Charlie Trotter

Once again, I’ve waited too long to write, and I have so many things piling up that I would love to share.  I had a great Beer, Cheese and Chocolate Pairing event at my house that I hosted with my buddy from over at www.hoptologysd.com.  I will post that tomorrow (See, if I write that then I have to get it out to you guys!).  However, this morning I learned that Chef Charlie Trotter, age 54, passed away yesterday.   He wasn’t the kind of chef that needed spiky hair and sunglasses around the back of his neck, nor was he a chef that had loud catch phrases.  I didn’t know him personally, but he seemed like a straight forward, serious, and dedicated chef.  He had 10 James Beard Awards under his toque  along with ten cookbooks.  He recently closed his Chicago restaurant, and I learned today that his plan was to return to college to study philosophy.  The San Diego Union Tribune quoted him saying recently, “What’s the worst that could happen?  Life’s too short.  You may be on this planet for 80 years at best or who knows, but you can’t just pedal around and do the same thing forever.”

I keep getting reminders that life can be shockingly short.  I think Charlie Trotter had the right idea.  I’m not suggesting everyone quit their jobs and study pottery and live in a commune (unless the commune is stocked with amazing beer, wine, cheese and chocolate, and that commune will take your crappy pottery as payment).  But it reminds me not to get stuck in a rut.  I do that a lot.  Thanks for the reminder, Chef Trotter!  And thank you for your dedication to your craft.

Take Care and Happy Eating!

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Baja In Your Backyard!

How is everyone? I have had some really good days along with some really bad ones for the past couple of weeks. Thank God for the good ones, right? I want to focus on the good stuff for the moment! I was so fortunate to get an invitation from Carolyn Kates to a Blogger and Media Event at 7th Avenue Pub at Whole Foods Market in Hillcrest. What, you just go to there to shop? My friend, you are missing out. Granted, not every WFM has a pub, but a few in the San Diego area do, and I highly recommend checking it out. I even noticed a Whole Foods Market recently opened pubs in Arlington, VA and Wayne, PA. Check out if your local store has one, and if not, ask for one!
When my local WFM opened its pub, aptly named 7th Avenue Pub, my husband and I were curious as to how well it would do and what quality of beers would be offered – and at what price. (By the way, the La Jolla location’s pub is named Torrey Pints. I love that name, too.) We have become regulars. Usually we stop in for a flight of beer after a run around Balboa Park. You get 4 tastings for $5 during happy hour. And there are always plenty of taps of local brews from which to choose. Often, Franz and I will throw in an order of the delicious Roasted Brussels Sprouts and/or Seared Tuna. Nice way to end a run!

7th Ave Pub Whole Foods 2

I Highly Suggest a Post Run Beer Flight

However, the event I attended focused on the new menu created by Chef Martin San Roman and the wines from Monte Xanic Winery. The menu is Baja inspired, and Chef San Roman has an extensive background in French cuisine.  What better taste combo?? You can taste both influences in the Flautas de Pato, a smoked duck with chile de arbol. Another favorite of mine was the Baja Burger. If you are a fan of turkey burgers, but can’t find a good one, give this one a try and let me know what you think. The Cranberry Cabernet Jam makes me feel like I’m seated with my family around a big Thanksgiving meal.

Baja Turkey Burger

Mini Baja Turkey Burger

There are so many flavors to take in when eating the Flautas De Pato. Just give into it!

There are so many flavors to take in when eating the Flautas De Pato. Just give into it!

It is suggested to pair the Baja Burger with Cavas Valmar Tempranillo.  Yes, please!

It is suggested to pair the Baja Burger with Cavas Valmar Tempranillo. Yes, please!

Rustica Salad - Super Fresh and Delicious!

Rustica Salad – Super Fresh and Delicious!

I’ve always focused on the beers at 7th Ave Pub, but at this event, we sampled wine from Monte Xanic Winery, from the Guadeloupe Valley. Baja wines? Hmmm. My favorite wines seem to come from California, Australia, Spain, and Argentina. My least favorite wines seem to be from areas like France and Italy. I didn’t say I don’t like wines from those areas, I just tend to go for the bolder wines – kind of like my love of IPAs. I guess I like a punch to the taste buds every so often. Hans Backoff Sr., founder of Monte Xanic Winery and Master Enologist, was on hand to discuss the wines from this area.

Mr. Hans Backoff Sr.

Mr. Hans Backoff Sr. (left) and Mr. Juan Tintos Funke, Secretary of Tourism of the State of Baja California (right)

So what did I think?  What an eye-opener – and taste bud opener. I sampled three whites and one red. All were delicious and perfectly paired with Chef San Roman’s dishes. I could eat Molletes Tapas (amazing mini bread layered with beans and three cheeses with olive oil, sour cream and pico de gallo) and drink Monte Xanic’s Cabernet Merlot blend ($6 a glass) all night long!

Baja Wines Baja Wines 2

The great thing about this place is that it feels really comfortable.  I’ve seen many families having dinner and drinks with strollers in tow.  I’ve seen women having a drink before they most likely head out for a night on the town. I remember those days!  Now I call it around 9pm, if I’m lucky!  There always seems to be someone from the local craft beer industry striking up a conversation with random people at the bar.  There are a few televisions, so it’s a great place to watch the game.  Franz and I watched a football game this past Sunday.  For $19, we had a pitcher of Tailgate Dodgy Knight IPA and a pepperoni pizza.  Not bad at all!  And with the huge floor to ceiling windows facing 7th Avenue and University Avenue, you don’t feel like you are stuck in some grocery store.

