Azuki Sushi

Azuki Sushi is in Banker’s Hill and from the outside it’s an unassuming little house but when you walk in the inside is surprisingly nice. The decor is simple but trendy-ish with accent lighting and they project movies on one of the walls, then past a narrow corridor they actually have a large covered patio area. Oh and the sushi ain’t bad either.

Azuki Sushi

Azuki Sushi

While I love pricier sushi options like Hane Sushi (a couple blocks up the street, see a review on it here) and Sushi Ota in PB sometimes you just want yummy sushi that’s affordable. But not too affordable like the gross discount stuff filled with cream cheese they peddle at so-so places like PB Sushi or god-awful places like Yakimono’s by the Vons in UTC/La Jolla. It’s closed now but has anyone ever been there? Every underage UCSD student used to go there because they did not card at all but the sushi was SO BAD.

Anyways Azuki has turned into our go-to stop; really good sushi at good prices and great happy hour specials. They have really good traditional nigiri and sashimi as well as creative entrees and super creative (and delicious) rolls.

Azuki Sushi Rolls

Azuki Sushi Rolls

Azuki Menu

Azuki Daily Specials

Normally we come for happy hour because they have great deals on sake and beer as well as appetizers like the huge super-garlicky Garlic Edamame for $3 and their amazing Tuna Tataki with ponzu and jalapeño for $6 dollas. However this would be a great Valentine’s Day stop (HAPPY VALENTINE’S CHILDREN) because sushi in general is a much better idea than overpriced red wine, steak and chocolate lava cake dinners. We did that last year for Valentine’s and afterwards you feel like a beached whale and you just want to lie comatose on the couch and watch Netflix…which is perfectly fine every other day of our lives but perhaps not the best way to spend Valentine’s. Sushi on the other hand is sufficiently fancy and very delicious but also light and you feel great afterwards. Sprightly even.

APPETIZER: To start with we got their Root Vegetable Fries. These are super thinly cut super crispy strips of carrot, green beans, zucchini, and potatoes that are tempura-fried and served with a creamy aioli.

Root Vegetable Fries

Root Vegetable Fries

Of course we finished all the aioli before I remembered to take a picture. Yum emulsified oil and egg.

ENTREES: We’ve tried so many of their rolls and they are all awesome but a favorite is the By the Border Roll which has spicy tuna and avocado inside and seared albacore, sliced jalapeño, signature ponzu and spicy aioli on the outside.

By the Border Roll

By the Border Roll

The avocado, ponzu and jalapeño are a great way to add flavor to the tuna so that it’s a good roll for sushi neophytes who are not yet crazy about raw fish. At the same time you get a very decent serving of tuna and albacore and their fat little dot of spicy aioli makes it the perfect amount so its not one of those rolls that is swimming in mayo.

By the Border Roll

By the Border Roll

Me on the other hand, am all about the raw fish, no accoutrements necessary. I went with the Adventurous Nigiri course that comes with (from back to front, might have some mistakes): chu-toro (medium fatty tuna), saba (mackarel), sake (salmon), kanpachi (amberjack), ebi (black tiger shrimp), hamachi (yellowtail) and snow crab. The snow crab actually should have been uni but I hate uni so I asked to sub in ankimo (monkfish liver, tastes like foie gras, is awesome) but they said they couldn’t substitute that in so I left it up to the chef. I got fresh snow crab and I was pretty happy with that because it was delicious.

Adventurous Nigiri

Adventurous Nigiri

This was amazing and I love the way they do their nigiri here with only a small amount of rice and a nice huge slice of fish that drapes over both ends of the rice. I’m constantly picking out rice from rolls that have too much rice but this is never necessary here.

Perfectly Draped Sushi

Perfectly Draped Sushi

Overall it was a great dinner, as always at Azuki (alliteration). The only disappointment was that on OpenTable I mentioned it was our anniversary dinner so I was hoping for a free dessert but no one read the notes or asked if there was an occasion so no dessert for us. Our waitress misheard me when I ordered the Adventurous Nigiri and thought I ordered the Adventurous Sashimi and that was brought out then had to be sent back so I felt bad being all ‘hey its an arbitrary personal milestone for us give us a thing for free’. Nonetheless, can’t wait to be back.

CHECK:
– Root Vegetable Fries $6.95
– By the Border Roll $13.50
– Adventurous Nigiri $28.00
– TOTAL (w/ tax) $52.48

Azuki Sushi

2321 5th Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101
619.238.4760

http://www.azukisushi.com/

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Davanti Enoteca – Little Italy

I’ve been a huge fan of Davanti Enoteca since the first time I went so its about time I had a post on them. Davanti is fantastic for dinner but this post is on brunch which it turns out is pretty great too. We came here on a Saturday morning post-Little Italy’s farmer’s market and there were plenty of tables. Always nice to not wait 45 min+ for brunch.

Davanti Enoteca

Davanti Enoteca

DSC_0668

There are two appetizers that you absolutely must start with, and luckily they are available for brunch. These are the focaccia di Recco a Ligurian style baked focaccia filled with soft cow cheese (add the honeycomb option) or the vasi with ricotta and honeycomb. Not both at the same time mind you because they are quite similar but one time order one and the next time the other. I personally prefer the vasi but most people I know like the focaccia di Recco better.

Davanti Lunch Menu

Davanti Lunch Menu

Davanti Brunch Menu

Davanti Brunch Menu

We went with the vasi with ricotta and honeycomb this time. You get grilled Pugliese bread with a whiff of truffle oil, a jar of impossible creamy and rich ricotta with sea salt and olive oil, and a wedge of honeycomb.

