Saturday Stroll in Cardiff

One of the many advantages of living in Southern California is the opportunity to be outside often, and enjoy the breathtaking coastal views. The ocean has always been therapeutic to me, and I jump at the chance to be near the beach whenever possible. I love to take in the sound of the waves, the smell of the sea air and watch the passersby.  If you are looking for something different to do on a weekend morning, let me suggest a little pleasant stroll along the coast in North County. Brady and I have created somewhat of a weekend tradition for ourselves which I look forward to, which I feel obligated to share because it is always nice to see new scenery and have time to think, so maybe you will like it too!

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We usually start by heading to the ever-popular Pipes Cafe, where the prices are cheap and the portions are huge. One scramble plate is enough to feed two. I love the fact that you can see the ocean from its busy porch, and listen to the trains intermittently chug by. Today, we switched up our routine, ordered our food to go and took a stroll across the tracks to Bull Taco at the San Elijo campground. The campground literally sits right atop the cliffs overlooking the sea, and it is breathtaking! It’s days like this where I feel extremely lucky to live in San Diego. Thanksgiving is almost a week away, and its 70 degrees outside!

If you are feeling really adventurous or pensive, take a walk from Encinitas all the way down to Solana Beach, either on the beach itself or along the 101 with a lot of other people walking their dogs and enjoying the sights. A few weeks ago, Brady and I hit up another popular breakfast spot in Encinitas which I would recommend to anyone: Pannikin Coffee & Tea, in an old quaint yellow building from the 1900s. Great coffee, great quiche and an abundance of pies to pick from! Afterwards we took a walk from Encinitas to Cardiff. We stopped at a lookout spot at the famous Swami’s beach, where I got the chance to reflect about a lot of things, and take in the gorgeous view.

Anyways, I just wanted to share with you a great idea to get outside and think about life. I always feel refreshed with a clear head after walks like these. Enjoy your Saturday everyone, and I hope you enjoying our weather and are excited for Thanksgiving coming up!

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1st Anniversary of SipSavorSeeSD!

Tonight marks the 1st “bloggerversary” of SipSavorSeeSD, and I couldn’t go to sleep without posting about it. For years, a tiny voice inside of my head was persistent in telling me that I needed to start a blog. I had always wanted to work for a magazine, or for a marketing company and I figured a blog would be a great way to record some writing samples. I didn’t listen to that voice inside my head until a little over a year ago, and am so glad that I did.

My family, friends and boyfriend have been so supportive since the beginning, and to them I am most grateful. I thank my readers as well, and appreciate your comments and feedback. I credit that little voice in my head who has always told me to start a blog to God, who has always given me inspiration, and finally I took His advice and went for it! And for those who are considering writing a blog, my best advice is to stop thinking, and just DO it!! The worst you could end up with is an internet log of amazing memories, right? The hardest part is starting, and you never know what opportunities might come your way because of your efforts.

In the past year, I have visited a lot of restaurants, tasted a lot of delicious food and had a lot of great experiences. My first restaurant post was about Famous Dave’s, a date Brady took me on where I loved it so much that I couldn’t wait to describe my experience! I visited Minnesota with Brady, where I gained some amazing memories, as well as experienced the absolute coldest day of my life (-20 degrees, but that record might be broken this year in MN!). The post I am most proud of was about my Dad and our memories with George Strait, which I am proud to say was featured on air on KSON and posted on their website!

My parents and Brady have been there to support every post, and provide suggestions for my writing, and I am so grateful for that. My best friends have also supported me, with story ideas, Instagram likes (hehe), anything they could do to help with my success. Also in the process, I have met a lot of wonderful people, including Robbin, who referred me to my current job at Alternative Strategies as a Client Relations Coordinator. I bought my first DSLR camera, and am slowly learning how to use it (hopefully you notice the picture quality is getting a little better with each post!)

Anyway, this is more of a thank you than anything else. I have a lot of great ideas for SipSavorSeeSD, including a makeover of the site, as well as adding new categories to my blog including travel and artsy crafty type work, and I will continue to write about the BEST that San Diego has to offer. Thanks for your support, and once again, to anyone who is thinking about writing a blog, get out there and just do it, without any more hesitations. I can GUARANTEE you that you will have no regrets!! Email me at sipsavorseesd@gmail.com if you have any questions, and I will be happy to answer questions or help you in any way I can.

Here’s to an even better year next year!!

Sincerely, Briana

Toast Enoteca & Cucina

Last week my friend Elizabeth and I tried out Toast Enoteca & Cucina – a wine bar/restaurant right located around the corner from Petco Park. As a sister restaurant to the delicious Acqua al 2, I didn’t expect anything less from Toast. The second we walked in we noted that it was a perfect location for a cute date or a girls night out. But this was like no other wine bar we had ever visited.

