Solare (Point Loma)


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Michael and I were invited to try Solare over at Liberty Station. Slater’s 50/50 and Con Pane are a stone’s throw away from Solare. About a year and a half ago, Randy Smerik purchased Solare and brought on Chef Accursio Lota from Sicily to run the kitchen. Chef Accursio is a former Marine Room chef and previously hosted a Limone pop up with his wife here in San Diego. 

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There is outdoor dining in the front as well as the side of the restaurant pictured above.

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Inside you will find additional seating for small or large parties.

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Although we didn’t order anything from the happy hour menu, some of the tapas sounded quite tasty and you can get a feel for what the restaurant is going for. Fresh items from Suzie’s farm, house-made pasta, fresh local ingredients, etc.

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You start off with hot house-made focaccia bread, baked three times a day. To me bread can take up precious stomach space, or it can serve a greater purpose and enhance a meal. Their focaccia bread was a great start and primed us for what was to come. DSC_0019

We started off with the Frittura di Pesce all’Italiana. Here we have lightly fried calamari, shrimp, carrots, and zucchini. It was accompanied with a salsa verde emulsion dipping sauce. Light is the key word here. Your hands can get rather greasy and oily with fried foods such as this, but their version left us relatively mess free. There was enough batter to be crispy, but not enough to overwhelm what was underneath. The only gripe we had was the shrimp was seasoned far more than the calamari. Other than that, we were impressed.

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The Insalata Pere e Gorgonzola shined bright amongst our various dishes we sampled that day. When salad is one of the memorable moments in a meal, you know it has to be something special. They split it up into two plates since Michael and I were sharing and did a very nice job plating it! The greens are sourced from Suzie’s Farm and are paired with pears, pistachios, gorgonzola, and a honey vinegar from Slide Ridge. Balanced, bold, crisp, and fresh, this salad delivered the goods.

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Michael ordered one of the specials: Tagliata di Angus e Battuto di Capperi e Carote. Tagliata refers to the steak being sliced rather than served whole. The angus beef ribeye was topped with chopped capers, alongside an arugula salad with tomatoes, pickled baby carrots, some other fresh vegetables, and I believe a polenta cake. Everything was neatly positioned on the plate with style and purpose. The beef could have used a tiny bit of extra seasoning, but overall it was a pleasant bite.

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I ordered the Pappardelle Verdi Salsiccia e Carciofi which featured house-made spinach pappardelle pasta, fennel seed sausage, artichokes, San Marzano tomatoes, chili peppers, and pecorino crotonese, which is a sheeps milk cheese. The fresh pasta was cooked perfectly and stood up to everything that accompanied it. The cheese was not very heavy and didn’t overwhelm the plate. It finished with an ever so slight fruity flavor and played off nicely with the artichokes and tomatoes. Each ingredient stood out on its own and I would order this again in a heartbeat. 

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Chef Accursio mentioned pistachios are a popular ingredient where he is from in Sicily. One of the desserts we got to try was a pistachio creme brulee he created. The flavor was kind of what you expect between a regular creme brulee with pistachios infused. By itself it seemed a little thick, chunky, and dry. With the strawberries it added that little boost of juice and tart that I needed to balance out the spoonful.

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Randy had them put together a dessert plate that featured their tiramisu and cannoli’s. The tiramisu had cake layers wet with lavazza espresso and I believe some sort of rum that seeped to the bottom layer. The cheese layers were made up of mascarpone. It was light and fluffy with a fairly strong coffee/alcohol aftertaste. If that isn’t your thing, you may be put off slightly. The cannoli’s had a very nice flaky outer shell to them that broke away perfectly after each bite. The filling was sweet, but not over the top and had a little piece of orange to round it out. All in all, a very nice selection of desserts.

We enjoyed our dinner over at Solare and appreciate what they are doing. They have jazz night, cooking classes, and a day they have 50% off pizza amongst other events they host. Randy and Chef Accursio are as passionate as can be, and it is something you can taste on the plate. Thanks to Samya over at BAM, Chef Accursio, and Randy for the invitation and hospitality. With many other great choices, we can’t wait to come back and try everything else!