Vasi with Ricotta and Honeycomb

Vasi with Ricotta and Honeycomb

Ricotta

Ricotta

Grilled Pugliese Bread

Grilled Pugliese Bread

The combination of the toasty warm bread with cool creamy ricotta and sweet honeycomb is completely addictive. I do not know how they get their ricotta so smooth and creamy, I’ve tried both whipping it and blending it at home to obtain the same effect and sadly have not yet matched this texture. I suppose for $8 I can just keep coming here to get my fix for the real thing.

Grilled Pugliese bread with ricotta and honeycomb

Grilled Pugliese bread with ricotta and honeycomb

This is a large appetizer for two people, you get a lot of ricotta and they will gladly give you more bread if you run out, which we normally do 🙂

Next we ordered their salad with escarole + gala apple + pecorino dolce + celery + hazelnuts. It is a simple fresh salad and its also a sizeable portion. Simple and tasty with a basic olive oil dressing this is a light salad that has interesting texture and taste with the slightly bitter escarole contrasting with sweet cubes of gala apple, nutty toasted hazelnuts, crunchy celery and salty pecorino. Even though I am an avid meat eater I would not mind having this salad as an entree even though it also makes a mighty fine side salad when you are ordering pizza as your main dish.

Love that even though the toppings might look scarce on top when you mix up the salad there are plenty of all the other components so as to ensure that you’re not just eating fistfuls of escarole like a rabbit.

Escarole Insalata

Escarole Insalata

Escarole Insalata

Escarole Insalata

So for the actual brunch dish we ordered we went with the Prosciutto e Uovo Il Pane which comes with toasted tuscan bread with prosciutto, fontina, parmesan cheese, sunny side eggs on top and roasted tomatoes on the side.

Prosciutto e Uovo Il Pane

Prosciutto e Uovo Il Pane

Prosciutto e Uovo Il Pane

Prosciutto e Uovo Il Pane

This was amazing and the portion was large enough that we split it between two people and still had leftovers (ok we also ate all that other food before too but I maintain its split-able). The prosciutto is super crispy and the cheese is nicely melted into the toast. Mix it together with the runny fried eggs (make sure to request them more cooked if runny is not your thing) and the juicy roasted tomatoes and you have a perfect bite.

Prosciutto e Uovo Il Pane

Prosciutto e Uovo Il Pane

Also appreciated the pesto on the roasted tomatoes as pesto makes almost everything better.

Roasted Tomatoes

Roasted Tomatoes

Prosciutto e Uovo Il Pane

Prosciutto e Uovo Il Pane

Overall had a lovely and very reasonably priced meal with fantastic service to boot. Our waiter was friendly, super attentive, and even offered to take our picture before we asked, most likely because it was hard to ignore my fat Nikon intrusively sitting on the table for the duration of the entire meal. It was also about 75 degrees and sunny so sitting on the patio was quite nice. Although I suppose I have to attribute that part to the amazingness that is San Diego in December.

Davanti Patio

Davanti Patio

Loved their Christmas decorations too.

CHECK:
– Vasi with Ricotta and Honeycomb $8
– Insalata with escarole $7
– Prosciutto e Uovo Il Pane $10
TOTAL (w/ tax): $27.00

Davanti Enoteca – Little Italy

1655 India St, San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 237-9606

www.davantienoteca.com/

Banker’s Hill Bar & Restaurant II

The first time we went to Banker’s Hill we kind of have mixed reactions but loved the place and given it was new figured it just had to work some kinks out. We still haven’t been for the very enticing happy hour with $5 dollar appetizers…but we did stop by for SD Restaurant Week and I have to say this definitely won us over. Touche Bankers Hill.

Banker's Hill Bar & Restaurant

Banker’s Hill Bar & Restaurant

Banker's Hill Bar & Restaurant

Banker’s Hill Bar & Restaurant

Banker's Hill Bar & Restaurant

Banker’s Hill Bar & Restaurant

APPETIZERS: For the first course we got the Crispy Pacific Red Snapper with Lentils, Preserved Lemon and Remoulade. Although I didn’t realize the crispy meant fried this was a lovely dish. The fish was super crunchy and the beluga lentils were delicious, topped off with a tangy and creamy caper remoulade this was awesome. Didn’t really get too much of the preserved lemon but still overall my favorite appetizer.

Crispy Pacific Red Snapper with Capers, Preserved Lemon and Remoulade

Crispy Pacific Red Snapper with Capers, Preserved Lemon and Remoulade

The other appetizer I tried was the Bacon-Citrus Marmalade Bruschetta with Bucheron + Minted Apples on Grilled Levain Bread. Levain bread is an awesome sort of partially whole wheat sourdough and bucheron is a stronger goat cheese, it almost tastes like a mixture between brie and chevre. The bucheron was creamy and tangy and with the salty-sweet bacon citrus marmalade and crisp apples on the toasted bread this had a lot going on. In a good way. Couldn’t taste the mint on the apples but I was ok with that as I don’t know how mint would have tasted with everything else.

Bacon-Citrus Marmalade Bruschetta  Whipped Bucheron, Minted Apples, Grilled Levain Bread

Bacon-Citrus Marmalade Bruschetta
Whipped Bucheron, Minted Apples, Grilled Levain Bread

Bacon-Citrus Marmalade Bruschetta  Whipped Bucheron, Minted Apples, Grilled Levain Bread

Bacon-Citrus Marmalade Bruschetta Whipped Bucheron, Minted Apples, Grilled Levain Bread

ENTREES: My entree was a Mesquite Grilled Local Yellowtail with Roasted Garlic Masa, Corn & Pasilla Saute with Salsa Verde. The yellowtail was just charred on the outside and perfectly pink and rare in the middle. The roasted garlic masa was similar to grits or polenta and together with the tomatoes, corn and salsa verde this was a fresh but satisfying dish with that creamy garlic-y masa.

