Thursday, July 31, 2008

$2.60 Filet Mignon Dinner.....

In 1966, anyway :)
Harry's Coffee Shop in La Jolla is located at 7545 Girard Avenue, right in the midst of the action. We had several early appointments today, and were in desperate need of sustenance. On our way to another place we thought we might have remembered trying once many years ago, we happened by Harry's. Hmm. People outside and in, always a good sign. I must admit, I have a thing for old fashioned looking places, so that was a part of the decision as well. The cincher? There was a parking lot 'round back. I'm sure you know how precious a good parking spot can be in San Diego county!

The menu is extensive. It had all of the things I would expect to see on a breakfast menu...French toast, pancakes, egg combos, waffles, etc...and then some. There are 16 ready to order the additional options make it an endless list of possibilities. Too much for two hungry people with growling bellies. They also serve lunch, but that's for another day! The majority of menu items are under $7, and the most expensive item is the Lox & Bagel plate at $10.75, surpassing 90% of the other items by $2 or more.

The longer we were there, the better it got. If you're a waffle person, and I am, they have 2 types of waffles to choose from: a crisp, old fashioned Golden Brown waffle, or a thicker, deeper Belgian Waffle, made with malted batter (and every waffle lover knows malted batter is a *must*! ). And the 2 egg combos? They come with 3 eggs, and according to the 1966 news story featuring this coffee shop, they always have. But don't tell Harry. As an added bonus, the coffee is from Cafe Moto, where I purchase my home coffee supplies!

Breakfast at Harry's was a delight from start to finish. Trying to veer outside my breakfast comfort zone, I tried the old fashioned waffle as you see in the picture. It came with eggs and a sausage patty (which had a wonderful savory flavor and a tiny little kick!), and was topped with sweet, fresh strawberries, and ample whipped cream for $7.70, not a bad deal. My better half has the sausage patty and egg combo, 3 eggs as promised, 2 sausage patties, hash browns and toast. All for $6.60!! A cup of coffee and a large orange juice, and we still got out of there without breaking the bank...but more importantly, with a smile on our faces.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

To Market, To Market to Buy a Fat Pig

Well, I guess it wasn't exactly a pig, per se...But it was pork chops, and they came from a pig...does that count? After a busy afternoon, we stopped at Windmill Farms (I really need to dedicate a seperate post to them, they rock!) and picked up some pork chops to throw on the grill.

I don't know if anyone else has seen it yet, but McCormick & Schmick seasonings has some new black pepper blends out that caught my interest. I am a fan of pepper. Black, white, green & pink. So, naturally, this was a product that I was drawn to. I've seen two versions of it, one being a smoked black pepper, which smells really good. The other, the one I used on the chops, is a Worcestershire black pepper. It has the most amazing aroma. Even better than the smoked. That, along with a little brush of olive oil and some sea salt was all I adorned these chops with. A few minutes on each side on a hot grill, and they were perfect! I wish I'd have taken pics :(

Some romaine lettuce, heirloom tomatoes (from the farmer's market Sunday), baked potatoes, and pita bread rounded out the meal. When I was young, my mom would make pork chops, and slice them, then we'd stuff the slices into pita pockets, add lettuce, tomato, cheese, and dressing. Clearly, I loved them :) The baked potatoes were at the request of my neice who, along with her daddy and little brother, joined us for dinner. I cheated, started them in the nuker, then tossed with a little olive oil and some sea salt and threw them on the grill. I love that crispy skin!

Dinner was followed up by everyone piling on the couches to watch Wipeout..the most insane and hilarious show I've seen on TV in ages. If you haven't seen it yet, check it out...but I wouldn't drink anything you don't want to shoot from your nose!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Can I get some fries with that shake?

Ok, so this is totally un-food-related (well, unless you count the fact that I was eating a late breakfast when it happened)...but did you feel that earthquake a little bit ago?!

