Nick & G’s in Rancho Santa Fe, CA

It’s not very often that I travel up to North County, but when I heard about Nick & G’s opening in Rancho Santa Fe, I was so excited to make a special trip to try it out! Nick & G’s is serving up Mediterranean/Italian fare with well thought out and creative dishes, killer desserts, and cocktails that pack a punch! The interior of this space is truly beautiful, and they offer live music seven days a week!

Nick & G’s
6106 Paseo Delicias, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067 www.nickandgs.com

 

By the time my date and I arrived we were both starving, so we decided to start with Calamari Gremolata with lemon caper aioli and checca sauce, Chilled Jumbo Shrimp with pickled onion and charred pepper sauce, and Crispy Parmesan Brussels Sprouts with balsamic molasses and toasted Marcona almonds. While all three of these appetizers were very good, I’m going to focus on the star of the evening — the Brussels sprouts. I can’t even explain to you how delicious these were… you are just going to have to take my word and go try them for yourself! I love Brussels sprouts but can rarely eat them at restaurants as they are usually paired with a meat like bacon, so I was so excited to see this fresh take. The Marcona almonds make this dish so interesting, and the balsamic molasses had me basically licking the bowl.

Continue reading “Nick & G’s in Rancho Santa Fe, CA”

Advertisements

White Out at Le Dîner en Blanc San Diego

Last week in San Diego I had the opportunity to participate in a unique pop up dinner party experience that takes place in different cities all over the world, and it was such a treat! Le Dîner en Blanc was launched in Paris in 1998 and is truly like nothing else I have ever experienced. Guests are required to wear all white, bring with them a table, chairs, table cloth, centerpiece, and picnic, and there are three phases to the release of tickets. First, guests who attended the previous year are invited, then anyone who is referred by one of those guests, and finally the general public is able to request a spot. Once confirmed, attendance is mandatory and the location remains a secret until 4pm on the day of the event!

This has taken place in some of San Diego’s most beautiful areas, and this year is was held in Liberty Station! Le DÎner En Blanc provides a unique opportunity to get dressed up in your elegant white attire, plan a fun picnic, and dine and dance under the starts with your friends and neighbors. It was such a treat to be involved in this special evening, and I had such a blast soaking up the sights, taking in everyone’s outfit, and snacking and sipping on some delicicate bites and champagne provided by Verbena Catering Co. I can’t wait to see where this Diner en Blanc takes me next year!

Thank you to Alternative Strategies for the media invitation to this special night!

Falling in Love with Union Kitchen & Tap in Encinitas, CA

Since I moved to the North County of San Diego ten years ago, I have been completely in love with Encinitas. This charming and chill beach town is literally what dreams are made of and the dream keeps getting better. Recently, I’ve been delighted to see an emerging food scene along the North County coast. Though the trek from Ocean Beach to Encinitas is daunting, I couldn’t miss out on the opportunity to try Union Kitchen & Tap. My friend, Paul, came to town last week. I knew this was my chance! We decided to make a day of it including meditation gardens, my favorite beach and a delicious dinner.

Union Kitchen and Tap
1108 S Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA, 92024
www.localunion101.com

I’ll stop rambling and get to the good stuff! We started with the cocktail list…a very good place to start. The list is organized by liquor type and included the flavor profile of each cocktail. I often have a hard time choosing, so I loved this attention to detail. I was immediately drawn to the agave portion of the menu. I chose the Fleetwood which combined serrano-pineapple infused Blanco, dry Curacao, and lime. The cocktail list described it as “charred, tropical and tart”. It arrived looking beautiful and tasted just as delicious as it was described. I might have been heard saying it was the best cocktail I’d ever had AND it was even named after my favorite band! Paul opted for the Agatha with Belvedere vodka, watermelon, cilantro and lime. Described as refreshing, sweet, and bright, this was a great choice for our hot summer day and it was exactly those three things!

Continue reading “Falling in Love with Union Kitchen & Tap in Encinitas, CA”

Going Retro at The Smoking Gun in San Diego

This past week I had to opportunity to head into San Diego’s Gaslamp Corner to check out one of it’s newest hot spots, The Smoking Gun! I was excited to see this new twist on a neighborhood bar and restaurant, offering up a southern inspired menu, nostalgic details, and old school games! I was immediately charmed with the details that greeted us, from the menu in an old school folder, to the drinks presented in this favorite childhood toy, and especially by the oldies playing all night long!