Mesquite Grilled Local Yellowtail Roasted Garlic ‘Masa,’ Corn & Pasilla Saute, Salsa Verde

Mesquite Grilled Local Yellowtail
Roasted Garlic ‘Masa,’ Corn & Pasilla Saute, Salsa Verde

The other entree I tried was Black Angus Bistro Tender with Crispy Bacon & Cheddar Twice-Baked Potato, Broccolini & Cabernet Reduction. This was cooked nicely to the requested medium-rare and its hard to go wrong with steak, potatoes, bacon and veggies. Nothing super inventive but still very tasty.

Black Angus Bistro Tender   Crispy Bacon & Cheddar Twice-Baked Potato, Broccolini, Cabernet Reduction

Black Angus Bistro Tender Crispy Bacon & Cheddar Twice-Baked Potato, Broccolini, Cabernet Reduction

DESSERT: It seems to be a recurring trend for me to not post dessert photos because everyone (read: me) gets too excited and it disappears before I think of snapping a picture. Either way we got the Spiced Apple Cobbler Walnut Streusel, Salted Caramel Sauce, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and the BH ‘S’more’ Ice Cream Sandwich Graham Cookie, Chocolate Sauce, Toasted Marshmallow. Hot apple cobbler + vanilla ice cream is a classic and this was no different. Great fall dessert. The s’mores ice cream sandwich came with a swipe of toasted marshmallow to dip your ice cream sandwich in and the ice cream was studded with crunchy almonds. Although it was served a bit too frozen this was pretty great.

Banker's Hill Bar & Restaurant

Banker’s Hill Bar & Restaurant

Patio

Patio

Overall everyone really enjoyed their meals. The restaurant has a great sort of minimalist and masculine decor with all the dark accents and deer heads and whatnot. Hopefully we will get to enjoy happy hour on the patio which has a huge wall of succulents. I guess given its restaurant week its hard to comment on price but for $30 bucks this was a great meal.

CHECK:
Restaurant Week Menu $30 x 2
TOTAL: $69.94 (w/ tax)

Banker’s Hill Bar & Restaurant

2202 4th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 231-0222

www.bankershillsd.com

Related Links:

Carnitas Snack Shack

Carnitas Snack Shack is, as the name hints, an inconspicuous little shack in North Park on University Av. that serves a delightfully pork-centric menu. You order at the window on the front and then walk towards the back where you’ll be surprised to find a nice spacious shady patio with an herb garden and another shack towards the back that pours cool draft beer. How handy.

Rib Eye Sandwich

Snack Shack Steak Sandwich

The food is inexpensive and portions are generous. Yet they use high quality all local ingredients and have inventive if sometimes over the top dishes. Not that that’s a bad thing. Its a casual but pleasant atmosphere and despite the uncharacteristically high temperatures and humidity that has been plaguing San Diego lately it was a nice spot to linger at with friends – especially in the evening when it cooled down a little.

Carnitas Snack Shack

Carnitas Snack Shack

Anyways onto the food. Some of their dishes change daily and they’re really good about updating their menu on their website but we ordered dishes that were all staples. You can order their Carnitas in either taco or torta form. The taco form is topped with guacamole and tomatoes on a tortilla and the torta form has guacamole, tomatoes, lettuce and mayo on a roll. I chose taco. Seeing as you only got 2 tacos I was concerned I would still be hungry. This was a completely unnecessary concern because they PILE ON the meat and I could barely finish my plate.

Carnitas Tacos

Carnitas Tacos

Carnitas Tacos

Carnitas Tacos

The carnitas are pretty good but not as amaaazing as I expected. Still really good though. I was hoping for more crispy bits but then again that might be a personal preference. There was a lot of meat and not a lot of just bits of fat which is nice because it sucks when you realize that half your carnitas portion is just blubber. And as always the combination of carnitas + guacamole + tomatoes + greasy tortillas (from the carnitas of course) is always a winner.

The entrees all comes with the corn salad you see in the picture. Its corn tossed in a spiced mayo with some herbs. Its cool and creamy and really tasty and goes well with the fatty meats that seem to populate most of their dishes. Yum.

Another popular item is their Snack Shack Steak Sandwich. This is reminiscent of Board & Brew’s Baja Beef which we boldly declared the best sandwich in SD here. Its sliced rib eye steak, pepper jack cheese, pickled serranos, chipotle mayo and tomatoes on jalapeno bread. And its glorious. Its steak-y and creamy and spicy and super messy but really satisfying. If you’re not super into pork and come here this is the way to go.

Snack Shack Steak Sandwich

Snack Shack Steak Sandwich

Lastly we also ordered the Triple Threat Pork Sand which is a pork loin schnitzel + pulled pork + bacon + pepperoncini-pickle relish + shack aioli sandwich. Pretty much pork every which way. Now sadly I did not get to try this but it was decided that this was superior to the Snack Shack Steak Sandwich which surprised me because that had been my favorite.

Triple Threat Pork Sand

Triple Threat Pork Sand

Dammit I should have tried it.

