San Diego’s Little Italy, Ballast Point Brewing, and A Lovely Afternoon

What to do on a Sunday afternoon when you have a bit of time and many options… it’s a little too warm and humid for the beach or hiking (IMHO only, I am sure), we don’t feel like watching a show or game on TV…

IMG_8100How about hitting Ballast Point in Little Italy for a snack and, true to this year’s challenge, try a different drink? Well, don’t mind if I do!

“Piper Down Scottish Ale- Sweetly complex, with roasted toffee flavor, roasted pumpkin, and a subtle addition of spice.”

I shouldn’t be surprised, but still was- they have a fall beer brewed with pumpkin and spices. Of course they do. The entire nation goes crazy for (my favorite) warm spices associated with (also my favorite) pumpkin pie this time of year. So I had to try it, don’t you know. This Scottish ale does have a very, very subtle hint of spice and pumpkin, which I think goes nicely with a usual caramel-y taste of a darker brew. Not enough to scare off traditional ale drinkers, but different enough if you want a taste outside the ordinary.

As The Husband and I enjoyed our brews and snacks, we had to ask- why don’t we get to places like this more often with friends? The patio at this Ballast Point has several covered cabanas with their own fire pits and can be reserved. No excuse. This is on our To Do with Friends Soon list. Bonus: the music isn’t too loud and you get to watch the planes coming in to land at Lindbergh, making this a great meeting place for people of all ages.

Spanish Caprese Salad and PBJ Wings (Peanuts, Blackberry jam and Jalapeno glazed)
Spanish Caprese Salad and PBJ Wings (Peanuts, Blackberry jam and Jalapeno glazed)
Looks like a fun event!!
Looks like a fun event!!
I can NEVER get tired of watching the planes land at San Diego's Limburg Airport
I can NEVER get tired of watching the planes land at San Diego’s Lindbergh Airport

Best Sangria EVER

Thursday night was a “Favorite Things” party for my Moms Club. I brought a bottle of Sophia’s Rosé by Francic Coppola to share and came home with another friend’s favorite scented bath salts. What a great idea for a party, huh? All attendees came armed with a gift wrapped favorite thing in the price range of $10-15, attached a number to the gift, and drew a random number. Last year I brought a Pineapple and Sake Teriyake sauce made by Vine and Branch, and Sweet and Spicy Garlic Mustard from Garlic Festival.  But the best thing I found last night was my drink. Stop your search, I have found it- The Best Sangria ever to be served. Get to one of the two locations for the San Diego area seafood restaurant, “The Brigatine.

The not-so-secret ingredient would seem to be the blackberry brandy to the usual line up of sangria stuff. Remember that! Add blackberry brandy to a sangria… Got it?

I’ve never been to The Brigatine, but will return. Often. And I guarantee, I will be thirsty.

Bale French Sandwiches… FINALLY- We Hit a Vietnamese French Sandwich Shop!

Shrimp Sandwich and Ham Sandwich with egg rolls
Shrimp Sandwich and Ham Sandwich with egg rolls

I blame it on my dad. It has taken almost a year for Mom to come hang out for a few days all because Dad decided to have foot surgery on one foot, then the other. I know, how selfish of him! Sheesh!!

But, we made it and hoo-doggies, our lunch was good! Or, at least two-thirds of it was.

The lovely mom, showcasing the Bale French Sandwich shop.
Mira Mesa’s Bale French Sandwich shop.

Bale French Sandwiches is a shop in Mira Mesa, part of the greater San Diego area. The web site mentions how they offer a fusion of cuisines, and I’m discovering that there are a lot of Vietnamese and French shops around this part of town. The small shop was hopping when we stopped by right in the middle of lunch hour- it’s always a good sign when you try a new place and see that it is really busy, right?

Here’s our report:

I was expecting to eat my whole ham sandwich as it was just the right size- about a five inch bun. But noooo, I’m here with Mom, remember. In her mind you don’t order for yourself, you are ordering to share. Mom always gets her way with food… she’s four feet ten inches of a taste testing machine, I advise against getting in her way when it comes to food. There went half my ham, but I did get my share of her shrimp sandwich.

Shrimp Sandwich
Ham Sandwich

Guess who’s sandwich was the best? Hers. I never would have ordered a shrimp sandwich. A Shrimp Sandwich? Really? It was delicious! Way better than my ham, in fact, there was no comparison. I didn’t care for mine at all. I wonder if it was a different kind of ham than one usually sees in a sandwich shop? I’ll have to ask my Vietnamese friends. We wimped out and asked for our sandwiches without jalapeño, and I regret not asking for extra cilantro like Mom wanted to order. Get the extra cilantro!

Ham Sandwich
Shrimp Sandwich

The egg rolls, by the way, were also delicious. Our combo meals were around five dollars, each for a hot sandwich, two freshly fried egg rolls and a drink. Mighty cheap for a lunch combo, in my book. And Bale also has a super catering menu, I know where I am going to pick up three different large trays of appetizers for a crowd for under $100- Bale French Sandwiches.

Farewell Dinner = Sushi Win for Me!

“It is always sad when someone leaves home, unless they are simply going around the corner and will return in a few minutes with ice-cream sandwiches.”
Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

Tonight The Husband and I took The Girl out to get dinner at one of her favorite restaurants. She is leaving this week for college and is she filling up on In-N-Out? The best Mexican food this side of the border? Nope. She wanted to sit at Nakamura-san’s counter at Akai Hana, one of the best restaurants for sushi in the San Diego area.

Her farewell dinner = my win!

Tonight’s new-to-me masterpiece was salmon roe. Previously familiar to me only as bait that I once used to fish in our local lakes with my father, our Sushi Chef caught this fish on an Alaskan trip and prepared the roe with mirin (a sweet cooking wine) and other ingredients that he said way too fast for me to understand…

Salmon Roe Sushi
Salmon Roe Sushi

The flavors were so fresh and light, I could hardly believe how delicious the tender roe could be.

Adios, muchachita!
Adios, muchachita!

It was a great meal spent with wonderful people… just the three of us. “My sense of humor is packing up and leaving,” I joke about her inevitable departure. On to bigger and better things for her!

Boba Tea

Teenagers sometimes know the best places to buy inexpensive, delicious, and fast treats. Add an international student with to the mix, and you can get their opinion of some of the The Best Boba In The Area. Tapioca Heaven in Mira Mesa, on Black Mountain Ave. and Mira Mesa Blv. is high on the list, it seems.

IMG_7685Our newest member of the family wanted to treat me to one of his favorite spots to get a boba tea, and he chose well- a honey dew for me and a taro for him. I liked both. There is something about the sweet fruitiness and squishy tapioca pearls that raises this drink to the level of a dessert. I did like this boba better than the first one I had at the Thai place a few weeks earlier. I think the sugary tapioca goodness works better with fruit flavors than the coffee flavors I tried initially.

Thanks for the boba, Willy, it really was delish! And welcome to our home. :o)

IMG_7690 (1)