Amazecheezeballs! And Chocolate! And Craft Beer! OH MY!

I feel I need to explain the title of my post. One of my favorite celebs is Giuliana Rancic.  It’s odd how much I like her because I’m not a fan of reality t.v., and I don’t usually care for celebrities. I did cry over meeting Gene Simmons of KISS, but I was about 5 years old, and I was really scared.  I also cried at a few New Kids on the Block concerts.  And a George Michael concert.  OK, maybe I do like SOME celebrities.  Anyway, I started watching G’s reality show, Giuliana and Bill, when she was just starting to have infertility issues and I never missed an episode since.  One of her favorite words is “amazeballs”.  Let me be clear, I hate the word – I can hardly even write it! – balls.  However, if “amaze” or “schweddy” is placed in front of it, it seems ok.

Classic SNL

Now that I got that out of the way, my beer blogging friend (www.hoptologysd.com) suggested that the two of us collaborate and host a pairing of all pairings: cheese, chocolate, and beer.  I could do a cheese, cheese and cheese pairing, so adding two of my other favorite things in the world was a no-brainer!  The plan was that I would pick the cheeses and chocolates, inform him of my selections, and he would select beers to complement.  My first order of business was to get my mind under control.  Why?  Because I could really overthink the options.  I held myself to 5 pairings and had to keep the cost low.  Another thing I had to consider: people’s tastes.  I am happy to have cheeses on my plate that one could swear might get off of the plate and walk away.  I like super funky cheeses.  Having said that, I also love a simple Muenster.  I knew I had to create a nice balance of flavors – not too overwhelming, but not underwhelming.  Then I had to consider the chocolate – some people hate milk chocolate while some hate dark.  My goal was for someone to have thought he or she didn’t like something and discover that, along with the right pairing, it was tastier than the person thought.

The Glasses Are Just Asking To Be Filled!

The Glasses Are Just Asking To Be Filled!

A Little Guidance Navigating the Tastes

A Little Guidance Navigating the Tastes

Here’s how it all went down:

Pairing #1: English Vintage Reserve Cheddar paired with Dark Chocolate Covered Cranberries.  Beer: Ninkasi Total Domination IPA

Pairing #2: Uniekaas Reserve (Aged Gouda) paired with option #1 Chili Infused Dark Chocolate and/or option #2 Chuao Firecracker which consists of dark chocolate, chipotle, sea salt and Pop Rocks.  Beer: Drake’s Black Robusto Porter

Pairing #3: Point Reyes Aged Blue with Dark Chocolate (85%).  Beer: Ommegang Abby Ale

Pairing #4: Cinnamon Apple Goat Cheese (from Trader Joe’s!) with Dark Chocolate (75%) and Almonds.  Beer: Ayinger Brauweisse Hefeweizen

Pairing #5: Le Delice de Bourgogne Triple Cream with a selection of Chocolate Truffles (Participants’ Choice of either a Dark Chocolate Truffle, Godiva Milk Chocolate with Caramel, White Chocolate Ganache and Toffee Truffle, or Chocolate Caramel Truffle).  Beer: St. Bernardus Tripel

Cinnamon Apple Goat Cheese From Trader Joe's Was Fantastic!

Cinnamon Apple Goat Cheese From Trader Joe’s Was Fantastic!

Always Delicious Cheese Choice: Point Reyes Aged Blue (From Whole Foods)

Always Delicious Cheese Choice: Point Reyes Aged Blue (From Whole Foods)

Like Butta (or Butter to some)! Le Delice de Bourgogne Triple Cream From Trader Joe's

Like Butta (or Butter to some)! Le Delice de Bourgogne Triple

Cream From Trader Joe’s

It’s fascinating watching people during a tasting like this.  Some people want to know “the rules”.  What order should I follow?  Do I try the beer first, then the cheese, then the chocolate?  Then you have people who spot a favorite cheese, and just jump in, suggestions be damned!  While others follow suggestions for a bit, then start really playing around with mixing and matching.  This really could be a psychological test!  Hmmmm.  My buddy, Tom, and I gave a little guidance and I prepared a menu with a suggested order and pairing, but we really encouraged experimenting.  People quickly started asking what were the favorites.  It was near impossible to make a decision.  I thought the beer pairings were spot on!  I have a weakness for Blue Cheeses, so the slightly pungent flavor with the creamy texture of the Point Reyes was almost mind blowing with the very slight sweetness of the Ommegang Abby Ale.  And following the Ale, the bite of Dark Chocolate brought that little bit of sweetness back around.   If you ever taste cheese with me, be prepared for an emotional ride!

