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.

Sab-E-Lee

Pork Nam Tok

Pork Nahm Tok

I’ve always wanted to try Sab-E-Lee having read many posts about the great quality of Thai food there. I think just mmm-yoso has about a million Sab-E-Lee posts, which all look verrry tempting.

After spending a month in Thailand a couple years ago its hard to be overjoyed with the insipid vaguely ketchup-y Pad Thai stuff that is passed off as Thai food in many places. It is also hard to will myself to drive to Linda Vista but getting a half day off work helped with that 🙂

So I stopped by the Sab-E-Lee on Ulric Rd and got some Pork Nahm Tok and their Papaya Salad to go. They have a Yum-Woon Sen salad with shrimp and ground pork on glass noodles as well as a Nam Sod Salad that sounded more interesting than the papaya salad but according to them their papaya salad is “VERY POPULAR!!!” and the use of not one or two but THREE exclamation marks won me over.

The location is verrrry small and despite them obviously being successful enough to open a second location this place is tiny and very bare bones. Don’t come here with a large group expecting to be seated right away. Or at all depending how large. The waitresses were friendly and the place was half full for lunch. I was happy to see the many kinds of chili you can top your meal with set out at the table just like we saw everywhere in Thailand.

Now for the food. The pork nahm tok was very flavorful, the pork was thinly sliced and topped with lots of cilantro, red onion, and rice powder. Could have been a little more charred but the abundance of spices and herbs guarantees its anything but bland. The nahm tok comes with cabbage and cucumbers for you to make little cabbage tacos with the pork.

Pork Nam Tok

Pork Nam Tok

Pork Nam Tok

Pork Nam Tok

Cucumber + Cabbage

Cucumber + Cabbage

The papaya salad comes with green papaya, dried shrimps, sliced chiles, tomatoes, green onions, peanuts and has a very strong dressing. I personally liked it but I think people who have more reservations about fish sauce might be discouraged.

Papaya Salad

Papaya Salad

Papaya Salad

Papaya Salad

Now the only downside: I read that their spicy levels are more legit than most Thai restaurants where a 10 is generally pretty unimpressive. So I was conservative and ordered a 4 (I would normally go with a 6). But even so the spiciness level was wayyy too high for me. For the papaya salad there are slices of Thai chili and biting into one of those larger pieces made my eyes water. I generally avoided them after that but for the nahm tok the sauce itself was pretty spicy so there was not much to do. I ate I think half of both and then just kind of drank copious amounts of water for a prolonged period of time….

I will readily admit that my spicy tolerance is kind of mediocre though as I did not grow up eating spicy food so perhaps take this with a grain of salt. I do however love hot sauce on my breakfast burritos, jalapenos in my sandwiches and have sriracha in my fridge at all times so I have somewhat been indoctrinated into San Diego’s spicy loving ways.

Pork Nahm Tok

Pork Nahm Tok

Overall despite the out-of-my-league spiciness I quite liked the food. Will be back to try the Pad See Ew and the Pork Neck Nahm Tok! Will also probably order a level 2 (the shame).

Sab-E-Lee

Two locations:
2405 Ulric Street, San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 650-6868

13223-2 Black Mountain Road, San Diego, CA 92129
(858) 780-0022

http://originalsab-e-lee.webs.com/

Greek Fattoush Salad & The Best Healthy Tzatziki Sauce

Salads get a bad rep as a main course because oftentimes what we picture as a stereotypical salad are just the saddest little leaves of iceberg lettuce with some grainy tomatoes, limp cucumber and dry shreds of carrots strewn over top. When people say they don’t like salads though I believe they just haven’t found the salad for them yet. There’s a salad out there you’ll like.

Greek Fattoush Salad

Greek Fattoush Salad

From Thai som tam papaya salad with peanuts and shrimp to warm spinach salads with bacon, mushrooms and a poached egg. Jean George’s carrot and avocado salad is a must order at his restaurant ((or must make at home) and the pomegranate seeds on Joy the Baker’s apple and brussel sprouts salad really make the whole dish.

Anyways. Lately my favorite salads have been more Mediterranean leaning. I love fattoush salad which is a Lebanese salad that normally has lettuce (or purslane), cucumber, tomatoes, mint, radish, pita chips and a tangy dressing made of lime, garlic, olive oil and sumac. It sounds terribly simple but its quite addicting, plus a perfect complement to fatty, charred gyros. Another classic I think most people are familiar with is greek salad which has tomatoes, cucumbers, black olives, feta, red onions and a dressing of red wine vinegar, oregano and olive oil.

