Thursday, August 31, 2006

Happy Hour at Region

The last time we visited Region was during the week of $30 dinners- we had a really great meal and were very impressed with both the atmosphere and the quality of the food.
Region's happy hour runs from 5-7 pm mon-thursday. It consists of half price drinks and half price appertizers- basically anything off the menu in the anti-pasta section. This is good because usually things here are pretty pricey. For such a great deal I was surprised to find us as the only ones in the bar- perhaps the location (5th avenue a few blocks south of university) doesn't offer itself too well to passers by?
We ordered a raspberry mojito and a strawberry lemonade. Both were made with fresh fruit and were really excellent, the mojito particuarly so. The bar tender was incredibly friendly and ready to oblige our every need. Looking at the menu we thought the anti-pasta platter looked like a good bet, although a little heavy on the meat side. Again Region was incredibly accommodating and prepared us a more vegetarian friendly platter. I was certainly very happy that we were there during half priced appertizer night. The anti-pasta came out on a salad plate and consisted of maybe 4 slices of cheese, 4 slices of meat, some radishes, lettuce, 6 slices of zucchini and a slice of bread (bruscheta topping had been removed due to pork content). The quality of everything was excellent but it felt much more reasonable to pay $6 rather than $12.

Region is a wonderful place and I hope one day we can treat ourselves to the $50 trust the chef 4 course dinner. For the time being I think we shall stick to Happy Hour.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Garde Manger

What is a Garde Manger I was asked today. A little piece of trivia that someone was sure I would no teh answer to. Sadly they were wrong and I had no idea- however I know now, according to this culinary site a Garde Manger is someone "who creates salads; hot and cold appetizers; sandwiches; garnishes; and table decorations." I was so excited by this- this is exactly my dream job. Especially the salad creation part, and the garnishes I guess. How commmon are these jobs really? Maybe Culinary School is for me after all. I mean check out my mouse- if this isn't some serious garnishing skills I don't know what is :-)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Med Grill

Went out for lunch at Med Grill yesterday. We used to go a lot to this restaurant, but hadn't visited in quite a while. Its a good reasonably priced place to eat, and lunch can certainly be done very cheaply. This time we ordered the vegetarian mezze platter and the Med Grill salad.
The hummus there is good, but sometimes a little sickly, the baba ganoush and falafel just okay. The salad was pretty good, with some excellent olives. The house Red wine is really a great deal.
Service is always nice at Med Grill, although the emptiness of the restaurant can be a little off putting.

A good local eatery, with a big selection of food and friendly staff.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Georgia's Greek Cuisine

Stopped by Georgia's today for lunch. Had previously been there just for a cup of coffee (they advertise cappucinos on the window but no longer serve them since the arrival of Starbucks).

the lunch 'specials' at $9.95 a pop were way too pricey for Rosencrans on a workday, but the sandwiches were reasonable so we grabbed a falafel and a chicken sandwich. They were both okay- certainly not great. The value was pretty poor when you consider just across the street you can get a huge plate of different Thai delicacies for even less money than we paid for our little sandwiches.

Still- try new places, you never know when a gem will turn up.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

India Palace Lunch Buffet

Looking through our coupon book today we decided to head out somewhere for a spot of Sunday Lunch. India Palace had a great offer of 2 for 1 lunch buffet and so we headed over there. There's something strange about Indian restaurant Lunch buffets, well maybe just something strange about an Indian restaurant at lunch- they are so gloomy. Whenever I walk into one I feel slightly depressed at having left the delight of the sun outside and wonder why they decide to not let in any natural light, and why they then don't make up for this with some lights of their own. This is definitely a place better to visit after dark when the atmosphere can be romantic and soothing.

We walked into the restaurant and as so often with lunch buffets, were a little unsure as what to do. There was no wait to be seated sign, but neither did it seem like the type of place to just grab a table. No one paid us too much attention and eventually when we did manage to make contact with a waiter he just waived his hand invited us to sit where we chose. No menu was proffered and we waited a little longer , now not sure whether we should just grab plates and start helping ourselves. When no one appeared we decided- our hunger getting the better of us, to just go ahead.