I think Flo Rida sums it up:

He’s obviously singing about a cheese, chocolate and beer pairing evening!

Another perfect pairing that really threw me for a loop was the Aged Gouda, Porter, and Chuao Firecracker.  Chuao is an amazing Chocolatier located in San Diego.  You can purchase at Cafes in Del Mar or Encinitas.  La Jolla UTC mall used to have one, but it is no longer open.  These creative and tasty chocolates can be found at stores around town and can be purchased online (http://chuaochocolatier.com/).  For this tasting, I bought my Chuao at Bed Bath & Beyond. I love BB&B because I love using coupons!!!   And, regarding the cheese, I picked this Gouda because it is unlike your average Gouda.  There is a snap to it and a smokiness not always tasted in a Gouda.  The chocolate with its hint of chipotle really brought out that smoky flavor and then, BAM!!!, Pop Rocks kick in!  Then, WHAM!!!, a sip of Drake’s roasty Porter!  KAZAAM!  It’s like you are fighting Superheroes in your mouth! Fortunately, with this battle, every one wins!

We had the good fortune of hosting this event on October 26th, so I loved bringing in some Halloween decorations.  Yep, it was one of the best nights EVER!!

Full TableFull Room View with Hanny

Halloween Decor #2 Halloween Decor #1

I Had Way Too Much Fun Creating This Tablecloth!

I Had Way Too Much Fun Creating This Tablecloth!

I Love Adding Little Touches! I Placed A Bowl With "Cobwebs" In The Center Of The Table & Had Spider Rings Coming Out Of It!

I Love Adding Little Touches! I Placed A Bowl With “Cobwebs” In The Center Of The Table & Had Spider Rings Coming Out Of It!

What A Fun Night! And Notice The Decapitated Head In The Background.  I Love Halloween!

What A Fun Night! And Notice The Decapitated Head In The Background. I Love Halloween!

Perfection On A Plate!

Perfection On A Plate!

The Beermeister, His Wife, And Some Guy Off The Street Who Likes Gouda

The Beermeister, His Wife, And Some Guy Off The Street

Who Likes Gouda

I can’t tell you how happy this event made me.  What could be better than getting a group of friends together to eat and drink amazing things and talk about it!  This was a great start to many more Pairing Gatherings!  Have you done something similar?  Let me know!!! And head over to the guy who made this night happen and read his side of the story: www.hoptologysd.com.

Take Care and Happy Pairing!

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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!

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!

I’m Alive!

I’ve been absent since last year, so I wanted everyone to know I’m alive and well.  O.K., that sounded really dramatic.  I feel like so much time has passed since I last posted!  I just returned from Cleveland, Ohio.  It was great seeing family and friends and eating all of the great food Cleveland has to offer.  I have so much to discuss and some great photos to share.  I need to get my thoughts collected, and I promise to post some fun stuff next week.

Since it is Friday, I would like to try to maintain the recently created tradition for this blog and share my favorite thing during the past week.  This was a tough one because I experienced a ton of awesome food and experiences.  The clear winner, however, was the Cleveland Museum of Art.  If you live in Cleveland and haven’t gone, shame on you!  And I don’t think I’m being too harsh!  Is it the entrance cost holding you back?? (It’s free.)  Is it the lack of amazing art work?? (It’s one of the best in the world.) Maybe you think you might get hungry and there wouldn’t be a good option for lunch or dinner nearby? (The museum has a brand new restaurant, Provenance, that has an amazing view of outside – and a full bar to boot.  My mom and I saw a yummy looking Sunday brunch being served.  What better way to spend a Sunday?? There’s a cafe, as well, where you can take food out into the gorgeous new atrium and admire the stunning marble facade of the original building. Oh, and Little Italy is a stone throw away.)

Check out this video:

I have my B.A. and M.A. in Art History, but you don’t need any special degree to really enjoy this gem.  Oh, you don’t live in Cleveland?  So you don’t travel outside of your city?  You don’t take vacations?  You might consider Vegas, Miami, or Seattle for a trip, right?  I propose you consider Cleveland.  I guarantee you will have an amazing vacation (maybe avoid the Winter months).  I must disclose that I grew up in Cleveland, but I can honestly say that I’m not writing this with any bias. I’m not writing this to make my mom happy, either.  And I’m not getting paid to endorse this city.  That would be awesome though!

Here are some of my favorite pieces from the CMA’s collection:

Mourner from the Tomb of Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy

The Crucifixion of Saint Andrew

Stag at Sharkey’s

The Red Light

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Take Care and Happy Eating!