media

85C Bakery is finally open in Mira Mesa! After braving a super crazy line last year, I was glad we were attending last Friday's grand opening as media. The store opened to the public at 9am but we could already see this line forming by 8:30am! The first 100 people got a coupon book with 12 free drink tickets inside!

As we looked around the store, we noticed these baked goods sitting out... it was so very tempting already!

Reader Tacotopia 2016: The Search for the Best Taco. 30+ vendors set up booths in Golden Hill Park, with tacos aplenty, all vying for your vote as the ultimate taco! Dennis and I were invited to attend through the Spicy Loves Milk campaign. Michael Ruffner, from My Urban Eats, is one of just seven California chefs that are being featured in the campaign, which highlights California’s love of tacos and spicy foods. We made sure to stop by his booth for a taste between all the taco mayhem!

Here's the inspired creation: Blazing Pork Belly Blossom paired with milk...

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 (JinxiSun Diego EatsThis Tasty LifeHungry Ones).

The owner Gerry Torres excitedly talked to us about his restaurant...

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!

With all the food/alcohol events and restaurants on our to-do list, I feel the need for healthier eats at home. Recently I was invited to try out Farmer's Fix, a new delivery service that provides fresh organic salads to their customers. All meals are provided in a 24oz compostable EcoProducts bowls to reduce waste after you eat and are delivered in a cooler bag with ice packs that can be reused for a future order! Consideration of the environment sounds like a plus to me!

To get started, I visited their website (Farmers Fix) and created an account. The salads are $10 each (minimum of three) with a shipping cost of $6. If you order 5 or more, shipping is free. I picked out a couple of salads that sounded interesting and chose Monday as my delivery date. Within a week, a green cooler bag with my order arrived at my door!

Southwest Salad - Black bean, cherry tomato, chickpea, cilantro, corn, poblano pepper, red onion, romaine lettuce, sunflower seed

I was very excited to try my first salad, which is their Southwest Salad. There's a plastic fork on top for size comparison.

Last month we were invited to attend a food and beer pairing through Amanda from Passion Roots PR. The drinks were from Mike Hess Brewing while the food was from Zoe's Place food truck. I've been exploring beer lately so this event got a resounding YES from me. I generally prefer stouts but a few others have managed to tickle my fancy! I'm down to find more!

A small group of bloggers met for dinner at Mike Hess Brewing in North Park. To get to the tasting room, we walked over a raised bridge between massive beer vats. I remember being impressed with this newer brewery during Tuesday Taste of North Park last year!

Once inside, the beer menu is available above the bar.

Wine lover? Got that covered. Curious of where to eat at Pechanga Resort & Casino? Got that covered too.

Pechanga had their 8th Annual Wine Festival on February 27, 2016 and we were invited to attend (following Chocolate Decadence the night before). Not only were there multiple wineries for tasting, but many of Pechanga's restaurants were sampling their foods as well! Isn't that a convenient way to narrow down food options between all the casino fun?

We made our way into the Pechanga Grand Ballroom around 1pm for general admission (VIPs enter at noon). Near the entrance was a display table with the big raffle prize, which included plenty of wine and spirits from event vendors. The proceeds from the raffle and other fundraising items goes to help the charity Habitat for Humanity Inland Valley.

We always do food before drinks though! Never drink on an empty stomach!

Journey's End, an upscale restaurant at Pechanga, served braised pork with port reduction and pureed carrots. This was so tender and we loved the fatty bits. Dennis thought the sauce was too strong but I enjoyed the porkiness of the glaze. Another sample was the shrimp cocktail with fresh huge shrimp plus a great white sauce!

Ever been to a chocolate festival? How much better would it be if wine were involved?

We were invited to Pechanga Resort and Casino to check out the Chocolate Decadence festival on Friday February 26, 2016. The event is held in the Pechanga Grand Ballroom. General admission tickets let us enter at 7pm and those with VIP could get in as early as 5:30! There was also designated driver tickets available though all guests are required to be 21+.

Within 10 minutes of the general admission time, there were already 40 people lined up, eager to enter! No worries though because there was more than enough chocolate to go round! I'd call this a Vegas buffet... dessert style!

Buy a wine & cheese plate for $5 to support the selected charity Habitat for Humanity Inland Valley! This holds everything very well as you can see above! We also saw people who brought their own wine and cheese plates, some of which were pretty fancy.

We stepped into the room and noticed several dessert stations around the room, each with their own centerpieces! This one is the chocolate candy station! The wines were lined up along the walls of the room but we of course headed straight toward the sweet decadence awaiting us!

This station had an ice sculpture and a crepe station!

Spitz recently opened a location in the thriving Hillcrest community and we were invited to check it out. This business labels themselves as Mediterranean Street Food so we were curious about what they had to offer.

On a weekday visit, we easily found street parking since it's not in the main Hillcrest area. We drifted into a colorful, art-filled building and plopped ourselves at the bar. The restaurant is counter service so you order at the bar and they bring the food out to you.

The menu is only one page so it didn't take too long to select something. Plus, the most popluar two items were boxed in so we decided to go with the flow that day.

Street Cart Doner ($9 meat, $7.50 vegetarian)

The Doner. A well known item in the Mediterranean world. This, and all other doners, had a choice of beef/lamb mix (our choice), chicken, or falafel. I thought it was pretty cool how the layers of meat were carefully assembled and then filled with the vegetables. It had quite a fresh taste due to the selection of raw vegetables in the wrap. The tortilla was quite thin but held up all the ingredients! We were very pleased with this entree.