Oh and we got the fries too. They have bacon salt on them and come with a salsa like condiment that might be an attempt at homemade ketchup. These were pretty tasty and perfectly fried, reminiscent of McDonald’s fries – which is a very high compliment for any attempt at fries by the way. And for only $2.50 well worth it.

Fries

Fries

They have a very decent beer selection too. I went with the Cherry Cider which was crisp tart and not too sweet. Very nice.

Cherry Cider

Cherry Cider

For dessert I got the Banana Split Truffles. You get 2 super chocolate-y ganache truffles covered in dark chocolate and then drizzled with white chocolate, salty peanuts and banana chips. Really tasty. Sadly no pictures because they disappeared too fast. I wished there were more salty peanuts and banana chips to balance out the richness of the ganache but can’t complain too much.

Anyways. Great atmosphere and great food. The only mild annoyance is that on hot days you have flies around because they’re trying to hang out with you on the shade. They light candles that are supposed to keep them away but I would recommend sitting underneath the fans so they stay away definitively. Can’t wait to be back here and try the Triple Threat Pork Sandwich!

CHECK:
Snack Shack Steak Sandwich $9
Triple Threat Pork Sandwich $9
Carnitas $7
Fries $2.50
TOTAL: $29.70 (w/ tax)

P.S. Can’t remember how much the Cherry Cider was so left that off. Sorry kiddos.

Carnitas Snack Shack

2632 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 294-7675

http://carnitassnackshack.com

Related links:

Greece – The Cyclades

So far we’ve only reviewed SD restaurants but after a vacation in Greece I thought it’d be great to share some pictures of the local food. And the beaches. The beaches are pretty nice too.

Koufonissia - Pori Beach

Koufonissia – Pori Beach

So some of the dishes we tried were at the beach above. Koufonissia is a small island, part of the Little Cyclades. You can get to Pori Beach by boat or by taking a ferry to Koufonissia then taking a bus to Pori. There are exactly two restaurants on the beach and besides that you’d be hard pressed to find any other buildings around. The restaurant closer to the beach had way more people in it so that is where we went.

Restaurant in Pori

Restaurant in Pori

The first dish we tried was Taramasalata. Our waitress simply described it as a dip that came with bread and that it was very good, so we were game. Only after it came and we were already halfway through eating it that we discovered there was fish roe in it. This was totally fine by us but I guess if you are vegetarian or have allergies I would tread carefully as in a lot of restaurants their English may not be super extensive.

DSC00709 Taramasalata

The basic ingredients in taramasalata are carp roe, olive oil, bread crumbs, vinegar, lemon and salt. It has a very nice salty, creamy flavor and is nor overtly fishy, I thought it had more of a umami flavor than an obvious fish flavor. Really good with the pita chips that came although I wish some soft bread would have come too.

The next dish we tried was a favorite of the trip, Cretan Husk. Cretan husk is very simple but its the one dish I can’t wait to make at home. They use husk bread which is a stale ish whole wheat country bread and then top it with a very simply, barely cooked tomato sauce, capers and a fresh cheese. We saw feta used as the cheese often but in some islands they also used a mild local goat cheese. I think I’m gonna try chevre or really good feta in olive oil when I attempt to make it at home.

Cretan Husk

Cretan Husk

It’s deceptively simple but soooo tasty. We must have ordered it at almost every restaurant we went to after we discovered it. The bread sops up the fresh tomato sauce and you have the creamy cheese and a hint of sharpness from the capers. If you like panzanella this is right up your alley.

After our appetizers I ordered the Naxos Sausage with Lentils. The sausage I think was goat and it had nice char marks and a slightly gamey flavor. A lot of food for one plate. One positive side of Greece is that its quite inexpensive compared to the Western European countries. Things are a little pricier in Mykonos or Santorini but even then you can easily find yummy, large meals for very affordable prices. Like this one.

Naxos Sausage with Lentils

Naxos Sausage with Lentils

The lentils were smaller than I’m used too but excellent. They were mixed with very thinly dressed onions, tomatoes and a light dressing which contrasted nicely with the fatty, smoky sausage. The whole thing was pretty delicious. The only thing I disliked was that the sausage was studded with pieces of fat which are not my favorite but its pretty normal for sausages and no one else was complaining 🙂

The other entree we got was the Baby Goat with Eggplant Puree. The meat was super tender and a little gamey with a mild tomato sauce and a puree of smoky grilled eggplant. The braised meat with the slightly sweet tomato sauce and the silky, smoky puree was amazing.

Baby Goat with Eggplant Puree

Baby Goat with Eggplant Puree

Everything we had was tasty and the ingredients and preparation were of great quality. For dessert I had a banana, milk, honey, cinnamon and sesame smoothie I didn’t take any pictures of. We were pretty happy with this meal. They also turn into a bar with live music later at night, that night they had Brazilian bossa nova. It went really well with the great food and the great view. Highly recommended.

Sunset in Pori

Sunset in Pori

So the next meal we have pictures of was slightly less successful. This meal was in Paros island right by the private marina. Also can’t remember the name of this restaurant but it was at the end of the first row of restaurants.

Paros

Paros

For appetizers we got a Cretan Salad. This was described as tomatoes, olives, onions, cucumbers, potatoes, and Cretan bread. Weirdly instead of potatoes we got cubes of Swiss cheese in the salad.

Cretan Salad

Cretan Salad

This came with no dressing so we mixed red wine vinegar and olive oil and poured it over top. Almost every restaurant will have olive oil and red wine vinegar at the table which is nice because they normally give you bread but no butter or anything to put on the bread.

