• Jarnard Sutton

In the Kitchen with owner and chef Oz Blackaller of Cueva Bar

The folks at Cueva Bar believes that every dish should be prepared with mindfulness. Owner and chef of Cueva Bar, Oz Blackaller, knows how to create a family-friendly atmosphere with good vibes, delicious eats, a great selection of wines and craft beer on tap.

He shares his deep, flavorful recipe, Torta Azteca De Mole, for In the Kitchen.

Torta Azteca De Mole

$10.99

What's the origin of this dish?

The Torta Azteca De Mole is a Mexican-inspired dish. The difference from the original one is the mole sauce. I wanted to make a Mexican dish using our house-made mole.

What's the key component to this dish?

Corn tortillas, chicken, house-made San Diego mole, shaved onions, banana chip, garlic chip dust and a serrano toreado.

What makes your mole unique?

I use a gluten reduced local San Diego stout beer instead of chicken stock to keep it vegan. It's flavorful and gluten-free.

Describe the taste to someone who haven't had this dish?

The flavors are layered and complex. Starting with a spicy chocolate aroma and looks, the first bite will register peppers, fruit and nuttiness. By the first bite, you’ll feel as if you’re in Mexico. After experiencing the first bite, the rest of the spices spices will open up and continue to serenade your palate with bursts of spice here and there though out the dish.

What's a good beer and/or cocktail to pair with this dish?

A brown ale, or maybe even a light porter will compliment the dish, as well as a medium body red wine like the Bodegas Carrau Tannat from Uruguay or a bolder option like the Viña 1924 Angeles from Argentina.

Oz Blackaller, executive chef and owner of Cueva Bar shows us how he makes his signature dish Torta Azteca De Mole.

What kind of experience will a diner get at Cueva Bar?

People can expect an unique experience every time because of the specials we offer weekly, as well as our ever-changing San Diego craft beer and our wine list.

About Oz Blackaller

Are you from San Diego?

I was born and raised in Monclova, Coahuila Mexico. Before I moved to San Diego with my wife and kid in December 2009, we lived in Virginia for nine years.

Did you always want to be a chef growing up?

I’ve always been very active in the kitchen since I was a kid. One of my uncles offered to send me to France to go to culinary school to become a chef back when I was a teenager, but I passed on the opportunity because I was more worried about making a living than following my passions.

For a lot of chefs, the big goal is to eventually open a restaurant of their own, what advice do you have for them?

Don’t ever stop experimenting with food ideas. Get to know the neighborhood where your restaurant will be, or is, and make your guests feel welcomed every time they come to visit your establishment.

What do you feel is the biggest challenge when it comes creating new dishes?

Just how writers get creative blocks, we chefs also get them, I think, specially right before/after spikes in the business. To balance the creative space, as well as the productive space, it's a daily task we must take upon in order to succeed in the restaurant business.

When you're not coming up with delicious dishes, what do you enjoy doing on your spare time?

I spend most of my spare with with my family. When the kids are asleep and I am not cooking, I like to read, play guitar, meditate, watch movies with my wife and do the sexy time.

What's next for you?

I am highly focused on growing Cueva Bar’s roots here in San Diego. Besides Cueva Bar, on the side I’ve been working with a few friends on projects like catering, healthy meals and trips to Baja, so I’ll be growing these businesses in the years to come.

Cueva Bar

2123 Adams Ave., University Heights. (619) 269-6612 or cuevabar.com

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