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Del Taco Giveaway Celebrating Their 50th Anniversary!

Del Taco Giveaway Celebrating Their 50th Anniversary!

Del Taco has hit 50 years old this year!? Time flies in the fast food world. What does that mean for you? Well, they are offering some of their throwback classic menu items like the bun taco, small taco salad, and orange shake for a limited time! To further celebrate this achievement we are conducting a giveaway. One lucky winner will win three gift cards($5 each) to try all these throwback classics or perhaps some newer favorites of your choosing!

del-taco-throwback-classics-menu

Enter below to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway will end Tuesday, August 26th at 11:59 pm PST and our winner will be notified by the end of the following day. Winner must respond within 72 hours to claim the certificates or we will select an alternate. 

Be Sociable, Share!

Patron Secret Dining Society Experience (Coronado)

Patron Secret Dining Society Experience (Coronado)

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When we got the invitation to attend a Secret Dining Society event here in San Diego, I wasn’t quite sure what it would entail. Sounds cool, but what the heck is that? After a quick Google search, there wasn’t a whole lot of consistent information out there. Each experience I read about differed from the last and only one thing was certain, you’d regret passing this one up. Good enough for me! In order to get an invite you have to join their Patrón Social Club. Once joined, if there is an event in your city they email everyone a question or riddle that must be solved immediately. There are also ways to win tickets by following Patrón on Instagram @patron. I hear the riddles are not super tough, so if you are quick to the hip you have a good chance of grabbing one of the precious spots. Did I mention the event is free if you can score a seat? These events feature a pairing of a top chef and an acclaimed mixologist. On this fine evening we would have the pleasure of tasting food from Chef Sweeney, a Top Chef alum who recently started cooking at his new restaurant Florent. While a very talented Jennifer Queen of Juniper and Ivy would be crafting our cocktails. This post might be a little lengthy, but hopefully I can capture each moment properly so it feels like you went on this journey with Anh and I.

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It all starts with an email the night before giving the location of the Patrón Secret Dining Society event, and the time to meet. Thirty minutes before dinner there is a scavenger hunt which is Instagram driven. Actually, the entire event is Instagram driven, which will make more sense later. So Anh and I roll up to our location: Hotel Del Coronado. The first thought when we found out we’d be at the Hotel Del was outdoor dining in back maybe? I get ahead of myself. We enter the doors and were told to wait in the lobby for the first clue via their Instagram.

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Oh look, there’s a lot of other people here waiting on their phones too. I think we’re all here for the same thing. The waiting game is intense. Everyone lingers for a few minutes and then bam! Like the bell for recess, everyone is out the front door in the quickness.

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My Instagram crashed so all I could do was follow the herd. Said herd stopped at the tree on the left which was featured in the Marilyn Monroe film, Some Like It Hot. Anh and I were always one of the last ones to make it to each stop, but I think the first person to find each clue received a shot of Patrón as their prize. The next clue brought us to the courtyard in back.

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People gathering around a stand usually means one thing: drinks!

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We hit the ground running with the Patrón Silver Welcome Drink. It had a smooth cucumber essence that kept us happily scurrying to our next clue. Patrón is really attacking social media and they encouraged us all to use #secretdiningsociety on Instagram for a chance to win an invitation to their next secret dining society event. It really did tie us all together as we were constantly checking out the slick pictures people were able to capture throughout the night.

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The final clue: the first electrically lit Christmas tree which happened to be back outside in the front of the hotel. And then the buses! Looks like we aren’t dining at the Hotel Del Coronado afterall!

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We pack into two party buses on our way to an unknown destination. After a few minutes we are on the road and someone hooks up their iphone for some party bus music. If the party didn’t officially start yet, it just did. About 15 minutes later we hear someone say “dolphins!” I think to myself, “yeah right.” What do I look over my shoulder to see? A freaking school of dolphins! This all occurs right as we pull up to our stop at Silver Strand Beach. Well played Patrón, well played…

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The dress code on the invitation said outdoor cocktail attire with a light jacket and flats or wedges for the ladies. Now I understand why. Dining on the beach could be a little chilly! Patrón would have almost everything you could think of covered for the night, including flip flops so you don’t have to get your fancy schmancy shoes all sandy. DSC_0120

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As we got comfortable in our new footwear, our seafaring band plays classic rock while more cocktails are served.

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The first food of the evening is served in the form of two appetizers. Pictured here are small apples stuffed with bacon and cheese, topped with a quail egg. Also a salmon fish taco with cabbage, greens, and I believe a cilantro lime sauce. What a way to welcome us to the beach.

