Filling Up at Phil’s BBQ

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Last week was unofficially dubbed “My Birthday Week”.  Talk about a great way to usher in a new year: my best friend visited for a few days, had a couple of dinners out with friends, went to Laguna Beach for a brief trip and to see the Pageant of the Masters, got in one last trip to the beach before Summer ends, had a super fun group run throughout downtown San Diego, and spent a spa day with friends at Loews Coronado.  Because of all of that, I was unable to sit down and write about my visit to Phil’s BBQ until now.

When I moved to San Diego, I heard about Phil’s BBQ ( which, at the time, was located in a small space in Mission Hills.  Phil is a fellow Ohioan, and he believes in giving back to the local community.  He sounds like a great guy and he cooks a tasty piece of meat.  Now that’s my kind of guy!  Check out this article from the San Diego Union Tribune for more on this restaurant owner:

For whatever reason, it took a couple of years before I went back to Phil’s.  My in-laws were in town and we headed over to the new location in Point Loma.  We were excited to be going back.  We had heard about the long lines (no reservations accepted), but we were ready.  We got there and the parking lot was kind of empty.  We forgot that Phil’s is closed on Mondays.   We were so bummed!  I went a small hand full of times with friends only to see the line and we’d walk away.  It wasn’t until the other day, I finally returned to Phil’s and actually went through the front doors and grabbed a seat.  I’ve been on the email list and had received the “Jump to the Front of the Line” email.  It allows you and 3 guests to skip the line, go right up to Rhonda, hostess extraordinaire, and walk right up to the cashiers to place your order.  There are a couple of options if you want to check this place out.  1) You can call ahead and place a carry out order. You bypass the long line of customers who are waiting to eat there and find the pick-up order line (much shorter).  2) You can bypass the long line and go to the bar area.  I don’t believe anyone under 21 is allowed, so if you have kids, this is not an option.  Or maybe it is??  Just kidding.  It’s a very small bar, and there’s only one large table for larger sized parties.  There’s a low seating option attached to the bar that is handicap accessible.  You place your order with a bartender or a server, have a Stone Arrogant Bastard, and wait for the lick smacking ribs.  The only wine served is Fallbrook Winery.  I’ve never had it so I can’t speak to the taste, so if you are someone who prefers wine with your BBQ, just keep in mind there’s only this option.  Also, you can’t drink alcohol outside of the bar.  3) The last option: wait in the line. Even though I had the “free pass” email, we opted to sit in the bar.  It seemed a little chaotic throughout the restaurant, and the bar area seemed a little more tame.

You may have heard about Phil’s BBQ even if you live outside of California.  It was recently on Adam Richman‘s Best Sandwich in America on the Travel Channel and was the West Coast Regional Winner for the El Toro, a deli sliced tri-tip sandwich.  Courtney and I ordered the popular El Toro (6.95 each), and Franz ordered Baby Back Ribs because he prefers pork ribs to beef ribs.  We shared a large order of onion rings, and small sides of coleslaw and macaroni salad.  The tri-tip sandwich is packed with meat.  I am a very big eater, and I couldn’t finish it.  Keep in mind all of the sides though!  The meat has a great smoky taste, and is a little on the sweet side, but not in a bad way.  There was zero fat in my lovely pile of meat.  Franz really enjoyed his ribs, but he wished they weren’t as fatty as they were.  He said the flavor was great, and he would order them again. My favorite side was the macaroni salad.  I know it’s really hard to screw up this dish, but it’s possible!  Ah, creamy mayo goodness! It’s so rare that I have it.  My most memorable macaroni salad was with my plate lunch in Hawaii .  Man, that stuff is good.  If you ever visit the Big Island, make sure to order a plate lunch (!  But getting back to Phil’s!!  I would highly recommend checking this place out.  I know the line can be intimidating, but remember you have a few options on how to get your BBQ fix.  I think my favorite way to eat this yummy food in the future will be placing an order to go.  But once a year, for my birthday, I will definitely go in so I can get a birthday hug from Rhonda!!  Thanks to Phil, Rhonda and the entire crew for a tasty and fun birthday BBQ celebration!

SPECIAL NOTE:  Phil isn’t the only “do-gooder” around here!  Remember a few posts ago when I mentioned my friend, Jeannine, who is raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society at Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill in Mission Valley?  Well, that time is only a few days away.  Click on this link: RubiosFundraiser 8.2012.  All you have to do is print out the flyer, go to the Rubio’s in Mission Valley on Saturday the 25th between 11am-9pm, place your order and hand the flyer to the cashier.  20% of your transaction will go to Jeannine’s fundraiser.  Rubio’s, thanks for helping out a great cause!

Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

Take Care and Happy Eating!

Sharing My Birthday with a Culinary Genius!

Hello everyone! I would be remiss if I didn’t mention who is celebrating her birthday today!  I just wanted to give a shout out to a woman who is an amazing figure in the culinary world: Julia Child.  I have the pleasure of sharing my birthday with this amazing woman.  Today she would have turned 100 years old.  On Thursday, I will share with you the details of a fun-filled trip to Phil’s BBQ in Point Loma and how I spent my day today.  I will do my best to honor her life (and mine!) through eating amazing food today and making delicious food for years to come!  How are you celebrating the day?

