Adventures in Cuisine

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Urban Pi – Creative Pizza

The next time you are in the Del Mar area, Urban Pi is a good choice for a quick and tasty lunch. The concept is fast and casual but with an upscale wine bar kind of feeling. The fun part is you get to create your own lunch or dinner with the help of the friendly staff. The name says Creative Pizza but it is so much more with house made soups of the day that aren’t your usual soups, a variety of salads and oven fired sides to choose from. Something to rave about with one of those sides too! Oh, and there is always dessert!

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Biking Pub Crawl Around Coronado Island, CA

Happy 19th Anniversary Steve and Carolyn! 19th anniversary on the 19th must be a sign of good times and more fun to come. If the Biking Pub Crawl is any indication, the good times are a cinch! Need a fun idea for a celebration in a whole new way? Try a Biking Pub Crawl! Here’s how ours rolled out. Continue reading

100 Wines Kitchen

This party girl reached her limit this week! After a long weekend of 4th of July celebrations, followed by our granddaughters 1st birthday party and my husband David’s birthday, I finally bit the dust. I guess it didn’t help that David was sick all week in between these two weekends. Bless his little heart but men just don’t do sick very well. Thank goodness he rallied for the birthday parties and I managed to hang on until his was over. We surely would have hated to miss his birthday dinner at 100 Wines! So now it’s time to catch up on what I’ve been up to….before I got sick that is…..

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Barrio Star – A Real Taste Treat!

Barrio Star

On New Year’s Eve we popped into Barrio Star to check out the latest Isabel Cruz restaurant. First impressions are so important because it sets up your expectations for the rest of your experience. A young lady was walking away from the door into the kitchen when we arrived. She noticed we had entered and immediately turned around to greet us.

What we find so often is the staff is not really paying attention to their surroundings andShea and Thomas Barrio Star seems, at times, to be oblivious to the customer. Not so with Shea. She seemed genuinely happy to see us and lead us to our table.

Thomas then appeared to welcome us and tell us about the specials, cocktails and his favorites. He was upbeat and focused on us while he was taking our order even though he had 6 other tables that he was attending to also. 

Blackberry Jalapeno MargMy husband ordered the Blackberry Jalapeno Margarita and I had the Blood Orange Margarita. Both were very good but there was this indefinable quality about his cocktail that said Mexico at the first sip.

If you have been down to Baja and further south and had their margaritas, you know what I am talking about. There is a flavor note that you only find in Mexico. The tequila, maybe the jalapeno, possibly both, added a deep smokey flavor to the margarita that we just love.

You could taste the heat from the jalapeno but it was a background flavor and did not overpower the drink.

Barrio Chips
We had a bowl of chips and salsa while we waited for our lunch. The chips were freshly cooked and seasoned with chili powder, salt and cumin. They were not complimentary as you find in a lot of the chain Mexican restaurants but we already had the feeling that the food, based on our drinks, were not going to be the chain style quality. It is the quality of the ingredients, always fresh and local and the time spent on the layers of flavors that make this restaurant a bit more pricey than your usual Mexican fare. 
When our entrees arrived I hoped that what my eyes took pleasure in would be delivered to my taste buds. I must say I was not disappointed. My husband had the Tortilla Soup with Grilled Chicken and I had the Chile Relleno special. His soup was just the right texture and the flavor of the spices and the tortilla were a perfect blend in the broth.
Barrio Star Tortilla Soup
The presentation of my Chile Relleno was artful and delicious. The chili was roasted and stuffed with jack cheese but not breaded so that the flavor of the chili came through and was not weighed down with an egg batter.
The Relleno was place on top of a bed of rice and sweet corn and then topped with several grilled shrimp and a Mexican crema. Drizzled around the edge of the plate were two circles of a green cilantro lime sauce and a red chili sauce. When I combined a forkful of each element of the dish is was the perfect bite. All the flavors enhanced each other and it was delightful.
If you spend any time cooking, you will know the difference between an entire dish that took some time to make and one that took time for each component to be prepared. That is the difference between quantity dining and quality dining. I will always prefer to have a smaller portion done very well than a large portion that is average.
If you are looking for a lot of food to fill you up, this is not the restaurant for you. But if it is food that has distinctive flavor, a healthy approach and a beautiful presentation then you will have arrived at the right place.
Barrio Star Chili Rellano

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