For an entree I got the Stuffed Calamari. It said it was stuffed with feta, peppers and sundried tomatoes and came with rice and fries. I asked for roasted potatoes instead and although the waiter agreed to it I got fries anyways.

Stuffed Calamari

Stuffed Calamari

The squid was definitely overcooked and but the tomatoes were fresh instead of sundried and the bell peppers were too raw for my liking. The fries are softer in style than normal American french fries but we saw that a lot. The tartar sauce was ok. Overall it was unremarkable and I gave the rest of my squid to one of the many stray kitties that seem to be everywhere in the islands…

The other entree we got was Cretan Casserole. This was also cooked goat but what we got was not very casserole-y. It came with fries and rice but the waiter forgot the rice.

Cretan Casserole

Cretan Casserole

Although it doesn’t look super appetizing the meat was actually pretty good. Sadly there wasn’t a lot of it and there was a lot of bone, fat, and assorted tissues. Nothing like the baby goat we had in Koufonissia!

Paros

Paros

Overall we ate a lot of good food in Greece. Our number one tip would be to not eat at the restaurants that are right on the water/boardwalk especially if they’re close to the port or where the ferry arrives. These restaurants are mostly there for the cheap drinks and the food is definitely secondary. If you meander in a little into the towns you’ll find cheaper and much better food. Naturally it always pays to ask a local as well or to do some internet sleuthing beforehand.

Our favorite restaurant was in Naxos island. It was only a row behind the boardwalk restaurants advertising 4 euro drinks but it was nice and friendly with only one older lady manning the entire place. She didn’t speak a lick on English and as soon as we sat she handed us the Greek-English menus and after we sat an older Greek lady with a scarf neatly tied around her head came and sat in the table next to us. Always a good sign. Her food was simple but so good. Everything tasted fresh and she did all the cooking.

Sadly we can’t remember the name something like “Family Tavern”, if you get to Naxos by ferry go straight to the boardwalk with all the restaurants and go behind them and walk to the right until you see a white and light teal building. If you find yourself seated in the patio below you are golden.

Our Favorite Restaurant in Naxos

Our Favorite Restaurant in Naxos

The roasted potatoes with oregano and lemon are out of this world and the lady always gave us free dessert whether it was a slice of homemade orange cake or perfectly ripe figs. If we go back we will definitely be stopping by here again.

Sunset over Mykonos

Sunset over Mykonos

Healthy PB + Chocolate + Banana Smoothie

Since we had a good response to our Healthy Peanut Butter & Jelly Smoothie post we decided to tweak that recipe to make a healthy peanut butter banana chocolate smoothie!

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

This recipe is the same base as the Healthy Peanut Butter & Jelly Smoothie but with a few tweaks. This definitely has more of a dessert feel with the chocolate and banana always adds a wonderful creaminess to smoothies. This is definitely a thicker smoothie but even so it only has 174 calories, only a smidgen more than the peanut butter & jelly smoothie!

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

Banana Hanging Out in the Smoothie

And again the secret to making a healthy peanut butter smoothie is PB2. It’s a powdered peanut butter product that tastes like peanut butter but has almost none of the fat. I bought this once to try and though I do not eat it plain on toast it has become a staple in my pantry and I like adding it to smoothies, stir frys and to my cereal every now and then. To read more about PB2 or buy it click here.

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

INGREDIENTS:

Makes one smoothie.

1/2 cup of greek yogurt
1/2 cup of almond milk
1/2 banana (this can be frozen for extra creaminess!)
3 tbsp of PB2
1 square of dark chocolate
Sweetener (We used Splenda, but you could use stevia or if you don’t mind the extra calories real sugar, agave, honey etc.)

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Add the all the ingredients except for the dark chocolate to the blender and blend until smooth.
2. Once those are blended add the dark chocolate and blend until you have little chunks of dark chocolate throughout. I like these chunks big enough that you can chew on them, if you blend too long it’ll just be chocolate dust.
3. Pour into a cup and drink up. It’s ready!

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

Although using half a banana seems impractical remember this smoothie recipe serves one and you can use the other banana half for a smoothie the next day or to add to your cereal. I personally like to only add 1/2 a banana to my morning cereal because 1) you’re saving 50 calories and b) your bananas last longer! I find that that half a banana super thinly sliced is the perfect amount to add to my Kashi Berry Crumble or Fiber One Chocolate cereal. I’m also adding a lot of other things (coconut flakes, chia seeds, raw almonds, etc.) so I don’t need to much of any one topping.

Before

Before

After

After

Anyways. Hope you enjoy the smoothie, I love these guys after work or pre/post-gym. They take 10 seconds to whip up and are quite satisfying without actually being bad for you.

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

TIPS:
– If you prefer milk chocolate or white chocolate go for it. They have a bit more calories than dark but since its only one square I wouldn’t worry about it too much. I think the white chocolate would be especially delicious in this.
– Other great additions would be coconut, almonds, or hazelnuts. These would add more texture to the smoothie so its less smooth but if you don’t mind that all would be quite tasty.
– This could also be made with regular milk, soy milk, etc. I just love the taste of almond milk and its extremely low calorie
– You can easily make this vegan by substituting soy or any other non-milk based yogurt for the greek yogurt!

Azucar

So I’m pretty when people are thinking desserts in San Diego their first thought is Extraordinary Desserts. Which is completely understandable and pretty fantastic as far as desserts go, however I invite you to consider Azucar in Ocean Beach as well. Although it bills itself as a Cuban style bakery, they go beyond that and have fantastic offerings.