Trio Of Ceviche

Trio Of Ceviche

Like Bruschetta?  Try Molletes Tapas!!

Like Bruschetta? Try Molletes Tapas!!

Vegan Jicama Wraps with Tofu

Vegan Jicama Wraps with Tofu

I will still order my Brussel Sprouts, but I will definitely add a few of the new menu items to my after-run menu!  And, I would love, in addition to the beer flights offered, if maybe a wine flight might be added??  Just a suggestion!

Chef San Roman and Mr. Juan Tintos Funke

Chef San Roman and Mr. Juan Tintos Funke

Job Well Done To The Entire Whole Foods Market Staff!

Job Well Done To The Entire Whole Foods Market Staff!

I was so honored to meet Chef Su-Mei Yu.  Have you watched her show Savor San Diego?  Have you been to Saffron?  Both are a must!

I was so honored to meet Chef Su-Mei Yu. Have you watched her show Savor San Diego? Have you been to Saffron? Both are a must!

7th Avenue Pub on Urbanspoon
Take Care and Happy Eating!

Honey Do!!!

Hello! It’s been too long since I posted. The Summer was a busy one, and now I’m a little overwhelmed with everything I want to share with you guys. I couldn’t resist telling you about an item I just bought today at Whole Foods in Hillcrest.  A man was handing out spoons with a dab of honey on them, so I couldn’t resist. His flyer claims that this is “The World’s Best Tasting Honey”. Again, how could I turn a taste down? I just wish my in-laws were here because they love honey. When they visit, we usually stop at Julian to pick up a few jars and a pie, of course. My Whole Foods plan was to buy Sencha Tea, and I came out with tea, a container of olives (couldn’t resist that either) and an amazing honey.

White Gold is from northern Canada (www.whitegoldhoney.com) . It is unheated and untreated. It is thick, creamy and has a perfect touch of sweetness. You can use it like any regular honey, but considering how thick and delicious this is, I think I would prefer it on a scone or with some delicious cheese (preferably from Venissimo! http://www.venissimo.com/). It is about $13 for 1 pound 7 ounces.

Whenever I go grocery shopping, I have my list and coupons in hand. I rarely, if ever, deviate from my list. This shopping excursion made me realize I should slow down and take a look at some other products. I love how Whole Foods really searches for those smaller companies who are just so passionate about whatever it is they are creating and selling.

I can’t wait to share some more awesome food spots I checked out over the Summer!  Any let me know about any food spots or products you discovered over the Summer!

SO GOOD!

SO GOOD!

Take Care and Happy Eating!

It’s Summertime and the Living is . . . Sweaty!

As I am typing, I am sweating. Welcome, Summer! I’m only 9 days into the Season and I’ve had a blast so far. Franz and I celebrated our 10 year Wedding Anniversary at The Grand Del Mar and had an amazing 10 course dinner at the Michelin-starred restaurant, Addison. I can’t wait to share what went on behind those doors, but I will have to post that in July. Why? I’m heading out to Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio to see family, and I just ran out of time this week to finish writing. Make sure to follow me on Instagram and Twitter (@megangillkopp) because I can guarantee it will be a food extravaganza, some Bourbon tour debauchery in Kentucky, and a reenactment of Oktoberfest in Cincinnati.

In no particular order, here are the highlights of my Summer so far . .  .

Our Neighborhood Footbridge is Getting a Much Needed Facelift!

Our Neighborhood Footbridge is Getting a Much Needed Facelift!

Franz Bringing Me Flowers on Our Anniversary. He Included My Favorite Flower, Bells of Ireland Which I had in My Wedding Bouquet!  Thanks, Franz!

Franz Bringing Me Flowers on Our Anniversary. He Included My Favorite Flower, Bells of Ireland Which I had in My Wedding Bouquet! Thanks, Franz!

I finally tried a cronut!  If you haven’t heard of a cronut before, it is a cross between a donut and a croissant. I would imagine these could be really screwed up, so go to an amazing baker for one. The one I had at VG was delicious.Trying a Cronut For The First Time at VG Donut and Bakery in Cardiff By The Sea.

V G Donuts & Bakery on Urbanspoon

Meeting Chef William Bradley After Our Meal at Addison.

Meeting Chef William Bradley After Our Dinner at Addison.

Addison at the Grand Del Mar on Urbanspoon
Let me know what awesome stuff you’ve done so far! I would love to read about it!

Take Care and Happy Eating!

San Diego Magazine Best Restaurants Kick-Off Party

What’s the best pizza place in San Diego?  If someone says Bronx, do you A) agree because you think it’s pretty darn good B) go on a tirade about how Luigi’s is far superior or C) you can’t name a place because pizza is just too unhealthy so you never eat it?  If you answered C, why are you reading my blog?  If you answered A, pick up the June edition of San Diego Magazine and leisurely peruse the list of Best Restaurants.  If you answered A, pick up the magazine, and do what I do and yell (in your own head) that you completely disagree with over half of the winners.  I say this because I actually like to read lists just so I can disagree with them.  Don’t most people?

