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Monday, February 13, 2017

What a weekend of local eats!

This weekend was awesome! Spent some time with some friends both from in town and from out of town between Friday night all the way through Sunday evening and of course we made sure San Diego's food scene made a pretty solid (and impressive) impact on things in a very good way for both myself and my friends who got to partake in these past 3 days of amazing "grubbing."

Let me walk you through the timeline of culinary escapades with some pictures, descriptions, reviews and reactions of the hot spots we hit up. I also want to offer some insights to my recent start of my own top 21 bucket list of places in town I plan to hit in the next 10 weeks time and I am inviting all you readers to partake with me!

Friday night I went solo for my first ever debut experience with Ramen! I chose Tajima Ramen of Hillcrest based on the San Diego Magazine (SDM) recent listing from Troy Johnsons top 103 spots you must visit before you die.  I have adapted this list of 103 to my own smaller and more manageable list of 21 spots. I picked those I have not been to before, are within 20 miles of my home and actually have some appeal to me to go try out of course. I look to hit 2 spots each week for 10 weeks to see how Troy and I compare in our thoughts and perspectives on these venues and dishes.

At Tajima I got the classic, their Tajima Ramen with added asparagus, bamboo shoots and veggies. Bottom line is that I am now a Ramen fan for life! How I waited 3.5 years in San Diego to try this I have no clue!

Next up was a Saturday early afternoon, solo, post farmers market pick in Little Italy to the Crack Shack for another debut experience. I went with the Senor Croquet Chicken Sandwich. This thing was really good no doubt but at $13 for just a chicken sandwich? Little costly in my book.

Next up was a group visit with some out of town folks from Solana Beach and the one place I am sure to take every out of towner is of course Hash House A Go Go! I love blowing people's minds with this place and I just freaking love going there period. The key to going on a Sunday morning is this.....order take out meals and then hop over to Balboa park off 6th ave and set up shop at the park tables and take in the outdoors, the sun, people watch and avoid the hour long (or longer) line that is a norm on Sunday mornings at HH. My group had our 3 entrees within minutes of pulling up and minutes later I was diving into my Sage Fried Chicken Benedict seen below. I had never gotten a benedict from HH before until now and my god am I glad I did! Freaking amazing in every right! The tin pan does not do justice to show this dish is the best possible form but take my word....its everything you need in a breakfast dish that's rib sticking good and of course, filling. I was the only person in our group of 4 that finished my own entree..... booya!

 Next up was a quick stop for 2 of my out of town visitors to satisfy their sweet tooth with something unique a new. During our strolling of Gaslamp I suggested the Ghiradelli Chocolate Shop. Now being very sensitive to lactose I am one who has to bypass on almost all soft cheese and cows milk based dairy items and ice cream is sadly one item I cant contend with. But that wa snot going to stymie my visitors experience here so I used their debut experience to showcase the masterpiece shown below. The Treasure Island Sundae served in a dipped waffle bowl. They got added banana to really top it off. I can't speak from my own experience but according to both of them this was a pretty decent Sundae indeed. Some of the best hot fudge and brownie bites they had ever had period. The vanilla ice cream was good also but nothing outstanding. At $15.50 for one average sized Sundae they felt that your paying for the Ghiradelli brand name and chocolate quality more than anything.

To close out our weekend of eats, myself, my roommate and my 2 out of towners opted for some pizza. This again is an item I normally have to bypass despite my endless love for pizza. I am Italian after all! Cheese heavy pizza just wrecks my gut for hours after. Thin crust, light cheese or no cheese pizza, and renditions of the two are pretty workable for me however. I had tried a slice of Berkely Pizza before at the Farmers Market in Little Italy over a year ago and recall it being outstanding in taste and also agreeable with my gut. I took a chance and said we should opt for that and so we did. We got a small take and bake spinach and mushroom pie ($16) (serves 4 perfectly) and finished it off in the oven at home. They write the exact direction right on the box for you so you can be sure to bake it right. 15 minutes at 425 and bam! Pizza perfection as seen below! My roommate and out of towners (and I) just LOVED this pizza. The other 3 who had never had Berkeley before claimed it was a near deep dish like pizza but without the super thick crust or super cheese heavy ratio but rather topping heavy with loads of tomato and just enough spinach/mushroom. The crust being part semolina over just four also adds a unique flavor and texture to the pie which I loved.

Being the first bite of any pizza I had had in over a year I had to get a close-up shot of the moment my pizza drought ended. It may only have been 1 slice but OMG was it worth it! Pie heaven! Look at them layers of goodness!

So you can see this weekend was in fact a foodie adventure of the best kind. Touring a city like San Diego offers so much in terms of entertainment, history, sports, festivals, beaches etc......their is no shortage of things to do on any given weekend. Bringing in the out of towners to share and experience in these events is always a good time. I enjoy being able to bring the culinary vibe of San Diego to the mouths and stomachs of my visitors whenever I can. In the process I often find myself trying new places and new dishes as well. In cases like that, everyone involved can find A Better Bite!