"When I eat with my friends, it is a moment of real pleasure, when I really enjoy my life." ~Monica Bellucci

Just last week, I was invited for a summer menu kick off tasting and tour at Pardon My French in Hillcrest.  It opened up in the Spring and if it looks familiar, it's because they took over the space that used to be Heat.

I cannot begin to express what a beautiful Sunday this was.  The perfect summer like weather, relaxing music, conversations and company and the array of delicious eats and wine pairings, were the makings for a sensational evening.

Prior to dinner, I was led through a tour of the restaurant, where I got to learn about some of the art pieces on display, explore through the kitchen, meet the wonderful chefs/staff and taste a scotch that changed my life :D

For dinner, there were 7 courses, with every flavor to tickle and entice each corner of the palate, and wines to accompany.

In order:
1.  Cucumber Granita. Lime and mint foam.
2.  Heirloom tomato salad with balsamic caviar. ( I want an ice cream pint filled with that caviar :p )
3.  Citrus cured salmon. (LOVE)
4.  Pan roasted cod (also LOVE, the foam, lightness of the fish, every thing was perfect)
5.  Grilled pork belly
6. Aged ribeye (This was so perfect, the smoke potato puree and carrots were divine!)
7. Chocolate Cremeaux (with honeycomb!!!)

What I love about Pardon My French, is the passion and care surrounding the ingredients and food experience, without the pretension that usually gets associated with fine dining. The restaurant name is also perfectly fitting for their San Diego cool attitude.  The owners, Eric and Lindsey are so nice and really vibe off of sharing their experiences and love of food with people.

Also, on various nights of the week, they have live music.  (Mandi if you're reading this, you're amazing and we loved sitting by you!) 

Great food, cool company, lots of laughs, sharing stories and making new friends. While the ingredients and places may change, it's really these things it comes down to, that makes me tingly with joy and what every blog post has been about, since the beginning.

Something new for the blog, YouTube!  Huzzah! :D Here are some vignettes from that evening.

I love Poke and I love sushi, so when we drove by and realized it was the grand opening of Pokirrito, all other eating plans came to a halt and we hopped in line.

Pokiritto is a new, Subway/Chipotle style restaurant that serves up variations of raw/cooked "burritos", which can be thought of as extra long, uncut sushi rolls, bowls and Yakitori.  I wanted to visit a few times prior to posting this blog, and I can now say with certainty, this place is legitimately good.

The menu style has changed a bit, a few things were added and I have yet to try the Yakitori, but that's mostly because I love the Pokirrito classic burrito and the kale bowl so much, that it's hard to noms all the things.  Next time though.. next time :P

The seafood is fresh, and like Chipotle you can ask for a little more of this, less of that and to some degree, customize your order.

The Pokirrito classic burrito has tuna, crab, tamago, various veggies and my absolute favorite LOTUS ROOT CRISPS! The sad thing though is that they only put the lotus crisps on the burrito, and you can't pay extra to add them to the bowls.

For the kale bowl (only avail in large) you get 4 scoops of your choice of seafood,  I always get 2 servings of salmon, 1 of tuna and 1 of scallops with a bit of spicy dressing.  I'll ask for extra onions, and cucumber and the cherries on top are definitely the addition of seaweed salad, crab and fish eggs! If you're reading Pokirrito, please please please let me pay extra for lotus crisps to be added to the bowls.

With each order, you do receive a small bag of ruffles style chips.
Their sweet teas are also really good and for the slurpee lovers, they have frozen beer.

As it's in the epicenter of Convoy mayhem, there are often lines, and being that it's next to Rakitori and Tasty Noodle, the whole plaza looks like endless hordes of hungry people waiting around for food.  The Pokirrito line definitely moves the fastest of the three though and if you go on Mon-Thurs, either before 630pm, or after 830pm it's not so bad :)

Good luck, let me know what you guys have tried and may the parking odds ever be in your favor.

Searching for music is like searching for God. They're very similar. There's an effort to reclaim the unmentionable, the unsayable, the unseeable, the unspeakable, all those things, comes into being a composer and to writing music and to searching for notes and pieces of musical information that don't exist. ~ David Bowie

There's a magnetic engagement that takes place when you merge the worlds of festivity, music and art into a single social space.  Especially when celebrating someone as spectacular as David Bowie.