DSC_0125I was reading about other Secret Dining Society dinners and typically they have ~30-60 guests. Ours seemed a little larger with close to 70 if I counted right. There were three tables just like this one situated so close to the water, you were almost in it. With our names resting neatly next to each place setting, passers by most likely thought we were attending a wedding with this stunning setup. 
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Before we took our seats we noticed a small prop plane going back and forth. After the second pass we realized it was towing a sign that read “Patrón Secret Dining Society.” What else could they think of? Maybe dolphins? Oh wait…dayum.

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Another drink I suppose was in order. All of the drinks for the evening were clean and crisp with intention, with each seemingly stronger and stronger throughout the night. Sipping on this one made me feel like the most sophisticated beach bum around.

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The dinner menu seemed quite diverse. Read the menu and you yourself would get excited with names like “Sunset at the Cliffs” or “Silver Lonesome Dove.” Before our meal Chef Rich Sweeney and Mixologist Jennifer Queen walked us through each course they would present to us. They teamed up to put together “A Tour of San Diego,” highlighting several different areas of San Diego and of course, the Patrón.

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The “Craft Beerviche” was delicate and full of tang with a tiny hint of heat. It paired nicely with the also delicate and refreshing “Silver Lonesome Dove”, my favorite drink of the night.

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After the scavenger hunt, bus ride, dolphin show, outdoor beach concert (ongoing), and beautiful sunset, it started to get dark and good pictures were hard to come by. Therefore, I’m using some of the pictures their photographer was able to capture so you get a better idea of what we had. In between courses they played us a short video on how Patrón is made and the history behind the famous brand. Did you know at least sixty different hands touch each bottle of Patrón that ends up in the consumers hands?

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We were taken to Little Italy with”Picking Thru Suzie’s Farm,” featuring a nicely seared scallop alongside different colored cauliflower, and possibly shallots and other fruits. There was also a dollop of panna cotta on the side which was interesting. “Postcards From Italy” ramped up the Patrón Añejo content with Meyer Lemon Cello. Easily Anh’s favorite cocktail of the evening.  Stronger than the last, with lemon through its core.

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This is their take on Convoy Street. “Taste of the Mesas” featured a Patrón XO Cafe Dark and Sambal braised pork cheek, crispy noodles, charred bok choy, enoki mushrooms, and pickled carrots. The pork itself was a little sweet, tender, and pulled apart easily. I wish I got more sauce on top of the crispy noodles for it was tasty. If the photographer gets to eat the food he took pictures of, he would be set. The “Convoy” had Roca Patrón, sesame nori syrup, sweet vermouth, and bitters. After taking a sip of this you can ever so slightly notice the lingering nori flavor. Would it be wrong for me to say it tasted like the fruit punch of the sea Ms. Queen? Sweet, beachy, smooth and fun, the “Convoy” had us dazzled.

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Last up was the dessert “Sunset At The Cliffs” which featured a delicious salted caramel ice cream with cinnamon crisps and smoked chicharon. Did you say smoked chicharon!? One of the very many highlights of the meal. It was paired with the “Borderline” cocktail with Patrón XO, cinnamon, and horchata. A stunning combination to conclude our meal, and a cinnamon lovers dream to boot.

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Remember how I said it could get cold near the ocean, and do you also remember how I said Patrón had most everything covered? They had Secret Dining Society blankets for those that needed the extra warmth! After an impressive meal, many of us migrated to the bonfire to relax before we left this beachside wonderland.

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If this is what secret dining is all about, I’m going to track each and every one of them down. The duo of Chef Sweeney and Mixologist Queen are pictured in the middle alongside their excellent team who helped shape our magical evening. Patrón held nothing back, and with heavy hitters at past events like Marcus Samuelsson, Rick Bayless, and Michele Bernstein, you’ll want to sign up for the Patrón Social Club in hopes one day Patrón comes a calling. It’s not everyday you can enjoy an evening of mystery, music, excellent cocktails, scrumptious food, all while watching dolphins play in the ocean while the sun sets on the beach. Patrón, you have set the bar high and left me with an experience I will not soon forget.

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Calling all Foodie Photographers!!

Calling all Foodie Photographers!!

Behind-the-Scenes

I suspect if you’re reading this, you’ve probably snapped a shot or two of your food now and then.  Heck, maybe you’re an amateur photographer or food blogger!  Whatever the case may be, if you’re interested in learning how to up your game photographing food, you have to check out this workshop given by Feeney Bryant Photographers on Saturday, September 13th at The Red Door Restaurant & Wine Bar.  Darren and I will both be attending and hope to see you there too!

Before we get to far though, checkout these photos from Feeney Bryant…

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AMAZING!!  I’m totally inspired.  The workshop is supposed to be very hands on, so you’ll definitely need to bring along your camera and an eye for what you find delicious!

Anyhow, if you’re interested in joining us at all, checkout the workshop details HERE or click on the picture below.