Azucar's Havana Cake

Azucar’s Havana Cake

Azucar

Azucar

Its definitely smaller and more casual than Extraordinary Desserts but I think a perfect afternoon would be perusing the antique stores on Newport Av. and then stopping and getting some coffee and dessert at Azucar. The cakes are mini sized and mini priced (your waistline and wallet will thank you!) but still feel very high-end and complex, with ingredients like passion fruit curd, flambeed pineapple, and champagne infused chocolate.

Azucar's Cake Display

Azucar’s Cake Display

You can also get yummy sandwiches (try the Cuban naturally) as well as amazing coffee. They also do more casual pastries like their flaky pastries with guava or cheese, ham croquettes, cookies, brownies, scones and cupcakes, etc. Personally I prefer their sweet to their savoury. As a disclaimer I will say that in life I also prefer sweet to savoury.

Azucar's Cake Display

Azucar’s Cake Display

As far as their more elaborate little cakes these are an incredibly affordable $6 bucks. One of my favorites is a white cake with passion fruit curd, raspberries, and a marshmallow toasted top. Next on my to try list is one that had rum soaked cake layered with coconut cream and flambeed pineapple. And their birthday cake is also inspired by the Momofuku birthday cake which would please anyone with a super sweet tooth. However, what I actually got this time was a white layer cake with dulce de leche filling and a vanilla frosting with sprinkles. Behold.

Vanilla Cake with Dulce de Leche

Vanilla Cake with Dulce de Leche

Sprinkle Close Up

Sprinkle Close Up

It WAS delicious. A little too sweet with the frosting but I tend to not be a big frosting person anyways. The cake is so moist and flecked with little vanilla beans (play find the specks on the first image of this post!). It pairs incredibly well with dulce de leche because really what doesn’t pair well with dulce de leche.

The other item I tried was their mojito cookie. This was awesome. The cookie is thin but chewy and a light green inside, topped with granulated sugar. It really does taste like a mojito sans the alcohol component. But the fresh mint and lime flavor with the texture from the granulated sugar really makes this cookie. And yes I had a bite on the way home before I was able to take a picture of it. Life happens.

Mojito Cookie

Mojito Cookie

Mojito Cookie

Mojito Cookie

Mojito Cookie - So green!

Mojito Cookie – So green!

I’d like to also point out that the service at Azucar is great. Everyone is really friendly and they don’t mind at all when people like me stand there for 20 minutes and read all the descriptions of every cake 3 times before deciding what I want to take home. Usually when I’m picking desserts there’s 2 that stand out of maybe 10 options but here I think I could’ve been happy with almost any of the cakes. It helps that I like that they use Latin inspired ingredients like tropical fruits and dulce de leche (which I love). Until next time I’m in OB I guess…

Azucar

Azucar

Azucar

4820 Newport Ave, San Diego, CA 92107
(619) 523-2020

http://iloveazucar.com/

Cafe Chloe

Cafe Chloe is an adorable French cafe in downtown San Diego. It serves simple but tasty French food and its a great place for brunch or dinner. They have classic French food like pâté, steak frites, and croque madames as well as some more modern (or California-fied if you will) interpretations of French food such as whole wheat pancakes with cherry syrup. Cafe Chloe uses mostly local and organic ingredients which is always nice as well. We decided to stop here for brunch on a Sunday morning and we were able to get seated right away.

Cafe Chloe

Cafe Chloe

On the weekends they have this amazing Sticky Bun. It’s flaky and cinnamon-y with a sticky, sweet glaze and pecans. I once got it later in the day and it was stale-ish and not as amazing so definitely try to get this when its fresh! I also took home the other half I didn’t finish and had it with ice cream. This was one of the best ideas I have had in recent memory…

Sticky Bun

Sticky Bun

For brunch they have the usual Bloody Mary/Mimosa offerings as well as a fresh pomegranate juice. If you have never had fresh Pomegranate Juice it tastes so much better than POM. It’s more complex; sweet and very tart with a hint of bitter at the end. Loved this.

Pomegranate Juice

Pomegranate Juice

As far as actual brunch offerings we went with the Croque Madame and the Greek Yogurt with Apricot-Hazelnut Granola and Lavender Honey. The croque madame was pretty good. I wish it had more mornay sauce but French ham, gruyère, bread, and a sunny side up egg are really all the things I crave for brunch (namely meat + cheese + carbs + egg). The frisee salad on the side is also a nice side that adds some lightness to the whole thing.

Croque Madame

Croque Madame

If you prefer something a little on the sweeter or lighter side their granola was really good. The apricot and hazelnuts along with the lavender honey gave it a much more interesting taste than the plain granola + yogurt + honey + berries/bananas you get at most places. The apricot and lavender work really well together, sweet and chewy apricots + floral honey is a match made in heaven. As much as I love eggs and some kind of ham/meat for brunch I think the granola will be my go-to dish here from now on!

Greek Yogurt Granola

Greek Yogurt Granola

Overall this is a lovely little place to go to. It really does have the feel of a French cafe and both the inside and the patio are nicely decorated and welcoming. After a lovely meal at this classy little cafe I made a mental note to come here more often!…

CHECK:
Sticky Bun $3.50
Pomegranate Juice
Croque Madame $13.75
Greek Yogurt Granola $7.75

Cafe Chloe
721 Ninth Ave #1
San Diego CA, 92101
http://www.cafechloe.com/

Polite Provisions II

After being quite smitten with Polite Provisions the first time around, we decided to revisit the place during the afternoon to see what it’s like a little earlier in the day. It was definitely less crowded on a Thursday afternoon compared to a weekend night which is when we previously attended. We were able to sit at a table and it was a more casual vibe with most people ordering food from neighboring Soda & Swine next door.

