Devine Pastabilities

We refer to this place as Torpasta, which is what they are known for.  It’s a “torpedo” submarine shaped sandwich, hollowed out and stuffed with yummy pasta & sauce.  Everything from lasagna, pink sauce & bow ties, alfredo broccoli, carbonara, meatballs…. you get the point.  It’s a great place in Point Loma, try it out.  Super tasty, and really craveable.

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Taste Of Little Italy

Had a great time at the “Taste of little Italy 2017”. You have 4 hours to reach all your restaurants, 40 in total split into 2 different routes. We bought a ticket for each route, North and South. $40 per ticket, good deal considering your only paying $2 per taste at each place. We were worried that we wouldn’t get to all the places in time, but we did it in 3 hours, and the last hour we were super slowed down since we were struggling to fit everything in.

 

North Route: ( but this is not the order we went in)

Indigo Grill – Stuffed chicken with polenta cake and mole sauce. It was a little cold but still good. We’ve been there before and had eaten this dish before. It’s a great place for an option other than Italian food in that area.

Burger Lounge- choice between a grass fed beef burger or vegetarian quinoa burger. We got a whole burger, pretty good portion. I was so stuffed by this point I could not even eat one bite. Steve liked it, the bun looked good to me but I knew we had a few more stops to make before the end.

I-Dessert- make your own mini dessert with choice of chocolate or raspberry sauce, a number of gelato flavors and a few different mini meringues. We got chocolate, mocha, Oreo. Super good, I highly suggest going here when in town. It’s a special place to get a unique dessert, something you’ve never had before. Great for kids and adults, fun for a date night.

Iron side- shucked oysters. Nope

Prepkitchen- meatball with sauce on crostini. Tasty, maybe we’ll come here again, nice ambiance inside but not for kids.

Yougurtland- watermelon sorbet. Super tasty and flavorful, it was the perfect palate cleanser from everything else we were eating. Sample could have been bigger.

Napizza- your choice of pizza slice. Not bad, not great.

Cafe Italian- seriously the best cappuccino I’ve had, I couldn’t believe they were making drinks to order at this stop. Can’t wait to stop back in there.

Underbelly- pork bone broth with ramen, pulled pork, seaweed. Lots of flavor, better with the hot sauce. I personally don’t crave this type of food but if I did I would come back for more, it was super tasty.

Bolt Brewery- we skipped, just beer samples. I’m not a beer person, neither is Steve.

Oh Juice- they had a small table set up on the corner. It was kinda weird, we didn’t stop, they were just sampling juices, no jerky or granola as listed on the card. I couldn’t even see where their store was.

Puerto La Boca- skirt steak with Chimi-Churri and house Malbec. Wine was ok, nothing to rave about. Steak was good but Chimi-Churri had no heat and needed salt. I enjoy more punch with my Argentinian meals.

Pali Wine Co- wine samples and sundried tomato crostini. We started here so we could have a glass of wine while we were waiting for he event it start. We love this place, very inviting and relaxing. We typically go here first to have a glass of wine from tap before we go out to dinner in a typical date night.

Ballast Point- pretzel bites. So so good, you could really taste the rye in them.

Pacific Standard Coastal Kitchen- short rib sliders, carnitas tacos, s’mores chocolate bar. This place was great; we never knew this place was there. I still think the S’mores bar was he best thing we had all night, wished I had 2 or 3. Tacos were great too, they had a bar set up where you could make your own. We were also invited to sit down here, most of the other stops you had to eat on the street.

Herb and Eatery Cafe- Thai chili ginger broth, chicken slider and strawberry basil gelato in a mini waffle cone. This place was awesome too! 3 tastes, good deal, and it all tasted really good. This place is the lunch cafe spot, and in the back is Herb&Wood the dinner restaurant spot. Looking forward to trying this one out.

Juniper & Ivy- smoked sturgeon and potato bread. Eeeh… I expected more. We’ve had dinner here before and was great. I think they could have represented their place a bit better. Like with their deviled egg. It’s ok; I won’t hold it against them, we will return.

The Crack Shack- chicken slider. It was good, especially with the Fresno chili in the slaw. Such a great casual place to get good sandwiches, good for kids, great atmosphere.

Bird Rock Coffee Roasters- coffee samples. Bummer they only gave out tiny little cups, hardly a sample. Especially after seeing what everyone else was giving out, all they could spare was about a dimes worth of coffee? It was good but I’m put off by their stinginess. I do like their place, cacti gardens in the tables.

Little Italy Loading Dock- bratwurst sandwich. Tasty. Another place I didn’t know about, it’s in the far north end of town. Good bar feeling.

 

South Route:

Petrini’s – housemade sausage, pasta & sauce. It was ok; the owners said they were selling soon, so I’m not sure why they were even participating since the menu will change with the new owners. We won’t miss it.

