Sunday, June 24, 2007

A few updates

I wanted to catch up on a few updates to previous recent posts:

First- Happy Hours: we have had some great responses to our post about Happy Hour, and definitely plan on trying out Chive and Donovan's pretty soon. I also found some good San Diego based Happy hour websites including Happy Hour Mag Online and also San Diego Happy Hour both of which have some great suggestions.

Next- Picnics: We took the advice given to our picnic post and headed out to Kate Sessions Park in PB. Wow, I was stunned, I don't know how I had never been up there before, the park was beautiful enough in itself, with gorgeous trees and flowers ( a great tribute to a great woman), however it was the view from the park that was draw dropping, you can sit on the grass and just have the whole of San Diego laid out in front of you- stunning. What was even more amazing was how quiet the park was, you would think more people would like a piece of this wonder.

Finally: The Wedding brunch. We went ahead and went to Poseidon for the wedding brunch and things went off very nicely. The restaurant did put us inside which was a slight pity, but everyone seemed pleased with both the location and the food. I have to say I still don't understand why it was quite such an ordeal to find a place for 25 (Poseidon still acted like they had done us a huge favor). The restaurant was far from being packed, with no wait for brunch, and the additional $350 or so we must have spent should have been something they might like?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Mission- North Park

Of all the wonderful breakfast places to eat in San Diego, for some reason we had never yet gotten round to trying one right in our own backyard- the Mission cafe in North Park. Often put off by the very long lines out front on the week days, and then often preferring a seaside view or such like, we had never yet given this legendary spot a try.
Having a rare weekday morning to ourselves today we decided to give it a sh. Happily there was no line at all outside the cafe and we were seated almost immediately in the slightly understated dining area. We enjoyed the art covering the walls and the hustle and bustle of the incredibly fast waiters. in fact this this is really the one overriding impression given to me t the Mission. The speed of these guys was phenomenal. no sooner were we seated and our order was taken, the order being taken our food arrived in 5 minutes tops (well I suppose it was possibly a little more, but seriously, these guys were very fast).
The food was also wonderful, something that arrives so quickly would usually be disappointing on the pallet, but not so. I had taken advice from San Diegos various food blogs and reviews and gone with the French Toast. It was perfection. The chefs had taken a loaf of cinnamon bread to fry up, and served it with a wonderful syrup, sweet and luscious and slightly moist, this really was the most perfect French Toast I have eaten. My wife went for the papas locas which were also fantastic, the potatoes were chunky and perfectly cooked (soft inside crispy outside). far better that these tiny little squares of potatoes that seem common at breakfast places around town. The chillies added a wonderful spice, and the beans and sour cream countered with some coolness. the two breakfasts were at once among the more interesting fare we have encountered, the most nicely presented, and the most delicious tasting. Now we can properly see why people stand for an hour or so outside this great cafe. - Oh and the prices were great too!

Monday, June 18, 2007

A big mistake

We like our boiled eggs a little runny in the middle. We usually have boiled eggs in salad and a little runny egg yolk seeping into the salad dressing is always a good thing. I find that about 8 minutes 30 seconds makes for the type of egg we prefer. So yesterday night I put on a pan of boiled water and went to boil 10 eggs for the following week. Now most likely what happened is the sheer amount of cold eggs in the pan of water brought down the temperature so much that 8 and a half minutes was just not enough to cook them fully. When I opened the first egg up I found that it was very very runny still inside, in addition to a runny yolk we even had a runny white (not what we were looking for). The eggs have all been drained now, and the water poured away so popping them back on the stove doesn’t seem like an idea. Suddenly I come up with a plan. I have heard in the past about using a microwave to poach eggs. I figure a little blast might finish them off nicely. I plan to try this out with one egg first, popping it in for 30 seconds. My wife is skeptical, I ask her advice on the 30 seconds. This is where some misunderstanding comes into play. My wife is thinking that I am putting all the eggs in a bowl of water and throwing them in the microwave- she suggests 2 minutes for this venture. What I am actually doing is throwing 1 egg straight in the microwave- no water. I took my wife’s advice and did this for 2 minutes.

We took the egg out- it looked fine. We cooled it down under some running water and my wife began to peel off the shell………….. BOOM! The whole egg explodes, it covers the entire kitchen the noise was incredibly loud coming from one little egg. My wife was covered in egg, her hands scolded.

The humor of the situation is now creeping in, but let me tell you, microwaving eggs is not a mistake we will be making again.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Happy Hours?

