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/

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New York – Cronuts & The BEST Chocolate Mousse Ever

Super belated post but thought I’d upload some of the many food pics from a trip to NY a month ago. Every time we go to NY we eat. SO. MUCH. FOOD. Something like 4 meals a day plus squeezing in snacks everywhere (paninis at Eataly, the banana bread pudding at Magnolia, the Salty Pimp cone at Big Gay Al’s…). So I guess this time was no different. Part 1:

DOMINIQUE ANSEL CRONUTS:

Perhaps I am disqualified from properly judging this particular cronut flavor because I dislike things that are overly sweet (white chocolate, fudge, caramel….) but on the other hand I love dulce de leche so this should have been amazing.

Dulce de Leche Cronut

Dulce de Leche Cronut

Although I appreciated the flakes of sea salt to offset how sweet it was it was still SO SWEET. And very very buttery. A little too buttery for me. I had one bite and I think that was all I could eat. It’s not all bad news though, could definitely see this being delicious with the right flavor, maybe something more tart like raspberry? And it was perfectly executed, crisp shell on the outside, soft flaky layers inside and perfectly smooth dulce de leche cream between the layers. Lest ye abandon all hope.

Dulce de Leche Cronut

Dulce de Leche Cronut Innards

Dominique Ansel

189 Spring Street (between Sullivan and Thompson)
New York, NY 10012

http://dominiqueansel.com/

BUVETTE:

Buvette is a lovely little (and I mean little) bistro style restaurant in the West Village. We always go for their unbelievable Croque Monsieur/Madame and for the best chocolate mousse in the world.

Buvette

Buvette

The menu is fairly small and fairly traditionalist French with croque monsieurs, charcuterie, steak tartare, duck confit rillettes, coq au vin, tartinettes, etc. Portions are somewhat small too so be advised (perhaps that’s French too?). We prefer to come here for breakfast/brunch.

This time we all shared the Steamed Eggs with Prosciutto, which seems small but with the bread it becomes a more substantial meal.

Steamed Eggs with Prosciutto

Demolished Steamed Eggs with Prosciutto

Not substantial enough because we also individually ordered the Salade de Poulet which sounds boring but is actually quite nice. It comes with shredded roasted chicken, green beans, potatoes, butter lettuce and creamy mustard dressing. Probably one of the lightest things you can get at Buvette even with that rich dressing.

Salade de Poulet

Salade de Poulet

The Croques. You truly cannot go wrong with any of them. At most places vegetarian attempts of “real food” are often dismal but here the Croque Forrestier with creamy bechamel sauce and wild mushrooms is as good as the Croque Monsier with prosciutto and the Croque Madame with prosciutto AND an egg. All have gruyere and despite their apparent diminutive size these things are super rich and they pack quite the punch.

Croque Madame

Croque Forrestier with an added Egg

Croque Madame

Croque Madame

Lastly to end you must order the Chocolate Mousse. I  solemnly swear it is the best chocolate mousse I have ever tried. Incredibly rich and chocolate-y and with a texture so dense its almost chewy.

Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse

We sneakily tried to find out what was in it by pretending to have a range of allergy afflictions and self-imposed dietary restrictions from lactose intolerance to keeping kosher in order to find out if there were dairy, eggs, nuts or gelatin in it. Sneaky. And for the record there is no dairy in the mousse itself (not including the whipped cream on top of course) and no gelatin. Hmm.

More to come and please forgive the amount of chipped nail polish in these pictures. Probably should have gone with gel nails.

Buvette

42 Grove St
(between Bedford St & Bleecker St)
New York, NY 10014

http://ilovebuvette.com

Pickled Red Onions

I have always strongly disliked raw red onions. Even though in small amounts they can be tasty and cooked they are delicious, nothing can ruin a salad or a burger like huge chunks of raw red onion. Maybe its just me, but that sharp taste will stay in my mouth all day no matter what I eat or how many times I brush my teeth. Ick.

But pickled red onions. Those are a whole other story.

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions

Two essential things to make raw red onions more palatable are slicing them thinly and adding an acid. For this picked red onion recipe you do both. How handy.

Pickled Red Onions

Don’t judge my handwriting.