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 REGISTER HERE

Learn about Natural Lighting, Composition, Props & Texture, and Styling.

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The Patio – San Diego (Goldfinch)

The Patio – San Diego (Goldfinch)

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The Patio on Goldfinch just recently opened its doors a few months ago (June ’14) and is the latest addition to Mission Hills’ impressive line up of eclectic eateries.  They serve breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner, and have 12 taps onsite, plus an impressive bottle lineup.

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When I first walked in, I was definitely impressed with the decor.  The space is made bright with large skylights, a huge living wall of plants, and sunlight to spare.  It’s also dog friendly.

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A decent sized bar lines the inside as you walk through the main dining area, followed by a back room that houses the kitchen, a secondary “patio”, and…

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a cheese cave!  Impressive.  I can’t say that I’m too much of a cheese connoisseur, but it certainly looked like they had a wonderful selection to choose from.

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To start off our meal right, Darren and I shared an order of the ahi poke tacos.  These were definitely flavorful and had a nice crunch with the deep fried wonton shell.  Plating here was fantastic and we were excited to see what else would follow.

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Our second course was a chopped salad and this one did not disappoint.  They get all their fresh produce from Suzie’s farm and you could definitely taste the difference.

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For my entree, I opt’d for the Fresh Fish Sandwich which you can see the description above.  Plating again was beautiful as an opened face cod sandwich.  My only criticism here was that the fish could have used a little more seasoning as it was a pretty thick piece of fish.  Other than that, it was spot on.  Also, the sandwich comes with a choice of Kennebunk fries, or a small salad and dessert.  The fries aren’t pictured here, but they were darn good.

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Darren opt’d for a flatbread for his entree.  I’d have to say, this was probably our least favorite.  While it was okay, and well presented, the flavors didn’t really pop out and as with other flat breads.  It quickly became a bit monotonous after a few slices.  Having said that, our server did recommend that flatbread should be shared, so it will certainly be noted for next time.

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For dessert we had just a bit a room left to share a deconstructed key lime pie.  It definitely tasted fresh, however I did think it was overly tart.  All in all, the meal was very good.  However, I do need to mention one issue we had to deal with, and it certainly detracted from the dining experience.  There were several flies making their rounds during the course of our lunch.  So, we spent a good amount of time shooing them away to the side.  The server was nice and apologized and said they were looking for a solution to resolve this issue.  As a new restaurant, I’d say that’s probably one of their main areas of improvement to address.  Once this is taken care of, I believe it’ll be a go to establishment for a long time to come.  Thanks to Chris for hosting us and Michelle for coordinating for us.

The Patio
4020 Goldfinch St.
San Diego, CA 92103
thepatioongoldfinch.com  

 

The Patio on Goldfinch on Urbanspoon

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True Gentlemen’s Jerky Q&A

True Gentlemen’s Jerky Q&A

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After a successfully funded kickstarter campaign, True Gentlemen’s Jerky is ready to grow their business one tasty morsel at a time. It all started in college with an old family recipe. They received an overwhelming response from their friends and family and soon realized there was a business opportunity in front of them. Their goal is to provide a high quality, healthy snack that is often lacking nowadays with mass produced jerky. Currently they have two flavors: Original Peppered and Sinsa Korean BBQ. We got a chance to conduct a Q&A with them and here’s how it all went down:

Tell me how the idea for the business came about.

It absolutely came out of a need we found in the market.  Jason and Michael, two of the original partners, were roommates at the time and both studying for different tests (Michael – MBA, Jason – CFA level 1). They live in east village and often found themselves at liquor stores and 7-11′s looking for study snacks on the weekends. That part of town has a lot of places open when Petco has an event, but during the regular business hours there are only a few options. They would buy jerky, but were getting irritated paying $6-7 for a product that was an obvious product of mass distribution. The first few ingredients were “mechanically separated chicken” and were often filled with nitrates, sodium, fat, and large amounts of sugar. After a while Jason and Michael started to make their own jerky at home utilizing an Jason’s dad’s recipe and a couple of Nessco Dehydrators.They used all fresh ingredients, low sodium soy sauce and prime USDA cuts of meat.  They handcrafted the meat and obsessed over even the smallest change to the recipes. They tried “grass finished” meat, but found that the marbling from the meat was gone and that the flavor was drastically worse.

Where do you make your jerky? Can you tell us a little about the process?