Polite Provisions

Polite Provisions

Polite Provisions

Polite Provisions

As usual the cocktails we got we’re all spot on. The cocktail menu changes a bit everyday but there are a couple constants. They try to incorporate seasonal beverages and change up the cocktails on draft. Below is the cocktail menu for that day:

Polite Provisions Menu

Polite Provisions Menu

On to the libations…

The cocktail I ordered was the Ocean Side. This came with London dry gin, fresh lime, mint, sea salt and celery bitters.

Ocean Side

Ocean Side

I really, really liked this drink. It’s refreshing, not cloyingly sweet, and herbal as well as sweet and savoury at the same time with the sea salt and celery bitters. The celery flavour is noticeable but subtle, it played really well with the mint and lime. I’d reckon if you like gin and tonics and you like Bloody Mary’s you would like this guy.

One of the other drinks we ordered at our table was the Uncle Jalapeno, with Blanco tequila, jalapeno, and T-Bone’s pineapple soda.

Uncle Jalapeno

Uncle Jalapeno

I love spicy flavors in drinks like the habanero infused beer Ballast Point does or the jalapeno infused drink at Whisknladle (cannot remember its name right now even though I always order it!). I am not someone who can handle suuuper spicy food so don’t worry if you are wary of that, these are not meant to burn your palate, the peppers just add the slightest zing and more of their flavor than just blunt spice. The pineapple soda tastes like fresh pineapple and complemented the jalapeno and tequila flavors really well, without being too sweet. If you like those Mexican fruit cups with the spices and little limes on them you will love this.

The last drink we had was the Kentucky Buck. This drink was a little sweeter and fruitier but not anything excessive. It has bourbon, fresh lemon, strawberry and ginger beer.

Kentucky Buck

Kentucky Buck

Ok so the best way I can summarize this drink is that it tasted EXACTLY like strawberry fruit roll-ups. IT WAS AWESOME. And other people at our table agreed. Not very bourbon forward and very drinkable. If you’re not a fan of spirit-forward drinks but like fruit roll-ups (and who doesn’t?) you will like this drink.

Overall we had another great experience. Drinks are still all mostly $8 bucks, you are getting such good value for your money. The only $10 dollar drink was the dessert one. Cannot wait to come back yet again and try the punch bowls…

Polite Provisions

Polite Provisions

Polite Provisions
4696 30th St
San Diego, CA 92116
politeprovisions.com

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream

So a little while ago I entered a Serious Eats contest to win Jeni’s Ice Cream. You had to name a drink that would be great as ice cream and….I won! I think the only thing I have won before in my life was this tiny stuffed starfish. And even then I think it was only half mine because me and my friend had pooled all our quarters together and managed to get the smallest prize there was at the fair. Anyways. This was not like that, I won 4 pints and they were all mine 🙂

Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream

Will do.

Will do.

Jeni's Blackberry + Cream

Jeni’s Blackberry + Cream

I had heard about Jeni’s before, and some of the flavors (namely the Banana Cajeta) sounded incredible. The flavors I won aren’t part of the normal Jeni’s flavors but were the Zelda Collection inspired by Zelda Fitzgerald (read more about it on Jeni’s Blog). I believe these are now sold out but the quality of the ingredients was amazing, I will definitely be buying this again. In SD I hear they are available at the La Jolla Bristol Farms.

The four flavors I got were: Blackberry + Sweet Cream, Cognac + Marmalade, Loveless Biscuits + Peach Jam, and Dark Chocolate Rye. Doesn’t it already sound amazing?

So the first one I tried was the Blackberry + Sweet Cream. When looking at the flavors this was actually the one I was least excited about since blackberries and cream is a fairly normal ice cream flavor. Not like this though. This was actually my favorite. You can taste how sweet and extra milky tasting the cream is, I think grass-fed cream has an extra sweetness and flavor that regular cream does not have. If you’ve had bacio di latte flavored gelato this is similar to how the cream tasted, not like a neutral backdrop for some other ingredient but the star of its own show.

Zelda Collection: Jeni's Blackberry + Cream

Zelda Collection: Jeni’s Blackberry + Cream

And the blackberry swirl. I’m actually not someone who loves fruit ice creams because a lot of them can be overly sweet (like they’re trying to kill the fruit taste with sugar) and artificial tasting but this tasted so fresh, like the darkest, juiciest blackberries that had barely been sprinkled with sugar. Together this was amazing and I find myself just randomly sneaking into my freezer and digging after the little rivulets of blackberry. It’s that good.

Zelda Collection: Jeni's Blackberry + Cream

Zelda Collection: Jeni’s Blackberry + Cream

Zelda Collection: Jeni's Blackberry + Cream

Zelda Collection: Jeni’s Blackberry + Cream

The flavor was inspired by a thank you note Zelda Fitzgerald gave to a friend that told her she would see “That your eyes are bathed with blackberry juice, which you know will make it so you never want to sleep, and that all your shaving suds turn into whipped cream”. Makes your regular emoticon-ridden thank you texts seem quite pedestrian no?

The next flavor I tried was the Cognac + Marmalade. I love cognac. With alcohol I’ve always had the taste of an old British man, I’m pretty sure at 19 my favorite alcohol was gin (and I lived in Canada where the legal age is 19 so this is a perfectly legal anecdote).