For some reason when I think of pickling I think of boiling jars and pickling salts and all kinds of other things that I don’t really want to pursue. But luckily you really only have to do those things if you want your pickled whatevers to last more than an year. With this simpler pickling method they should be good for 3 weeks, which is fine by me.

RECIPE:

INGREDIENTS:
1 large red onion
1 1/2 cup of white vinegar
1 cup of sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt
3 teaspoons of whole black peppercorns
2 teaspoons of dried oregano
1 cinnamon stick

1. Thinly slice the onion and set apart. If you have a mandolin this would be a great time to bring it out.
2. Set aside the onions in a small bowl.
3. Bring all the other ingredients to a boil.
4. Pour the boiling mixture over the onions in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit overnight (or until completely cool).
5. Once its cool, transfer it to a jar and keep in the fridge. It will keep for three weeks.

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled red onions have even more tang and sweetness, they retain their crunch yet that sharp lingering taste is gone. Plus they turn a lovely pink color and look quite nice on everything.

Pickled Red Onions

It’s such an easy recipe and I’ve been adding them to everything. Made a stir fry with broccoli + cauliflower + kale with ginger and garlic then added the pickled onions on top. Also made a salad with arugula, roasted squash, goat cheese, pumpkin seeds, and added the pickled onions to that too. Lastly, have not made this yet (am currently waiting on the good will of the avocado ripening on my counter)but plan to make carnitas tacos with guacamole and pickled red onions. That jar will be gone in no time 🙂

TIPS:
1. Feel free to customize the spices. Thyme, rosemary, jalapenos and lime would be great additions as well depending what you’re going for.
2. And the amount of sugar.
3. If you want your onions a bit softer you can throw them into the boiling vinegar mixture for 20 seconds before draining and letting it sit until cool.
4. If you don’t have white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, or another more neutral tasting vinegar would work nicely.

Bouchon Chocolate Covered Eclairs with Dulce de Leche Coconut Filling

Filled Eclair

Filled Eclair

So the Bouchon cookbook is amazing. The writing is extremely detailed and if you follow it step by step you will most likely obtain perfect results. Minus a little calibrating for finicky ovens.

Eclair

Whereas I stuck to the Bouchon recipe for the eclair dough and ganache topping I wanted to make my own filling. Having some leftover dulce de leche and coconut pudding I thought that would make a great filling. This recipe is based on Manjar de Coco, a Brazilian coconut pudding that is normally topped with prunes and prune syrup. Which sounds quite dismal but is actually pretty tasty. Here’s a traditional recipe for Manjar de Coco from Chronic Cravings.

In the traditional Manjar de Coco recipe you use a can of sweetened condensed milk but I substituted a can of dulce de leche for the condensed milk.

Manjar de Coco with Dulce de Leche

INGREDIENTS:
1 can of dulce de leche
whole milk
3/4 cup of coconut milk
4 tablespoons of corn starch
1/2 cup of coconut flakes

1. Add dulce de leche, coconut milk, coconut flakes, and corn starch into a pan.
2. Take the empty can of dulce de leche and pour two cans worth of whole milk into the pan with all the other ingredients.
3. Turn on stove and cook it on medium heat continuously stirring until its thickened.
4. Chill in fridge.

Remember that the mixture will thicken as it chills so cook until its a little runnier than you want it to be.

Now the Bouchon recipe is quite long and detailed, here is a link to it:

Bouchon Eclairs

Eclairs Cooling

Eclairs Cooling

Obviously did not use a pastry piping bag as was instructed but besides that the only other modification I had to make was that my eclairs were still not airy enough after the baking process was done so I had to leave them in for 8 minutes longer. I blame this on my oven as it tends to undercook things to a certain extent…

Slicing Eclairs

Slicing Eclairs

Filling Eclairs

Filling Eclairs

Ganache

Ganache

Finishing up Eclairs

Finishing up Eclairs

Last step:

Eclair Innards

Eclair Innards

The last step is perhaps quite important because eclairs do not stand the test of time. Every moment they are sitting they are getting soggier so please make sure to assemble them right before you plan to eat them all!

TIPS:
– If you can’t find dulce de leche you can just make it yourself either by cooking it over a saucepan or by boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk, see this link here.