The Smoking Gun
555 Market St., San Diego, CA, 92101
www.thesmokinggunsd.com

Continue reading “Going Retro at The Smoking Gun in San Diego”

Alex’s Media Field Trip to Park 101 and Barrel Republic in Carlsbad, CA

Last Thursday I was lucky enough to be included in a media field trip up to Park 101 and Barrel Republic in Carlsbad! Getting up to North County is not a thing I do very often, especially if I’m going to want to try some signature cocktails, so this was the perfect opportunity to see what Carlsbad has to offer!

Tamarack Sunsetter

We started the day by hopping onto the Coaster for a quick 1-hour train ride up to the Carlsbad Village station, and after hopping off the train just took a short walk right over to Park 101. We were greeted by a gorgeous spritzer, the Tamarack Sunsetter, and then given a tour of this new space.

Continue reading “Alex’s Media Field Trip to Park 101 and Barrel Republic in Carlsbad, CA”

The Taco Stand in La Jolla, CA #tacotuesday

If there is one thing you all know about me by now, it is that I love tacos, and luckily here in San Diego, the next taco is never very far away. It can almost be overwhelming, how do you choose?!? I have had my eye on one place in particular for quite some time though, and that is The Taco Stand! They have several locations around San Diego and are slinging some authentic and truly delicious tacos, so I was super excited to finally give it a try! My friend Mary Bradlee came out to visit with her adorable baby, and since La Jolla is where she used to live, I thought a La Jolla Taco Stand day was just the thing.

The Taco Stand 
621 Pearl St, La Jolla, CA 92037
www.letstaco.com

Continue reading “The Taco Stand in La Jolla, CA #tacotuesday”

A Clucking Good Morning at Breakfast Republic in San Diego

But first, Lemon Ginger Mimosa!

Having lived in San Diego for well over two years now, I’m ashamed to say I’ve done a terrible job at scoping out the brunch scene. While there are a ton of great spots down here, I am a super early riser and early eater, which means my breakfast happens around 7 am, and If I have to wait all the way until brunching hour and then stand in a line forever, I’m going to get hangry.

Breakfast Republic, who keeps popping up new spots all over the county, is one of those places that I always really wanted to check out, but just driving by and seeing the hungry crowds standing outside would deter me. When I got word that Breakfast Republic was opening up, less than a 10 minute walk from my house in Ocean Beach, I was beyond excited to finally get my brunch on, with my pal Courtney, like the rest of the Girls on Food.

Breakfast Republic
4839 Newport Ave, San Diego, CA 92107
www.breakfastrepublic.com

Despite seriously scoping this menu out before going in, I was still seriously overwhelmed by all of the choices! Even the drink menu is expansive and full of both nutritious and decadent options. To start, I downed a cup of the Caffe de Olla they serve, which was hot and delicious. Then I also ordered the mimosa special of the day, Lemon Ginger! This mimosa had the tart citrus taste you want in a mimosa, with an extra kick from the ginger, and was perfectly sweet without being too sweet.

Continue reading “A Clucking Good Morning at Breakfast Republic in San Diego”

San Diego Reader’s Tacotopia 2017

There are very few things in this world that I love more than tacos, to be quite honest, tacos were over half the reason I even moved down to San Diego. That being said, I was probably way too excited to go back to Tacotopia, at Golden Hill Park, this year to help cast my vote for the Most Innovative and Best Traditional Tacos in San Diego. My friend Courtney and I spent our Saturday in Golden Hill Park eating our way through over 50 of San Diego’s best tacos!

It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it!

 

This event put on by the San Diego Reader is always extremely well-executed with various beverage companies sampling products, tons of prizes and giveaways, live music, and this time- margaritas!

Continue reading “San Diego Reader’s Tacotopia 2017”

Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill in San Diego

This weekend, a friend and I left our little Ocean Beach bubble down here in San Diego and ventured over to Mission Valley for dinner and drinks at Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill. The whole experience from drinks to dinner to dessert (which we were way too stuffed to finish) was excellent. I will definitely be back to visit whenever I have meat-loving visitors in town!

Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill
7510 Hazard Center Drive #215, San Diego, CA 92108
http://www.woodranch.com

Tennessee Peach

After being seated, we followed our waitress’ drink recommendations, as we both had a hard time choosing. I opted for the Tennessee Peach which combined Gentleman Jack, peach schnapps, house-made simple syrup, mint, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. This drink was perfectly sweet and refreshing and really hit the spot. I also loved munching on the alcohol soaked peach once I reached the bottom!

 

 

Continue reading “Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill in San Diego”

Tacotopia at the Del Mar Track

I think at this point we have well established my love affair with tacos, but just in case it was unclear, I hit up The San Diego Reader’s Tacotopia at the Del Mar Racetrack this weekend and helped cast my vote for the best taco in San Diego.

IMG_9586

Tacotopia at the Track
http://www.sandiegoreader.com/tacotopia-at-the-track/

This event was executed extremely well, with 40 of San Diego and South Orange County’s best restaurants and food trucks pedaling out their best work to try to win the hearts and the votes of some hungry San Diegans.

I was impressed by the organization this event was handled, it didn’t appear that any of the vendors ever ran out of their goods, the lines stayed relatively short, and there were fun little extras like a taco themed photo booth, chips and salsas provided by Salud!, and lemonade stands for a bit of refreshment on this hot day.

IMG_9565Our first taco came from Bluewater Seafood, it was the day’s overall winner and it was definitely deserving of the title. I had one taco at Bluewater before, and I was impressed then, but this taco was even better and was seriously the perfect start to the day. Bluewater was serving up a spicy shrimp taco with a white sauce, homemade tomatillo, and a homemade mango slaw. This taco was a little too spicy for my guest, but had tons of the delicious white sauce and queso fresco to help balance it out.

 

 

IMG_9574Keeping with our fishy theme, we hit up Encinitas Fish Shop who was serving up some innovative smoked salmon tacos. Now, smoked salmon is not really my thing, but this taco was seriously delicious and really impressed me. It was a touch topping/tortilla heavy for the current taco marathon I was running, but the salmon was so flavorful and I enjoyed it.

 

 

 

IMG_9582One of my absolute favorite tacos of the day was this Abeulita’s Chicken Mole Taco from Common Theory Public House. I am mole obsessed and also have a weird love for pickled onions so in my eyes this taco was actual perfection, and it was devoured in about two and a half seconds.

 

 

 

IMG_9615

My other favorite, which also snagged my vote for best traditional taco, was the baja fish taco from The Classic Taco. Unfortunately, this truck is based up in Orange County, but luckily I’m a frequent visitor up there! This fish taco was seriously about as good as they get, with a huge serving of perfectly crunchy fish and you could choose from so many salsas. They even hopped out of the truck to help me pick my perfect salsa, the pequin!

IMG_9594 IMG_9599

Next up for me was Lolita’s, where I got the pollo asado and while this was a pretty standard take on a taco, it was really tasty with a big scoop of guacamole on top, which you will never hear complain.
IMG_9612

At this point I’m five tacos deep and only an hour in, and realizing that maybe I should have paced myself just a little bit, but I am not a quitter.  Next up I hit up Ah-Jijo for their fish taco. I opted for the spicy chipotle sauce on top as opposed to the tomatillo. This taco was perfectly spicy, and had probably the crunchiest little piece of fish I’ve ever tasted, which was the perfect vessel for lots of toppings.

IMG_9619

While my partner attempted to attack his ambitious plate of 3 tacos he’d collected, I decided to take a “break” and go find some chips and salsa, but on my way I was too tempted by Puesto to resist. Puesto is actually located right across from my work, I smell it all day long, and its torture. I’ve been once before and this taco was every bit as good as I remember. Puesto has figured out this genius idea of wrapping their delicious meats inside of a piece of fried cheese. Yes, you heard that right, and yes, it is basically the only way a taco should happen. Even though I knew this taco might come back to bite me later (all that cheese!) it was still more than worth it.
IMG_9622

Finally on my way back from my Puesto pit stop, I was able to swing by the Salud! table for their chips and salsa. I was a little bummed they didn’t have a taco at the event, as I’ve heard some amazing things, but these chips were awesome and the salsa was nice and mild.