Well, it's Friday, which means time for some sort of Happy Hour outing. We have been searching in San Diego to try and find a really good Happy hour. A recent internet search came up with an article from the UT which suggested Zoccalo Grill as having the best Happy Hour in town. The review was incredibly good so we decided to give it a shot.
Entering the restaurant we asked the host outside what hours happy hour ran- he didn't know. This didn't seem like the best sign, but undeterred we walked on in. The restaurant, although almost empty of people was awash with servers, hostesses and cooks. There were actually 4 people standing at the greeting point, not knowing quite who to address, we were told by 2 of the 4 that they knew nothing. Eventually we managed to get the attention of the other two who were chatting away and were taken to a table.
Finally seated, we told out server we were just here for happy hour, and he presented us with the menu. We were severely disappointed. The margaritas were still pretty expensive (even the 'house' variety), as was the food. Most things seemed maybe a couple of bucks cheaper than usual. The only thing I could see in a usual happy hour price range were some sweet potato fries, so we settled on these and a couple of house margaritas. Several servers passed our table over the next few minutes, although ours was not to be seen. eventually he did appear, took our order and then returned into the sea of staff, that were standing around in all sorts of places, some watching TV some leaning against the bar having a chat, some crowding the greeting point.
With so many staff, and two or three bartenders in the vicinity of the bar we didn't think it would be long before our drinks arrived. Unfortunately however there was a good 10-15 minute wait before some miniscule glasses with weak watery margaritas arrived. Our food meanwhile was nowhere to be seen. The waiter informed us it would be 'right out', and then returned 15 minutes later baring a tiny little plate of some deep fried sweet potatoes, just like the ones we make at home- there was maybe half a potato worth of fries there. The dipping sauce was not especially pleasant. This being 15 minutes later we had of course finished our drinks before the pitiful fare arrived. The waiter asked if we would like another and was met by a resounding "No Thank You" from the both of us. We finished up, waited another 10 minutes for our check, watched the hoards of staff standing around, and speeded over to Cafe Coyote where we new we could at least get a good sized cheap margarita, and a dollar taco.
So- not a good experience, and we are still on the search for a good Happy hour. I have been told McCormick and Schmicks is exceptional, so we shall try this soon. Any other advice would be wonderful. Here are some places we like:

Lot81- cheap (good) beer, a $5 burger and other great happy hour food.

Gulf Coast Grill- some very nice happy hour food ( we like the fried green tomatoes and the quesadilla). Great prices on drinks. Monday night is all night Happy Hour.

Basic- $5 martinis and free pizza

Kensington Grill- changes each night of the week. Usually has a good quesadilla going. A very chill more classy happy hour.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


I catered a 50th birthday party of a friend yesterday- it was a fifies theme- some great outfits. Poofy skirts and Elvis wigs abounded all over. For the food I avioded the fiftiesness. I went with stuffed strawberries, stuffed tomatoes (using those darling little mozzarella balls from Trader Joes), Endives, and a greek platter. Everything went down very well, especially the dolmades. I have posted the recipe below- the main secret is to use lots of lemon juice which kind of caramalizes down the bottom. Make sure you cook them thouroughly also, or you end up with crunchy rice!


1 cup long-grain white rice
1 cup Plus 3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion (finely chopped)
3 spring onions (finely chopped)
1 tbsp Minced fresh parsley
2 tbsp Minced fresh mint
½ cup Pine nuts
1 tsp Ground cinnamon
½ tsp Ground allspice
1 Jar grape leaves
Several stems of fresh parsley
¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup vegetable stock


1, Heat 3 Tbsp of the olive oil in a wok. Add the onion and fry for 5 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the rice, ½ cup of the remaining olive oil, the spring onions, parsley, pine nuts, cinnamon, allspice, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
2, Rinse the grape leaves under running cold water to remove as much brine as possible, pat dry, and stack on a plate. Place 1 leaf at a time, shiny side down, on a flat work surface. Cut off and discard the tough stem end. Spoon about 1 Tbsp of the rice mixture in the center near the base of the leaf. Fold the stem end over to cover the filling, fold both side inward lengthwise and then tightly roll leaf toward pointed tip end to form a compact packet. Repeat with the remaining leaves and filling.
3, Pour about 2 Tbsp. of the remaining olive oil in the bottom of a large pot and strew with a layer of parsley stems. Arrange the stuffed leaves, seam side down and almost touching, on top of the parsley, making as many layers as
necessary. Drizzle the remaining olive oil, the lemon juice, and 1/2 cup stock over the leaves. Top with a heat-resistant plate and weight with a heavy can to keep leaves from unwinding
4, Cover the pot, bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until rice is tender, about 1 hour. During cooking, add a little heated liquid as needed to keep dolmades moist. Remove from the heat and cool in the pot. Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve.

Monday, June 04, 2007


We went to a baby shower yesterday. It was a very non-traditional affair, more of an afternoon get-together with a pregnant woman! For lunch they served up some sandwiches in those great ciabatta rolls from Costco.
In principal it would seem that I am fairly anti- Costco- a lot of nasty, low quality overpriced food exists between its massive walls after all. But increasingly we are starting to think about joining. In the non-food realm there are some great deals on tires, electrical items, and bedding. Not to mention the really awesome return policy.
Foodwise I am generally not a fan, but there are a few items of note that I really do like:
In addition to the ciabatta rolls there is: cheese- fresh mozzarella did buffalo (to die for) and some wonderful brie. Vegetables: great hot house tomatoes and English cucumbers (some of the fruit is okay, we don't go through fruit in Costco sized portions, whereas we can easily go through 2 packs of tomatoes a week). My fave item in the veggie section is the peeled garlic- a laziness I never thought I would go for, but after having one container at such a low price I am converted! In the frozen section there is the really great spinach ravioli and a couple other occasional items. Then I like the big bags of pinenuts and other random ingredients that store well, so that a huge quantity is not a problem.

We still haven't totally decided, but with the taste of ciabatta still on my tongue I am leaning towards membership.