Diner en Blanc SD

Having heard of the Diner en Blanc events a couple years ago I considered going to last years for the first time it was happening in SD but ehh was too lazy and ended up not committing. This year we bought tickets fairly early on and I have to say it surpassed my expectations and I will definitely be back next year!

Diner en Blanc SD

Diner en Blanc SD

Diner en Blanc SD

Diner en Blanc SD

Diner en Blanc started in Paris 25 years ago and now its hosted in cities around the world, everywhere from Quebec to Cote d’Ivoire to Singapore. Basically the premise is that all these people dressed all in white (nicely I might add) bring their own tables, chairs, table decorations and food to a spot. Although mind you, you can also rent tables/chairs from them and purchase a multi-course meal as well if you are not inclined to make your own. After meeting up everyone gets on buses that will take you to an undisclosed location where the thousands of people that participate in these events will set up their tables, chairs and food and have a giant open-air dinner party. They have taken place in the Place Vendôme at Paris and they shut down Rodeo Drive last year for the one in Los Angeles. In SD last year it was at Harbor Island and this year it was in a lovely courtyard in Point Loma.

Diner en Blanc SD 2013

Diner en Blanc SD 2013

Diner en Blanc SD 2013

Diner en Blanc SD 2013

The meet up spot was at Balboa Park and when we arrived I was happy I wore a nice white dress because people go all out for this. Floor length dresses, all white suits, parasols, carnival masks, boas…you name it. Apparently there is an award for best-dressed person as well as best-decorated table. Originally I thought this was a more casual affair and so I was glad that I was informed that yes, you have to dress nicely and no, you can’t just eat on a picnic blanket.

So the only downside is having to carry all your stuff everywhere. Its not too bad but we did have some pot de creme desserts that tipped over and made a bit of a mess. As well as I had trouble carrying our table from the car to the bus but I would blame this more on a personal shortcoming of having the upper body strength of an 8 year old.

The bus took us around a bit, going on the freeway and then back off, around downtown, stopping in a random parking lot (psyche) and then finally to Point Loma. Although initially I was unimpressed by the location once we were in the courtyard and everyone was set up it looked beautiful. The courtyard around us also handily sheltered us from the wind so that both girls in skimpier dressing as well as tall flickering candles were well protected.

Napkin waving

Napkin waving

Once tables are set, dinner starts with a napkin waving thing. It was nice chatting to the tables around us and although we were definitely on the younger side of attendees it was cool to have a good mix of all ages and both couples that came alone and huge groups of people attending together.

Our table!

Our table!

Our table!

Our table!

We went with simple but elegant for our table and a bottle of rosé for libations. Also although organizers say you must purchase alcohol from them and not bring your own, EVERYONE brought their own and lots of it. Next year we will definitely be smuggling some more wine in with our food.

Crostini with Truffled Ricotta and Mushrooms

Crostini with Truffled Ricotta and Mushrooms

For our first course I made crostini with truffled ricottas and mushrooms. When you are cooking you kind of have to keep in mind that all this stuff has to be transported and also that it will most likely be served sort of closer to room temperature, unless you have a nice insulated mode of food transportation like I did not (does a Trader Joe’s bag count? I thought not).

Caeser Salad

Caeser Salad

For the second course I made a caeser salad with caeser-basil dressing. Also known as, I made a caeser dressing and added basil to it because why not.

Roast Chicken with Potatoes

Roast Chicken with Potatoes

The entree was roast chicken with Meyer lemon + roasted potatoes. I followed Kenji’s recipe from Serious Eats for a perfect butterflied roast chicken with quick jus. This was awesome. And I roasted the chicken on top of a wire rack with the potatoes underneath so that the chicken spices/juices/fat/everything dripped on the potatoes and they were sooo flavorful. I used Yukon Gold potatoes, dropped them in a pan with cold water + rosemary, Meyer lemons and salt over medium heat until they boiled and then threw them in with the chicken in the oven. They were the best roast potatoes I have ever made. No lie. Sadly not as good served room temperature but will definitely repeat this recipe.

