Thursday, June 29, 2006

Sheerwater MooTime

Wha? "Sheerwater MooTime?" This one starts the same as the last… a recent warm evening seemed like a perfect time to use up a gift card at The Hotel Del in Coronado and escape the blast furnace Sunday. Their Sheerwater restaurant offers up some nice patio dining, plus a perfect chance to cozy up to the wealthy folk (I think I saw James Woods!) It really was a last minute choice – my wife said, hey you want to use that gift card we got as a Christmas present, wha? a year and a half ago? It was far short of actually being able to pay for a night stay there, but a righteous amount to pay for a meal for 2. I’ll be short on words tonight (okay, early morning) and let the pictures do the talking.

So, we drove down and took our chances – for what it’s worth, a 7:00 pm arrival on a Sunday night equals about a 40-minute wait for an outside table. Not too bad considering the bar had plenty of room to wait and enjoy a tasty beverage.

We were seated before sunset (it sets well behind Point Loma anyhow) and quickly ordered drinks to settle our stomachs. The menu is fairly simple, a steak choice or two, spare ribs, several fish options along with some cheapers like pasta and wood-fired pizza. My wife started off with the Crab Bisque ($12.50). It was fairly rich and tasty, with a midsize crab cake floating around in it.

For entrées, I had Sea Bass with mushrooms, a pile of spinach and potatos:

And my wife had the Tuna:

My wife really liked that lemon sauce on her plate. Both tasty enough (and priced at just under $30 each) but somehow fairly unspectacular – as one might expect. A place like this only strives to be just so good. It’s not going to wow anyone probably, but solid enough – yet obviously with maybe a 30% premium what you’d expect to pay at a regular neighborhood restaurant. And of course you are in a fricken 100 building steps from the mighty Pacific.

We ate here a few years back for a Christmas Eve – we remember that the place was a little nicer, with better-dressed wait staff, a somewhat more interesting menu, but of course, they have gone under an ownership change since then. Emph, change.

For maybe a few bucks more one could eat at the very new
1500 Ocean just a few steps away from Sheerwater. The newspaper just had an article.

Of course, what visit to The Del would be complete without a stop for a $7 ice cream cone from MooTime Creamery? Again, probably not quite as good as we remembered – where’s the chocolate dipped waffle cones? Damn change! But maybe they were out from a long day of selling as the website does mention them. We got a midsize bowl (no “scoops” here, just bowl sizes) of Double Dark Chocolate mixed with cookie dough. Dense and rich – but it might have been a little better to choose go half and half on two ice cream flavors. Ice cream here starts at $4, plus 95 cents for each item mixed in.

Ideas for the long weekend?
I like these long weekends - when we don't go anywhere, I like to treat it as a vacation in San Diego. What would be your top choices for eats?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Thee Olde Brockton Villa

A recent warm evening seemed like a perfect time to use up a gift certificate at The Brockton Villa in La Jolla. It’s right across the street from the ocean so views are excellent. We hadn’t been there yet – I’ve read that breakfasts (they sell Coast Toast by the truckload) were great with lunch and dinners a little less so. We had both remembered it being in a certain location but Yahoo! Maps showed it two blocks down on Coast Blvd. Well, of course it was where we thought it was (damn you, Yahoo!) so we got straightened out, walked an extra block or two and found it. Parking right on Coast Blvd. would require a bit of luck, I think.

I had made reservations for outside, and got a table for two right on the narrow front patio area. Oh, yes a great view! Uh…but what do they say about restaurants that have great views? Don’t think about that now. We started with the Thai Chicken Spring Rolls with Ginger-Jalapeño Dipping Sauce ($8) and a couple of drinks. Ehh, so-so spring rolls. I had a Bloody Mary – they also served up bread with a dipping sauce that was about the same as what was in the Bloody Mary.

And the entrees…for once I felt it wouldn’t be out of place to bring my camera in full tourist mode. So, check below for my entrée pictures. My wife didn’t seem too impressed with her salmon, I was very pleased with my lamb – served with some tasty meat juice and the potatoes were great.

Horseradish Crusted Organic Salmon served with Artichokes, Tomato, Asparagus, Orecchiette Pasta with Caper Vinaigrette ($24)

Mint Crusted Lamb Rack with Parsnip-Potato Gallette and Grilled Asparagus ($26)

Service was just fine up until we were done with our entrees and then it was a ghost town. Did you see that tumbleweed? Maybe he thought we wanted the table until the sun set, maybe they were short and were busy, who knows but it took a while before our plates were cleared and offered a dessert menu. At that point we passed on dessert, opting for a possible ice cream cone at Häagen-Dazs.