The array of food was wonderful, lots of choice, and yet not so much that you either miss out on something good, or end up stuffing yourself far too full of food. Highlights were the tandoori chicken, and the vegetable massala, the lentil dish was also excellent. We sat down, and after being greeted by no waiter we eventually managed to flag one down and ask for a drink, this eventually arrived, as did a basket of naam bread- although unfortunately it came after most of the food had been demolished.

The lunch buffet was great, the service just bizarre and barely existent. Still the waiter we eventually manage to grab was incredibly kind and cheerful. So a great Sunday lunch- probably without our 2 for 1 coupon this would have been a little overpriced, but with the deal it was wonderful.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Nothing too exciting for dinner tonight- just the usual stand back of pasta pesto, a few veggies thrown in and a bit of protein.

Our basil supply is still doing us proud- we have two full planters full of the stuff- mostly genovese, but some thai and some red ruffles. On our windowsill is also another basil container- I passed it by yesterday, noticed it was a little short and was shocked to see a giant green caterpillar chomping away to his heart's content. I have set the cats out there to chase him away, although I doubt this will work!

Anyway I am loving the profusion of basil, something I have dreamed of ever since we saw a similar set up in Italy. We also have our pine nut stash from costco- so any time to want Pesto we can just throw everything in the blender and hey presto! Personally I often admit the Parmesan and Pecorrino- we add cheese to our food after serving so often that it seems too much to put cheese in the pesto as well.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Party Food

So we had a party Saturday night- it was a bit last minute, so not too much time to prepare.

Here's what we laid out- Tortilla chips with Tzatziki, Guacamole, two types of Salsa, Hummus,
Olives, Caprese salad, New Potatoes, Fruit salad and then some little pizza things from TJs.

Funny thing- the things to go first- the little store bought pizzas, makes me wonder if I should bother making things myself or if I should just order in Dominos.

Just a thought......

Friday, August 11, 2006

El Fandango

Passing by Old Town this evening we decided to stop in for a quick drink and bite to eat. The nice thing about Old Town is I always feel I am on vacation when I go there- I guess it's because everyone else is, plus the Mariachi bands and the rose sellers. The ultimate tourist experience.

Lines at Casa Guadalajara were insane, so we wandered around and found ourselves in the usually fall back of El Fandango, a cute little restaurant with a nice patio. El Fandango attracted us primarily as we could actually get a place to sit down- okay our table was next to the entrance to the kitchen and not exactly prime seating, but at least we were outside.

We ordered a couple of margaritas (one house, one strawberry) and the Fandango Sampler to share. The strawberry maragrita for $5.95 was actually incredibly good, far better than the house variety of the same price. Really this is just what frozen fruits are made for.

The sampler arrived fairly swiftly- it consisted of nachos, guacamole, an empanda, cheese quesedilla and a couple of shrimp stuffed with crab. It was all fairly okay- the guacamole a bit below par, but the nachos were good. The shrimp stuffed crab were rather overpowered by the bacon n which they were wrapped, but nonetheless added an interesting component to the sampler.

Most of all the evening was interesting for the people watching element. Families on vacation are always so amusing to watch. Sadly no one looks to happy- many families- especially those with older children, just seem to sit there and stare, no one talking very much- occasionally conversation is made. Then you get the older tourists, the ones who like to act like they are in a foreign country and treat the Mexican waiters like small children, speaking loudly and slowly, sure that such people won't understand a word they have to say. And finally you have the couples, a romantic getaway- you can always tell the ones on their first vacation- they are the ones who get the rose, order the margarita especial, hold hands, with their eyes all starry.

Lucky we had plenty to watch, because the service was just horrible. We asked one of the busers for our check, as we hadn't seen a waiter in quite some time, and then watched bemusedly as he chased our waiter around for ten minutes or so, desperate to pass on the message. Eventually the waiter himself passed by our table and we asked for the check again, many long minutes later it arrived and eventually we could leave.