Dulce de Leche + Coconut Pudding & Strawberries

Dulce de Leche + Coconut Pudding & Strawberries

For dessert we had dulce de leche + coconut pudding with strawberries. This was also great and I want to make it again but with more coconut and a chocolate sauce.

So after dinner there is dancing and we were thinking of just leaving early because we are the lamest 23 and 25 year olds on the planet and have work really early. But the DJ who was playing mostly oldies throughout the dinner sneakily got people on the dance floor with the Cupid Shuffle and from that went to more upbeat music. By the end of the night people were dancing in the fountains, there was a guy running around with a bubble gun and when we snap chatted a picture of the event to a friend she thought we were at Sensation White (the rave).

Diner en Blanc SD

Diner en Blanc SD

Diner en Blanc SD

Diner en Blanc SD

Being used to going to loud bars/clubs that mostly have just people your age and that play mostly EDM all night it was super fun to dance around to songs with WORDS that everyone knows the lyrics too. It was also great seeing people of all ages dance and even better to see both 20 year olds and 60 year olds dancing inside the fountain!

Fountain Dancing

Fountain Dancing

Bubble Gun

Bubble Gun

We stayed until the very end and of course the very last song they played was Journey. I don’t even have to tell you which one. Great experience and can’t wait to be back next year! Hopefully with leak-proof containers for the dessert and someone else to take up table-carrying duties 🙂

For more info on Diner en Blanc:
http://sandiego.dinerenblanc.info/

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:

URBN

[Edit: This post was updated with new pictures because we went again and pretty much ordered the same gosh darn thing. But took better pictures because the old ones were taken with my Jurassic-era iPhone 4 with a smashed screen. Damn you Barcelona pick pocketers for taking my sister’s phone so that she had to steal my upgrade. And damn you AT&T for your ridiculous early upgrade fees. Anyways]

urbn Pitcher

urbn Pitcher

urbn Pizza

urbn Pizza

If you like your pizzas thin and crispy with a good char and most importantly free with a pitcher of beer, URBN in North Park needs to be on your radar. URBN is owned by the same people as Basic in downtown that also put out crispy, thin Neapolitan style pizzas with yummy toppings and blistery crusts. And while Basic gives out free slices of pizza during happy hour you do have to fight other patrons over the slices while here you get an entire free pizza with a purchase of a pitcher of beer from 5-6pm!

urbn Pitcher + view

urbn Pitcher + View

URBN has an amazing craft beer selection, lots of taps on draft and an extensive bottle collection. Once one of my dining companions inadvertently ordered a $48 dollar bottle of Imperial Russian stout…she swears it was worth every penny though. We were not trying to order a $48 dollar bottle of anything so we went with the brewery that was on special that month so that you can get a discounted price and picked a nice crispy Hefeweizen pitcher for $18 dollars.

urbn Interior

urbn Interior

The interior is nice too, huge with super high ceilings and huge fans. Definitely more of an industrial look but it suits the place and you’ll be hard pressed to not find seating.

Along with pizzas they have some salads and appetizers if you’re not in the mood for pizza. I decided to complement my pizza with a Caprezanella, which is a mix of a panzanella and caprese salad with bread croutons, olives, red onions, fresh mozarella and tomatoes.

Caprezanella

Caprezanella, why yes I did eat all the mozzarella before I took a picture

The small portion is more than suitable for a side and could even pass as a meal if you’re not that hungry. This was simple but tasty and went well with the pizza.

Now for the pizza. You get a free small pizza but the small pizza is actually quite large and we could not even finish it between 2 hungry people. You get 2 toppings free but we added 2 more because we’re greedy people. Topped off with salami (SO GOOD. BETTER THAN PEPPERONI. DO IT.), cherry peppers, garlic and mushrooms this thing was a beauty.

urbn Pizza

urbn Pizza

Slice

Slice

The crust was delicious and my only teensy complaint is that despite loving some good char on pizza crust there was a smidgen too much char but nothing that stopped me from thoroughly enjoying our pizza.

You also get little containers of sea salt, shredded parmesan, oregano and red pepper flakes to liberally apply to your pizza.

Pizza Condiments

Pizza Condiments

Overall a great deal and for a good price. Sadly they include 18% tip on the original price of the meal (i.e. with the price of the pizza included) so it wasn’t quite the deal we were expecting but definitely still a nice happy hour.

