More Balboa Park…

It is an honor and privilege that Great Food Fun Places was mentioned in this Timeshare Information article about Balboa Park and vacationing in San Diego! Read it and learn about the wealth of activities and events you will find at Balboa Park while enjoying a timeshare vacation.  Have fun!

Summer Kick-off

Historically, Memorial Day was designated as a special time to honor those who died in service to our country. It has become a day to honor all loved ones who have passed on.  As a national holiday, Memorial Day is celebrated as the ‘kick-off’ to summer fun and sun;  a time to enjoy the first warm days with picnics, BBQs, camping, boating, beaching, etc.

How do YOU celebrate Memorial Day?  Share your favorite activities by leaving a comment on this blog!

Sometimes I Just Have to….

I often find myself craving a delicious sandwich we discovered many years ago at a little bakery (no longer in business) in Boulder, Colorado.

Building on the delightful combination of  Tomato/Basil/Mozzarella, they substituted roasted red pepper for the tomato, added eggplant, Romain lettuce and Balsamic Vinaigrette on Kalamata olive bread creating an amazing sandwich.

Over the years, I have satisfied my craving for this sandwich and the incredible flavor of these combined ingredients with my own versions. In the last few years, I have been avoiding bread, but I still have to satisfy my craving for this flavor combo (it has become one of my ‘soul’ foods), so I increase the lettuce and add Kalamata olives to the other ingredients making a delightfully healthy and flavorful salad.

Sometimes, though, when I find a really mouthwatering loaf of crusty Artesian olive bread, I just have to have the sandwich version. This happened recently while visiting my sister-in-law and her husband.   I volunteered to make sandwiches for that day. Adapting to their kitchen, yet another version has been created using a Panini grill and going back to the tomatoes. My sister-in-law has since reported their variation of adding garlic butter to the bread before grilling.

I have learned that grilling the eggplant is the easiest way to prepare it, (and allows me to cook up a lot at one time to have for later). Also fresh grilled red peppers (at the same time with the eggplant) or easily roasted under the broiler are better than out of a jar. The basil is best when sliced into thin strips, and FRESH Mozzarella is the only way to go!

Life is Uncertain…Life is Uncertain…

Following the saying “Life is uncertain, eat Dessert First!”, I have to tell you about my dessert experience in San Diego. This is one of THE best experiences we have had in a long time and well worth having as a first, last or ONLY course!

While enjoying a relaxing visit to San Diego, I began fantasizing about a rich, delicious, satisfying dessert, with my thoughts mainly on my all time favorite: Tiramisu, (and acutely aware of our ‘relatively’ close proximity to Newport Beach and where one of my favorite places to have Tiramisu is located).  I perused the local listings in the hotel room table-top book for San Diego eateries that might look promising for the kind of dessert I was fantasizing over.

There were a lot of intriguing restaurants but none mentioning desserts of the kind I was lusting for, until I read “Extraordinary Desserts”…Well now! That is definitely a possibility– two locations: the original in the Hillcrest area and a second in Little Italy which also offers small meals (sandwiches, salads, etc) — Looking promising, especially if I can justify a rich dessert with a salad for lunch! ..and an equally satisfying restaurant experience (the setting and experience need to equal the food for the best results!).

We hadn’t made it a destination yet but it was certainly on my mind as we were out and about San Diego. (Hillcrest was an option but I was justifying the dessert with a light lunch!)

This particular day, we had tentative plans to meet up with our son & his wife for the evening and wanted an early lunch and light fare, so a salad and sharing a dessert sounded perfect! Trouble was, I didn’t remember the name or address of the extraordinary dessert restaurant, only that it is in Little Italy, and we didn’t even know where “Little Italy” was.

We discovered the location of this little Italian ‘berg’ quite by accident while making our way from a fun shopping excursion at Cost Plus World Imports in the Gas Lamp district to explore “Old Town” San Diego before meeting our son.  There on the map I saw “Little Italy” and it was within a few blocks of where we were – such luck!

We found a parking place on a side street, fed the meter, and started walking, heading to India street (the ‘main’ street of Little Italy–at least this is where the “Little Italy” sign spans the street).

This is charming — small little restaurants with mouthwatering “Italian” aromas of garlic, oregano,- pizza-, etc. wafting onto the street. There are men sitting out in front of their stores having animated conversations in Italian, houses with brightly painted picket fences–all of it right out of the movies sets!

I’m thinking we should be able to recognize a dessert-focused restaurant easily but so far none of these are much more than pizza places.  I am focused on finding dessert and wondering now, how I will recognize this apparent cornucopia of desserts–and there are so many little places!