Greek Fattoush Salad

Greek Fattoush Salad

Greek Fattoush Salad

Greek Fattoush Salad

So my clever idea that mostly arose out of coincidentally having most of these ingredients at home was to combine both these salads. Unfortunately I did not have sumac lying around so I omitted it but I highly recommend it if you can find it. It’s a reddish tangy spice that really adds a lot to the dressing and almost vaguely tastes like cranberries.

Lastly I added some simply cooked shrimp to the salad and made some amazing tzatziki sauce to go with this salad (and so that I could I dip extra pita chips in). This is an amazing tzatziki sauce recipe that’s pretty healthy to boot.

Chopping Away

Chopping Away

Chopped

Chopped

Chopped x2

Chopped x2

INGREDIENTS:

Serves 2 as a meal and 4 as a side.

1 pound of Persian cucumbers or 1 English cucumber
2 tomatoes
1 cup chopped romaine
1 cup of fresh mint leaves
1 cup of plain salted pita chips (add more if you like)
1/3 cup of kalamata olives
2-3 ounces of good feta (the one packed in olive oil is my favorite)
Juice of 2 limes (or lemons)
4 teaspoons of ground sumac
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup of olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Mix the lime juice, sumac, oregano, red wine vinegar, minced garlic cloves and olive oil into a small bowl. Whisk vigorously until incorporated and set aside.
2. Chop the tomatoes and cucumbers into 1/2 inch pieces. Add to a bowl.
3. Add in romaine, mint leaves, pita chips, and kalamata olives.
4. Add dressing and toss everything together.
5. Crumble the feta over top.
6. It’s ready! I would add a protein to make this a meal or serve as a side.

Greek Fattoush Salad

Greek Fattoush Salad

Now for the tzatziki. I love having a creamy side to have with the tangy salad but this tzatziki is great for serving alongside kebabs, pita chips, lemon shrimp skewers, you name it. It is especially good as part of a meal when you dollop it over rice.

Tzaziki

Tzaziki

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup fat free greek yogurt (strained if you want it thicker, I used Trader Joe’s brand but I like Oikos too)
1 cup fat free sour cream
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tbsp vinegar
1 lemon
2 cloves of garlic finely minced
3 tbsp chopped fresh dill
3 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 cucumber (any kind) peeled, seeded and diced into cubes
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk together.
2. Add in all the ingredients except for the lemon and whisk together.
3. Add the juice of the lemon, adjusting for how tart you want it. Combine.
4. Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil over top before serving.

Tzaziki

Tzaziki

So yes. This is how I ate my huge salad. The good thing about this salad is that its quite substantial but because the dressing is fairly healthy you can eat a lot of until you’re quite full. When trying to be healthy its generally good to always control portion size but when you’re eating a big bowl of what mainly consists of cucumbers and tomatoes you can pretty much dismiss portion control and eat until you are pre-tty full. Provided you didn’t go too crazy with the pita chips.

Final Product: Greek Fattoush Salad with Shrimp and Tzaziki

Final Product: Greek Fattoush Salad with Shrimp and Tzaziki

This is the final product. I pretty much made this in a large salad serving bowl and then just kind of ate out of the bowl. Even after eating until my post-gym induced ravenous heart’s content I still have a good amount of salad left for the next day. The pita chips do get a tad soggy so if you have extra this is either an excuse for eating all the pita chips and adding more next time or for picking them out when you eat the salad later.

Close Up

Close Up

Buona Forchetta

I’ve been hearing about Buona Forchetta for a while and was really excited to try this place with its gorgeous golden pizza oven (look at the website!).

Sergio Pizza

Sergio Pizza

First driving into the Golden Hill / South Park area was great. I don’t frequent that area too often but its beautiful and I promised that I’ll start exploring it more. Its completely different from the other side of the Balboa Park along 6th Av., much less busy and so charming. But anyways, I digress.

Buona Forchetta Menu

Buona Forchetta Menu

The place has a rather small inside but a nice patio with heaters. Loved the vibe of the place. The menu was fairly simple: appetizers, salads, pastas, pizzas (regular, white, fried), calzones and desserts. There was no happy hour but with glasses of sangria regularly priced at $4 and beer at $5  who needs happy hour anyways.

DRINKS: Even a better deal than the cups of sangria is a carafe of sangria. For $18 we got a carafe of fantastic white sangria. It was very crisp tasting although not very alcoholic. This was fine by me.

