At A.R. Valentien, the fine dining restaurant inside the Torrey Pines Golf Course, pastry chef Jennifer Costa follows a simple creed: fresh is best. Right now, that's berries. Many of her newest desserts star a juicy, jammy tumble of strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries sourced straight from local farmers. One item that's especially worth making the trip for is the Mulberry Galette, a rustic tart-like dessert bursting with the prized (and pricey!) fruit. A.R. Valentien is one of only three restaurants in San Diego to have the berries at all, due to in part to their short growing season and also because of cost (one small clamshell is $8).
Jennifer has been overseeing the pastry program at A.R. Valentien for a little over three years. She's also responsible for room service desserts and sweet items at The Grill, the other on-site restaurant (which just happens to have an amazing burger).
After graduating from the 4-year program at Johnson & Wales, she secured an internship at Waterside Inn in London, a three Michelin-starred restaurant that she describes as "probably the hardest job I will ever have in my entire life." Following that experience, Jennifer returned to the U.S. and continued the trend of working at Michelin-starred restaurants: Cyrus, 2-star restaurant in Northern California (now closed); and Guy Savoy, a 3 Michelin-starred restaurant in Las Vegas. Now, she says "there's no turning back."
At A.R. Valentien, Jennifer's lunch and dinner desserts are totally different. At lunchtime, items are rustic, like whole cakes served in slices, while dinner desserts are more refined. The common thread is the focus on in-season ingredients, sourced locally. To that end, both menus change multiple times per season, as ingredients reach their peak.
The desserts featured in the slide show were added just over two weeks ago, and will stay on for about three weeks more, so if something catches your eye, don't delay.
Take a closer look at some of the newest desserts at A.R. Valentien in the slide-show above.
About the author: Erin Jackson is a food writer and photographer who is obsessed with discovering the best eats in San Diego. You can find all of her discoveries on her San Diego food blog EJeats.com. On Twitter, she's @ErinJax