They could probably stand to invest in new patio chairs and tables – but that is a minor complaint. More unappetizing is the yellowing (they used to be clear!) plastic water “glasses” they use – yet drinks are served in “real” glasses so what gives? Other than those minor items and the service delay in the end (which wasn’t that big of deal) it was a pretty good meal and a great end to the work week. And hey, they are in a fricken’ historic 100 year old cottage.

For people watching from a story up, it is also really good – saw plenty of passerbys and folks trying to parallel park in an especially tight spot (but hey, who can figure that out anyhow?) I’d probably go with others I’ve read and recommend it for breakfast or a cheaper lunch to take in the great view. And of course, you could take a picnic and sit in the nearby park for free.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Fish Tacos

It was bargain day on Saturday at Macy’s School of Cooking in Mission Valley – I’ve mentioned the classes before – usually they run 25 or 30 bucks, but once in a while they do a charity drive where you just need to donate some cans of food or $6. Chef Deborah Schneider was the guest instructor, promoting her new Baja cookbook. I wasn’t sure if we would get a taste of anything (as we normally would) but thought it would be interesting to see what she had going on (I recalled she was involved with the opening of Jsix last year) plus it would be good to get out of the heat for an hour.

She shared numerous recipes from her cookbook (available for purchase that day!) including a couple of salsas, made batter, deep fried fish (on a hubcap – err I mean disca, made soup and so on for an hour and a half. As a chef and teacher I really liked her. The one sample that day was a goat cheese tostada with chipotle sauce - made a few in the room cough for a minute or two.

From her point of view, a true fish taco is only beer battered and deep fried and served in a corn tortilla with a bit of avocado sauce, white sauce and salsa. She just had a short article in the paper last week – there she shared a grilled fish taco recipe. I’ve never deep fried anything in my kitchen and I don’t plan to.

The next cheap class is this Saturday at noon with Chef Bernard. Check his
site for details of upcoming classes if interested.

By Sunday this talk of fish tacos got me interesting in checking out South Beach Bar and Grill in Ocean Beach. Somehow my wife has been there a few times with coworkers on one of those “Long Island Ice Tea and Fish Taco” lunches – I don’t know how they manage THAT – but she said they were pretty good. And they got a mention in this article (thanks to Gayla of Chowhound for posting that article.)

So we drove down – got lucky with parking in front of Hodad’s (
great burgers there I said! Maybe we could stop in for one if we weren’t full) and walked the short block to South Beach, found a table and ordered.

Tacos are under around $2.75 I think, grilled Mahi or Wahoo or you could get a Baja deep fried fish taco. We both ordered two (skipping the rice and beans that were offered) including one deep fried for me.

Yum – the Mahi taco was okay but the deep fried really good - crisp crunch and hot – plus the fish was pretty big. Tons of toppings – but a bit too watery since juices would drip out, but not really a problem.

After a walk out on the pier where tiny fish were being caught for tacos later that day we decided that Hodad’s would have to wait for another day. Or many months. Someday. And to think I always thought that fish taco meant something else. Go figure.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


I usually don’t talk home cookin’ (there have been a few times) but this recent grilling turned out pretty well. Bought some beef (we rarely eat red meat anymore) and decided to make kabobs, yes shish kabobs! Marinated the meat in a mix of soy sauce, water, olive oil and a spoonful of horseradish for fun. A couple hours later I shoved the meat on skewers with onions and on the grill. I had some asparagus in the fridge so I drizzled some olive oil on them and threw them on the grill for a couple of minutes too.

The result:

Yum. The hotness of the horseradish didn’t really come thru, but the meat was delicious and tender anyhow.

We also got some cherries from the Scripps Ranch farmers market (on Scripps Poway Parkway, not far from the 15 if you are heading out to Vegas on a Saturday morning between 9 am and 1 pm be sure to stop in). They have a lot of people selling their whatevers, but there is some fresh produce and 5 to 8 food stands to buy lunch at. Sign said $5 a pound but they charged $4. Really good cherries – didn’t ask where they come from.

OB Fest
It’s here next Saturday. Features a chili cook off – I think there is a time for public tasting of the cook off for a Peoples Choice Award. Ocean Beach Street Fair.

A few links…
…to other blog postings that I liked. First, the
real life Taco Town taco. It’s huge. And then a little person post and finally a joke foodie post that happened to someone when his blog password was borrowed.