CHECK:
Pitcher of Hefeweizen $18
Pizza (free with purchase of pitcher) $0
Caprezanella small $7
Mandatory 18% gratuity for happy hour $7.74
TOTAL: $32.74

URBN Coal Fired Pizza

3085 University Ave, San Diego, California 92104
(619) 255-7300

www.urbnnorthpark.com/

Related links:

Bouchon Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

So naturally after a healthy post I follow up with something on the other end of the scale. My mom got me Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery cookbook and having heard really great things about it I was excited to try something. I started off with the TKO cookies and the Nutter Butter’s but thought a more unique thing to share would be the Flan Tart! I slightly adapted it by omitting the apricots and adding a chocolate ganache to the top of it.

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Look at that thing. I personally love flan, crème brûlée and all sorts of custard based desserts. This filling isn’t exactly flan per se as it does not include condensed milk which is typical of flan but more of a simple custard based simply on whole milk, eggs, vanilla and sugar. It has a pâte brisée crust and you can use Bouchon Bakery’s recipe or one that you are more familiar with, as long as it fits a 9 inch round pan.

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

The recipe’s in Bouchon Bakery are very exact and contain a lot of useful information. If you follow directions closely you will end up with a great product. One of the tips I really liked is to let muffin batter sit for a day as this soaks the flour and produces a more moist final product. Having made countless batches of dry-ish muffins despite vast amounts of oil or buttermilk this might be the clue I’ve been missing all these years! I plan on trying one of the muffin recipes and reporting back here to see how that goes 🙂

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

One important thing to note is that they call for Bird’s Custard Powder for the recipe. Coincidentally had this as I had been to Cost Plus World Market and they had this in their section of international foods a while ago (custard powder is quite popular in the UK). If you don’t have it I looked at the ingredients and it is entirely cornstarch with flavoring and food coloring. So you can most likely sub cornstarch for it and maybe add some extra vanilla. Your final custard might be less yellow but taste should not be too highly affected.

INSTRUCTIONS:

FOR THE PATE BRISEE RECIPE SEE INSIDE THE BOOK HERE

FOR THE FLAN TART RECIPE SEE INSIDE THE BOOK HERE

FOR THE CHOCOLATE GANACHE:

INGREDIENTS:

– 8 oz dark chocolate, chopped
– 1/2 cup whole milk or cream

1. Melt the chocolate and milk together over a double boiler or by microwaving for 30 second increments with whisking in between.
2. Spread over the cooled flan tart.

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

TIPS:
– As before, if you do not have Bird’s Custard Powder you can order it online, find it at Cost Plus World Market or substitute for cornstarch and extra vanilla flavoring.
– Incorporating coconut in this, whether by subbing in coconut milk or topping with toasted coconut would be quite good.
– Another option is omitting the chocolate ganache and topping with fresh berries.

Slice

Slice

Fig, Honey, Thyme & Goat Cheese Yogurt Popsicle

So I’ve noticed a lot of our recipes have really long titles and this no exception. I just really want people to know what’s in them right off the bat I guess? I was going to call them red, white and blue popsicles in honor of the upcoming holiday but I thought that might be pushing it as figs are really more purple than blue on the outside…

Figs

Figs

Also I was way too excited to get a half day on Wednesday and with that and no work on Friday I basically did not really remember to finish this post until today. So I guess the red, white, and blue is not really applicable anymore…

Figs from the farmer's market

Figs from the farmer’s market

Figs are amazing. I am aware they are not the most popular fruit and as a kid I tried to pretend I didn’t like it because I thought the interior of the fig looked like “tentacles” but they are delicious. Plump, sweet, and incredibly fragrant I suggest you find yourself some figs before they’re gone!

Figs

Figs

Perhaps the only downside with figs is that they are indeed highly seasonal and a touch on the more expensive side. I have bought figs from Trader Joe’s ($2.99 for a basket not bad at all), from the Little Italy Farmer’s Market ($4.99 for a basket) and Whole Foods ($5.99 for a basket) and sadly despite the TJ’s one being super cheap they were also not quite worth the money as they were still green on the outside and even after ripening were mostly hollow and dry inside. The one’s from the farmer’s market were the best, and I will be picking more up this weekend!

