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And the Latin Food Festival tasting continues from part 1...

We hit all the food stands in the main area so headed to the back for even more!

Fogo de Chao was a popular tent with a huge line waiting for the food. Can you guess why? Look at this "sample" of steak, chicken, and sausage plus sides! I think that's half a dinner right there!

Date: 
10/02/2014 - 5:00pm to 9:00pm

Bring your appetites and join us for the Taste of Downtown! This year's event is on Thursday October 2, 2014 from 5-9pm and spans 40+ restaurants in downtown San Diego.

This year, we were invited to preview the food samples from a few participating restaurants. Take a sneak peak at the goodies here:

Acai bowls from Comun Kitchen and Tavern

It was a HOT weekend but luckily this year's Latin Food Festival (LFF) was within reach of the ocean breezes and a gorgeous view! Embarcadero Marina Park North provided a great spot for LFF, which was held on September 13 between 11-3pm. We purchased our second ticket and invited readers and friends to join us!

After picking up wristbands at the entrance, we headed into the event. The main area had two rows of tents, one with food vendors and the other with drink vendors. Since we hadn't eaten any breakfast, we decided to start with food first! Drinking on an empty stomach is *risky* business!

Our first stop was the Smoke Fusion Catering booth. What's a Latin festival without some tacos, right? These carnitas tacos were only the beginning of that trend...

We were recently invited to dine at the new Richard Walker's Pancake House in La Jolla. Instead of our usual sleep-in weekend mornings, we were out of bed early to beat the crowds. Hello 8AM breakfast! And as they say, the early bird gets the worm - we scored parking right around the corner and didn't have to wait to be seated. The outdoor patio area was uncrowded and perfect for us to enjoy a breath of fresh and early morning air.

There were plenty of options including omelettes and pancakes but I wanted an eggs benedict. The menu here offered two versions but the canadian bacon won over the turkey patty version. Sometimes I'm left hungry after this dish but the English muffins were generous (used to be smaller from what I heard) with toppings sized to match!

Dennis and I were invited to try out Solare Ristorante for a taste of Southern Italy. We rarely dine in Point Loma area so thought it was the perfect opportunity to do so!

For starters, we were brought Focaccia bread which was fluffy and adorned with tasty heirloom tomatoes. Olive oil with oregano and sea salt was served on the side. If you're a big dipper like Dennis, you'll pick up a heavier dose of salt if you hit the bottom. We loved this!

We selected the Pere & Gorgonzola Salad which was split in two (one half is pictured). The salad had slightly crisp bartlett pears, candied walnuts, stronger gorgonzola cheese and a sweeter balsalmic reduction glaze. I appreciated the balanced composition of this salad and would totally order it again.

I'm not usually that into cupcakes but after a drool-worthy cupcake tasting at Eclipse Chocolate Bar and Bistro, I'm definitely craving them a bit more! July 4th-6th 2014 is the Seventh Annual Cupcake Extravaganza and will be the perfect opportunity to grab some delicious treats and have a chance to win a YEAR'S WORTH OF CUPCAKES! Yes, that's 365 cupcakes from Eclipse Chocolate for some very lucky person!

At the private cupcake tasting I attended last week, we were presented with 12 of the 24 flavors that will be available this weekend. Cupcakes were my lunch for that day!

One of my favorite flavors was the Citrus Tarragon.

I recently saw Eureka! at the Bacon and Barrels event in San Diego with their award-winning Maple Bacon Old Fashioned. We were later invited to dine at Eureka! and find out more about the restaurant. It was a beautiful day to be sitting outside in their large patio area and we were looking forward to trying a few items from their menu.

Eureka! has plenty of craft beer and whiskey options so Dennis started out with the St. George Spirits Breaking and Entering Bourbon served as an old fashion muddled. This drink can be served on the rocks or however you prefer. Dennis thought it was very smooth and had a lighter, mellow flavor. Eureka uses these huge ice cubes to keep the drinks cold, which slowly melts, keeping your drink from getting diluted too fast. The garnish above includes these dark gourmet maraschino cherries, not as sugary sweet as the bright red ones you'd normally find with fruity cocktails.

I've heard of the Bite San Diego walking tours before and was finally able to check one out last week. The El Cajon Boulevard tour we signed up for is a new tour held on Wednesday during dinner between 6-9pm, compared to the rest of the tours held on the weekend's early afternoons. This particular one was right around the corner from trendy North Park area, which has so many good eateries as is!

The starting point was the beautiful and historical Lafayette Hotel and validated parking was available if needed. We easily found close parking on the side street though. Our tour guide Eddie was at the entrance, keeping a lookout for us and making it oh so simple to join with the rest of the group.

We attended the Escondido Chocolate Festival 2014, also known as "For the Love of Chocolate". This was the first time we had ever heard of this event so we were definitely excited to check it out! The event was on Saturday February 8th 2014 from 1 to 5pm in downtown Escondido, which had the easiest parking of any event we've gone to (multiple free lots and street parking). Tickets were $20 for designated driver (no alcohol) and $35 including alcohol if you purchased before the event and an extra $10 on the day of. There were 25 participating locations, a mix of restaurants and businesses hosting the chocolate-inspired treats, wine and beer. Just about every location was on Grand Avenue so we pretty much followed the map in order. After grabbing our event tickets and alcohol wristbands, we were ready to go.

Food

Coco Savvy Chocolates - (clockwise starting at top left) White Chocolate with Lemon Basil, Milk Chocolate with Viola and Orange Zest, Dark Chocolate with Sweet Basil, White Chocolate with Pistachio and Rose Petal, Dark Chocolate with Viola and Merlot Infused Sea Salt, Milk Chocolate with Opal Basil. Each flavor was sampled at a different location. These were all fabulous but the sweet crystallized petals and burst of basil leaves made them stand out over other chocolates...

A new Filipino fast food/casual restaurant called Carin de Ria opened in Escondido a little over two months ago. I am practically a newbie when it comes to Filipino food so before we headed there, I asked my trusty Filipino coworker for recommendations! Lumpia, pancit and adobo... sounds like a plan to me!

We easily found the restaurant in the middle of a small business plaza right off the Via Rancho Parkway exit from the 15 and took a seat inside. The restaurant fit approximately 3-4 tables on each side but did have a stream of customers doing pickup or to-go orders. I had to know what made this Filipino restaurant special so the owner Archie informed us that all food was made fresh to order and without MSG! There are also a couple of gluten free and vegetarian options, which helps cater to a bigger crowd (always good for a restaurant)...

The Classic Lumpia ($3) were probably the best lumpia we've tasted so far...