Coming up...
I’m prepping a couple of other posts for My Very Own Blog - but blogger is being a brat with photo uploads - should be a bit more active around here than it has been. Plus I'm really going to lay off the cheap and coupon shit - I'm NOT an old codger sitting around writing complaint letters all day. Really I'm not! :)

Monday, June 12, 2006

Taste of...

Heads up, in case anyone is interested, there are a couple of “Taste of…” events coming up this month. This weekend is Taste of Gaslamp, $25 or both days for $40. Taste of Adams Avenue is next weekend. $10 if you buy your tickets ahead of time. Another link also here.

Both can be a lot of fun and filling. For us, the first time we had the Taste of Gaslamp, we were new to the area and it was great exposure to the restaurants. At that time, it was still in the evening. Since then they have changed it to weekend for 2 afternoons – you can do one or both days as there are some different participating restaurants each day (some are the same). The food probably isn’t anything just too out of this world for foodies but always expect some gems. It is what it is. No doubt you’ll get enough to eat.

And of course it is on Father’s Day weekend – no doubt a few sons and daughters will bring out ol’ Dad to have a feast. I might go instead for Adams Avenue skip Gaslamp unless free tickets from the Gaslamp Quarter Association land in my lap. *Wink wink*

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Free Burrito Day!

The free burrito day at Chipotle (by McDonald’s™) was a colossal success. Well, maybe not colossal but a great deal (of course you needed a zoo membership that costs many times the cost of a burrito but never mind that now) as we ended up with 2 burritos (one chicken and one pork), a beer (Dos Equis) and a margarita (pretty strong actually) for a total of around 7 bucks. I don’t remember if they charged for the extra guacamole (usually a $1.40 charge). I do like the “build-your-own” structure of Chipotle where you can tell them exactly what you want in there. They usually use a bit too much rice to fill them up and can be a little skimpy on the meat. I’ve been there a handful of times over the past few years and I always wish they would put more meat on. I’ve asked and sometimes they halfheartedly shifted the meat around and maybe added a little. And I forgot my camera.

We went just before noon and it was busy and got even busier – we did see a few people showing their zoo memberships. Sweet! Nothing finer than free food! I can probably wait another year to go back. And certainly you could do worse. ...

Carl’s Jr.
Such as perhaps the taco bowl from Carl’s Jr. I’m not saying it was bad (fending off a libel suit (or would it be slander?)) but I wouldn’t rush out of your way for it. Had a buy one, get one free coupon so it was hard to resist. They are sort of small, packed with refried beans on the bottom, with lettuce and hints of cheese and some tomato, some beefy substance – probably leftover chili dog stuffs.

I avoid fast food drive thru for the most part – hey who can resist a Sausage McMuffin (err bad example) but it’s tempting with buy one get one free coupons. They have other offers ready to fatten me up. Double the food for half the price! (Fun fact: Carl’s Jr. is known as Hardee’s in other parts of the country and is where I had my first real job.)

Edelweiss Bakery
I got off track, so, after the burritos, the thought of dessert rose up and I remembered the hidden bakery in the same Mira Mesa shopping center that Chipotle is located in. Surely they would have something for us. They deal big time with wedding cakes and cakes for other big events (we usually get our office birthday cakes there) but also have cases full of individual cakes brownies, cookies, pastries and such. Yum. Got a serving of white chocolate cheesecake and chocolate mousse pecan dessert. Total came to all of $5something.

Oh, by the way…
…for those living in Albuquerque or points beyond, the San Diego Zoo annual membership is something like $80 for a couple. Included is free entry (to two properties) for membership holders, freebies and discounts plus a couple of guest passes.

What’s next?
New restaurant reviews have been few and far between – we just haven’t been eating out much. Plenty out there to try – I’ll probably post a restaurant wish list soon. And…to San Diego bloggers, anyone up for a meet? Maybe a restaurant outing?

Old Town Event
Someone might be into this one: “International Flavors of Old Town” features cuisine from Acapulco Mexican Restaurant, Cafe Pacifica, El Fandango, Korky's, Old Town Mexican Cafe and Zocalo Grill, 5 to 7:30 p.m. June 8th at Old Town Marketplace, 4010 Twigg St. Wristbands are $5 and can be purchased at the event. See link of events (it’s the first one). I won't be going but let me know if you do.

And if you are wondering part 1
And if you are wondering, no we didn’t go to Chipotle a second time on Saturday - my wife shot that one down.

And if you are wondering part 2
Yes, I am aware of my bad grammar - I have to do something about sentence structure, commas, run on sentences and those terrible hanging prepositions.