IMG_9628

A while later, I caught my second wind and managed to scoop up one of these fish tacos from Henry’s Pub. Another giant serving of flaky, crispy fish, and more guac!

Lindsey, Courtney, and I trying to pull ourselves together after an all out taco binge.

IMG_9654IMG_9642 IMG_9646

A while later, after taking a break to place our bets and check out the races, we returned to cast our votes, grabs some sweets, and hit up the Tacotopia photo booth! You can tell how excited I am about this giant rainbow sprinkle cookie (from Sammy’s Mexican Bakery), which was the perfect ending to a perfect day!

IMG_9660

This event was so fun for so many reasons, starting with the plethora of delicious taco options and ending with the 311/Matisyahu concert that took place after the races. I will definitely be at the next Tacotopia, shoving more delicious tacos into my mouth, on my never ending hunt for the best in San Diego.

14045909_10206405031516370_9029281801507497674_n

The Social List: Beers and Bites in Long Beach

IMG_9158While I may be a San Diegan now, my mom still lives in Long Beach and I have always loved that neighborhood and the awesome eateries that pop up there.  So when I had the opportunity to check out The Social List I jumped at it, and my foodie brother Eric was happy to tag along for some beers and delicious bites!

The Social List
2105 E. 4th Street, Long Beach CA, 90814
http://thesociallistlb.com/

IMG_9188

The Social List is an airy and modern spot located on a quiet corner in Downtown Long Beach that has a cute outdoor seating area, the sweetest staff, craft beers in both bottle and tap, and some really stellar food that we are still raving about. The entire experience from start to finish was one of the best restaurant experiences I’ve had, and the staff was so knowledgable and helpful in selecting beers and bites!

IMG_9156

Because we are two of the most indecisive people you’ve ever met, we started out with a flight of beers and went with (from left to right): Avery Raspberry Sour, Stone Farking Wheaton W00t Stout, Nom Nom Mango Hefeweizen, and – one of my personal favorites – Modern Times Black House.

FullSizeRenderWe then moved on to our three delicious appetizers! We tried the Patatas Bravas, which are crispy Kennebec potatoes in a garlic aioli and spicy bravas sauce. Our server suggested that we squeeze the lemon over them for an extra pop of acidity and it definitely put them over the top. The tangy bravas sauce was balanced out by the aioli and the lemon tied it all together while the potatoes still maintained a nice crispy exterior. IMG_9171

Our next choice was the Roasted Cauliflower, because I am a huge fan of buffalo cauliflower in basically any way shape or form, and this did not disappoint. I really appreciated that they were not totally smothered in the house-made buffalo sauce (even though it was delicious) as they were able to maintain a nice crunch, and the blue cheese added the perfect little kick without being overwhelming.

IMG_9169Our last appetizer was the Chicken and Shrimp Lettuce Wraps, which had the perfect balance of chicken and shrimp, and a light and tasty sauce that still let the proteins shine. I loved the combo of the chicken and shrimp as opposed to the typical chicken lettuce wrap, as it added a whole new dimension to a classic dish.

 

 

 

IMG_9183

For the entrees our server pointed us in the perfect direction of this Spicy Sriracha Pasta: linguine in a spicy sriracha sauce with both chicken and shrimp. The sauce on this pasta was amazing, and even though I was getting full and starting to slow down, I kept coming back for more, and more, and more. The shrimp and chicken both worked really well here and I once again appreciated that they used both, as it mixed up the textures and kept things feeling fresh and not one note, as pasta can sometimes be.

IMG_9178

For my brother, who eats red meat unlike me, the server suggested he go with the Braised Short Rib entree, served over sauteed kale, marinara, and house-made gnocchi, and he was so happy he did. Eric said that the short rib was super tender and delicious, with mild flavors that paired really well with the kale and marinara. Even though I couldn’t taste the star of this dish, I definitely stole a gnocchi and it was like a magical little pillow that I immediately wanted more of.

