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Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Love of Grilling

This past 2 weeks, almost 3 now, I have found myself spending more and more time with my backyard grill. Less time dining out, more time doing my own thing with fire, meat and veggies......evoking some primal, evolutionary tie to the early days when men would hunt, kill, prepare and "grill" their kills for the clan to devour. I enjoy being able to bypass the prep stage and just go right from grocer to my kitchen, done! None the less it does seem some deep down desire to feed the need of fire and meat has gotten to me bad this past couple weeks. In part because I am now in dieting mode for my NPC August 20, physique contest I am competing in. My first show in 3 years now at that. I have only done a couple powerlifting meets since my last  fitness show in Sept 2013. I got the bug really bad with 4-5 of my own fitness clients also doing shows late this summer. It rubbed off on me bad and now I have made plans to get up on stage myself!

So back to the home grilling will notice now that I only dine out a couple times a week and even then its at pretty fixed places like Souplantation (where I have 53 Yelp check-ins just in the past year) or Chipolte, Subway, Boston Market, Flame Broiler and 1-2 more. I go to these places because I can customize the whole meal as I need/want it, its affordable, found almost any place I travel to, its quick, and I like it! For those road warriors who follow me I suggest you look into thee places as they can be a lifeline to good eating when bringing your own or making your own is just not possible.

So again, the grill, below are some recent shots of the goods I have been whipping up in my backyard.

Grilled veggie egg white omelette with grilled green bean side

Grilled mushrooms, sprouts, asparagus and blistered shishito peppers with dry rub pork ribs

Dry rub beef ribs with grilled parma green beans

Cinnamon-pear marinated pork chop with roasted sprouts and shrooms with applewood bacon over the top baby! Yes bacon on the grill is right!

The dry rub I use is simple and freaking A-mazing: paprika, salt, pepper, cyanne pepper, chipolte seasoning. Dry the rack well first then season liberally with the mix. Cover in foil and then place on the grill for 2 hours at 225 degrees. It will start to smell outstanding within an our or strong and let them sit, don't peak or mess with them, the outcome is so worth it!

Outside the grill I have also made some unique little food items to keep me entertained while going into contest prep dieting. Below are some pretty regular items I make during the week.

post workout frozen junk bowl: 2 scoops gaspari myofusion vanilla protein powder, 2 skinny cow ice cream sandwiches chopped up, 1 ripe banana mashed, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk. mix up well, stick in freezer for 2 hours. serve up and enjoy!

midnight muscle mush(my last meal before bed): 2 scoops gaspari chocolate myofusion, 1 tbsp hershey dark cocoa powder, 2 tbsp pb2 chocolate, 115g frozen wild blueberries, 1/2 cup unsweet almond milk, 10 crushed ice cubes (use food processor to make ice like a slushy consistency) I then mix it all up and eat.

I may have a couple outings with my out of state younger brother being in town this memorial day weekend as I show him some of SD's best dining venues. I have my short list of "must try" places for all my out of town visitors to see at least once. Beyond that we will be spending out days outdoors at the beaches for the most part......cant find that back in Wisconsin after all.

That is all for now folks. Take care and remember....always look here for places and ways to find "A better bite in San Diego."

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Encinitas Foodie Festival in full review!

This weekend I attended my first ever Encinitas Foodie Festival (EFF) held just outside the Lumberyard Tavern off Coastal Highway 101 where 30 of the best area chefs and venues, winery's and breweries came to show off what makes them so darn good. From 11-4pm attendees like me could sample out from all participating vendors for unlimited samples, live entertainment, chef demos, live music and battle of the chefs competitions. At just $48 this was so worth it! I did not drink any alcohol and still got more than my moneys worth out of this. Below are my reviews and shots of the event. I will say here in the beginning while I have your attention that the winners in my book came from the several charcuteri vendors there giving out amazing samples of salami and cheese. Many of which I had never had before which was a novel experience by itself but the discussions I had with the owners was equally as fascinating. Close behind that was the two chocolate vendors I tried out. They had samples of EVERY kind of chocolate one could ever wish to try out. Great for those who enjoy pairings of chocolate with wine or beer and of! Feast your eyes below for some insights to the good times in Encinitas!

New slideshow feature of all the images from the days awesome eats!


Great entertainment as well!

Battle of the chef's. Halibut is the food item theme.

Speed painting, she did that in 3.5 minutes! booth of course! My people!
Chef demonstrations

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Yelp Spring Break Insights!

Last night was one of the best events I have been to, to date and all their events are outstanding! I have been a Yelp Elite for 6 years now myself. Over 4 states mind you as well! Now these guys know how to put on a good show with food, venue, staff, entertainment, music etc.....this event was part of the Yelp San Diego Spring Break and was the 2nd major official event that all attendees could go to if they had an RSVP and it was a sold out crowed days before hand! I could see why given the venue was the famous Air & Space Museum which was the perfect venue for this kind of event! Although it was Friday the 13th there was no bad times or bad luck in our night as everyone seemed to have a full glass, a full plate and an awesome time socializing with other Yelp locals as well as Yelp members from all over the USA!

Below is a just a sample of some of the vendors I saw and caught a picture of. You could have easily made 3-4 meals out of this event with all the amazing food samples being put put all night but many of my favorite vendors as well as some new places I have never been to or heard of (now I have!).

Caution, severe drooling and oogling may be a side effect of looking on further!

The very first vendor you see on entering! Carb lovers dream! 

 Lucha Libre Mexicali Corn Cups

Krave jerky samples. I loved everyone of them! Sea Salt is my personal favorite however! 

Free 5 minute chair massages to all attendees. Score!
These guys had like 4 kinds of huge subs to god they looked  so good!