Figs

Figs

There is not much you need to do to enjoy figs, I find that they’re best when super fresh, it almost seems like a waste to cook them into anything unless they are dry or past their prime.

Figs

Figs

One of my favorite ways to eat them is as a light snack, drizzled with honey and then sprinkled with thyme and good feta or with a dollop of thick greek yogurt if you are not into the salty and sweet thing.

Fig with Thyme & Honey

Fig with Thyme & Honey

Fig + Honey  + Thyme + Greek Yogurt

Fig + Honey + Thyme + Greek Yogurt

And as much as I like them fresh, I perhaps got too excited about figs and having bought some from the farmer’s market and Trader Joe’s I decided to use some of the Trader Joe’s ones to make popsicles. More specifically: fig, greek yogurt, goat cheese, thyme and honey popsicles. This might have also been influenced by me recently acquiring these nifty little Zoku popsicles molds.

Zoku Popsicle Molds

Zoku Popsicle Molds

Zoku Popsicle Molds

Zoku Popsicle Molds

I got these from Pigment in North Park, this store sells all kinds of interesting decor, books and food items as well as all the components you would need to build your own terrarium. Zoku also has these other instant popsicle molds that will have your popsicle ready in 6 minutes or something of that sort. I can wait more than 6 minutes for my popsicles so I got the regular kind but those are a good option too for you more impatient types 🙂

Fig, Honey, Thyme and Goat Cheese Popsicle

Fig, Honey, Thyme and Goat Cheese Popsicle

INGREDIENTS:

Makes 2 popsicles with my molds, to make more double, triple, etc. accordingly.

1 cup of greek yogurt
4 tablespoons of goat cheese
sugar/agave/sweetener to taste
4 tablespoons honey
1 sprig of thyme
3 figs, chopped
popsicle molds

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Whisk the greek yogurt, goat cheese and sugar/agave/sweetener together until smooth.
2. Taste to see if its sweet enough for your liking, keeping in mind we are adding some honey after. Add more if necessary.
3. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the honey, thyme leaves, and chopped figs. Beat the figs around with the whisk a little so they break down a little until the whole mixture is the lightest shade of pink.
4. Add the last 2 tablespoons of honey but only mix in slightly so you still have swirls of honey.
5. Pour into popsicle molds and let freeze for at least 3 hours or according to popsicle mold instructions.
6. Eat!

Yogurt and Goat Cheese

Yogurt and Goat Cheese

Cherry Blossom Honey

Cherry Blossom Honey

So basically with popsicles or ice cream the more impurities you add to your liquid base the less solid it will be. Adding sugar, fat or alcohol all will make your popsicle softer. For this recipe I used nonfat Greek yogurt but using full fat would give you a creamier popsicle.

Greek yogurt, goat cheese, honey and thyme

Greek yogurt, goat cheese, honey and thyme

Greek yogurt, goat cheese, honey and thyme

Greek yogurt, goat cheese, honey and thyme

This is a lovely very grown up popsicle with good tang from the goat cheese, a floral flavor from the honey and figs and lastly a slight herbal earthiness from thyme. I don’t know that kids would enjoy it as much as adults but this is a perfect light dessert to serve after a summer BBQ.

Fig, Goat Cheese, Honey & Thyme Popsicles

Fig, Goat Cheese, Honey & Thyme Popsicles

Fig, Goat Cheese, Honey & Thyme Popsicles

Fig, Goat Cheese, Honey & Thyme Popsicles

TIPS:
– If you don’t like figs other fruits that can be substituted would be strawberries, apricots, grapes, blueberries or peaches.
– Thyme and the goat cheese could also be omitted. For the herb component you could also substitute it, some herbs that play nicely with sweeter flavors are rosemary, tarragon, mint, lavender, and basil.
– Different kinds of honey would add different dimensions to the flavor, I used a light cherry blossom honey but buckwheat honey would add a deeper honey flavor that would be lovely with the thyme.
– Lastly, if you want a really creamy popsicle you could always substitute heavy cream for the greek yogurt! But just make sure the cook the cream with the sugar before so that the sugar is properly dissolved.

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!