Thanks for inspiring all of us, Julia!  Happy Birthday!


Take Care and Happy Eating!

Tomato, Tomaato? Go to Suzie’s Farm and Find Out!

I hope everyone’s week is going well so far!  I have to share the details about my trip out to Suzie’s Farm (  If you can’t go, at least check out the website.  There are some great recipes there.  Also, check out the special events planned.  I wish I could attend the Autumnal Equinox Dinner 2012 when chefs from The Linkery and El Take It Easy, Cucina Urbana, and Mision 19 will be part of an amazing event that includes secret gardens, mazes and music at the farm!  Maybe next year?!

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Jackie, a.k.a The Seaside Baker, arranged for a private group tour (Harvesting Tour) of Suzie’s.  Check out her blog:  I love her tagline: Musings of a Mompreneur!  Very cute!  We were greeted by our docents, Jenna and Karissa, by the farm stand.  If you want to buy some produce without taking a tour, you can visit any Saturday between 10am and 2pm. If you just like to have food prepared for you, check out all of the restaurants that buy from this farm.  You might have had Suzie’s tomatoes without even realizing it!  Blind Lady Ale House, Farm House Cafe, Miho Gastrotruck, and Marriott Del Mar are just a few spots where you can get some of this organic and tasty stuff! Another interesting tidbit, our docent, Jenna, has a food blog:  It’ll be interesting to see what recipes and food facts she posts!  I’m looking forward to reading this blog!

The farm is 13 miles south of Downtown San Diego, but you really feel like you are in another world – or at least in another country.  In some ways you are!  You can see the rolling hills of Mexico just beyond the gardens.  The farm is named after a stray dog who wandered onto the land and into the hearts of the owners, Robin Taylor and Lucila De Alejandro.  Future plots were named after dogs as well: Bear and Kiki.  Kiki followed us throughout the tour.  I guess she’s a docent as well!  There is a fourth plot that has just been acquired, but the name is unknown at this time.  I’m hoping for Sweet Pea or Monsieur.  Just throwing that out there.  All four areas will be a total of 100 acres.  I must admit, knowing the owners are such dog lovers makes me love this place even more!

The reason I loved the private tour is that it’s really a peaceful spot to hang out for an hour and a half.  I was told the public tours on the second Saturday of the month are great, but can be crowded.  The Harvesting Tour can be arranged for groups of 10 or more, costs $10 per person, and you get to pick produce right off the vine to put into your grocery bag.  What could be a better way to spend the day? Make sure to bring a bag!  We walked past rows of pumpkins (12 different varieties), tomatoes, Swiss Chard, tomatillo, okra, and Lamb’s Quarters to name a few.  Everything is planted by hand and a butter knife!  You could take a tour during different times of the year and see and taste so many different things.  I’m thinking this will have to be a quarterly trip at least!!  My favorite part was the chicken coop.  Our guides told us to grab an ear of corn to offer the chickens.  They ran to us like Monsieur when I tell him his food is ready!  Check out the website to see all of the details on the various tours offered.

When I got home, I unpacked my loot and tried to figure out what to make.  I decided to keep it simple.  I sautéed the red onions in some olive oil until they had a nice caramelization, then I turned the heat down until they softened and became super sweet.  I threw in a pinch of salt and some ground black pepper, too.  It was Sunday, so we threw some hotdogs on the grill, bought some La Brea bread, and slathered the bread with horseradish.  We topped the hotdogs with the grilled onions (Franz said he could have just had a bowl of the onions alone.), some Stadium Mustard (a nod to Cleveland), and a little ketchup.  Perfect!  As a side, I had Franz grill the mini eggplants from Suzie’s.  I prepared the eggplants by slicing them in half lengthwise, placing them in a bowl with olive oil, honey, and 1 hot pepper from Suzie’s that I sliced lengthwise into 3 slices.  Seriously, you have to do this!  It doesn’t get easier than that??  The pepper packed a punch, but it was a nice balance to the sweetness of the honey and the earthiness of the Eggplant.  The next day, I had some left over grilled eggplants and sautéed red onions, so I improvised.  I cooked some thin spaghetti, and then I added the eggplants (chopped) and onions.  In addition, I took some tomatoes (some from our yard, too) and tore them with my hands and added that to the pasta.  I added some oregano, salt, ground black pepper, chili flakes, extra virgin olive oil, and some garlic.  Once in our bowls, I topped it with a little bit of Parmesan.  Add a glass of red wine and call it a night!  Actually, we ended the night with chocolate chip cookies I made the day before.  I still have some veggies to eat from my trip!  I will let you know what else I come up with during the week!  Also, let me know about a farm near you!

Take Care and Happy Eatings!

Go Ahead – Make Someone’s Day!

It’s Thursday! The past few days have been busy! I’m sure everyone is feeling the same way. On top of everything, it’s August!? Yesterday, I sent a text to my sister asking when that happened?? Commercials for back to school, talk about football on the radio? Is Summer over already? I haven’t even gone to the beach yet! I did get a chance to take a 2 hour wave runner tour over the weekend. I highly recommend it!!! I went through Seaforth Boat Rentals at their Mission Bay location ( What a blast!  AND . . . (drum roll) August is “Eat Your Dessert First” Month! Who’s with me??

