremy Manley grew up in the cooking and hospitality industry. A veteran now in his 20s, he's brought his Le Cordon Bleu-trained talents to the tiny crossroads of Wynola (4354 Hwy. 78), just a Granny Smith's-toss from the Julian main street with which most of us are familiar.
The farm-to-table offerings at Jeremy's come to the kitchen honestly, with a list of local meat and produce purveyors right on your menu.
In my mind, I escaped to Jeremy's out of a picturesque Currier & Ives-like blizzard (look it up, millenials). So, I started with a hot cup of soup. The trio of carrots, curry and coconut are a modern classic, with the earthy sweetness of the carrots amped up by the coconut, then softened by the warmth of golden curry powder. The soup was blended to a creamy texture, with a bit of tooth from a topping of toasted coconut.
The fall bounty kept coming with an order of roasted Brussels sprouts. My husband turns his nose up at most vegetables, but—miracle of miracles—this dish changed his mind. I watched him tentatively take a bite of a sprout. Then another. ("Play it cool, Jenny. Don't spook him!"). But he liked them. Nay, he loved them. And for good reason. The little green gems were roasted to perfection, covered in ponzu and brown sugar, with crispy loose leaves falling off the outside and tender insides bursting with creamy, fresh flavor. We didn't even miss the more common bacon so popular with restaurant sprouts these days.
The last time I had schnitzel, I was drunk in a brewery somewhere in Austria. So, imagine my delight when I saw it on Jeremy's menu. It's not that it's impossible to find, but it certainly doesn't crop up often. I wish it would. Jeremy's pork schnitzel was pounded thin and tender, with a golden crust of crispy panko and a simple squeeze of bright lemon. I wanted a bit more seasoning overall, but that is a minor quibble for a solid dish.
So, maybe you're not going to Wynola specifically for dinner. But 'tis the season for pumpkin patches and scarves and cozy days spent exploring the San Diego back country. Make sure you eat well.
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