Solare
2820 Roosevelt Rd.
San Diego, CA 92106
www.solarelounge.com

 

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Tacos Revolucion – San Diego, San Ysidro

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Eating authentic street tacos definitely brings back some memories.  Back in college, we would cross the border into TJ on a late Thursday night, or venture our way down to Rosarito Beach for a Spring Break weekend.  While some of my friends will probably remember the hard hitting beats at the clubs, I simply remember searching out the best and most authentic foods I could find… mostly on the street.  Adobada tacos quickly became a favorite for Jorgina and me.  If you’ve never had them, it’s a must try!   (Think marinated pork meat on a roasting spit. )  Anyhow, we recently took a trip down to San Ysidro by the USA / Mexico border and stopped by Taqueria Revolucion.  We met with Emilio and his staff and were able to sample a few different tacos they specialize in.

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The restaurant  is quaint, but large enough to feel comfortable.  All the menu items are listed above the kitchen window in front of the main counter.  Simple and to the point, Emilio’s goal is to concentrate on a few great items rather than a huge variety.

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We were brought a couple cups of Agua de Jaimica (Hibiscus tea).  We’ve never had this before (we’re usually more Horchata types), but it was interesting.  It was a bright crimson color and had an herbally sweet/sour taste.  It wasn’t our favorite, but I suspect it’s one of those drinks that could grow on you over time.

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They also have a variety of other fountain drinks.

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Oh yeah, they also have Mexican bottled cokes as well.

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So first up was the Adobada Queso Taco.  There were generous helpings of meat inside with a nice serving of guacamole, queso, and onion/cilantro mix.  The taco was very hot and tasty.  However, we felt the adobada was a touch under seasoned… at least compared to Tacos El Gordo, which has made a name for themselves for the best street tacos.  Nevertheless, it was very good.  We’ve never had street tacos with queso before, but it was a nice addition that complemented the other ingredients well.  *The homemade flour tortillas with all the queso tacos were excellent.

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Next up was the Birria Queso Taco which was stuffed with delicious stewed meat (beef in this case), queso, and cilantros/onions.  We really enjoyed the rich flavors of this meat.  In fact, we probably prefer this one over the Suadero Tacos at Tacos El Gordo.

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The Carne Asada Queso Taco was next.  Again, this one was super flavorful.  I would definitely order this one again and again.

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Last but not least was the classic Adobada Taco.  Simple and to the point, this taco was balanced well with the meat, cream sauce, and cilantro/onions.

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Overall, Taqueria Revolucion captures the essence of authentic Mexican street tacos.  It’s a great treat this side of the border and we’ll be back again.  We wish Emilio and his team continued success.  There is even talk about opening another location in Northpark.  We think that’d be a perfect addition up there.

 

Taqueria Revolucion
362 E San Ysidro Blvd
San Diego, CA 92173
 
 
 
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The Secret Cookie Service (Pacific Beach)

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You may have heard of them before. Perhaps you have seen glimpses of their dark shadows or sniffed their warm baked cookie aromas from afar. They have a delivery service by text. They dress up like secret agents wearing black and white, with dark sunglasses. They have a new cookie stand in Mission Beach with red lights. They are: The Secret Cookie Service, and their mission is to serve you the best cookies around town.

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Their new stand is located right in front of The Swell Cafe on Mission Blvd. Don’t let their get up fool you. They are very welcoming and want you to sample all of their cookies, out in the open, and not in some dark alleyway.

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Always boasting a good mix of cookies to choose from, their flavors change from time to time as well. Now they offer ice cream cookie sandwiches if that suits your fancy. Hard to argue with the combination of cookies and ice cream!