At first, I thought it was my husband shaking the table (we were both seated at the dining room table), and then I realized it was not just the table shaking. I looked up and saw the Jurassic Park water trick in my glass, then noticed the open window was doing the shimmy. It lasted longer than most of the quakes I've felt since moving here in 1988. In fact, there's only been one other that I've been here for that was stronger and longer, and that was back in 1999, the Hector Mine earthquake.

I remember sitting in my office, writing. All was quiet in the house. The only ones home were my youngest, my very pregnant sister in law, and me. It sounded like an entire marathon's worth of people were running across my back patio (we're over a canyon, so it was *loud*). I even remember saying "Who the heck is running around that back there?!?!" ..... and then things started rattling, falling off shelves. I went in to see if my SIL, who'd gone to bed earlier, woke up from it. I took her rapid pacing as a yes.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Chicken on the Barbie...Oh No,'s under the broiler

It was definitely one of those Homer Simpson-esque moments. Hmm...I wonder why I can't smell the chicken on the grill yet? Let me check...D'oh! Out of Propane!

Tonight's dinner was to be grilled chicken (kabobs) and risotto. I figured, throw some corn in for good measure, and we got us a meal! Got the chicken cut into cubes, started the marinating, sauteed the rice and onions for the bastardized cheddar broccoli risotto..all was looking good. Cut up the onion, got the chicken on the skewers, and out to the grill. Then Murphy decided to send his law dogs after us. Out of propane, and the chicken hadn't even fully cooked on one side yet. Egads!

Luckily, I've worked my way 'round the broiler a time or two. Sure, it wasn't quite the same, but it was darned good!
The finished meal was delicious, so as the old saying goes: All's well that ends well!

For the risotto, I just sauteed some onion and arborio rice, then added chicken stock, and simmered. I added more stock as it evaporated, stirring frequently. At the end I added about a cup of finely shredded cheddar and some blanched, chopped broccoli, tasted for seasoning, added white pepper and called it good.

The chicken was marinated in a couple different things. First, there was a tequila based marinade, which had lime, Penzey's 4S spicy seasoned salt, and Tajin, which is a Mexican seasoning I get at the market. The other marinade was my daughter's invention: A1 sauce mixed 50:50 with barbecue sauce, in this case Stubb's mesquite.

To make this meal complete, we needed some really tasty beverages. Hmm, what would compliment that chicken? Tequila, lime...Margarita! Not just any margarita, either. I made Acai-strawberry margaritas. I blended fesh strawberries with Acai berry juice and fresh lime juice, then added that to tequila, Cointreau, and shook it up with some ice. Poured into a salted glass and there you have it. Margaritas: the Superfood!

Since my daughter isn't quite to margarita age yet, she made her own tasty beverage. Watermelon juice (fresh from crushed watermelon), combined with lemon juice, lime juice and just a splash of water. The watermelon was so sweet that there was no need for sugar. Ahhh! Now *that's* refreshing! You can see her recipe on her blog page: Random Thoughts of a Teenage Mind.

Su Casa es Mi Casa

Last night, my husband's brother brought his kids over, and we all went to Casa Adams for a late dinner. If you haven't been, Casa Adams is on Adams avenue, just west of the 805 and right down the street from the Antique Row Cafe. This was our second visit, and I have to say, I really enjoy this little place! The service has been quite good each time, going so far as to adjust the air conditioning to make us more comfortable.

Casa Adams has a large menu, as is typical of many Mexican restaurants here in San Diego.
What's nice about it is there isn't much on there that's over $9.00, which makes eating there a lot easier in these trying times.

Ok, from the top, you'll see the interior as seen from the door, chicken flautas, garlic shrimp, the steak ranchero plate, the shrimp and avocado salad, and the carne asada burrito. Me, I had the flautas. You can order them as they are on the menu, or you can request them to be all white meat, which is what I did. They were filled with succulent little cubes of chicken breast, seasoned and exhibiting some tasty citrus notes, and as you can see, topped with guacamole and sour cream. Fresh and hot and delicious! They were definitely worthy of being posted here!