We have learned our lesson here before, and I don't know what makes us such slow pupils. Saturday night in Old Town is always a bad idea.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Best Mashed Potatoes ever

Feel in need of some comfort food today. It has been a long difficult week. Luckily these mashed potatoes seem to solve any problem. I like them with a few sausages- the ole "Bangers and Mash"

4 Large Potatoes (peeled and chopped into large chunks)


2 Tbsp olive oil

2 onions (sliced)

8 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

1½ cups of peas

1 8oz packet frozen spinach, (thawed and drained)

4 Tbsp milk

3 oz butter

1 large tsp Dijon mustard

4 oz cheddar cheese (grated)


1, Boil the potatoes in salted water until soft. Drain and set aside.

2, Meanwhile heat the oil in a wok. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are soft. Add the frozen peas and spinach, cook on a medium heat for 8 minutes.

3, Place the potatoes in a bowl, mash a little. Add the milk and the butter and mash until they are creamy. You may need to add more milk and butter, depending on the potatoes. Add the mustard and cheese and mix it in well.

4 Stir in the vegetables into the mashed potatoes. Season to taste and serve whilst still nice and hot.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Cane's Bar and Grill

The plan was this morning to get up early and head out for breakfast at the Broken Yolk. Unfortunately Sunday beign the only day in the week I can sleep in, things didn't quite go as planned and we were going to be facing some horrific lines with the sunday mornign breakfast crowd. The Broken yolk still seemed like a possible option- it is one of the 'famous' breakfast places in San Diego that we have yet to go to, it certainly has a lot of intersting options, including the rather nasty idea of 12 eggs and a pile of biscuits that only cost you $1.95 if you eat them all alone in 1 hour. Still a fun place to go prehaps- until we looked at the reviews.... it seems that this is one of those places that lives on its reputation and doesn't do a great deal to earn its keep. We read of 45 minute waits for food after being seated, rude wait staff and mediocre food. Well I won't say too much until we have tried it ourselves, but it was certainly enough to put us off.
We looked through our coupon book and found we had a 2 for 1 breakfast coupon at Cane's bar and grill in Mission Beach- not a place known for its breakfast so we figured there wouldn't eb a long wait. We were correct in our thinking, and also fortunate enough to get an easy parking space, and of course a great sea view whilst we ate. Okay it wasn't the greatest breakfast ever, the coffee was pretty bad, and the menu certainly not extensive or creative. However the food was good enough- certainly for the price. I got the breakfast burrito, which was really good actually, and my wife got a veggie omlette which came with fairly good house fries and some nice fresh fruit. At the end of the day, with our coupon discount, we got our breakfast with a view of the sea for $12 (for us both), and didn't have to wait in any lines. You can't really beat that.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


After the success of the melting pot we decided to invite our friends over for the other great Swiss invention- the Raclette . For people who are not familiar the Raclette is a cooking device you place in the center of the table, there is a hot plate on top to grill, and then little dishes which fit under a heating element below. Like the fondue the key to the raclette is cheese, and lots of it! At its most basic Raclette consists of boiled potatoes, which you then smother in raclette cheese that you have cooked under the grill. When you get a little more adventurous there is no limit to what you can cook on the raclette- in the past we have had stuffed zucchini flowers, mini pancakes, turkey and gongonzola bakes- the list goes on.
Last night we settled on a mainly seafood and vegetable grill. Heading out to wholefoods we picked up a couple of different shrimp, 5 different cheese a huge assortment of vegetables and some turkey chorizo sausage. We then marinated the meats and fish, boiled some purple potatoes ,prepared some of the vegetables ( mushrooms stuffed with pesto and feta) and left the rest to our guests.
There was such a great selection of cheese (Halloumi, Raclette, feta, stilton and boursin) that it was easy to create a wide variety of treats. The nice thing about the racelette is that much like a fondue dinner, it is slow. for each little dish you prepare several minutes must go by before it is ready to eat. It is also very interactive and fun, and allows each person to eat their own favorite foods, missing out any ingredients they are not so keen on. Definitely one of our best wedding presents!