White Sangria

White Sangria

APPETIZER: To start off we ordered the Pizzelle, fried up little rounds of puffy pizza dough with marinara sauce and parmesan. You get three of these little babies and they are quite tasty. They’re very tomato-ey with all that sauce and the marinara is very fresh tasting.  I liked these but eat them fast as they get soggy and cold sitting under all that sauce for a while. Also since I prefer marinara that tastes more like fresh tomatoes instead of stuff thats been cooking for days I really liked the sauce on the pizzelle and on all their pizzas.

Pizzelle

Pizzelle

Probably because I felt guilty about my imminent consumption of vast amounts of cheese and dough I also ordered a salad, the Gamberi. It had shrimp, arugula, capers, artichokes and a lemon-y dressing. This salad is quite tart with the brininess from the capers and the lemon dressing, but it was tasty and refreshing. They also give you decent sized shrimp, I hate ordering something with shrimp and getting the tiny cheap crap shrimp. No such thing here.

Gamberi

Gamberi

ENTREE: We got three pizzas to share. As a note the pizzas are personal sized and cut into 4 pieces, however we were 4 people and got three and it was more than enough. The first was the Sophia with mozzarella, artichokes, mushrooms and prosciutto cotto. Prosciutto cotto is cooked prosciutto. It was torn into small piece and it was crispy at the edges, tasting more like the best crispy ham ever instead of silky prosciutto. This was my personal favorite. There was just enough cheese + the mushrooms and artichokes worked wonderfully with the prosciutto cotto to feel like you were eating a fantastic hearty pizza. I have to commend them on their crust too; thin but still chewy with the perfect amount of char. That fancy oven is doing you good Buona Forchetta.

Sophia pizza

Sophia

We also got the Sergio. This was mozzarella di bufala (fresh mozzarella made from buffalo milk), fresh prosciutto and arugula. For this pizza the arugula and the prosciutto are added after the pizza leaves the oven so the prosciutto was still that silky soft texture and the arugula was crisp. This was also delicious, my only wish was that there was more mozzarella di bufala, I think that would have made this my favorite pizza. It definitely feels less hearty than the Sophia because its not all hot melty everythingness but its a perfect hot weather pizza since the fresh prosciutto and arugula balance out the hot crust and cheese.

Sergio pizza

Sergio

Our last pizza was a pizza bianche, or white pizza. We ended up choosing the Isabella, with creme fraiche, sun dried tomatoes, goat cheese, onions and rosemary. Sadly this was my least favorite pizza but I normally prefer regular tomato based pizza over the white sauce versions. The sun dried tomatoes were a little too charred for me and the overall pizza felt dry, we all wished there had been more creme fraiche. They have very thinly sliced mostly raw red onions on the pizza too so if you love onions you will like this one.

Isabella pizza

Isabella

DESSERT: So for dessert we got the Millefoglie a flaky pastry that was filled with a sweetened mascarpone cream and fresh strawberries. There was also chocolate sauce drizzled on the plate. This was amazing. I wish there were more strawberries because getting the flaky pastry + cream + strawberries in one bite was heavenly. Sadly we were sharing this and it got devoured so fast I don’t even have any pictures of it 😦

Overall we all loved Buona and cannot wait to go back. The prices are very reasonable and you legitimately don’t see people doing really good Neapolitan style pizza in San Diego. Don’t get me wrong I love ALL kinds of pizza but especially kinds that are thin and light enough that I can consume three pieces without feeling excessively full and/or guilty. Looking at that menu I already know what I wanna order next time…and definitely not planning on sharing dessert again 😉

CHECK:
White Sangria $18
Pizzelle $5
Gamberi $10
Sofia $11
Sergio $13
Isabella $13
Millefoglie $6
TOTAL: $82.08

Buona Forchetta
3001 Beech St.
San Diego, CA 92102
http://www.buonaforchettasd.com/

5 Minute Healthy Salad – Strawberries, Feta, Almonds, Turkey + Thyme

One of the best ways to eat healthy during the work week is to BYOL – Bring Your Own Lunch. Cooking a bigger portion ensures you have extra leftovers to bring to work. However there are days when there are no leftovers to be had and very little time in the morning to prep something to take to work. Even though I have turned to Trader Joe’s frozen meals and PB&J’s, I also learned how to make tasty, filling salads that I can throw together in 5 minutes. I love salads with berries and this an easy strawberry salad that requires minimal cooking and will be ready to go in your trusty tupperware in less time than you take to shower in the morning.

strawberry, salad

Strawberry Salad

The best part about this recipe is that the basic concept is there but you can substitute whatever you have in your fridge: if I don’t have strawberries I throw in blueberries, if I don’t have feta I use goat cheese…No turkey? A tiny bit of bacon is not going to kill you. It’s all good 🙂

strawberry, salad

Strawberry Salad

INGREDIENTS:

Mixed greens
5 strawberries
2-3 slices of roasted turkey breast (not the cheap rubber-y kind please)
Handful of almonds
Feta
3 sprigs of thyme
2 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat up a small frying pan and add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to it.
2. Rip up the turkey in small pieces and add it to the hot pan. Season to taste and let it get crispy and brown around the edges.
3. While the turkey is browning fill your plate/bowl with the mixed greens and slice up your strawberries and place them on top of the greens.
4. Add almonds, thyme leaves, then crumble feta on top.
5. Add the turkey thats browned.
6. Combine the 2 tbsp of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and honey in a small bowl then whisk together and season to taste. If you are eating this right away pour it on top and toss to combine. If taking to work add it to the bottom of the container so everything doesn’t wilt and you can toss it all together before eating.

Amounts in this recipe are fairly loose because you should not be measuring things that early in the morning. Just add however much you want of each ingredient. I recommend adding A LOT of toppings so that the salad feels like a meal and you’re not just eating greens by themselves like a rabbit :/

You could also always add more meat like chicken breast. I like using meat as just an accent as opposed to the main ingredient in this salad because reducing your meat intake is good for you (but hard to do!) and although we tend to cook full meals for dinner (complete with steaks or salmon filets and whatnot) there are so many tasty ingredients you don’t miss it in this salad.

Strawberry

Strawberry

A great way to make salads more flavorful too is to use herbs like salad greens. If you have ever had tabbouleh or fattoush or other Middle Eastern salads, they use parsley and mint as if they were salad greens not just accent herbs. So have herbs on hand! I grow rosemary, basil, parsley and thyme. All are doing pretty well except for the parsley which apparently cats like to eat…

For this salad basil, rosemary, or mint would also pair beautifully with the strawberries.

Thyme

Thyme

Basil

Basil

Rosemary

Rosemary

So this is a lovely 5 minute salad for spring, look out for future posts on a super fast nicoise style salad and citrus-avocado based salad…

TIPS:
– If you don’t have strawberries: blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries would all do – just make sure its fresh fruit!
– We used fat free feta but using real feta makes the salad creamier and using goat cheese even more so!
– If you don’t have almonds, hazelnuts would be particularly good here. Or else pine nuts, walnuts, pecans, pistachio and most nuts would work…perhaps not peanuts.
– Candied nuts always are really good in berry salads as well! Those have a lot of calories so we stayed away from them this time.
– Any mixed greens maybe with the exception of iceberg lettuce could be used as a base – butter lettuce, romaine, spinach, etc.
– If you use a pre-made low fat dressing that would save you even more time!

Cafe 21

Cafe 21 has long been ranked #1 brunch in SD and being a fan of Hash House I always wanted to go to see this restaurant that upstaged Hash House’s pizza-sized pancakes and my favorite pesto scramble with chicken

sangria, cafe 21, san diego

Sangrias at Cafe 21

Cafe 21 has two locations, one in the Gaslamp and one in North Park. Brunch tends to get pretty busy so we would advise you to go early or late and in general the North Park one is less crowded than the Gaslamp. We went to the North Park location around 10 am and only had to wait a couple minutes for seating at the bar.

You know when sometimes you go to a restaurant and one dish stands out so you know what you absolutely must order? At Cafe 21 there were 4 dishes that I absolutely wanted to order. I considered ordering 2 and taking the rest home but finally decided I should not completely cancel out the benefits of the hot yoga session I attended that morning and decided on only one dish – it wasn’t easy.

Cafe 21 has 4 kinds of sangria and they’re all displaced on the wall – two red wine ones and two white wine ones. We were stuck deciding between the Pineapple Citrus and the Watermelon Cantaloupe. We asked for a taster and ultimately decided on a pitcher of the watermelon one. It was very refreshing tasting and tasted more like melon than wine. This was served with a slice of fresh watermelon and lots of ice; perfect for a hot day.

watermelon, sangria

Watermelon Cantaloupe Sangria

The menu has quite a few options ranging from frittata-style omelettes that come in cast iron pans (you can get one side dish with them), benedicts that come on corn cakes, salads, sandwiches, yogurt parfaits and specials. I decided on the Filet Mignon Omelette that comes with bell peppers and goat cheese with a salad for the side.

salad, strawberry, cafe 21

Side Salad with Strawberry

filet mignon, omelette

Filet Mignon Omelette

The omelette was fluffy and delicious, it comes super hot in the cast iron pan. I loved the goat cheese but wished the bell peppers were a little more cooked as I like them soft instead of crunchy. The filet mignon was cooked medium-well, I suspect it was rarer but cooked while sitting in the cast iron pan. The side salad was delicious, simple greens but dressed with a slightly sweet berry dressing and garnished with fresh strawberries.