Zelda Collection: Jeni's Cognac + Marmalade

Zelda Collection: Jeni’s Cognac + Marmalade

The Armagnac cognac here just perfumes the entire ice cream so that it has the slightest oakiness and vanilla notes. It almost tastes as if there’s stil some of the bite of the alcohol but I think that was mostly the bitterness from the Seville Orange marmalade.

Zelda Collection: Jeni's Cognac + Marmalade

Zelda Collection: Jeni’s Cognac + Marmalade

Confession: I actually don’t love marmalade. I love oranges and I like orange zest but I find marmalade often to be too bitter to eat alone. I think if you like marmalade you will LOVE this ice cream. The marmalade is orange-y and jammy and flowery and has the softest flecks of bright orange zest. I’m considering sending to my mom because she loves marmalade anything and she would adore this. The cognac accents the marmalade so well and obviously the sugar and cream balance out the bitter notes. This would be amazing with dark chocolate fudge.

Zelda Collection: Jeni's Cognac + Marmalade

Zelda Collection: Jeni’s Cognac + Marmalade

Zelda Collection: Jeni's Cognac + Marmalade

Zelda Collection: Jeni’s Cognac + Marmalade

This flavor was inspired by Zelda’s love of Sidecars.

After this I tried a flavor I was pretty intrigued by, the Dark Chocolate Rye. I love rye whiskey and I love dark chocolate and naturally two good things make a better thing. Has anyone seen that episode of Friend’s where Rachel makes a trifle and then accidentally adds peas and meat to it or something? And then everyone hates it except for Joey who goes “What’s not to like? Chocolate? Good. Cream? GOOD. Meat? GOOOOD!”. Haha. That’s my logic anyways.

Zelda Collection: Jeni's Dark Chocolate Rye

Zelda Collection: Jeni’s Dark Chocolate Rye

Although this was lovely I think it was not one of my favorites. Don’t get me wrong this is some of the best chocolate ice cream I’ve ever had but I was hoping there would be dark chocolate chunks or something. Then again I’m quite partial to ice cream with stuff in it, I’m the kid that buys Ben & Jerry’s then burrows through the ice cream eating all the cookie dough/brownie/whatever through the ice cream and leaves the de-gutted remains in the freezer for someone else.

Zelda Collection: Jeni's Dark Chocolate Rye

Zelda Collection: Jeni’s Dark Chocolate Rye

This is their chocolate ice cream with Middle West Spirit’s OYO White Rye Whiskey and carraway. The rye flavor is quite subtle and you notice it as a slight lingering taste after the creamy bitter dark chocolate fades. If chocolate ice cream is your favorite this is leaps and bounds better than the crappy “chocolate-essence” tasting stuff you can get at grocery stores. Its dense and rich and almost chewy. Although this is not the flavor I will randomly sneak bites of all day this would make an amazing chocolate sundae. With maybe some dark chocolate fudge, smoked almonds and sea salt? I will let you know how that goes.

Jeni's Ice Cream

Jeni’s Ice Cream

This flavor was inspired by when in 1921 the Fitzgeralds were living in their hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota where “. . . rye flowed as though it were an elixir” at the “weekly hops at the club.” And carraway because…I don’t think I have to explain that one right?

Ok. So lastly I tried the flavor I was most excited for. The Loveless Biscuits + Peach Jam. In general I think ice creams are great with cake or cookies so to have a carb directly incorporated into the ice cream is nothing sort of efficient.

Zelda Collection: Jeni's Loveless Biscuits + Peach Jam

Zelda Collection: Jeni’s Loveless Biscuits + Peach Jam

When I first opened this I was sad to see that I didn’t initially see large chunks of biscuits. However as soon as I had my first bite I knew large chunks of biscuits were not necessary (although they were there too, just a little further down). The ice cream itself just tasted of biscuits. Not that it was grainy at all, just like cream infused with slightly sweet, buttery biscuits. If you’ve ever had Momofuku’s cereal milk ice cream this is reminiscent of that.

Zelda Collection: Jeni's Loveless Biscuits + Peach Jam

Zelda Collection: Jeni’s Loveless Biscuits + Peach Jam

This is the other ice cream I keep sneaking bites of. The peach jam is also amazing, jammy ripe peaches that bring sweetness to the bready biscuits. This ice cream does not need any sauce or topping to be eaten. Even a crumble on top would be overkill. At most if you twisted my arm I would put some barely sweetened whipped cream over top of it.

Zelda Collection: Jeni's Loveless Biscuits + Peach Jam

Zelda Collection: Jeni’s Loveless Biscuits + Peach Jam

This was inspired by Zelda Fitzgerald’s favorite food: southern biscuits and peach jam. Jeni was also inspired by the Loveless Cafe in Nashville.

Overall this stuff was unreal. The flavors are just incredibly creative, interesting but still so tasty and made with just the best quality ingredients. Jeni’s is based in Columbus, Ohio so even though I sadly cannot go to their store I will definitely try to find some of her other flavors here!

Jeni's

Jeni’s

You can apparently make your own flavors too.

Yum.

Yum.

And here are her other signature flavors.

DSC00306

Jeni's Signature Flavors

Jeni’s Signature Flavors

Jeni's Signature Flavors

Jeni’s Signature Flavors

Jeni's Signature Flavors

Jeni’s Signature Flavors

Thank you Jeni’s and Serious Eats!

Oh and btw the cocktail I said would work well as an ice cream was a Scottish Breakfast: scotch, maple syrup, orange zest, cinnamon and cream.

Zelda Collection: Jeni's Cognac + Marmalade

Zelda Collection: Jeni’s Cognac + Marmalade