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Since we’ve tasted the cookies by themselves, it was time to get cookie ice cream sandwiches. Here we have mocha almond fudge ice cream in between two white chocolate cinnamon oatmeal cookies. This is my jam. The combo just works, plain and simple. You get almonds and mocha fudge alongside white chocolate and oatmeal. What else do you want? 
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Anh preferred the vanilla bean with snickerdoodle cookies. While not as robust in flavor as the first ice cream cookie sandwich, it was simple and more to the point. The first combo had many competing flavors all vying for your attention while this one only had vanilla and cinnamon. You get a very nice smooth bite with this one.
DSC_0071Like I mentioned before they have other cookies they rotate through, like the peanut butter reeses pieces, cookies and cream, and their classic chocolate chip. They have almost 40 cookies in their rotation. I am super duper inclined to stalk their twitter or website to pounce when they offer a few special cookies. The mint chocolate chip and nutella stuffed chocolate chip…mmmmmmmmm. 

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Here are the details on the flier when you get hungry for their cookies.

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What are you waiting for? The agents are ready to take your orders!

The Secret Cookie Service
3833 Mission Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92109
www.thesecretcookieservice.com

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The Better Chip World Cup Edition

The World Cup is almost over, but you can still celebrate with The Better Chip! We received another box of The Better Chip from Kaitlin over at Murphy O’Brien and there’s two new flavors, Chipotle and Beet! If you haven’t heard about them before, we reviewed them in January. You can read about what we sampled here.

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We even got a Brazilian shaker in the box! All of their chips are non-GMO and all natural. They are also all gluten free. The Red Pepper or Sweet Onion flavors are no longer listed on their website so they may have stopped producing those. With World Cup nachos recipes included, all inspired by different countries participating in the World Cup, we were ready to experiment.

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We chose Mexico and Germany (sort of) to work with. I liked the flavor profile of the German recipe (pickled sauerkraut, bratwurst, bacon and brown mustard) but I decided to put a twist on it. So we ended up with a Korean concoction in the end. Here we cooked up some onions, sausage, and kimchi and put it on top of a beet Better Chip pictured to the left. On the right is carne asada, guacamole, cheese, tomatoes, onions, and cilantro on top of a chipotle Better Chip.

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The Korean nachos turned out great. The kimchi brought some heat while the chip itself gave it a nice a crispy texture to bite into. It was a little salty so I’d probably add some sweet peppers and maybe some honey to mellow things out next time. The beet chip is a tiny bit sweet, mild in flavor, and held up to the toppings quite well. Overall, a bold combination worthy of celebrating the World Cup!
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The Mexican nachos were more or less what we expected. It turned out really nice and coupled with the chipotle chip, had everything we were looking for. What I didn’t expect was the noticeable, but pleasant heat that lingers in your mouth afterwards. The heat level is reminiscent to that of their jalapeno chips. There were also smoky notes along the way and I would gladly make this reliable combo again.

There’s two games left in the World Cup, so bust out your favorite nachos and have fun with it! Even if you miss the games you can serve these up at any other gathering. Enjoy the weekend!

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Bruxie (Rolando)

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Happy Belated 4th of July! Hope you all had a nice holiday. Michael and I ventured over to Bruxie near San Diego State University last week. This particular location (first in San Diego) opened last month, and already has gained a lot of steam. They have seven other locations, mostly in the Orange County area. If they can stay consistent with their concept they seem primed and ready to open more. What concept you ask? Waffle sandwiches. Yes they do have other items on the menu like coffee and frozen custard, but the main pull here is the waffle.

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There are so many different things to choose from. If you want a breakfast sandwich, sure you can get one of those! Care for a lunch option? They have you covered. Someone in the group a sweets type of person? Don’t fret, Bruxie has you covered. They even have something for the little ones.

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One thing we noticed upon entering Bruxie is they take SDSU meal plans. How awesome is that for both the students and for Bruxie!

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Here’s a picture of their menu. The manager of the restaurant, Bill, gave us a crash course on the menu before he started sending things our way. We didn’t have enough room to try everything, but Bill was ready to throw the kitchen sink at us.

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The drinks. Bill recommended their pure cane sugar sodas and we couldn’t refuse a taste. He brought cola, root beer, and vanilla cream. The root beer stood out from the rest, with the best balance of sweetness and carbonation. The others didn’t quite have that balance we were looking for.