Originally we were preparing our jerky in a commercial kitchen in San Diego. When we looked to start selling wholesale (to stores) we needed to craft the jerky in a USDA certified facility. We have partnered with a northern California company to translate our recipe and flavors into a larger scale production at their USDA facility. Our process is a little unique when compared to some of the other jerky’s currently being sold. The majority of the ingredients that go into our marinades are organic and hand delivered to our manufacturer by a produce delivery service similar to a restaurant. The use of fresh green onions, ginger, and even garlic help us bring out the flavor of the meat without having to resort to manufactured flavorings or artificial ingredients. We cut our jerky in a “french fry” style cut for increased snack-ability. We found through some research at SDSU that consumers, in particularly women, disliked grabbing huge slabs of meat out of jerky bags and attempting to eat them. Our smaller cut allows for easier, cleaner snacking. We want to show people that Beef Jerky does not have to be some barbaric caveman food. Beef Jerky is almost a super food with how high in protein and low in fat it can be, we just have to show the consumers not all jerky is equal. The meat is marinaded for 24 hours in all of our fresh ingredients and gluten free low sodium soy sauce. We then dehydrate the meat for almost 8 hours, causing the flavor to really absorb. We also use the Eye of the round so that when we go to cut our meat we are not cutting through multiple muscles and therefore do away with that stringy white substance that you often find in the bottom of jerky packages.

 Where do you currently sell your jerky/how do people buy your jerky?

The easiest way to buy our jerky would be through our website www.TGJERKY.com

We are currently in about 25 various locations around the country. Here in San Diego, if you dont contact us directly, you can pick some up at the Rust General Store in Old Town and the Little Italy Farmers Market on Saturdays. We also sample and sell at Green Flash Brewery every Thursday from 5-9pm.If you are ever in San Francisco, you can find us at Triple Voodoo Brewery in the Dogpatch District near the SF Giants ballpark, and also various markets and liquor stores throughout the city such as Golden Gate Market. Along with purchasing at their dock store,you can also find us make appearances from time to time with our good friends at Sudwerk Brewery in Davis, California.

We also partners with the following Companies:

- WorkPerks
- Pijon Box
- Indochino

Describe your jerky in 3 words. How would you describe mass produced jerky in 3 words?

TGJ: Healthy classy snack

Others: “mechanically separated chicken (this is seriously the first ingredient on some of the 7-11 jerky’s)

How are things going for True Gentlemen’s Jerky?

Things are going really well. We have been slowly gaining traction in both Northern California and San Diego. We have been selling online for about a year now, but our presence at the Little Italy Farmers market has really helped us connect with customers. We have been able to gain so much feedback from interacting with people every week, it has been great. We are slowly branching out into retail locations across the United States with hopes to eventually be offered in all the major grocery chains.

What do you see your biggest challenge going forward and how do you plan to overcome it?

I think the biggest challenge moving forward will be figuring out who has to quit their full-time job first )\(ha ha). We have been expanding and making headway pretty quick. The use of Kickstarter and some of our other social media platforms has really helped us gain notoriety fairly quickly. I think we all have a very solid grasp on the different elements of the business, but scaling up will obviously require more capital and some learning curves.

Any other flavor’s in testing right now?

We are currently in the middle of perfecting the perfect marinade for our Mango-Habenero flavor. We also started experimenting with a Vegan friendly jerky, with the use of Coconut meats.

What do you think about kickstarters now and what would you do different, if anything, if you could go back in time?

The staging of the “rewards” is really key. You need to ensure you offer value to both the consumer and some built in profit for you to actually… you know… fundraise. We use premium ingredients and thus our price point is higher than some jerky’s so, for us, determining a price that we were comfortable asking family and friends for all while still maintaining a profit was a challenge. If I were to go back and do it again I would absolutely want to include some sort of service related rewards such as: In person Jerky cooking lessons, or Jerky pairings, … something that would allow us to give some value to the consumer without just providing jerky and a shirt. Kickstarter is so great for so many reasons. The feedback you get from having so many backers involved is amazing. It is really a “learn by doing” type of exercise.

What’s next for TGJ?

We are looking to become the “girl scout cookies” for the boy scouts. We would love to partner with a local youth sports league or boy scouts and allow them to sell our jerky for what we would sell it wholesale.  When you make a sale to a grocery store there are brokers, and distributors who both want a cut before the meat makes its way to the shelf. We want to offer that same discount to youth sports and groups but instead of having the brokers/distributors make money we would allow the groups/teams to absorb that profit. Girl scouts only profit about .60 per box they sell, our jerky could be upwards of $2.00 a bag and is much healthier and has a longer shelf life.

Around the holidays we are also looking to launch a clothing drive with the hopes of acquiring business suits and related garments. We want to provide these dress clothes to recovering adults who are looking to apply/interview for jobs to get back on their feet. We have had some talks with Father Joe’s village and they seem receptive to partnering with us.

As all of this goes on in the background we are still aiming to be in the high end grocery stores within the year. We have high hopes and a close knit diverse group of individuals behind TGJ.  We are excited.

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True Gentlemen’s Jerky

http://www.tgjerky.com

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