Wednesday night, two friends, my husband, and I attended the San Diego Magazine Best Restaurants Kick-Off Party at Fixtures Living off of Miramar Road (http://www.fixturesliving.com/).  I bought a ticket for $40 which included this party and the big blow-out party on August 23rd in Point Loma.  One year, a bunch of my friends and I attend the Point Loma event and we had a great time sampling food and drinks from a slew of places.  I wasn’t even aware of the pre-party!  Big mistake!  Initially, I was weary of the venue.  For those not familiar with the area known as Carroll Canyon Business Park, it looks as exciting as its name.  Fixtures Living will open at the UTC mall down the road in the Fall which will make it more convenient to stop in and browse.  It ended up being the perfect location.  I had never been in this store before.  It is expansive, and it has room after room of high-end items for the kitchen.   It was so fun eating and drinking in staged kitchens with ranges that cost $50,000!  “Oh, this old La Cornue Grand Palais 180? Who doesn’t have one in their kitchen?”  That is a sentence I did not hear once during the evening.

There were only a couple of food stations that I missed.  I was really bummed, but at one point, I could no longer eat anymore.  The highlight of the night was Azucar.  Go to the website if only for the music: http://www.iloveazucar.com/ I find it very interesting that a Cuban Patisserie is in O.B.  I walked into this place some time ago, and, sadly, I never ordered anything.  I am a silly woman.  The desserts they served were fantastic.  If I were alone, the Turron de Havana would have made me weep, but I had to control myself.  However, I did not control how many I had. Three.  Don’t judge me.  The bottom layer is a hazelnut praline crunch.  Is that enough?  It could be, but these baking Gods top that with ooey, gooey caramel, topped again with dark chocolate mousse, and topped again with ganache.  It was heavenly.  My husband loved the Salted Toffee Oatmeal Cookie.  They reminded him of the style of cookies I like to make – on the thinner side, but full of flavor.  The third dessert was a little shot glass with a burst of flavor: white chocolate cake, passion fruit curd, and a pistachio macaron.  I would like to sincerely apologize to this restaurant for not eating your food as often as possible.  I will make it up to you.  There is a small breakfast and lunch menu, so I will have to check that out now.

Azucar Cuban Style Patisserie on Urbanspoon

In my opinion, the best named vendor goes to BadunkaChunk Cookies (http://badunkachunk.com/).  The name fits the cookie.  They are huge and delicious.  When Missy Elliott sings about her badonkadonk, she might be singing about these cookies, or how the cookies created the badonkadonk in the first place.  You can order cookies over the phone, or you can find them at Rubicon (http://therubicondeli.com/) or at MadFix Coffee Cart in Downtown San Diego on C Street between 6th and 7th (http://www.madfixcoffee.com/default.html).

Who Wouldn't Want This Gift Box???

Badunka Chunk 3

Oh Boy!

Another big taste winner for me was Green Acre, a restaurant created by the very popular Brian Malarkey and James Brennan.  It’s in Sorrento Valley which is kind of random, unless you  work here: http://www.sp-land.com/nautilus.html  It’s only open Monday through Friday, 7am until 3pm. ( http://www.greenacresd.com/).  This is possibly a prototype for future work campuses – healthy, delicious, and interesting meals created not for the shopaholics, but for those slaving away in office buildings.  I remember having to choose between Wendy’s and Subway.  Not fair!!  A Beet.L.T was served, and the best part, other than the fact that I love beets, was the Smoked Cheddar on it.  It was prepared like a tuile, so it was super light in weight, but it packed a major cheese punch.  Sadly, this was the first bite I had, and I completely forgot to take a picture.  Oops.

Green Acre on Urbanspoon

Stella Artois and Miramonte Winery (http://www.miramontewinery.com/) supplied the beverages for the evening, and they were gratefully appreciated.  The Sangiovese went so well with my bag of dark chocolate covered nuts, compliments of Marina Kitchen, located inside the San Diego Marriott Marquis.

Don't Mind If I Do

Franz making sure the pouring is done right.  And I’m pretty sure the guy serving the beer was 13. Yep, I’m old.

Hard at Work!

Hard at Work!

Miramonte WineryAnother restaurant that made me really happy?  And now I must go to their location in La Jolla? Puesto! I had read about this place, and then I never got around to checking it out (http://www.eatpuesto.com/).  The chefs made each taco to order.  The tortillas were made on site, too.  God bless them.  They served 2 tacos: Chicken al Pastor (and I was ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the pineapple in it. It made it very special.) and Potato Soy Chorizo.  I loved that they placed the cheese on the hot griddle which basically made a cheese “tortilla” which held the filling together, and that was placed in the tortilla.  They had a couple different sauces to top it off, and sliced some fresh avocado to top the little devils.  It was sweet, spicy, and fresh.  I loved it!

Puesto on Urbanspoon

Few Things In The World Are Better Than Hand Made Tortillas. She Is Doing God's Work!

Few Things In The World Are Better Than Hand Made Tortillas. She Is Doing God’s Work!

Puesto Doesn't Mess Around!

Puesto Doesn’t Mess Around

Truly Tasty!

Truly Tasty!

Royal India won my category of Best Schmoozing Effort (https://royalindia.com/) .  My husband and I got cards to return to their Downtown restaurant for free meals with a purchase of a bottle of wine.  If you read my previous post, you know I love Indian food.  I requested both condiments that were being offered, just to get a taste of everything they offer!  One was sweet and one was spicy, and I loved both!  I will be heading to their restaurant to try their Saag, my favorite dish of all time!

I will see you soon! Get the Paneer Saag ready!

I will see you soon! Get the Paneer Saag ready!