The garlic shrimp actually came with the steak you see in the photo below the flautas. Swimming in a buttery, garlicky, yummy sauce, they were cooked perfectly...not a hint of rubbery-ness! The steak was cooked perfectly as well, medium rare as asked for. It wasn't strongly seasoned, but with the garlicky shrimp, that was a good thing.

My daughter ordered her stand-by, a carne asada burrito. Filled with tender, flavorful chunks of meat, surrounded by guacamole (she always refuses the pico de gallo), it was all wrapped up in a hot, grande!, tortilla and served with rice and beans. She thought it a good version, and she would know.

The dish that got the most oooohhs and aaaahhhs? Without a doubt, the shrimp and avocado salad! It was a site to behold, and the picture doesn't really do it justice. It was big and bold and generous, for sure. It came with an avocado cilantro dressing on the side, which my brother in law seemed to take great pleasure in dipping his shrimp in! With all this good food and good service, it turned out to be a very nice family meal indeed.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Another sunny day, has come and gone away, in Paris and Rome...but I wanna go home.

I'm HOME! Yay!
Well, it was a nerve wracking couple of days, but Mom's ok, and so is Dad, so it's all good. I even have a surprising review for y'all! The cafeteria at Tri-City Medical Center in Vista, CA. I know what you're thinking. In your mind you're remembering the fat, over cooked spaghetti noodles with the red water and hamburger sauce from your elementary school days. You probably even have "Lunch Lady Land" playing in the back of your mind. Well, kids, let me tell you...this is not your average cafeteria. Oh, it *looks* like a regular cafeteria. And, well, if I'm being honest, I guess there are probably less than stellar options available to you know, comfort food to remind you of the "good old days". But all that aside, the breakfast there is really quite good! I know! I was surpised too.

After they took Mom in, they said I had a good wait on my hands, and that I could find a cafeteria one floor down. Originally, I planned to just get a cup of tea and maybe a muffin or something to tide me over. That was before I went in.

Glancing around, I wasn't expecting much. I saw they had some griddle options: french toast, pancakes, eggs, bacon, and the like. But what really got my attention was the fresh fruit bar. Blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew, all fresh, and all looking delicious. I ordered the 2 pancakes with 1 egg and bacon, then fixed a bowl of mixed berries from the fruit bar to top off the 'cakes. A cup of Earl Grey and I was set. I made my way to the cashier: $6.10, which I thought was quite reasonable considering the fruit alone would cost almost that much in the grocery store!

Any lingering doubts I had were erased in the first couple of bites. The pancakes, though a tad fluffier than I like (I prefer thin pancakes, with crisp edges), were tasty, especially when topped with the berries. The bacon was bacon, and the egg was scrambled. A very tasty breakfast.

I hope that you don't ever have the need to eat at this particular place, but if you are in the neighborhood one morning for any reason, it's worth checking out.

Monday, July 21, 2008

So....why so serious?

Ok, so today was a good day, even though I got up in the midst of a hot flash. Luckily, the breeze kicked in around 1pm, and it was just beautiful from then on. It really wasn't all that hot...I just tend to get hot while I'm sleeping. Ok yeah, that didn't sound right, but you know what I mean right? Right?

Food. Hmm. Well, I didn't really cook today, per se. I made the lunch you see right there -------> for my wonderful husband, because it's his favorite. It's tuna salad (tuna, black and green olives, pickles, a dab of mayo, and fresh ground pepper) with avocado. Since I only needed half of the avocado for the sandwich, he got the rest to eat with some lime. If you haven't tried this, get thee to a market and pick yourself up a nice ripe Haas, and some limes! Me, I had pita bread and hummus (spinach, feta and artichoke hummus, to be exact) for lunch.