Enoteca Wine Bar – 2 little 1/2 oz samples, nothing to even discuss. I already forgot about this place

The Kebob Shop – Grilled chicken w/saffron rice and sauce; really good. I could have eaten an entire plate, but was already super full by the time we got here. Sadly I would probably never eat here while in town, just because there are so many choices in this area, but maybe will visit the one in Mission Valley. I would recommend this place for sure.

Craft & Commerce – pork ribs w/slaw. Good. It was packed in there, so we didn’t get to see much. I’ve heard great things about this place, they even have a secret tiki room you have to get far in advance reservations for. We will be visiting here again. They just reopened after a huge 1+ yearlong renovation.

Romesco Mediterranean Cocina – Paella. Ehh. I’m super bummed that this place changed hands. Used to be Bracero, with amazing high end Mexican influenced menu. I think it’s the same chef that’s transforming it into a reinvention of a similar restaurant he has. We’ll have to see what the new concept is all about.

Isola Pizza Bar – pizza. Good.

Queenstown Public house – we skipped it. Too full, not enticed enough by it’s offering of Chili. Plus it’s a little off the beaten path.

Buon Appetito – gnocchi and sauce w/meatball, really good, super tender meatballs. One of the best, of the night. We actually tried going there once to eat but the wait was too long. It’s been there for a long time, making it one of the more popular older places there.

Davanti Enoteca – Corn salad, light, tasty and refreshing. We love this place. There are so many little plates you can order and enjoy with a bottle of wine. I suggest getting the giant ravioli in brown butter sauce. I still dream about this dish, having eaten it for the first time several years ago. They also have a sister restaurant in Del Mar by the Cineopolis, I think the menu is either the same or very similar.

Mimmo’s – portobello ravioli & cavatappi sausage in spicy cream sauce. So good. Another favorite of ours and locals, it’s been there forever. Everything I’ve ever had there is good, and authentic. They do wine Wednesdays w/ half off bottles. Fun to sit outside or inside if it’s not too hot, they don’t have air conditioning.

Filippi’s – pizza. ehh. actually not great at all. Maybe it was an off sampling, maybe it’s better when you actually go there to eat. I’m not sure; because this place has several restaurants around town which I would think they are good. But we both agreed that we’d probably not ever go there, there are several pizza places in town which are much better.

Ristorante Illando – pasta. Not good. Defiantly boxed pasta w/standard sauce. Not even sure why they were serving that. This is a pretty new place on top of Landini’s, which is great for a slice.

Civico 1845 – pesto pasta. good. This place is always busy too, but the menu doesn’t appeal to me, so we probably won’t ever go here.

The Glass Door – salmon cake. ehh, could have done better. great location, ride the elevator up to the top. It’s a little cramped up there by the bar/entrance, but the view of the harbor is great and nice casual seating.

Barbusa – pasta w/bolognese served in cheese rind. Good. Actually I thought was a poor representation of what this place has to offer. This is one of our favorites here, maybe #1. Been there already 3x since the beginning of this year. They have the best fried zucchini, polenta, gnocchi, carbonara, short ribs, lasagna… the list goes on and good drinks too.

Bencotto – ravioli w/pink sauce. Good as usual. Another great restaurant down there, maybe one of the most expensive in town. They make all their own pasta and have a clean modern atmosphere.

Monello – Pasta w/beef cheek ragu. tasty. We’ve never been here or even noticed it, it’s down past Bencotto. Menu looked good.

M Winehouse – wine samples, don’t even remember them

Cafe Gratitude – ceviche & chocolate coconut cream pie. Both good, nice to have a dessert option. Maybe we’ll check this place out sometime again.

Bar Bodega – I don’t remember, but it was bad, maybe something shrimp? I’m annoyed as well because they had great items listed on the card but then changed it. We were excited to go there but totally let down.

All in All it was an amazing event!!! I highly recommend doing this, as we will every year. It’s a lot of food, at the end we were thinking about what we could take home because we literally could not fit it in we were so stuffed an still had several places to hit. I suggest buying one of each route ticket so you don’t have to choose which places to go and can try them all. BUT if you don’t plan on spending 3-4 hours down there then maybe go with just one route, you can relax and don’t have to feel rushed. I can’t wait to see what’s on next years menu. Be sure to get your tickets fast, they usually start selling about 1 month out from the event held in the spring.

SoNo Date Night

Have you been to South Park?  North Park?  A good place for a progressive date night.  We recently headed out to a few places in those areas and would love to talk about it.  Kindred; a real cocktail bar with awesome drinks, as well as a vegan restaurant. The atmosphere is very LA meets Ann Arbor, kitchy elegance with a huge black demon wolf creature on the wall.  You’ll have to go there to see what I’m talking about.  Our favorite place to sit is behind the bar in the booths.  They change up their bar menu all the time featuring different liquors you’ve never heard of, or ask the bartender to make you something special.  I found that I love Ancho Reyes Verde Poblano Liqeuer, great in a margarita. They will make you a real, stiff drink that looks nice, in proper glasses and won’t break the bank, $10-12 for most.  There is a $40 fish bowl type drink, maybe one day I’ll order. The food is really good too, try something new, you’ll like it!

