Tag Archives: La Jolla

my birthday, belated

I have spent the past two summers away from home, and my June 9 birthdays have thus been celebrated without my family. In light of this, and in honor of her visit, my mom and I decided to have a meal at George’s at the Cove in La Jolla, a three-floor restaurant on the water. We sat on the top floor, George’s Ocean Terrace, and got to look at this while eating and drinking and being merry.

Not bad. To start, Mom ordered a blood orange margarita and I ordered a Ballast Point IPA, though I’m not sure whether it was the Big Eye or the Sculpin. I don’t think the menu even indicated which it was, and the beer list isn’t online. Ho-hum. All I know is that I had my mom try it and she was blown away with its strength. I have a funny little feeling that Mom’s palate is not as used to hops as mine is, especially considering my fairly recent affinity for the stuff. Also, sipping a hoppy beer after sipping a sweet margarita doesn’t sound that pleasant.

We followed up our drink order with an appetizer salad: watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, kalamata olives, mint, and feta. For the price of this salad, I probably could have made enough of it to serve six people for dinner, but, as I kept reminding my mom and myself, we were paying for the view. The service was also excellent: relaxed but attentive.

My entree was the Garlic Roasted Shrimp, served with chorizo and piquillo pepper risotto, roasted fennel, lemon, almonds, and fried cilantro. I could have done without the risotto; the flavors were excellent, but it was not made properly. It was either made too fast or not stirred enough or something else that left the final product grainy, a word that should never come to mind when enjoying risotto. The shrimp, fennel, and fried cilantro worked together to make up for this error.

The shrimp tasted like it had marinated in garlic for three days before roasting – just how I like it. Even still, the garlic did not overwhelm the shrimp but instead created a nice garlicky crust.

Fennel is always welcome in my life. I once hated the stuff, when Mom used to serve it on Christmas in a tricolore salad and I’d gag at the idea of eating it. It tasted like black licorice! I hated black licorice! Now, I love the stuff (black licorice & fennel), especially when the fennel is grilled or sautéed or, in this case, roasted. My knife went through the veggie like it would room temperature butter, and it completely dissolved in my mouth. The fennel worked very well when eaten with some toasted almonds.

The fried cilantro was an Iron Chef-type jawn. It wasn’t battered, but you could tell that it had been dipped in boiling oil for just enough time to release some of the cilantro essence and add that deep-fried flavor.

Mom ordered Roasted Organic Chicken Breast which was served with fingerling potatoes, rapini, salsa verde, and a grilled lemon. It was the juiciest chicken either of us had ever had.

Dessert was Lemon Verbena Soup with blueberries, blueberry sorbet and pound cake croutons. Pound cake croutons are as good as they sound: a little crunchy on the outside with a soft, rich center. The blueberries were fresh as hell and the sorbet was essentially food-processed frozen blueberries. To quote Ina Garten, “How bad can that be?” A spoonful of the lemon custard “soup” with a bit of crouton, a blueberry, some sorbet, and a spearmint leaf was an ideal dessert creation, and one helluva birthday cake!

Oh yea, one more of this, just because:

SHRIMP!

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pancakes and curry

Adams Avenue Farmer’s Market (AAFM) in Normal Heights leaves much booth-volume to be desired. It is a pretty meager excuse for a farmer’s market, covering only one-third of a small parking lot. However, I went because I had a coupon for a free giant artichoke with a $10 purchase from Suncoast Farms. I walked away with two bunches of asparagus and three giant artichokes, and they aren’t kidding. I ate one on the 4th of July with my cuz, and we steamed it with lemon, garlic, rosemary, parsley, and ginger. Twas yummy.

Thai food has somehow managed to stay out of my life for the past few months. After passing a Thai place in La Jolla on Sunday, though, I’ve been craving the stuff like a famished hyena craves gazelle flesh. Cue the afro’ed employee at the Thai food vendor at AAFM, who helped me through my indecisiveness. I ended up getting the chicken and vegetable curry over rice, with ten of these little coconut pancakes. With no tables in sight, I sat at the edge of a slide that I had to give up in the middle of my meal to two frowning, disgruntled children.

