San Diego Beer Week #5 New English Brewing Company

It was only a short time ago someone suggested that I try a pint of Ballast Point’s Sextant Oatmeal Stout (on nitro!). Beer? I was skeptical, to say the least. I’ve had sips of The Husband’s brews for nearly three decades, why would I want to try yet another sip of what I used to describe as carbonated soy sauce (the dark ones) or a bitter cross between pine needles and lemon peel (the San Diego IPAs)?

IMG_9164I tried it. Whammo! A stout fan is born.

Here I am, a few years later, and I find a second beer that I like as much as my favorite oatmeal stout- New English Brewing Company’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Brown Ale. Holy Cow and a Heeeeey Macarena we have another one! I know that coffee pairs well with malty, heavy, dark beers, but put it in a barrel that was once home to bourbon? What a great flavor combination.

IMG_9166Liquor can taste about as smooth as rocket fuel- you should always follow my father’s advice: “Don’t drink cheap booze.” Even a good scotch tastes like an old campfire to me. New English’s brown ale aged in old bourbon barrels gives the rich, full ale all the fabulous flavors of the liquor with none of the chest hair singeing fume-like punch in the throat quality of your Old Man’s drink.

IMG_9156To top it off, I didn’t hate The Husband’s IPA- the Humbly Legit West Coast Style IPA. This is a sure sign of the Apocalypse, you know. Look it up. I kid you not.

And I haven’t even mentioned their Zumbar Chocolate Coffee Imperial Stout. This is the same Zumbar, our ultra-favorite coffee shop, which you can walk to from the New English tasting room. I already know that brew is good- we just happened to be getting coffee at Zumbar one weekend morning when New English was offering tastes of this stout at the coffee shop. Talk about being in the right place at the right time.

Pull up a barstool in the big main room with the taps, sit in the smaller room with squishy seats, but get down here to Sorrento Vally Road, kind of between La Jolla, Del Mar and Sorrento Valley. Eat something first, buy a bag of Doritos at the bar, or double check the website to see if a food truck will be at the brewery when you visit, but do visit.

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A great write up on New English Brewing Company can be found here, San Diego Magazine’s article “San Diego‚Äôs Best Brewery That You Never Heard Of: New English Brewing Co.

Buried Treasure, Restaurant Style- The Grill’s “Forest Mushroom Ravioli with Homemade Almond Pesto”

Ever notice how some of the most scrumptious little food spots are tucked away in some obscure spot? The best food always is.

We have been hitting this spot known simply as “The Grill” for years. Brothers Henry and Edwin Bautista and their crew do a fabulous job at packing the parking lot of a tiny strip mall behind the Sorrento Valley Coaster station. Good luck trying to get to it and our favorite coffee shop, Zumbar. And you know what? It pleases me to no end that the difficulty of successfully navigating your arrival to this place is directly proportional to the deliciousness of these two joints. That’s how The Universe of Great Food works. I figure that only really interested people will try to find their way here… consider it equivalent to buried truffle that only the most persistent dogs and pigs can locate.

Albondigas from The Grill…

On Wednesdays, The Grill serves a home made Albondigas Soup- Mexican Meatball Soup. They make a mean bowl of Albondigas and if I’m eating lunch with The Husband on a Wednesday, this is our spot. I love soup.

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Mushroom Ravioli with Almond Pesto

But I’m also the knucklehead who, back in January, announced that I would be doing something new every day in 2015. So, instead of my favorite soup I tried a different dish off the specials board- “Forest Mushroom Ravioli with Homemade Pesto.” The pasta was great, not blown out with over cooking. The ravioli’s stuffing is just right for the amount of pasta and full of a really lovely minced portobello mushroom. Homemade pesto took the stage, however, and I’ve enjoyed enough good pesto over the years that I could tell that they weren’t using pine nuts, but for the life of me, couldn’t tell what they used instead. Henry is nice- he didn’t torture me by withholding the info- he shared the almond secret. It would have driven me nuts trying to figure it out (ha- nuts… see what I did? LOL!)

Really, I can’t say how glad I am that I’m sticking to trying new things. I can’t tell if it has been more rewarding or more delicious… maybe both? There is still a lot more to 2015. Here’s to rut-busting!

What's on the menu, Henry and Edwin?
What’s on the menu, Henry and Edwin?

Two Moms and A Lot of Fun…

The Intention:

Zumbar- the best coffee in San Diego
Zumbar- the best coffee in San Diego

Two moms have all teens and pre-teens either in school or otherwise accountable. They meet for coffee and pastries, have tickets to the San Diego County Fair, and plan to spend AS MUCH TIME AS THEY WANT, all morning and afternoon, to pore over the art, horticulture, cooking, and any other exhibits WITHOUT KIDS SAYING “Mooooom, we’re booooooored, can’t we leave the exhibits and ride the Throw ‘Em Upper Coaster now?!??”

Hidden Agenda:

Get the Swedish partner in crime to try Fair Food. Fried Fair Food.

The Reality:

The fair is closed for the first two Tuesdays. Dammit!

What We Did:

Liberty Station
Liberty Station

Sat in the fairground parking lot for five minutes wondering how it escaped both of our attention to this Tuesday closing… kept getting distracted with twenty other subjects, then decided to hit another San Diego landmark instead. Liberty Station? Great idea! I’ve never looked around this beautiful site or explored the grounds.

Need to come back to see more!
Need to come back to see more!

We had a great time wandering around, looking at all of the different art shops that were open at the time… less than half, I’d say, but we picked up flyers about a bunch of upcoming local events, classes and restaurants. There’s a WINE AND CHEESE AND CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL!! June 26th, people, mark your calendars- I know I am!

Bonus:

I kind of covered the hidden agenda, but it was a total compromise. Stone Brewing has an appetizer that can convert any vegetable hater- Deep Fried Brussels Sprouts, with Pancetta and a Honey Balsamic dressing. Holy Explicative, these are great, and I’m glad I got to introduce my friend to this snack and the lovely Stone restaurant.

We are trying for the fair again later this week. We are bound and determined. And I will make Annika try fair food- corn dog or funnel cake… her choice!

Coffee for Bill

The Husband has a group of friends that buy each other coffee a couple of times each week. At least. It takes all their strength and willpower to stick to only a couple visits per week at this favorite coffee shop. Honestly, we wonder what they put in the coffee as it is ridiculously good.

Zumbar has arrived...
Zumbar has arrived…

Every time I come up the stairs to his office I chat a bit with Bill, the security officer, and think, “This guy needs a coffee!”

Croissants lined up in the case at Zumbar in  the  Sorrento Valley area of San Diego
Croissants lined up in the case at Zumbar in the Sorrento Valley area of San Diego

I brought the Coffee Club their Americanos today, and brought one to Bill, too. I’ve been meaning to do this for a couple of years, at least. Can I take a second to reiterate how glad I am that I picked up this project for the year? I am making myself remember to do little things for, and say thanks to the many people in my community that do so much for everyone and my family.

Thanks, Bill!