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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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

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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

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/

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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 brĂ»lĂ©e 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 brisĂ©e 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

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

Brooklyn Girl Eatery – Brunch

So Brooklyn Girl has brunch, which I had no idea existed or else I would have gone sooner. Came here on Saturday around 11 am and was happy to see that there were plenty of free tables, which is nice considering trying to come around dinner time without a reservation has not worked well for us recently!

Brooklyn Girl

Brooklyn Girl

DRINKS:First of all, let me say right off the bat that Brooklyn Girl has the BEST Bloody Mary I’ve ever had. And this sentiment was echoed by others at our table. It’s so flavorful and has the perfect amount of spice. Watery Bloody Marys might very well be one of the worst things ever. I blame these bland and watered down specimens for me believing I hated Bloody Marys for most of the 24 years I’ve been on this Earth (I have seen the light and converted about 3 months ago). They have a special Bloody with bacon and a pickled quail egg too but we all went with the House Bloody which is described as “No Frills, All Delicious, Svedka Vodka, House Bloody Mix Celery, Jalapeno stuffed Olive, Lime, S&P rim”. Spot on.

Bloody Mary

House Bloody

We also loved their Horchata Borracha, or drunk horchata if you habla español. Housemade horchata + Kraken rum = deliciousness. This also came with a cinnamon sugar rim that was a nice touch.

Horchata Borracha

Horchata Borracha

ENTREES: As far as brunch options go they have omelettes, benedicts, pancakes, french toast, granola, and some less usual fare like their burger (add an egg to it!), a T.A.B.L.T. (Turkey Avocado Bacon Lettuce Tomato), a duck confit + duck egg dish, chicken and dumplings, and a breakfast pizza! It’s definitely an interesting but tasty selection.

I went for the Breakfast Pizza which did not disappoint at all. It comes with thick cut bacon, aged white cheddar, eggs, and chives. No tomato sauce on this pizza, and it was better this way. It’s super savory and there’s enough bacon that you get some on each bite. That with perfectly cooked eggs with soft yolks that are perfect for dipping in was heavenly. Wish the pizza had more char on it but besides that it was just about perfect. And huge too! Definitely more than enough for splitting.

Breakfast Pizza

Breakfast Pizza

Some of the other dishes we ordered were the South of the Border, a Mexican inspired benedict. This came with house chorizo, poblano peppers, black beans, red onions, flour tortillas instead of a biscuit, poached eggs, and an ancho hollandaise. I’m not a huge black bean person but besides that everything was pretty tasty. The chorizo was flavorful and the eggs were perfectly cooked. We asked for some hot sauce for this dish and with that it was good to go.

South of the Border

South of the Border

We also got their Traditional Benedict. This was smoked ham, english muffin, poached egg, and hollandaise with potatoes on the side. Despite this being pretty standard fare I liked it even more than the South of the Border because all the components were individually so good. The potatoes were super crispy and I don’t normally like thick cut ham but this one tasted so much more like real pork than the usual salty processed stuff that I could eat it by itself.

Traditional Benedict

Traditional Benedict

DESSERT: Lastly we also ordered the Bread Pudding. This took a while to arrive but it was well worth it. It was piping hot and studded with dark chocolate chips. It comes with an anglaise sauce to pour over the bread pudding, and when you do that the chocolate starts to melt into the anglaise and creates rippling chocolate swirls in the vanilla sauce. Eating this together with the hot custard-y bread is amazing. I was dying for an espresso after this but sadly their espresso machine wasn’t hooked up yet (they recently remodeled). Oh and I didn’t take a picture of it because we all devoured it immediately. So here’s more picture of food:

Not the Bread Pudding

Not the Bread Pudding

CHECK:
3 House Bloody’s $24 ($8 each)
Horchata Borracha $10
Breakfast Pizza $13
Traditional Benedict $11
South of the Border $14
Bread Pudding $8
TOTAL: $86.40

Overall, Brooklyn Girl continues to impress me both with their creativity and with the top-notch quality of their ingredients. They also do a good mix of having traditional options and bolder dishes for the more adventurous. I would definitely highly recommend brunch, especially before everyone else catches on and it becomes as busy as their dinner services!

Brooklyn Girl

Brooklyn Girl

Brooklyn Girl Eatery

4033 Goldfinch St
San Diego, California 92103
brooklyngirleatery.com