Dinner was....wait for it....Chick Fil A! Ha! We went to see the Dark Knight movie, and ended up seeing Wanted by the time we were heading home we just wanted something fast, and not horrible. Chick Fil A nuggets are good...real chicken (it's a really good clue when you bite into them and it doesn't look like a grey sponge...McNuggets, anyone??), very lightly breaded. Simple fare, but it worked. Tomorrow will be better...especially since I'll be eating at Mom's! he he!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Hillcrest Farmers Market redux

Back to the market for me this morning. It's my me-time, I guess. I get up early every Sunday, head for the market, then hit Trader Joe's down the street, and then it's home to make Sunday Breakfast. I get 2 hours to myself, and it's lovely.

This morning's treasure included nectarines, Armenian cucumbers, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, organic sweet onions (excellent on the grill folks!), and heirloom tomatoes. Oh, and green beans!

There are a few vendors I'd like to feature here over the coming weeks. Today I'll start with Robert, who is my sole source of eggs and honey. I wouldn't get them anywhere else. He's a gregarious, friendly man who always has a smile for anyone who visits.

He has several varieties of honey, and though I'm personally not a fan of honey, I hear people every week talking about how wonderful it is. What I go for is the eggs. Jumbo & large brown eggs to be exact. The freshest you can find, and they come from vegetarian fed hens.

Before I met him, I bought eggs from his father. If you ever met him, you'd see that the friendly, kind attitude comes honestly!

Another favorite stop at the market is Presher Coffee. Now, if you're looking for beans to make espresso at home, let me tell you that the Merlot beans from Presher make a phenomenal cuppa!
You can see them on the left of the photo ----->

Run by Nick and Randy out of the back of a customized truck, Presher coffee is a favorite amongst market-goers every Sunday morning and they have a loyal following. You can visit their website here: Presher Coffee for inline ordering and updates as well a link to their own blog.

The thing I love about these guys is they will make whatever it is you want, whether it's on the menu or not! My kinda guys.

Ok, one more featured vendor, and then I'm done, I promise!! I know that there are alot of people out there who are too busy to make their own jam, but you don't have to! Jackie's Jams uses the best produce from the market and local farms to make delicious jams and jellies.

My personal favorite is the Triple Berry, which I love because it's one of the few that don't have blueberries. Now, I love blueberries, don't get me wrong...but I just don't care for them as much in jams. The Triple Berry from Jackie's has rasberries, blackberries, and strawberries- a perfect trifecta if you ask me! If, however, you DO like blueberries, they have the BRB, which I'm sure you can figure out :)

You can also get no sugar added jams, and fruit butters.

The farmer's markets run every day except Monday throughout San Diego county. If you can't make it to the Hillcrest location on Sunday, just hit another one during the week! You can find a complete list of markets, as well as a seasonal produce calendar here: San Diego Farm Bureau.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Time, travel, technical difficulties, and tiredness, take II

I mentioned there are a few places that I had photos for...I thought I would go ahead and talk about another and post the pics later when I get the cable.

A friend of my husband's from out of state was in San Diego for a few days, and he is a total dessert fiend! I mean, forget the sweet tooth, this boy has a sweet skeleton! So, of course, his first evening in town he wanted to go get some dessert. We'd originally planned on going to Pappalecco's Gelato Lounge on State & Cedar in Little Italy. I'll be reviewing them on a future entry, but for now just suffice it to say that when this friend lived in San Diego, he'd hit this place twice a day some days.

Anyhoo, we had a late start, so when we got there they were about 3 minutes from closed. Rather than imposition the owner, we decided to check out the new location for Extraordinary Desserts on Union a couple blocks away. It was a nice evening for a walk!

Now, let me start by saying I've visited the 5th avenue location a few times and each time I had the same problem: Pretentious staff. Sorry, but you are not doing me some huge favor by serving me, and I'll not be kneeling before you anytime soon! :) So, I went in to this expecting the same snobby attitudes, and at first, got just what I expected from the hostess. Once we were seated however (20 min wait on a Tuesday night), our server was pleasant enough. If she'd have been to the table more often, I may have formed a better opinion.