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The coffee is no joke. It reads “Bold Blend” on the menu and after trying it, that would seem to be an accurate description. It was bold, bitter, and my eyes widened after the first few sips. If you like strong coffee, give it a go and let us know what you think. Maybe I’m a wuss. 
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A side of waffle fries were a perfect blend of crispiness and soft potatoey goodness I ever so love in my french fries. 
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The waffle sandwiches are a huge reason people are coming to Bruxie. Feast your eyes on the Buttermilk Chicken and Waffle Sandwich. The waffle acts as their bread to hold everything together, and is unlike your typical breakfast waffle bathed in syrup. This Belgian waffle version is much lighter and airy than most any other waffle I’ve had, yet still retains a bit of crispiness on the outside. Personally, I wouldn’t mind a bit more crispiness. But the waffle held up to the ingredients and didn’t collapse halfway through lunch, which is key. It is not sweet and because of this somewhat neutral flavor, allows them to play around with different things to put inside, both savory and sweet.

The buttermilk chicken was topped with a chili honey and cider slaw. They do offer a side of Vermont maple syrup for $1. Bill suggested eating the chicken on its own without the maple syrup first. Good idea. The chicken was thin, yet moist and not oily or heavy by any means. Without the syrup it was still a tad sweet with the chili honey, but it did have a tiny kick at the end. Adding the syrup puts it over the savory edge into sweet territory. As much as I like to keep my sweets and savories separate, I got used to this flavor combination and enjoyed it in the end.

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The other sandwich we got was the Green Eggs and Ham. This would power me through a rough morning any day. It has grilled ham, jumbo eggs, arugula pesto, mayo, and Tillamook cheddar cheese inside the waffle. Every single component had its job and responsibility to blend seamlessly into the perfect bite. They knocked it out of the park with this one. If a sandwich comes with mayo, I usually order it with light mayo. It slipped my mind to request that, but luckily, it wasn’t needed here. They were not heavy handed and again, balanced everything nicely.  
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Here’s a little sample of their frozen custard. We didn’t extract too much information from Bill about their custard other than it comes from Wisconsin. The main difference between ice cream and frozen custard is that egg yolks are added to make frozen custard. This version is not overly sweet, and is very creamy and dense compared to ice cream. You have got to love a tasty frozen treat that doesn’t melt right away on those hot days!

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Due to our stomach limitation, Bill graciously brought us out half orders of two different dessert waffles. This one is the S’Mores waffle. It contains Belgian chocolate, graham cracker, and toasted marshmallow fluff. This probably was our least favorite waffle of the day. It didn’t pack a huge punch like a s’mores usually does. There wasn’t one flavor that screamed at us, “look at me, taste me”! On the plus side, it wasn’t too sweet or burnt at it wasn’t terrible by any means. There was stiff competition on this day.

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DSC_0117The last waffle on our Bruxie food tour was the Seasonal Creme Brulee. Their seasonal fruit happened to be strawberries. What a bite! Sweet, juicy strawberries alongside vanilla creme, and burnt raw sugar. I would have found room for this if we had more the the table. You definitely get the caramelized/burnt flavor you’d get with a traditional creme brulee. 

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When I heard about this concept I was a little skeptical. Trends are a funny thing. Oftentimes trendy concepts are only successful for a short period because they don’t provide a quality product that can stand up to everything else around it over time. People tend to hop on a new trend if they get tired of one, or resort back to an old favorite that they are comfortable with. Bruxie killed that notion as soon as I walked in the door. They have a high attention to detail, are customer service oriented, and I believe are here for the long haul. They also have seasonal menu items to keep things fresh like the 4th of July menu pictured above. The price is right with each savory sandwich about $7.50 on average. I’m excited to come back with Anh to try other things on the menu! Hopefully you guys get a chance to stop by soon and try them out yourselves.

Bruxie
5157 College Ave.
San Diego, CA 92115
 www.bruxie .com

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