I don’t want to go on too long about this event.  I’ve probably already lost a few people along the way!  I will say that I was really impressed with all of the participants, the venue, and the people from San Diego Magazine.  I met the Editor, Erin Chambers Smith, at the Puesto table.  She was so nice, and it was great seeing people in the publishing and food industry enjoying mingling and eating.

Sorry my fork was in the way of this delicious squid ink pasta from Bencotto.  It was tough juggling food, wine and camera phone!

Sorry my fork was in the way of this delicious squid ink pasta from Bencotto. It was tough juggling food, wine and camera phone!

The ribs were a little sweeter than I prefer from Brooklyn Girl, but I've been to this restaurant before and I loved it! Eat at the bar!  Great people watching!

The ribs were a little sweeter than I prefer from Brooklyn Girl, but I’ve been to this restaurant before and I loved it! Eat at the bar! Great people watching!

I wanted cheese.  I got cheese.  Thanks, Monello!

I wanted cheese. I got cheese. Thanks, Monello!

One of the few stations I didn't get a chance to try.  I know.  I'm horrible. Everyone was raving about this dish from Roppongi.

One of the few stations I didn’t get a chance to try. I know. I’m horrible. Everyone was raving about this dish from Roppongi.

How cool is this martini sink?  It even has an olive on the handle!  You can buy it!

How cool is this martini sink? It even has an olive on the handle! You can buy it!

I had Rubicon Deli the other week and fell in love with them. I was happy to see them at this event!

I had Rubicon Deli the other week and fell in love with them. I was happy to see them at this event!

I'm not a fan of the half bacon and half beef burgers at Slater's 50/50, but I do like their "normal" all beef burgers. I love their Peanut Butter and Jellousy Burger!

I’m not a fan of the half bacon and half beef burgers at Slater’s 50/50, but I do like their “normal” all beef burgers. I love their Peanut Butter and Jellousy Burger!

San Diego Magazine Cover

I highly recommend attending this event next year.  It sells out fast, so keep a look out for it, and buy your tickets!  And you can still enjoy all of the great restaurants in San Diego in one spot!  The Best of San Diego Party takes place August 23rd at Liberty Station in Point Loma.  Get your tickets!  Here’s the link with all of the information you will need: http://www.sandiegomagazine.com/San-Diego-Magazine/January-2013/Best-of-San-Diego-Party/.  Take a look at the San Diego Magazine’s Best Restaurant edition as well.  Let me know if there’s a place you love that should be on their list!  I would love to check it out! Oh, and by the way, Pizzeria Luigi’s rules.

What a great evening! And I forgot to mention Cucina Urbana had some killer pizza coming out of their stone oven. Very appreciated!

What a great evening! And I forgot to mention Cucina Urbana had some killer pizza coming out of their stone oven. Very appreciated!

My partners in food crime - Pete and Marilen.

My partners in (food) crime – Pete and Marilen.

Royal India on Urbanspoon

Monello on Urbanspoon

Brooklyn Girl on Urbanspoon

Bencotto on Urbanspoon

Slater's 50/50 Burgers By Design on Urbanspoon

Cucina Urbana on Urbanspoon

Pizzeria Luigi on Urbanspoon

Marina Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Take Care and Happy Eating!

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day/ Weekend. I started the Holiday on Thursday by going out to lunch with a friend to an area known as “Little India” (http://littleindiasd.com/). It’s located off of Miramar Road on Black Mountain Road, and it’s close to I-15, so it’s easy to access. “Little India” consists of a few restaurants, some Indian stores, and a grocery store. Miramar Road is a little crazy. There are probably hundreds of stores on the street, and everyone is driving at least 50 miles per hour, so if you are looking for a particular shop or side street (like Black Mountain Road), it can be a little daunting. But if you are in the market for furniture, car window tinting, a growler from AleSmith or Rough Draft Brewing Company, or an Indian feast, look no further than this area.

Mart
If I had to rank my favorite cuisines, Indian would be in my top 3. There’s something so comforting about it. I love the smell of the spices, and the heat of the food combined with lighter components like coconut and cucumber just scratches me where I itch, to quote Kramer.

We decided to have lunch at Surati Farsan Mart which opened in 1986. I was overwhelmed when I looked at the menu. Take a look at their website and you will understand. My friend, Christin, advised that I order Dosa. I had never had one before, so I was excited to try something new. It’s a thin rice crepe that is somewhat crispy. There are a few filling options, so I opted to copy Christin and I ordered the Mysore Masala Dosa. It is stuffed with vegetables that have a little kick that is tamed by the coconut chutney that is served under the Dosa. When you lift it up, you will find the chutney and your silverware. On the side, a delicious vegetable soup is served which can be poured over the crepe, but I opted to dip my Dosa into it. If you have any soup left over, take it with you and pour it over some rice for another great meal at home. We easily could have split one between us, but I didn’t realize just how filling one would be. We ordered an appetizer, Chole Samosa, that was so full of flavor. If you haven’t had a Samosa before, just go here and order any one listed on the menu. You will love it! Just don’t be like Michael Scott from The Office and confuse Samosas with S’mores.

Mysore Masala Dosa

Mysore Masala Dosa

Chole Samosa

Chole Samosa

The one we ordered was topped with a sauce containing chickpeas and onions. The flavors were so fresh and bold. If you want a meal that will wake up your mouth, this is it.

Coconut Chutney - SOOOOO Good!

Coconut Chutney – SOOOOO Good!