Hand crafted Sicilian style gnocchi samples! Chef Arcusio and GM Randy Smerik are awesome! Love these guys!

The burger love of my heart.......samples of the original 50/50 burger!

Lamb slier from WaterFront and some grilled wings from HTP. So good!

Med salad samples and spicy meatball appetizer samples from 1919. A new one for me!

Snooze putting out their usual breakfast goodness!

BlueWater Grill had shockingly good cucumber spiced poke samples. So simple but so darn good!

These guys had a long line of people waiting for samples. They have like 20 kinds of bread and subs. Vegan, gluten free, Paleo name it, they had it!

I could eat the whole tray of these! OMG addicting!

The bizcard title explains it......Yummy Cupcakes indeed! Wow! Red Velvet winner!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A Change of Pace.....

OK fellow SD Foodies.......I am changing things up......its my blog and I can do that when and how I want to if I want to.

What I have found in the past 5 weeks of doing blog posts is that although fun, tasty and becomes a big chore to have to go to 3-5 different venues to pick up and purchase the items to bring home, sample and then review. Its like a half day plus evolution most times.

Sooooooo......from now on I will be doing 1 stop venue reviews at the many local restaurants I try out almost weekly be it take out, a quick breakfast stop, a casual lunch or dinner, or even fine dining. I feel that this will not only be easier for me, but also more practical for you readers who want the full review and insights to the venues I am going out to or sampling. Service, food quality, food uniqueness, venue decor and vibe, food authenticity and originality etc.....most of those things need be experienced on site from start to end. The take out-go home review thing only caught one small aspect of the food alone. Half the reason I eat out at the places I select in San Diego is for the novelty, unique food/cuisine aspects, experiences and the vibe. The other 50% is value and food taste/quality. That's just me however, everyone has their reasons and these are simply mine.

I also want to bring more of my personal lifestyle into the blog which is fitness, wellness and healthy living. I work as a fitness professional within the Navy, I have hobbies in athletics and also have leisure pursuits that fit within an active lifestyle. I hike often, I bike often, I train as a competitive powerlifter. I do mud runs, I do fitness photo shoots, and I love to cook, grill and bake healthy foods and recipes I collect, get from others or make from scratch on my own.

I often like to extend my lifestyle into my dining out experiences. This also shapes many of the venues I choose to eat at most the time. I want to show that even a fitness professional and athlete, one can be a true foodie and enjoy the awesome culinary goldmine that San Diego has become and continues to develop into. One not need become prisoner to a diet or food plan that omits all the fun and entertainment and pleasure of eating out a few times a week or even more.

So with this shift now explained and put out there......I ask that you hold on and stick with me as the content will continue to impress, inform and direct you to where you can find the "Better Bite" in the greatest city of San Diego, California!

Fitness Director for USS Essex, formerly USS Ronald Reagan

Fitness Photoshoot in Balboa Park

Love to bake healthy!

Fitness class group from USS Reagan

red wine and grilling out....a weekend favorite of mine!!

Lifting really heavy shit.....for fun....another favorite of mine!

Down and dirty with the mud runs baby! 

One of my favorite weekend hikes! Cowels Mountain!

OH! I have also done 20 formal food challenges within SD County. I won a $500 bet with 4 friends I could not do all 20 known challenges in 12 months. I did! This was my very first one back in April 2012.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Humphrey's Debut

This post will take a small side tangent from the normal 5 way head to head taste off as many of you may have come to expect. No worries, there is one coming very soon! I had my folks in town all weekend from Wisconsin so I bypassed a formal BetterBite post last weekend.

What I do have to bring to you this week before the next BetterBite review comes around is my recent VIP winning for a place for myself and a guest to the Humphrey's all access pass to held Wednesday evening from 6-8pm for about 50 or so guest, 10 of which like me, won our VIPs via Facebook entry and by the luck of the foodie gods I was picked. That said a close friend a fellow food aficionado and I made our way in for our debut experience at Humphrey's for this unique and exclusive event to sample their new concert series food menu and meet the man behind the magic....Chef Nicolas Boar.

Pictures from the evenings events......drooling permitted

Striking a pose with the big man himself....Chef Nicolas Boar! 

I really must say so myself.....our ceviche was BOMB! 

I need to make note that not pictured here is what IMO was almost the best item of the night right behind the ceviche and the lamb.......all night long the waitstaff where coming around with sliver spoons with a bite sized piece of either crab cake or seared scallop and to date these were the BEST of both I have ever had and I have had 100's of scallops and crab cakes in my time. These set the bar for what I qualify as outstanding crab cake and seared scallop. I am pretty sure I had about 4-5 of each over the 2 hour evening and every one of them was melt in your mouth seafood awesomeness!

I got a quick second to speak with and thank Chef Nicolas and let me say that this guy knows his menu, knows his objective and loves what he does. That much is for certain. I also got to speak with Sergio, the restaurant GM and he too is a class act in his own right. His passion for the venue, the people it serves are apparent. The tag team dynamic between these two and the kitchen staff was a very unique and rare chance for both myself and all attendees to see the depth of a well run, high caliber restaurant. Not just the food plated in front of us but so much more. 

This experience is 100% going to have me back in again for a formal dinner and perhaps even a concert (or two) with one of the many top notch performers set to perform yet this season.  Their brunch has been tempting me since the day I first got word of it as the best in all SoCal. If this was any testament to their food quality then I have very little reason to doubt the hype.

How it took me 3 years of residence in San Diego to get over here and experience this I do not know. I do know I wont be going long without several return visits for top tier food, amazing marina views and live entertainment.