Our San Diego Food Finds

When we travel, one of the first things I do is figuring out where and what to eat. I couldn’t be more excited to share with you some of the places we tried in San Diego during Spring Break. Although we’ve been in San Diego many times before this was our first time exploring some ‘ecliptic’ places to eat with our kids. I can tell you how proud I was when my picky eater gave braised rabbit pie a thumbs up– clearly, she didn’t know she was eating rabbit until after she finished it. Oh the horror!!!

Here are some of the places we ate at and loved in San Diego.

Puesto

Delicious tacos, great cocktail menu and the best Palomas I have ever tried.

Oh…the pickled mezcal watermelon is a must!

Donut Bar

This donut on the left corner is their famous Big Poppa. Get this: It has an entire homemade blueberry Pop Tart in it!

The Lion’s Share

Maybe not the best place for kids but we took a chance and we were one happy family–especially after the first set of hand-crafted cocktails.

The menu included the braised rabbit hand pie I mentioned earlier and this lean but creamy and 100% deliciousness bison tartare.

Gelato Paradiso

How can something so creamy taste so light? Arguably, one of the best gelatos around. I had the most delicious chocolate hazelnut (Bacio) and my daughter’s strawberry gelato was to die for.

Four amazing days celebrating family and spring in sunny San Diego! It was the perfect SoCal ‘staycation’ with special eating bonus. San Diego left me hungry for more! Until next time.

How to eat Spain in 14 days! Second stop…A Coruña

There are so many things I hate about A Coruña; the cold weather, the humidity, the old fishing town feeling, the smells. Some of my worst memories were made there. But, somehow the Galician food seems to make up for all the bad memories, bad smells and bad feelings.

A Coruña has been a hub of the Galician fishing industry for centuries. Its cuisine centers around seafood, which is great both at the cheap and at the more formal marisquerias (seafood restaurants.) Polbo á feira (octopus served with olive oil, Spanish paprika and coarse sea salt) it’s the big “star”. You can find it pretty much anywhere in Galicia, but we had our share at the Pulpeira Maria Pita in A Coruña.

Pulperia Maria Pita

Although the octopus gets most of the credit, there’s so much more in the Galician menu. Delicious Caldo Gallego (Potatoes boil in broth together with chunky white beans, radish greens, pork belly, and usually chorizo, ribs, and other cuts of pork), empanada Gallega, Tarta de Santiago, Galician cheese, and the unbelievable bread (Pan de Cea) that you’ll need to sop up the last drops of just about any dish you eat in Galicia!

Galician Blond Beef

And there is Galician beef. Apparently, Galician Blonds (retired dairy cows, which can be as old as 14 years) have become as “famous” as the traditional Galician pulpo these days. Top chefs in Spain and England are willing to pay a small fortune for the beef which is on the menu of some of the best restaurants in A Coruña. These elderly cows’ milk is used to create the region’s speciality Tetilla cheese. Their meat is marbled naturally with fat created over the years, giving a deeper flavor than other beef.

Unfortunately, I learned all of that too late and we didn’t have a chance to try these old fat cows that, just like wine, get better with time. But we ate Galician beef at this weird (for lack of better word) place called A’gramalleira. Now, bare with me as I try to describe this cookware. As you can partially see in the picture below, the Gramalleira is a metal cone with spears. Meat cubes are placed in each spear. The Gramalleira, which looks more like a torture instrument rather than cookware, is than placed in a hook and it hangs over a fire pit. The meat cooks. The cone is transferred to a platter and yet hangs on another hook. Underneath the cone sits a bowl of steamed rice which sucks all the meat drippings. But wait! Once they bring the plater with the hanging meat+rice+3 different dipping sauces to your table, the server pours some type of liquor over the hanging meat and lights it up on fire. The meat hangs there all caramelized, the smoke intoxicates your senses, and the rice is swimming in juice.

A Gramalleira

Despite my “no love” for A Coruña, I have to admit that our time there was filled with great food and some very special memories. I’m so thankful my husband and kids were there with me this time. It made every little bite tastier and some of the bad memories less bitter.

Also, while in A Coruña…

Try Percebes (Goose barnacles)

Try Percebes (Goose barnacles)

Go Pokemon Go with the locals

Go Pokemon Go with the locals

Fry some local eggs

Fry some local eggs

Drink this or ANY Albariño

Drink this or ANY Albariño

 

How to eat Spain in 14 days. First stop…Madrid!

We had 14 days divided in 3 cities in Spain; Madrid, A Coruña and Barcelona. Parks, castles, churches, cathedrals, more castles, some museums, lots of plazas (squares), like a thousand of monuments,  a couple of beaches, family visit, and a whole lotta of food in between.