Off to Eclipse Chocolate for Bar Night, making chocolate bars that is!  Due to it’s popularity they typically offer 2 bar nights per month.  You get to make 2 full size bars, milk or dark chocolate, and pick 3 mix in’s from about 20.  The staff brings you your stuff, you mix it with your chocolate and spoon into molds.  They take it to the back room to set while you enjoy your drink, and 20 minutes later you got your chocolate to take home!  They have a great food menu there too, we always order a little something (meatballs are good, brunch is also tasty).  I also highly recommend getting a “drinking chocolate” they are incredible. Tickets $25 per person, makes 2 full size chocolate bars plus 1 drink (beer/wine). Add on additional, $10 per extra bar.

Next onto North Park, there’s lots of fun places to go there.  If you want a drink go to The Office, a coffee; Dark Horse or Cafe Calabria, some wine; Splash Wine Lounge, some taco’s; City Taco’s, and this is where we went.  Usually a huge line out the door, we got lucky on this Thursday night.  Order everything al a carte, every kind of taco you can think of, very authentic, all freshly made to order.

Lastly down and across the street is Hammonds Ice cream.  They also usually have a long line, which we fell victim to.  The thing I love about this place is you can get a tasting flight, ranging from 2 flavors to all 24 (or maybe it was more?) You can also get them all in tiny little handmade waffle cones, so so good. 3 tastes in waffle cones for $6. You can get regular sized stuff too, but who doesn’t want to try every flavor that looks good instead of picking just one?  We tried the cake batter, brown sugar, peanut butter oreo and black sesame.  Let’s just say I can’t wait to return.

Two great little neighboring towns that offer a wonderful progressive date night.  Sadly there are a few places that we used to love to go but they have since closed, not even sure why because they were so good.  Remembrance for ; Taco’s Perla (in my option they were better than City taco’s), Heaven Sent Desserts (they were there for 10 years), Wang’s (never went there but always said we would), and another desert place that was absolutely amazing, but forgot the name.  The chef hand crafted the most special high end desserts, it was the best and I’m so sad that we only went there once.  The chef was so talented and hope for his resurgence possibly in another community.

Send me your SoNo favorite places.

Eggslut

I saw this place featured in some food show about them being inside Grand Central Market in LA.  The soft scrambled eggs sold me, these are my favorite and you almost never see them on a menu.  Of course being so close yet so far away I knew we would never get up there to try them. When we saw they had opened a place in Vegas at The Cosmopolitan, I was elated! Friday morning, 45 minute wait, made Steve go and get a iced coffee while waiting, it was already 100 degrees out (we were at least waiting inside).  Thank god the kids weren’t with us or this would not have happened.  They had a small open kitchen, all cooks manning their own stations cooking like crazy, the egg guy was on point. We ordered The Slut, Fairfax Sandwich and Biscuit. The Slut; coddled egg w/smooth potato purée, poached in a glass jar, topped with gray salt and chives, served with slices of baguette; Amazing.  You just dip the bread right into the jar for luscious, silky, decadent egg & potato creaminess.  I needed twice as much bread and another jar.  The Fairfax; soft scrambled eggs and chives, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and sriracha mayo in a warm brioche bun.  We got it with bacon.  I have to admit the soft scramble yet tasty, was not as good as mine 🙂  But considering they had to bust out about a million orders every morning and fast, they were still pretty good.  And the Biscuit; house-made buttermilk biscuit served with butter & maple syrup, while supplies last, baked every morning. A great start to a Vegas day, can’t wait to go back.  Hoping the lines are not as long next time.  They open every day, and Saturday & Sunday opening at Midnight through the late afternoon, good drunk or hangover food.

 

Pickle something

I’ve been replenishing a jar of pickled onions in my fridge for a year now. Ever since I made them that jar has never been empty for more than 10 minutes.  Cheap, easy, and so so yummy.  You probably have all the ingredients to make them in the kitchen already.  Pickle whatever you want, onions, radish, peppers, jalepeno’s, carrots, cucumbers….I like to put this food on everything; taco’s, sandwiches, salads…

1 glass sealed jar (I use a mason jar with locking lid)

2/3 cup vinegar (white, red, apple cider or combination)

1/3 c water

1/4 c sugar

2 teaspoons salt

Optional: red pepper flakes, corriander & fennel seeds

 

Directions: Heat all ingredients until sugar dissolves, just below a simmer

Slice up whatever you’re pickling, stuff the jar full and pour in the hot liquid to cover.  I let it cool slightly before sealing it up and put in fridge.  I reuse the same liquid for 2-3 rounds of onions.