I must say that I am so disappointed with myself. I feel like I’m an adventurous person food wise . I must note that in any other aspect, I am not adventurous. I did a zip line over Fremont Street in Las Vegas, and I thought I was Evel Knievel. Anyway, I’ve never ordered an Indian dessert. I never liked the look of them. Again, I’m so mad that I acted that way. Christin ordered a few desserts to take home to her husband, so she let me taste a couple. My hesitation with Indian desserts was that they look super sweet, like baklava. (And I like baklava, it’s just not a favorite of mine.) First, she had me try Jalebi. The orange color was what discouraged me from trying this item. It is coated in honey, which was another deterrent for me. Surprisingly, it wasn’t super sweet. It feels like you are holding fried air, if one could deep fry air. What a wonderful place that would be!

Genius Jalebi

The next dessert my friend introduced me to, which in the past I always passed right by because of the look of it, was Barfi. It had just a hint of sweet from the condensed milk and sugar. It had some crushed cardamom on top that gave the dessert some complexity. I loved it! I bought a box of assorted desserts to share with my husband, and he thought Barfi tasted somewhat similar to cheesecake, possibly a Ricotta Cheesecake because it isn’t creamy at all. I could eat this all day long!
The Chocolate Rose Coconut Roll was my favorite. I loved the color, and Franz loved that they tasted like one of his great loves: Strawberry Zinger.

Chocolate Rose Coconut Rolls

Chocolate Rose Coconut Rolls

Barfi and Rose Kaju Anjir Barfi

Barfi and Rose Kaju Anjir Barfi

The only treat Franz and I did not enjoy was Kaju Badam Roll. Unfortunately, the appearance reminded us of a dog treat. But that wasn’t what we disliked; it was the flavor. It is a cashew roll with an almond filling, but for some reason it had a smoky flavor which reinforced the dog treat idea. It is just not for me. I was happy I tried it though!

Kaju Badam Roll in Foreground

Kaju Badam Roll in Foreground and Rose Anjir Barfi Behind on the Right

Chocolate Badam Barfi was just in the middle of the road for me. It was an almond square layered with chocolate and almond slivers. There was nothing wrong with it, I just preferred some of the other desserts more.

Box of Goodies with Chocolate Badam Barfi on Top Near the back

Box of Goodies with Chocolate Badam Barfi on Top Near the back

The most interesting dessert was Rose Kaju Anjir Barfi. It is similar to a cookie, and it is cut into quarters. You can opt to order just a quarter which would be one bite for most people. It has a fig, cashew and almond filling. Apparently nut allergies are not a problem in India. It is flavored with rose-water, and I am usually not a fan. However, the rose-water was very subtle and it went really well with the other flavors. What I particularly enjoyed was the silver coating. It flaked away so that the bright red of the cookie shows through. I thought it was gorgeous, and I thought it was cool that it was safe to eat! If you go to the store’s website, you can order any of these desserts and have them shipped.
Visiting Surati Farsan reminded me to be open-minded. Sadly, I thought I was! I love when something surprises me!

Have You Tried These?
If you are in the mood to cook an Indian meal at your house, and you are not close to a Little India where you can buy spices, another option is Penzeys Spices ( http://www.penzeys.com/). There’s one in my neighborhood of Hillcrest, but they are located throughout the country (http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzeys/penzeysstores.html). The first one I visited was in Cleveland, Ohio near the West Side Market.  I love visiting this store because they have sample containers around the store so you can smell each herb and spice. See how long it takes before you sneeze. And if you prefer someone else creating a certain blend for you, they sell that as well. For example, they sell Old World Seasoning which could be compared to Lawry’s. Take a look at their online catalogue or, if you are lucky enough to have a store near you, stop in. The people who work there are always happy to help.

I Love This Section of the Store!

I Love This Section of the Store!

They have cute gift packages for special occasions, like a wedding or house-warming party. If you go, let me know what cool stuff you found!

It's Fun To Compare!

It’s Fun To Compare!

Take Care and Happy Eating!

Surati Farsan on Urbanspoon

3 Men and a Baby?? Whatever!! Try 1 Lady,1 Review and 1 Recipe!

This is how my mind works (Stick with me. It does go somewhere!) : I knew I wanted to review a particular restaurant. I checked my email first thing and saw that Adam Ant is coming to San Diego’s Balboa Theatre on July 17th. I started thinking about how I LOVED Adam Ant. I proclaimed to my mother while she was driving way back around 1982 that I will love Adam Ant forever. My sister, Beth, was a high school photographer and was lucky enough to go to his concert in Cleveland, Ohio, and she took photos of him backstage. Beth was already a god to me; this just solidified it. It must have been around 1983 when I had a gym routine requirement with Miss MacDonald. God, I did not like that lady. Sorry, but it is true. Miss McDonald, if you are reading this, you were probably a nice person, I just never got a chance to see that side. Well, I picked the song “Antmusic” by Adam Ant, of course! Like, totally! This was back when there were no Ipods, not even a CD! The horror! I asked my sister to borrow her record, Kings of the Wild Frontier. Beth knew that I, being the little sister, had a horrible track record when I borrowed her stuff. Any articles of clothing were bound to get at least one stain on it, so she was wise to tell me I couldn’t bring the record to school for my gymnastic routine. The problem was that I had choreographed (I use that word loosely) and practiced my routine to that song. I couldn’t change it. What could I do? I had to put a cassette recorder next to the record player and record the song. When I played the cassette tape at the St. Christopher gym, you couldn’t hear it at all. Huge failure. And my routine? Let’s just say I was not Olympic bound.