Tommy has been offering a few small conversational tidbits – something about a client he remembers being connected to Little Italy and India Street and wondering if we could locate him, when we realize that right there across from us on India Street in LIttle Italy is a sign for his client’s business!

The client is in, and pleased to see us, but just heading out of the office, so our visit is brief with a quick hello and explanation of our being in San Diego and, more specifically, of being in Little Italy at lunch time. He knows of the extraordinary dessert restaurant but suggests we go just across the street to Buon Appetito for (in his opinion) ‘great food and the BEST  Tiramisu’, and then ‘walk it off’ in search of the other restaurant which, it turns out, is a considerable distance – still in Little Italy but several blocks away.  We would NEVER have just come across it!.

Chung Chou City and P.F. Chang’s

Attending seminars should, or at least COULD, be fun but not all provide opportunities to experience, nor do they frequently offer their own, Great Food and Fun Places. The LoBella event at Lake Las Vegas is an exception, offering tasty and healthy snacks throughout the day with an opportunity for lunch and dinner at one of the on-site restaurants at Lake Las Vegas. Lunch on Saturday was not exciting and not worth writing about and by that evening, I was wishing we could have a really great dining experience somewhere in Las Vegas.

Taking advantage of being in Las Vegas, we left the venue and headed across town to Chung Chou City, a Chinese Pharmacy in Las Vegas’ China Town area on Spring Mountain Road, to stock up on our favorite cold remedies and Chinese tea. I encourage you to step in for an eye-opening experience and view an amazing variety of ingredients used in Traditional Chinese Medicine formulas. In addition to these items, you will also find an impressive selection of teas. We buy their exquisite Jasmine Dragon Pearl. We enjoy it hot and in the summer it is especially nice iced with mint and Chia Seeds!

Out and about in Las Vegas, and having our shopping done, we were still wishing we had a ‘favorite’ unique place, but since we didn’t, we decided to enjoy a “familiar, comfortable and reliable” meal at P.F. Chang’s China Bistro. The Green Valley location is easy to get to off I-215. It is always busy. We had a ‘short’ 30-minute wait, getting seated much sooner than expected. Having eaten at Pei Wei the day before, we enjoyed some of our other favorites, starting with an appetizer of Salt & Pepper Calamari, then the Buddha’s Feast Vegetables with a mild Cantonese Shrimp winning out over the Lemon Scallops. We passed on dessert, but appreciate their unique option of delicious Mini Desserts – ‘bite-sized’ offerings in a selection of eight flavors including lemon, strawberry cheesecake, S’mores, Apple Pie and Tiramisu to list a few, as an alternative to their other full-sized servings of equally delicious desserts.

Enjoy the Feast!

I enjoy food. I enjoy the ritual of eating, but there have been times that I wished we didn’t have to have food — I didn’t want to have think about it — have to prepare it. Why did all of our special holidays and celebrations have to revolve around FOOD? Why do we have to take time to eat?

Then I realized that food IS our celebration–the bounty of the earth for our survival, for the nourishment of our bodies and our souls. Even other creatures with which we share this beautiful earth depend on it’s bounty for their survival. And even though we view these creatures as searching, hunting and consuming instinctually for their survival, I believe that sometimes they relish their meals. Or at least they appear to be enjoying their meals.  Have you ever watched birds eating — they seem so excited as they flit around, scratching and pecking; or our pet dogs devouring their allotted serving — especially if an extra treat is offered or mixed with it. Even the images from the ‘wild’ that we see of lions gorging on their kill, or the bears catching salmon….don’t they look like they are enjoying their feast?

So I have accepted the ritual (and my need -and DESIRE-) of eating. I have settled into my enjoyment of the feast, whether it be a luscious juicy piece of fruit, a rich dessert, a simple but sumptuous stew, or a fresh crisp salad. I enjoy food. I enjoy the ritual of eating.

Great FOOD And FUN Places

Great Food Fun Places

Food and Fun go together. Food IS fun and Fun is even more fun when it includes Food!  And I like both – Food AND Fun! Especially when I can enjoy them together.  Of course EATING is one of my favorite ways to enjoy food; but I also enjoy cooking it, shopping for it, sharing it, reading about it and talking about it.

Not all fun has to include food but usually does! Traveling, attending events, seeing the world…any kind of place – with or without food- can be fun

So — Let’s have Fun! Here I am, sharing my adventures of finding and eating Great Food in Fun Places. I will be featuring restaurants, recipes,fascinating finds, and recommendations, so return often for delightful and delicious discoveries related to eating and fun places!