Note: Use more or less sugar to adjust sweetness, for a stronger taste do not add water.

Tuesday Date Night CRG

Tuesday is the new date night, according to Cohen Restaurant Group.  Several of their restaurants around town feature and small menu to choose 2 Entree’s, paired with a bottle of wine for $40.  Try this out at The Prado, Sea 180, Indigo Grill, OB Warehouse & 100 Wines.  These spots all have great food and getting a bottle of wine to share on top of it is an even better deal! We recently went to Indigo Grill last Tuesday, we chose the Antichurch Board; grilled chicken, beef & pork belly skewers with trio of hummus, flatbread and pickled veggies.  The other dish was the Pipian-Rojo Chicken; bacon, cranberry & goat cheese stuffed chicken breast, grilled polenta cakes, butternut squash and a duo of mole.  Honestly I couldn’t really pick out those items listed in the stuffing, but I literally licked the darker mole off the plate it was so good.  I couldn’t make a decision on which was better, we traded plates 3 times and each time I thought I was eating the best dish. Not sure if this was so great because we hadn’t been on a date night in a while or it was actually as good as it seemed.  I think it was both.

Sorry no pictures, we were really hungry!

 

My New Favorite Kitchen Appliance

Do you have an ice cream maker?  I’ve gone through my share of machines over the last 10+ years.  I’ve tried the ones you put salt into, which is way to much work.  We also had one that made 3 separate small batches, but the containers went bad after a few years.  I thought that I didn’t want another big bowl that I had to keep in the freezer, but I wanted to give it another try.  The only other option was buying a more commercial type machine which start at $300, and bigger and heavier. I don’t make ice cream so much that it would make sense to spend that type of money on.

So I did a lot of research, as I always do before I purchase anything.  Looked over numerous reviews on Amazon and weighed the pros & cons of pricing vs. quality.  I wondered if I should get the kitchen aide attachment, but it didn’t get as good of reviews as the one I got.  I chose the Cuisinart  ICE-21.  Only $50 on Amazon, got it even cheaper at Bed, Bath & Beyond by using my 20% off coupon (you know those never expire, right?).  It’s a very light and small machine, with one big bowl to freeze.  I keep mine in the plastic bag it comes in, turn upside down and place in the bottom and back of my freezer.

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I’ve started trying to create tasty ice creams that don’t break the bank on calories but still taste yummy, by using mostly almond milk and just a little half n’ half, or coconut milk.  You can also cut some of the sugar and replace with no-cal sweeteners, I prefer monk fruit.  You don’t want to replace all the sugar as the sugar helps to reduce sugar crystals from forming in your ice cream.  Fat will also help with that too so I add in some egg yolks.

This ice cream maker is a bit loud, but only takes 15-20 minutes from start to finish.  I prepare my ice cream batter, and chill in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.  You take out the bowl from the freezer, pour in your batter and press the on button.  A great tip I learned is to cover the open hole on the top, to keep the cold air from escaping.  You can also run the machine for 3 minutes and turn off for 1 minute to help it cool faster, and repeat.  But DON”T leave it off for more than 1 minute or it’ll freeze to the mixer/scraper part and then it won’t run.  I’ve done this several times, so ALWAYS set a timer, or you’ll be scrapping the sides until it will move again.  I do the off and on thing for about 10 minutes total, then run for another 5-10 minutes until it’s done.

Add in your mix in’s for the last 2 minutes, make sure they are not too large of chunks or they won’t mix in.  Then scrape the ice cream out, put into a freezer container and freeze for a few hours or overnight to harden up.  Some ice creams get super hard so it’s best to let them sit out for 10 minutes before attempting to eat. This is mostly because you can’t get enough air whipped into the mixture with a home machine, so the mixture is more dense.  The ones in the supermarket pretty much whip as much air into them as allowed.  This is another reason why ice creams at the store (Breyer’s or store brands) will be less in calories per 1/2 cup, compared to what you’ll make at home, when using a traditional milk & cream recipe. They are closer to the nutritional facts of Ben & Jerry’s or Hagen Daz.

Some of my favorites so far are…

Butterfinger Oreo, Cake Batter w/sprinkles, cake & frosting, Chocolate s’mores, Coffee & Biscoff, Toasted Almond

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This is the type of freezer ice cream tub I like, we own 2.  But when I already have these in use and need to make another batch, I use a good plastic container like Sterilite.  Don’t use ziplock containers, they are not strong enough and can break easily when cold and trying to scoop out hard ice cream.

I highly recommend this particular ice cream maker, it works really well, so far the bowl has held up well and it’s a great price.  This would be a great Birthday or Holiday Gift, or a good excuse to have some extra fun in the kitchen!