Every year, Chef Celebration holds a series of dinners in April featuring teams of award-winning local chefs who donate their time and talents to raise funds for a nonprofit culinary scholarship program. A couple foodie friends of mine planned to attend one and I thought, why not... Let's splurge just this once and help out some aspiring chefs in the process!
Our selected dinner was at Arterra in the San Diego Marriot Del Mar hotel. Our server Danielle was a doll and took very good care of us during the 5-course meal, which was $65/person before tax and gratuity.
We were invited to check out Tostadas North Park for a food and drink pairing. Add in the owner or chef or special guests, etc. and a meal becomes so much more... I love to hear about the inspiration and background of how the meal and/or drinks came about.
Upon entry, there's the counter to order your food and to the right is a long and beautiful wood table with artisan barstools. Usually compostable plates and corn-based utensils are used at the restaurant but for this media event, they borrowed dishes and glassware! We be getting fancy!
Along with their logo, there are a lot of seahorses around the restaurant too. Here are just a few we noticed while we mingled with the other guests. I was excited to be in the company of several foodie friends (Jinxi, Sun Diego Eats, This Tasty Life, Hungry Ones).
The owner Gerry Torres excitedly talked to us about his restaurant...
I'd like to think I've been to all the "Taste of" events by now but it's my first time attending Taste of Point Loma! Mary from This Tasty Life asked me to be her plus one for some tickets she had won. You wanna feed me yummy food for free? I'M GAME girlfriend.
It's always fun going with another food blogger too. We think and do things a certain way. Here's a sneak peek of how some of us food bloggers roll!
Ticket will-call was outside of The Portuguese Hall and we entered the building for our first samples. I got to try Portuguese cheese and TWO variations of octopus (pickled octopus and grilled octopus), all delicious! The pickled octopus had a great marinade that was not sour. I tried to convince her but Mary still would not partake in ANY pickled things. We also sampled refreshing Sumol fruit juice. I need to buy some for Dennis to drink!
Lisa and Dennis have birthdays in the same month and we typically pick a date in the middle to celebrate. This year I suggested Pomegranate for some Georgian/Russian food. First off, it's important to note there are TWO restaurants referenced as "Pomegranate," this one (Kafe Sobaka Restoran Pomegranate) in Golden Hill and the original Pomegranate in North Park. I found this out the hard way when a girlfriend suggested meeting at Pomegranate and they were actually at the Kafe Sobaka location instead! For this visit, I made sure to tell the family which street the restaurant was on!
Pomegranate started on El Cajon Blvd in the North Park area but the owners sold that location and they opened Kafe Sobaka in Golden Hill. Interesting enough, both restaurants still serve the same delicious dishes but the GH location is open for both lunch and dinner. Be aware that the phone numbers listed on google/yelp are only ONE number different! Make sure you know which place you are trying to go to!
After successfully making it to the right restaurant, the family was seated in the back room. We were handed menus, and as I expected, there was some conversations regarding the humorous descriptions of the foods... you'll read them soon...
Our happy birthday folks decided to start out with some mules to drink. There were three different variations you could order: herbal, spicy or sweet. Herbal was essentially mint flavor, the spicy one provided a stronger ginger bite and the sweet was a bit on the syrupy side.
Since the grandparents are in Orange County, we typically drive up from San Diego to visit. And of course for Mother's Day, the whole family got together! Grand Garden was the chosen destination, the same place where we have celebrated a few birthdays, weddings, and other big events. With a huge family like ours (20+), a banquet restaurant like this accommodates everyone quite easily. The restaurant is a bit hidden away in the corner of the plaza and has their own dedicated parking lot in the back.
The restaurant is always elegantly decorated. Crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling and blooming bouquets adorn the room. It just *feels* special.
To the right was a huge video screen for sharing pictures, videos or messages. That day, "Happy Mother's Day" was splashed across the screen.
The siblings, cousins and their kids were seated at the "kids" table while the parents and grandparents sat at the "adult" table. Someone at our table looked over the menu, eventually picking one dish from each category.
I admit I get consumed by the idea of sampling EVERY location at a Taste event. I've conquered a few neighborhoods over the years but Hillcrest has eluded me 3 times (2015, 2014, and 2012). Nevertheless, it was time for attempt #4... Official info about the event is here.
This year, our tickets came with a lanyard/clip which meant no worrying about misplaced ticket (and yes, that has happened multiple times). Each participating location was assigned a number which was marked off the ticket to receive your sample.
Our first stop was Napizza with their delicious truffle porcini and margherita pizza with a crunchy crust. We also had two thin crust pizza slices from Wine Steals.
Our recent trip to Pechanga Resort & Casino was quite a busy one! Between the delicious events of Chocolate Decadence and Pechanga Wine Festival, we also dropped by Kelsey's Bar & Grill, one of eleven restaurants inside the resort. Pechanga completely overhauled its sports bar restaurant and turned it into an upscale American pub. One of their additions was smoked barbecue and a large craft beer selection!
The restaurant isn't hard to find if you use the resort map and follow the overhead signs in the casino.
As we talked to the hostess, our eyes were immediately drawn toward this dessert display behind her. The food was looking amazing already!
Even though I work close to Convoy, I still haven't tried that many places in the area. One place that does pop into mind is Nozomi because we're fans of the katsu curry and the chirashi bowl. We recently acquired a restaurant.com gift certificate so the setting was perfect for a revisit.
Weekend nights can get especially busy in Convoy but we lucked out with parking in the restaurant lot around 8:30pm. A few tables were already occupied and the staff permitted us to sit wherever we wanted. The menu had noticeably changed since our last visit and now includes some pictures of the food! They are under new management too.
Since I had some cravings for sushi, we browsed through the available rolls first.
Midori Roll ($15)
Right away Dennis picked out the Midori Roll. This lit-up roll tasted absolutely amazing, maybe even in Dennis's top five rolls.