My friend got the Prosciutto Omelette. This came with prosciutto, mushrooms, and cheddar cheese. It looked amazing and I think I would pick that one over the Filet Mignon Omelette next time. All the omelettes come with toast as well.

Prosciutto, Omelette

Prosciutto Omelette

Overall everything was quite good, the service was excellent, and we kept staring at dishes come out of the kitchen and inquiring as to what they were as everything looked amazing. Can’t wait to come back here and try the lavash bread with turkey sausage topped with cheese or the smoked salmon, egg, and avocado sandwich. And the baked pancakes with apples….And the shrimp corn cake benedict! Clearly will have to return more than once…

Cafe 21

750 5th Ave
San Diego, CA
92101

2736 Adams Ave
San Diego, CA
92116

http://www.cafe-21.com

Brooklyn Girl Eatery

Brooklyn Girl is a great spot in Mission Hills doing fresh and inventive food and one of our favorite go-to neighborhood spots. The restaurant has a nice look to it and definitely lives up to its “Brooklyn” title. It’s housed in a warehouse style building but has a cool vibe with modern art on the walls, big crystal chandeliers in bird cages and trees wrapped in lights inside. They have a restaurant seated dining area, a bar area, communal tables and a “pantry” section that sells food items.

Menu

Menu

We have been here a couple times and not only do we love the food but the service seems to be on point here. Also the bar and communal dining tables are great when you want to stop by but do not have a reservation.

The bar area

The bar area

BREAD: In fact you do not get bread, they instead serve you popcorn which has been spiced differently every time we’ve been. Last time it was Thyme and Butter Popcorn (shown below) and the previous time it was a spicier version.

Thyme & Butter Popcorn

Thyme & Butter Popcorn

APPETIZER: Ok. You must try the Bacon Wrapped Vietnamese Meatballs. With a name like that how can you even pass it up? Between the flavorful pork, the crisp salty bacon and the sweet-spicy glaze this hits all the right spots. The slaw on top doesn’t hurt either.

Ginger Glazed Bacon Wrapped Pork Meatballs

Bacon Wrapped Vietnamese Meatballs

Vietnamese Meatball

Vietnamese Meatball

ENTREE: This is one of the few restaurants where the chicken can compete with steak and seafood. Normally we always go for steak/seafood when eating out but here the roasted chicken is amazing. Another fantastic standby is their Williams Burger. You pick between cheddar and blue cheese and can add cherry wood smoked bacon, a fried egg, or fried oysters for extra. We definitely suggest adding the bacon. This burger comes with the classic sides (lettuce, tomatoes, pickle) and the Kobe/Angus beef was cooked to a perfect medium rare. No crazy aioli’s or unusual ingredients, just a classic done right (including the crispy thin fries!). Sometimes you can really tell the caliber of a restaurant when even their salads sound/are delicious. We ordered the Duck and Date salad and if you are a fan of duck this is the dish for you. The duck is falling off the bone tender and comes accompanied by frisee lettuce, spinach, Marcona almonds, chopped up dates and banyals vinaigrette. The richness of the duck pairs well with the sweet chewy dates and the fresh greens, a great cold weather salad (it’s been chilly lately in San Diego!).

Duck and Date Salad

Duck and Date Salad

Williams Burger

Williams Burger

SIDES: One of the must order sides is their Cornbread and Honey: freshly baked cornbread (made to order) with a molten white cheddar core is topped with honeycomb and brought to your table. It’s sweet and salty and we actually prefer it as an appetizer than a side. Another notable side is the Brussels and Bacon. If you normally think of brussel sprouts as limp, yellow-y, boiled bitter little bundles you are in for a treat. They are deep fried until they are shattering-ly crispy on the outside then served with bacon and caramelized pecans. Definitely a fantastic thing to add to your order and we always end up fighting for the last few pecans.

Brussels & Bacon

Brussels & Bacon

Brooklyn Girl has simple but inventive takes on dishes and we like that it makes good food thats relatively affordable. This coupled with the good service and nice ambiance ensures that we will keep returning here, at least until we can find out how to copy those Vietnamese meatballs…

CHECK:
Bacon Wrapped Vietnamese Meatballs $11
Williams Burger $14
Duck and Date $12
Brussels and Bacon $8
TOTAL: $48.60 (w/ tax)

Brooklyn Girl Eatery
4033 Goldfinch St
San Diego, California 92103
brooklyngirleatery.com