Although fascinating and honestly mind blowing, I won’t bore you with my mediocre writing of all of the historical sites and incredible experiences we had in Spain as a family. Rather, I’m going to try to taste Spain again through these pictures and hopefully make your mouth salivate as much as my did…does! It is no Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love”  but almost more rewarding!

When in Madrid…

A CoruñaComing up next (after laundry, soccer practice, soccer games, volunteering, cooking, more cooking, endless dishes and hopefully a shower…maybe two!)

Until then Cheers…Salud!

5 days out in LA

The kids went to camp away for 5 days and this is how we coped.

Pizzeria Mozza — Best pizza crust I’ve tried in LA but the Butterscotch Budino with caramel and sea salt (pictured bellow) was the highlight of our meal. And I don’t even like butterscotch! I’d do it all over again and again and again! Grazie Chef Batali and friends!

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Mud Hen Tavern –Ahhh…The Kaya toast, a Singaporean style dish made with toasted bread slathered in coconut jam, topped with a soft fried egg and soy sauce. Sweet, salty and weird…but so good. The Green Deviled Egg with homemade green Sriracha was the best $3 we spent all week.

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Mud Hen Tavern

The Happy Hour at East Borough in Culver City was surprising good! Probably not the best choice for authentic Vietnamese food but we wouldn’t know any better. The spicy fish sauce chicken wings was our favorite dish, but the Bahn Mi and chicken grapefruit lettuce wraps were excellent too!

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Bestia– Hype? Yes, no doubt. Regardless, we had a great experience. Our cocktails were perfection. The Veal Tartare Crostini and Roasted Bone Marrow did not blew me away but I’ll come back just to taste the Cavatelli alla Norcina (Ricotta dumplings, housemade pork sausage, black truffle) one more time.

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Perch LA— Traditional cocktails, a view and live music. I feel in love with Perch.

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The Hungry Cat Santa Monica– Parking is tough and valet service was not available at the time we got there. I asked the hostess where to find parking around there and she innocently said “I don’t know. My mom drops me off.” What can I say? It was 5pm on a Tuesday. I had high expectations for this place but the food was ‘just’ ok and the cocktails were ‘just’ not good. Average oysters, fishless ceviche, a strange tasting Michelada and we move on to our next eatery. Glad we didn’t valet!

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Flores + Sons–Sure there’s Kale salad in the menu but we have no shame. We ordered the potato rolls with maple butter and guilt free crudo with crab and avocado. Both excellent!

IMG_3161Fores and Sons

Mccormick and Schmicks— It was late, we were hungry and childless for one more night so we headed out to M&S late happy hour. It has been 18 years since my first time here and it still remains one of my favorites.

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I’m thankful for the tasty memories but I’m happy to have my little Frys back.

Now…Where do I sign-up for spinning classes?

New York City Spring 2016

Our New York City family trip this spring break was by far one of the best experiences we had as individuals and as a family. Sure, the pizza was great and the skyline incredible but what really got me about New York City was the people.

New Yorkers are not rude. They may be abrasive but they are also helpful and kind. They are constantly moving, molding and holding on a little tighter and a little closer. No matter how crowded the streets, the subway or the coffee shops are…in New York you find a spot. You get where you want to go.

We got to see all the main ‘touristy’ attractions we planned to visit. The Statue of Liberty, 9/11 Memorial and Museum and Central Park were the highlight of our trip. We took pictures. We got souvenirs. We made memories. But it was the chat with the gentleman at Central Park; the unsolicited help that a total stranger gave us at a subway station—despite my defensive attitude–; the smile on the kids faces when they tossed a dollar to the acapella singers on the subway car; and randomly seeing friends from back home at Times Square busy subway station that really showed us what New York City seems to be all about.

Some of our NYC favorites:

NYC Pizza

Don Antonio by Starita

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Lombardi’s Pizza

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Dough @citykitchen

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Bill’s Bar & Burgers Irish Coffee Shake with Jameson Irish Whiskey

Brazil…I recommend it!

After 16 long years without tasting my country, I finally stepped in Brazil again with my heart and appetite open to whatever damage I was going to be able to do in 9 days, 14 hours and whatever minutes I had there.

It’s the powerful combination of honest good Brazilian ingredients, culinary roots, culture embracement and context that makes every meal I’ve had and shared with others there the most memorable experiences of my life.

And Brazil tasted even better.

There was the Bold

and the Beautiful

 

Everything in between is now memories. Sweet, salty, hardy, spicy, delicious, fresh, tasteful…unforgettable memories.