FullSizeRenderI would highly recommend running over to The Social List if you find yourself anywhere near Long Beach, and I know that I personally will be returning with the rest of my family in tow as soon as I can!

Chews and Brews: San Diego Cheese and Beer Festival

San Diego Cheese and Beer Festival
http://www.cheeseandbeerfest.com/

IMG_8278
Sipping the day away in San Diego

There are few things this girl loves more than beer and cheese. Unfortunately, cheese doesn’t love me, so when I headed to the Beer and Cheese Festival this past weekend at the Horton Grand Hotel, I came armed with a cheese-eater who could sample for me while I sampled all of the delicious beers!

 

IMG_8248
This is Tanner, here with the extremely tough job of eating cheese!

First things first, this venue was fantastic, and I will try to find every excuse to return. There were four different areas with beer samples, cheese samples, art and vendors, live music and oversized games providing a perfect atmosphere to snack, sip, and dance. Upon entering the main room, there was a beautiful open air patio with tunes played by the excellent DJ.  When you continued into the next room, you found several more beers and tons of cheese, along with an exit out onto the back patio where the live music was going on, and then there was yet another room with even more cheese and beer!

IMG_8277
Faux Fighters

We were having one of our perfect sunny San Diego days and just loving this awesome back alley/patio space with tunes played by The Big Lewinsky (a badass 90’s cover band) and the Faux Fighters. Now onto the beers!

IMG_8239 IMG_8243 IMG_8252

Our first few beers were from 32 North Brewing where I sampled the blancdonkadonk, because with a name like that, how could I not. Following that we tried the Mountain Light from Figueroa Mountain and the Red Red Amber from Ironfire. While I enjoyed my Red Red Amber, the IPL I had a sip of was seriously good, and might be the perfect compromise for those who can’t quite handle the hoppiness of a typical IPA.

IMG_8250IMG_8285IMG_8264

IMG_8254On to the snacks! Now I know this was a cheese festival, but our first stop, and arguably the most important was at this table full of cannoli and the densest and fudgiest brownies I’ve ever encountered, these deserts were so rich and so delicious.  When I saw the cannoli, I made the snap decision to pop a Lactaid and deal with it because sometimes, you’ve got to make sacrifices. Also, feast your eyes upon this giant tray of delicious cheeses, that was a tough one to resist and was Tanner’s favorite cheese of the night! My favorite of the very few things I sampled, was this soft pretzel with an alfredo sauce, which took beer cheese and pretzels to a whole new level.

One fun feature at this event was Bill Travers, who was in this current season of Masterchef and his daughter who set up shop to show off their cheesy creation! They were serving up the coolest little cheese boards with fondue, crudites, and fresh bread. The presentation on these was beautiful, featuring edible flowers and they looked almost too good to eat!

IMG_8257 IMG_8258 IMG_8259

Following our search for snacks, we got back to business and enjoyed our own mini brewery hop! First was the Absolution Brewing Company’s Purgatory, followed by the Common Cider Blackberry Sangria, and the Bell’s Brewery Two Hearted. The blackberry sangria solidified my love of these common ciders, having tried the hibiscus saison at the last event, I can officially call myself a big fan!

IMG_8263 IMG_8265 FullSizeRender

Next up was Jamul Brewing Porter, Left Hand Brewing Stout, and the Fall Brewing Stout. I am a huge Stout lover, and all of these did the job and made me one happy foodie, particularly the Jamul Porter, which was perfectly rich and had just the right hint of Madagascar vanilla bean.

IMG_8273 IMG_8275

For our last two brews, we had some fun at 2 Towns Ciderhouse, putting on temporary tattoos and tasting the Cherried Away, which was the yummiest cherry cider and another favorite of the night. And on the quest to be a better San Diegan, I even caved and tried one IPA, and was very happy I did! This grapefruit weekday session IPA from Rough Draft was so bright and citrusy that I wasn’t even mad about the hops!

IMG_8241

This event was a blast, even with my cheese limitations, and I got to discover not only several new local and regional breweries and beers to love, but also this lovely little venue situated downtown. This event just goes to prove that cheese and beer are a perfect match, so the next time you’re trying to pick out wine for that cheese, try picking up some local craft beers instead!