During this tasting event at Hess, as I was walking through the space and looking through the exhibitions, every so often, through the clouds of conversations, I would hear a familiar lyric or melody and I'd stop to see if anyone else caught that same tune.  Sometimes, I would find someone and get a smile and a nod, other times I would catch storytelling soundbites from people sharing significant life moments surrounding that song.

I may be the last person in San Diego, let alone North Park or Hillcrest to finally experience Hess, but even though I was late to the party, I'm glad I showed up on the right night.

My favorite beers from the evening:
Ficus Saison
Grapefruit Solis:

big thanks to Amanda from Passion Roots for the invite and to Hess for the fun event and company.

Like that trusted friend you can call to, in good times and in bad, finding that late night hideaway with great food and drinks is priceless.

We discovered Rakitori one late evening after the gym, when not many other places nearby were still open.  From that night on, it's been a frequent favorite. (** 3 visits within a week type favorite).

The humble exterior, facing the busy and bustling University ave, leads into a cozy and ambient hybrid between a stylish uptown bar hangout and an intimate eatery.

The people are fun and friendly, the specials are on point, but what really really made me adore this place is their salmon skin salad.  Served in a wooden box, this dish has quite the generous portion of crispy salmon skin (that has a sliver of meat still attached), a mix of seaweed salad, fresh greens, roasted garlic, roe and just the right amount of dressing.  Somehow this salad is filling, satisfying, bright, savory and delightful all at the same time.  I have yet to visit Rakitori and not order this dish.

Other favorites:
Chicken heart yakitori.
Baby octopus yakitori
Pork belly yakitori
Spicy seafood ramen
Oxtail ramen in Tonkatsu soup (if the menu doesn't show this soup avail, ask for it, and they'll let you know if they have it that evening)
and quite a few others.

I'd also like to highlight that I really adore the consistency/texture/bounciness of the noodles they use in their ramen and their black garlic oil with roasted garlic addition is a flavor party!

I often trek up to the Convoy area when craving yakitori, so I'm so stoked to have this place in Hillcrest, close to home and the gym.

We'll be headed here again soon and if any of you happen to try the green tea fondue, let me know what you think!   I really like the butterscotch pudding.

Till next time, happy eating!

"The best comfort food will always be greens, cornbread, and fried chicken." ~ Maya Angelou

In the heart of Hillcrest, right after the sun has set, you can start to hear the flickers and pulses of the neon lights turn on and feel a different energy flowing through the neighborhood.

Whatever your night is calling for, a romantic stroll, an indulgence in delectable tastes, a night you want to toast to and never remember, a place to find mr/mrs right now, dinner and a film for one, or in my case... comfort in fried chicken and a cozy conversation with friends, this neighborhood will open its arms and welcome you in.

Crest Cafe with it's South Beach Miami'esque flare,  elephant mural and vibrant neon sign, has been iconically lighting up Robinson ave, for as long as I can remember.

My good friend Amanda invited a group of us out one night, to her event at Crest Cafe, to catch up,
have a couple drinks and try a bunch of things on the menu, while getting to know the owners and the history behind the long rooted neighborhood restaurant.

The food is familiar, the portions are hearty, the prices are great and there is an abundant variety of almost anything imaginable.  But even now, weeks later, though the other tastes were good, I have trouble painting a picture of anything else but that fried chicken (which also came with waffles, more on that in a second).

Like how the restaurant so vibrantly stands out against many of the other surrounding buildings that come up and go over time, this fried chicken was unexpectedly delightful.  I'm usually not a fan of boneless style chicken, but the crispiness, sweet flavor and texture of the meat was quite good.

While always good with butter and syrup, the waffles felt like a novelty pairing to the chicken, as opposed to being a standalone item, that I would order individually.  If you're looking for the Belgian style, deep square, light crispy outside and fluffy inside waffle, this isn't it.  But if you're into something that's better than eating your chicken with a biscuit, this definitely is that.

While the menu has healthy alternatives, as a few of the friends were looking for, it's very apparent that the steamed veggie and salad concoctions satisfy more so the sustenance aspect of eating, and not necessarily the comfort or enjoyment side.

I always feel the answer to most food predicaments lies in a pan with more butter, but I also understand that's not everyone's kinda thing :P

Crest Cafe is like that friend you don't often think of or see, but on that late working night, or catching up, they're there like a warm hug.