Check out this classic 1980s video.  Aahhh, good memories! Is he wearing lip gloss?


Thinking about Adam Ant made me think about the 80s and all of the stuff I loved back then. For some reason the movie Three Men and a Baby (1987) came to mind. I started thinking about how if three grown men couldn’t take care of baby, that would be really sad. That led me to think that I shouldn’t just write a review today, I should include a recipe. If it took three men to take care of a baby for a month (or however long they had the kid), I could write a review and a recipe in one post. Yep, all of this from seeing an ad for Adam Ant’s concert.

Project Pie 2
My husband and I checked out Project Pie in Hillcrest this past Sunday. Unfortunately, most of our families are in Cleveland, Ohio, so we were on our own for Mother’s Day. We walked in, and we immediately greeted by the pizza makers. There is a list of pies and a description of each when you enter. It’s kind of cafeteria style. You pick a pie, tell the first person which number you want, move down a bit, tell the next person which additional, and free of charge, toppings you would like. They get your name and the pizza details, and the next person writes it on parchment, and the pie is placed into a big pizza oven. I ordered the #2: Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, Crumbled Meatballs, Mozzarella and their Signature Red Sauce. I added Ricotta and Artichoke Hearts, but I wasn’t paying attention and the guy didn’t hear me, so I didn’t get the artichokes I requested. Next time I will speak up and watch which topping are on it before it goes into the oven! Franz went with another option and got a ton of extra toppings. Both pizzas were great. What I love about this place is that everyone gets their own pie. No arguments because one person in the group always wants pineapple on the pizza. You know who you are! Also, they offer a gluten-free crust, and I heard from a friend that it was super tasty. The red sauce was really fresh, and the toppings were flavorful.  The crust was perfect as well.  Great taste and I loved that it wasn’t too thin but not too thick either.  My only tiny complaint was that the center of the pie could have been hotter. It was fine, but I like it a little on the well done side. Oh, I almost forgot, you can order a Nutella and Banana pie. Don’t think I haven’t stopped thinking about that bad boy since Sunday! Currently there are only 2 locations: San Diego and Las Vegas (at The MGM), but Project Pies will be opening soon in Atlanta, NYC, Boulder, D.C., and the Philippines.

Pizza Pies are Being Made to Order!

Pizza Pies are Being Made to Order!

Franz's Choice: #6 With A Bunch of Tasty and Free Toppings!

Franz’s Choice: #6 With A Bunch of Tasty and Free Toppings!

My Creation - And I Requested Extra Sauce on Top. YUM!

My Creation – And I Requested Extra Sauce on Top. YUM!

I promised a recipe, too! This is the kind of recipe that would work after a pizza dinner because it is sweet and light in texture.

The recipe, Angel’s Kiss Baci Cupcakes, from Baci was created by Lidia Bastianich. Who doesn’t love Baci??  If you never had one, finish reading this post, and immediately get your booty to a grocery store and buy some.  They seem to be carried everywhere nowadays.  Thank god!

With the first batch, the batter never got stiff and glossy.  I baked them anyway, and they turned out perfect.  With the second batch, the batter was as it should have been – stiff and glossy.  However, the cupcakes baked horribly.  The tops were uneven and shrunken.  The next time I make these, I will stop before the batter gets stiff and glossy.

Angel’s Kiss Baci Cupcakes

Cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 Baci, finely chopped

Glaze

  • 4 ounces dark chocolate bars, finely chopped (I went with the recipe recommendation and used Perugina Dark Chocolate Classic Bars)
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon hazelnut liqueur (optional)
  • 4 Baci, coarsely chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 375.  Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and salt.
  3. In an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar to form soft peaks.  With the mixer at medium speed, gradually add the sugar.  Beat at high-speed to stiff, glossy peaks. (**As I noted above, when I achieved the stiff, glossy peaks, the cupcakes did not seem to turn out for me.  You can try either way, but I will stick with keeping the batter at the soft peak stage.  Let me know if you make this recipe, or have made this in the past, and tell me what you did and how it turned out.  Thanks!!) Lower the speed and mix in the vanilla.  Fold in the flour mixture in 3 additions, taking care to deflate the batter as little as possible.  Quickly fold in the chopped Baci.  Divide the batter among the cupcake pan and smooth the tops.
  4. Bake until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cupcake comes out clean, about 15 minutes. (**I never wait for the toothpick to come out clean. The cupcake  will continue cooking for a brief period after it is removed from the oven, so I always remove cupcakes when some crumbs are still attached to the toothpick. If you do this, check the cupcakes after 10 to 12 minutes.) Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove cupcakes from the tin to cool completely
  5. While the cupcakes cool, prepare the glaze.  Put the chopped chocolate in to a small bowl.  Bring the cream to a simmer and pour over chocolate, shaking the bowl to submerge the chocolate.  Let sit 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth.  Stir in hazelnut liqueur, if using.
  6. Spoon the glaze on the cupcakes and smooth to the edges.  Sprinkle with the chopped Baci.  Refrigerate until the glaze is set.  Serves 12

So take that Tom Selleck, Steve Guttenberg, and Ted Danson! Try doing that!

Take Tubular Care, Totally Happy Eating, and Don’t Gag Me With A Spoon!

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Bake Sale Success?