Eating hot things that taste really good is a recipe for esophageal cancer (EC, as I lovingly call it). With no care to the pain of scalding curry sauce running down my throat, I kept eating, wasting no time to blow on my food. It reminded me of an evening last semester when my friends made a tagine with homemade meat balls and fresh bread; those of us who ate it just sat there moaning in pain and satiety. Temperature will not get in the way of experiencing this flavah, no sir.

The curry was all well and good. It had the perfect amount of spiciness after adding some Sriracha and sweet chili sauce (thanks, admayer), which is always key with curry. However, the star of this farmer’s market show was the coconut pancake. Called Kanom Krok, they are a mixture of coconut milk and rice flour cooked in a dimpled cast-iron pan.

I didn’t take this picture (it was found using the Ye Olde Nouveau GoogleImage Search), but it depicts what I’m trying to say:

The last time I saw one of these pans was on an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations where he went to a restaurant that allowed customers to make their own octopus meatballs. Mmmmmmm. But at the AAFM, my afro’ed friend let me try a sample of these pancakes and I was hooked. The middle is soft, gooey and warm but the outside is a crunchy and little charred from the seasoned cast-iron pan. It has unbeatable mouthfeel and a sweet but mild coconut flavor. I want to eat these at all times. I want to douse them in honey. I want to chop them up and eat them with strawberries. I want to spread peanut butter on one, blackberry jam on the other, and smush them together for a tiny PB&J. I want to buy my own dimpled cast-iron pan so I can make them for breakfast and serve them to passersby on my way to work. I have no idea where to buy one so if you do, help me so I can help others.

1. snorkel, 2. eat, 3. eat again

Snorkeling is an invigorating, tiring, hungering activity. As my cousin and I were searching for a place to fill our stomach voids, this woman working for the La Jolla Visitor’s Center asked if we needed help. I immediately ignored her because I thought she was trying to sell me something, but with her assistance,  we settled on The Spot for its diversity of burger meat offerings. Cow and buffalo and lamb, oh my! It has an easy-going sports bar atmosphere with open, full pane windows to capitalize on the California breeze. I was comfortable from the moment I sat down.

I ordered a buffalo burger with caramelized onions (duh), avocado (duh), mushrooms (duh), and provolone (duh). I got the green bean side dish for a semblance of health in my life, but ended up eating a load of my cousins fries so there that went. Whatever, they were delicious: crispy and light and beer-battered.

I also had a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, which is a pretty excellent beer, but I was definitely enjoying it more before the burger came. The beer didn’t have quite enough mouth-rinsing power for a burger of this magnitude. Needed to ask for a water.

After walking around in La Jolla and shopping in stores that were almost too expensive for us to even enter (except this one where I bought 8 pairs of earrings for $10?), we stumbled upon Cups La Jolla, an organic cupcakery. We had both heard about it but never went, and when we were approaching the storefront, our craving for gelato was quickly replaced with an itch only a cupcake could scratch.

I got a vegan Chocolate Cheesecake cupcake, a rich chocolate cupcake with thick cream cheese icing. Vegan cream cheese icing tastes exactly like regular cream cheese icing: both are supremely rich and delicious. It also works very well in the roll of glue for a cupcake sandwich, my preferred method to eat this cupcake. My iced coffee was very fresh, and they didn’t even charge me for the soy milk!

Since Cups is not only a cupcake shop but also a lounge, they have a DJ. During our stay, he did transitioned from “Don’t Stop Believin'” to “I’ve Gotta Feelin'” seamlessly. I asked him how he got a gig spinning at a ritzy cupcake shop, and he told me that his girlfriend’s family owns the place. What luck.