The place is definitely eye candy, as the pics I'll be posting will show. However, I don't think they planned for the crowds when choosing all the hard, sound-bouncing surfaces, so it gets quite noisy inside when it's crowded...which is all the time. We decided to try 2 of the specials. The guys both wanted the coconut cream tart with banana-passion fruit ice cream. It was plated beautifully, with various tropical sauces (including a wildly delicious kiwi sauce) and even had a small rose in the whipped cream. The ice cream stole the show. Both guys raved about it. It was a very flavorful ice cream, with a smooth, rich texture, and potent kick. The tart lacked by comparison, being compriced of mostly whipped cream with very little coconut custart at the very bottom.

I chose the Chocolate Tiramisu, which was a chocolate cake, allegedly soaked with espresso, layered with a chocolate mascarpone, served with Latte ice cream. The ice cream, combined with the richly flavored espresso sauce on the plate, again stole the show. The cake itself was very sweet, with very little coffee flavor at all, but the sauce on the plate tasted like a sweetened fresh brewed espresso, and with the Latte ice cream, it was delicious. I wish I'd have been able to order that alone!

All in all, it wasn't a horrible experience, but not one I'd rush back to, either. The place seems to be precocious, and a little full of iteself, striking me as an establishment that's more interested in being famous than being good. Extraordinarily pretty desserts, yes indeed. Extraordinary Desserts? Nah.

Time, travel, technical difficulties, and tiredness

Ok, so, I was supposed to get this going, but I've been having a busy couple weeks! I've been going back and forth a lot from San Diego to Vista...and then I was sick as well. Because of that, I've been excessively tired as of late.

As for the technical difficulties, I bought a cable so I could transfer the photos from my phone to my computer for this blog, but the person sent me the wrong one! In fact, he re-marked the box to say it was for my phone, but it surely is not. Whatever.

Anyway, let's get on to the food part of this entry!

The pictures, which I will upload as soon as I can, are from a couple different places. First, is the Hillcrest Farmer's Market. I absolutely LOVE going to a good farmer's market. I am a fiend for fresh produce, and where can you find it fresher than this without growing it yourself??

When I first get there, I head all the way to the back side, and to the left. First place I always hit is Sweet Tree Farms for the stone fruits (peaches, nectarines, plums). They have always had some of the best nectarines anywhere, but I've noticed this year they seem to be picking them a little earlier, and then when you get them home, they want to get all wrinkly and leathery on the outside before the inside gets soft. Sad. But, if you look carefully, you can find some that are at most a day from ripe and those are the ones you want.

Luckily, there seem to be a lot more vendors to choose from if you're looking for stone fruits this year! Lots of varieties of peaches, and nectarines, and so many plums! Last weekend I bought some dinosaur egg plums, Santa Rosa, and these little gold plums with a greenish tint to the flesh. All were juicy and sweet, with just a hint of tart. So good!

Aside from the stone fruits, there's plenty of avocados, artichokes, asparagus, cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans etc. There's also so much more than produce! Olive oil, anyone? Crepe? How about some beef jerky? Need a new handbag to go with that dress? This last trip I even saw salt and pepper shakers in the shape of a couple!

And of course, there's the ready to eat foods. If you just have a little sweet tooth, there's Kettle Korn, chocolate truffles, french pastries. Looking for carbs? There's dozens of bread and baked good offerings. If you're hungry enough for breakfast or lunch, you can have that too: Crepes, both sweet & savory, gyros, kebabs, hummus, tamales, empanadas, tacos, burritos and more. It's a veritable smorgasbord!

I recommend you hit the market early enough to get your hardcore shopping done before the big crowds arrive (it opens at 9 am and stays open til about 1 pm), and then take a leisurely stroll around to find something delicious to have for brunch!

Saturday, July 5, 2008


Ok, so this is my first post! I started this blog to keep track of the places here in San Diego that I've help me remember what I loved, what I liked, and what I did not enjoy. I hope it will help others, both local and visiting, to have a tasty dining experience and avoid a place of indigestion.