Another year, another great bake sale for the San Diego Food Bloggers. I participated last year, but I wasn’t there to see all of the action. This year I was able to watch it transpire. It was fun to see so many friends and random people filling grocery bags full of desserts. Awesome job!! I’m still waiting for the final amount raised for Share Our Strength‘s No Kid Hunger campaign.  However, the sale isn’t officially over.  You can still make a donation on-line.  If we raise the most money, Duncan Hines will donate an additional $10,000 to our total!  Atlanta has been winning this bake sale every year, and we, the San Diego Food Bloggers, would love to put an end to that streak!  If you can, please go to http://join.strength.org/goto/SDFBBakeSale2013 and make a donation. Thank you so much for all of your help!!!

This year I opted to make Chocolate-Banana Whoopie Pies. Choosing what to make is a daunting challenge. I wanted to make something that would appeal to the most people, and something that can be consumed on the spot or in a couple of hours. Chocolate is always a big hit, and once I saw a preliminary menu of what other bakers were planning to bring, I made the decision to make Whoopie Pies. Sadly, I’d never made them before. I looked over various recipes, and decided upon one from Good Housekeeping, February 2012.

Whoopie Pie 2013

Here’s the recipe (any changes are noted with **):

Chocolate-Banana Whoopie Pies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 6 Tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg

(** The recipe states to fill the sandwiches with marshmallow crème.  You could do that, but that didn’t sound exciting to me.  I found a recipe that I liked better which is below.  Also, I made another batch of these that I didn’t sell.  I added cinnamon to the batter, and I wish I had done that to the bake sale batches.  I love cinnamon!)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.  From bananas, mash enough for 1/2 cup; finely chop remaining, and reserve.  (**I mashed 1 banana, and I chopped 1 to add to the filling.)  In another medium bowl, mix mashed banana, sour cream, and vanilla.
  3. In a large bowl, with mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until well combined.  Beat in egg until well blended, scraping bowl occasionally.  Reduce speed to low.  Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat just until batter is smooth, scraping bowl occasionally. (**Don’t over mix! That’s probably the biggest mistake when baking.)
  4. Drop 1 rounded measuring teaspoon batter onto prepared sheets. Repeat with remaining batter, spacing 2 inches apart.  With wet fingertips, flatten tops of balls to form rounds. (**I tried making rounds with a 1/4 measuring cup, and I baked for about 10 minutes.  I got about 7.5 cookies (sandwiches) out of it.  They were really large, especially when you consider it is 2 cookies and filling.  It made my belly kind of hurt after eating one.  The next batch I used a tablespoon of batter, and I cooked them for about 8 minutes.  I was able to get 15 sandwiches out of the batter.  It was a much more reasonable size, and it is that size I sold at the bake sale.)

Banana Crème Filling

  • 1 cup solid vegetable shortening (**I used Spectrum Organic All Vegetable Shortening Non-hydrogenated.)
  • 1.5 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups marshmallow crème
  • 1.5 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 chopped banana
  1. Whip first 4 ingredients together.  Fold chopped banana into filling. Fill sandwiches with as little or as much as you like, or just eat by the spoonful.  It’s all good.  I preferred the pies after they had been refrigerated.  In general, I would suggest to keep the pies refrigerated.

Whoopie Pie 2013(2)

On another note, it was my brother’s birthday on Monday.  Brian turned 50 on Monday.  A HUGE “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!’ goes out to him.  Even though a few miles are between us, I’m thinking of you!!  I hope this is a great year for you, Brian.  The photo below is from my dad’s 80th birthday last year.  I picked the photo below for 2 reasons: 1) Brian was looking quite dapper and 2) for all of the special people present in the photo.  The best birthday wish is to be surrounded by people you love.

Family

Take Care and Happy Eating (and Please Consider Making a Donation)!

Who Doesn’t Love a Bake Sale?

What are you doing this Saturday? Do you want to enjoy the beautiful San Diego weather forecasted for this weekend? Would you love to enjoy that weather with a delicious homemade dessert in hand? And wouldn’t you love it if you knew all of the proceeds went to an amazing cause like helping hungry children? I can make all of your dreams come true! And if you can’t make it, or if you live out-of-town, there’s still a way you can get involve and help out a worthy cause.  Keep reading!

Food Blogger Bake Sale 2013

I participated in the San Diego Food Blogger Bake Sale last year for the first time.  It was a truly professional bake sale organized by an amazing blogger (and person – yep, she’s real), Marie of Meandering Eats (http://www.meanderingeats.com/).  Once again, Marie has organized another awesome event.  However, she will be off to Medical School soon, so wish her good luck when you see her Saturday!  If you haven’t gone in the past, let me explain that you are getting yourself into a situation.  The desserts look great, the labeling and packaging are so cute, and there are samples just to make sure it tastes as good as it looks (and it does!).  The problem will be that you will want to buy a lot of stuff, maybe even buy some things to eat before you leave the parking lot, and maybe you’ll buy some things to take into the office to share with those silly people who missed it!  It’s alright because the money goes to Share Our Strength No Kid Hungry (http://www.nokidhungry.org/).  This is a national bake sale, as well, so help us beat other cities!  Take that, Pittsburgh!  Just kidding. Or am I???

The bake sale takes place this Saturday, May 4th, at Great News! Cookware and Cooking School in Pacific Beach (http://www.great-news.com/) from 10am-2pm.  The people at Great News! have been awesome supporters of this bake sale, so a huge “THANK YOU, GREAT NEWS!” goes out to them .  If you haven’t had the opportunity to investigate the store before, this will be a great time to do so!  Make sure to sign up for their newsletter so you can get additional discounts every so often!  And there is a Starbucks super close, so go ahead and make a day of it!  Finish it off by driving down to the beach with the family afterwards.  Seriously, can a Saturday get any better?

