Tag Archives: Travel Log

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A Magical Day at Eagles Nest Winery

Ever wish for a magical day and then get more than you ever hoped for? Well yesterday that is just what happened to me. My husband David and I went out to Ramona for a little wine tasting. “Ramona?” you say…that’s what I thought.
Who knew there was wine in Ramona? In fact, who knew there was great wine in Ramona? 

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Smashing Pumpkin Cocktail ~ Friday’s 5 o’clock Wet Your Whistle Call!

Smashing Pumpkin Cocktail

Smashing Pumpkin Cocktail at the US Grant Hotel

While taking a break from gearing up for the Thanksgiving festivities, my husband David and I caught an episode of the Food Networks “Best Thing I Ever Ate/Drank”.

When Troy Johnson, Senior Editor of Riviera Magazine, profiled a cocktail from the US Grant Hotel, right here in downtown San Diego, we looked at each other and said, “We have to try this!” Entertaining at home is fun and has its benefits but sometimes you just have to get out and feel the energy of the city, especially at the holidays. Continue reading

SDSU A Walk Down Memory Lane

It was like a time warp….how could our Alma mater have changed so much and we had not…..or had we? My long time friend and college roommate Kathy and I took a walk down memory lane and visited the campus of San Diego State University, the scene of our “higher learning”. We learned about life, we learned about boys and more than anything we learned amazing things about ourselves. This was the beginning of knowing what we were capable of doing and bringing to the world.

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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

A Taste of Italy in the Sierra Foothills – Bocconato Trattoria

Constantly in search of a unique dining experience, I found it in the most unexpected place; the foothills of the Sierra Mountains. Bocconato Trattoria is a gem waiting to be discovered. We had been “warned” that there was no menu and the chef would create a meal for you….. interesting.

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Sip Happens in the El Dorado Wine Country

We celebrated Boxing Day on Dec 26th in the El Dorado Wine Country by gathering up a box (case) of wine from several of the local wineries. This was a tough job but we felt we had to do our part. My brother Brett, his wife Kelly and my husband David helped me get the job done. We had been to the other wine country areas around our state but had never been to the foothills of the Sierra Mountains to experience their wine. Home to some of the oldest vines in California, this area is renowned for growing grapes that have intense fruit and deep color. And the people were incredibly friendly and had a great respect for each other as wine makers. What a delight it was! Continue reading

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