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I’ve also noticed that a lot of people are giving back and are doing so in creative ways.  That’s one awesome way to spend one’s Summer!   I have a friend, Jeannine, who is running the Nike’s Women’s Marathon in San Francisco in October. She works with patients who have been diagnosed with Lymphoma and Jeannine loves to run.  What did she do?  She joined The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Team In Training.  She’s about half way to her goal of $3200, and she’s been coming up with interesting ways to raise money.  She poured beer at an Oyster Festival in June – from the pictures it seems like most of the beer went on her.  Jeannine even got Rubio’s in Mission Valley on board to help her raise cash.  She was able to hand out flyers so that on a particular day a percentage of a customer’s bill, who had the flyer, went to Jeannine’s cause.  I had to take advantage of that!  Hey, it’s for a good cause!  Check out her site:  Her next fundraiser is on August 25th at Rubio’s ( 2075 Camino de la Reina San Diego, CA 92108).  It will last all day and night.  Jeannine will be at the Mission Valley location starting at 4pm with flyers in hand.  This event only pertains to the Mission Valley location!!  So grab a flyer, a fish taco and a Stone Brewing Co. IPA.  Like I said before, it’s for a good cause!  Last time I went, I ordered a Carnitas Burrito that had a good meaty flavor and was a decent size.  I’m used to my favorite local taco stand that makes a burrito that’s pretty hefty, but Rubio’s was large enough to satisfy me.  I love checking out their salsa bar, too.  There’s a small outdoor patio area as well.  What better way to spend a Saturday?  Prior to August 25th, I’ll post a link so you can print one out before you go.

Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

Another cool fundraiser going on right now:  A fellow blogger, Stephanie Weaver of The Recipe Renovator, is raising money for her nephew, Cody, who was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer. If you go to her site, you can bid on cookbooks signed by the authors, desserts, gift baskets, and kitchen items.  The bidding ends at 5pm (Pacific Time) on August 5th, so you still have time to check out the items and place a bid.  It’s a fun way to raise money!  Good luck!!

At times, it seems like there are too many amazing causes to help.  Where do you start?  When do you stop??  I have two organizations in which I feel strongly and support:  NAMI San Diego ( and San Diego Humane Society and SPCA (  I think it’s good to find where you are passionate and direct that energy towards a particular group or person.   Having said that, it’s fun to find these various fundraising tactics and give a little, if one can.

Now if fundraising for major organizations just isn’t your thing, I love doing small things like baking for others.  In June, Amanda of I Am Baker took this idea to the next level and asked her readers to nominate someone who deserved baked goods delivered to his or her house.  She had over 160 nominations (I nominated my parents.).  Then she threw out the request for volunteer bakers so that every nomination could receive a delivered treat.  She received over 400 volunteers!  My parents received a box of wonderful Mexican Wedding Cookies from The Urban Baker (   My parents were so happy to be nominated, and they couldn’t believe how professional the cookies and packaging looked.  So if you know someone who’s having a tough day or week (or year!), drop off a little treat.  If you don’t bake, stop by a local bakery and pick up a couple brownies.  If the person doesn’t like sweets or is watching their weight, pick up some veggies or flowers at a Farmer’s Market and surprise your friend or family member.  A little act of kindness can really make a difference in someone’s life.  I know you all know this, but it’s good to get a reminder!

I made one of my favorite brownie recipes the other day for someone’s birthday.  There are about as many brownie recipes as there are fundraisers!  I have a handful of recipes I go between, but I like this one because it’s more fudgy than cakey, and the brownies are a little on the thinner side.  Thinner in terms of thickness, not in terms of calories!   Add a dollop of ice cream, and you are good to go!  Another great thing about this recipe, you don’t have to worry about bringing the butter to room temperature.  You just melt the butter!  The original recipe is from Bon Appetit (September 2004), but the recipe below is with my adjustments.  I have another fav brownie recipe that is SUPER fudgy!!  It’s best to make them the day before they are consumed.  They need a day to rest.  And you’ll need a day to rest after eating a couple!  I’ll have to share that one another time.

Heath Bar Brownies

3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks for faster melting

3.5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 2/3 cup sugar (I use vanilla sugar that I make.)

3 large eggs (room temperature)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup Heath English toffee chips

1 cup nut pieces (whichever you prefer – I like walnuts or pecans), toasted and cooled (If you hate nuts, leave them out.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour 13x9x2-inch pan.  Stir butter and chocolate in a heavy small saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth.  Cool to lukewarm.

Whisk flour, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl. Using electric mixer, beat sugar, eggs, and vanilla in large bowl until thick and billowy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in chocolate mixture, then flour mixture.  Make sure not to over mix!  Fold in nuts and Heath English toffee chips.  Transfer to pan.

Bake brownies until puffed and tester inserted into center comes out with some moist crumbs attached, about 28 minutes.  Cool pan on rack.  Store at room temperature.

Take Care and Happy Eatings!