If you can’t make it, there are other opportunities to get involved.  Simply go to: http://sdbloggersbake.wordpress.com/  There you can enter raffles, donate money, see a tentative menu, and read more about some of the individual bakers who will be offering their goods.

This is such a fun event!  Please pass this information around to friends, family and co-workers.  In 2011, $1750 was raised, in 2012 we raised $3151, and we are hoping to surpass our goal of $3000 this year.  I’m not suggesting we are a competitive bunch of bloggers, but come on!  We want to raise the most money for this organization out of the entire country!  Again, no competitive bone in our bodies.

Take Care and Happy Eating!

Here a Kale, There a Kale, Everywhere a Kale-Kale

I love food trends.  It’s fun to see what people create with the hot item of the season, or the month, or the minute.  I over indulged one weekend in New York City when pork belly was all the rage. Bad idea.  My husband and I couldn’t even look at pork belly for about a month.  Then there was the ramp craze.  That wasn’t a big hit with me.  It was just ok. Then kale got the spotlight.  It was (and seems to still be) everywhere!  Is kale even cool anymore?  I will never tire of it.  Of course you could swap it out for turnip greens or Swiss chard, but I still really enjoy kale.  And there are many types to choose.  Check out this blogger who documents 6 kinds: http://www.pigandvine.com/2013/01/garden-6-kinds-of-kale.html

Top Ten Reasons to Eat Kale

  1. It goes with anything! Just Google recipes for kale, and you will find a combination you like.  Say you don’t eat veggies often (a la Ron Swanson), add some quinoa and some grilled chicken.  You prefer sweet entrees?  Make a nice vinaigrette, add some strawberries, maybe throw in some sautéed shrimp, and dinner is served.
  2.  It is super filling. It’s like eating a bowl of rice.  It seems to really expand, and yet I’ve never felt uncomfortably full.
  3. Talk about healthy!? It’s one of the healthiest foods on the planet! It has a ton of fiber, calcium, vitamin B6, A and K, magnesium, etc., etc.  However, I have read that too much kale may interact with some medications and can interfere with the absorption of calcium, so have that milkshake from Jack in the Box another time, and speak with your doctor about drug interactions. I even think you get health benefits for just reading about it!  So well done.  You’ve just increased your magnesium!
  4. You can eat kale, and then feel ok about that Jack in the Box milkshake you will gulp down later!
  5. It’s really tasty, and you feel good eating it.  You know when you donate to a worthy cause or finish a charity run?  That’s how I feel after eating a bowl of kale.
  6. It doesn’t have to be 100% healthy.  Go ahead, throw a pork belly on it.  It won’t judge you.
  7. You can bake them and eat them like potato chips! Or you can have someone else do the work for you.  Thanks, Trader Joe’s! Kale Chips
  8. I think it keeps one regular.  Just being honest.
  9. You can try growing it and talk about it at farmers’ markets so you sound really cool.
  10. It’s so pretty!  You can use it in a floral or table arrangement!

I had lunch the other weekend at Mon Ami Gabi at Paris Las Vegas.  My husband had a delicious steak, and I thought it was very reasonably priced for Vegas.  I ordered the Frisee, Kale, and Warm Bacon Salad with a Soft Poached Egg. Divine.  Again, it doesn’t always have to be healthy!  However, I’m in love with a recipe that doesn’t clog the arteries.  I discovered this recipe in Good Housekeeping (April 2013).  It’s a Dr. Oz recipe (and I now love him because through his show I discovered the cleanse I did last month), and I think it’s a great one for people who already love kale and for those who are not so sure about it.  Another option with this recipe is to blanch the kale first or add the quinoa hot if you are not crazy about eating kale raw.  I’ve read that it is even healthier to eat kale cooked.  You have so many options with this simple recipe!

Apple and Baby Kale Salad

  • 3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained (*see note below)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I used avocado oil just because I like to mix it up every so often.)
  • 1 medium Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
  • 6 cups mixed baby kale (Or use any kind of kale you like.  I like them all!)

Cook quinoa according to the directions on the package; let cool.  (I didn’t let it cool that much.  I just threw it in.)

Whisk together mustard, oil, lemon juice, green onion, and 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  Add apple, kale, and cooked quinoa; toss to combine. And, of course, it’s great topped with sriracha.  Like I even need to mention that (insert eyes rolling).

Why do I love this particular recipe?  First of all, I love the unexpected sweetness of the Granny Smith apples. Second, if you (or someone you know) think you might not like kale, it’s a great introduction.  You could add more quinoa and not use as much kale.  **You could replace the quinoa for something all together – you could add orzo!  Why not?  It would be like a pasta salad with some kale.  Maybe throw in some blue cheese?  OK, I’m just getting hungry now.

Kale and Apple Salad

Even if kale has jumped the shark, I’m not letting this trend go anytime soon!  What’s your favorite food trend?  I’d love to hear about it! And if you head to Vegas anytime soon, check out Mon Ami Gabi.  There’s a patio (no reservations accepted for that area) that is on the strip.  Talk about a great day:  A bottle of wine, steak, kale and watching the lovely people of Vegas walk by!  What could be better?

Take Care and Happy Eating!

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