When we arrived, we were greeted by a friendly server and chose a table inside that was closer to the bar to get a good feel for the intimate venue. As expected, a wide variety of bottles of wine were displayed across the restaurant, complemented by tasteful wood paneling and unique works of art. I studied the clientele for a little while. To my left was a large happy group celebrating a birthday. To my right were tables for two that were grabbed up by lovebirds that trickled in. In the middle of the restaurant stood a circular wine stand – the focal point of the space. Since it is wayyy easier to show a picture instead of explain, here it is:

The newcomers to Toast (myself and Liz included) are given a walk-through of how the unique contraption works. It is actually a self-serve wine tasting bar that dispenses one-ounce pours with the quick touch of a button. Being girls who love wine, we were completely intrigued, and ready to try it out. We put $10 on a Toast card, and were ready to go. (Think a Dave and Busters-like style of wine tasting!) We had the opportunity to sip a lot of great wine. Also – it can be a great way to sample wine without being committed to an entire glass if it isn’t quite your style. But enough about the sips, because the eats were just as great!

We started off with the Insalata di Cavolo- a kale salad. I have never been a huge fan of kale, but this was really good. Topped with dates, pecorino cheese and a Caesar dressing, I learned that eating healthy could taste completely delicious! Next up, we shared the Prosciutto e Datteri, with Italian-imported prosciutto and more dates. It paired well with our wine. In between courses, we would run up and try a new taste.

The next dish we shared was the Cavolini Gratinati. Bacon-seared Brussels sprouts, in a lemony tomato sauce topped with breadcrumbs. We had one bite and fell in love. Hands down the fan favorite of the night. The light lemon taste along with the texture of the seared Brussels sprouts was heaven. (Writing about them is making my mouth water!)

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For the entrees, we had the Pizza al Gorgonzola e Peperoni Dolci and the Tagliatelle alla Bolognese. Both equally delicious. The pizza was topped with sweet red peppers (peperoni), pine nuts and, of course, gorgonzola and mozzarella. By this time we were pretty full, but the pizza was delicious. We were told that the flour and tomato sauce is imported straight from Italy to offer the most authentic dishes. The Tagliatelle pasta was homemade with a fresh rustic Bolognese sauce and topped with fresh shaved parmesan. The presentation was amazing, and once again, the wine was a perfect compliment.

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As if we didn’t have enough food, we had to order dessert- the Italian Bread Pudding to be exact. It was a homemade amaretto bread pudding, topped with vanilla gelato and strawberries. It was the perfect sweet ending to our Italian experience.

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I have to take a second to praise our excellent server Nick. He was incredibly knowledgeable with all of the wines, as well as our meals. He was quite the comedian too! Elizabeth and I felt so welcome in his presence, and he made a point to answer any questions and make sure we were enjoying our time at Toast. It’s no coincidence though, I read great reviews of his service on Toast’s yelp account!

Whether you are looking to take a special someone on a unique date, or to hang out with friends, Toast Enoteca & Cucina is an excellent spot to do so. They have great $8 lunch specials, and their happy hour consists of half priced appetizers and wine and beer deals! (Perfect opportunity for you to try those amazing Brussels sprouts for only $5!!) Tip for those on a budget- during Tuesday’s happy hour, they offer complimentary appetizers in the bar! If you haven’t visited Toast Enoteca- I think you need to grab someone and go sip some wine!

www.toastenoteca.com
927 Jst San Diego Ca, 92101

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Acqua al 2

Looking for a great Italian restaurant in Downtown San Diego? Acqua al 2 lies on the southern end of the Gaslamp Quarter and might need to be on your list of award-winning restaurants to visit. Authentic you ask? Authentic enough to have a sister restaurant in Florence, Italy! My friend Kelly and I were finally going to try this Italian restaurant out. Florence was one of the cities we visited together, so it was the perfect place to catch up on a girls date and reminisce about our traveling days!

Since it was our first time dining at Aqua al 2, we got a little tour of the restaurant, which answered a burning question that I had: what’s with all of the plates on the walls?? It actually is a pretty neat attribute- the plates are signed by celebrities and sports stars that have dined there. My favorite plate that I saw was signed by Joe Torre! Yankee fans know what I’m talking about. If you eat at Acqua al 2, be sure to take a moment to check out the plates – you never know whose signature you’ll find! Also, the interior of the restaurant completely took me back to my travels in Italy.

We were seated on their outdoor patio, a prime spot for people watching (especially during Comic-Con and New Years- note to self!) and perfect for enjoying the hustle and bustle of the Gaslamp Quarter. Wine was poured, and we were first brought out fresh bread- in a paper bag! Why a bag? The paper bag preserves the freshness of the bread- and it certainly was fresh. I liked that touch! It came with a lentil bean dip that paired extremely well.
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If you are like me – you like to sample everything. I would recommend the “Specialty Menu,” which includes 5 pasta samples, a sampler platter of 3 entrées, and a sampler of 4 desserts. Wanting a variety, we went with the specialty menu, and were blown away by caliber of each dish. I’ll break it down by dish to make it easy to follow.

Lumaconi al Broccoli – Broccoli lovers will completely fall in love with this pasta dish. (If you don’t like broccoli, I would steer clear.) Fortunately, I happen to LOVE broccoli, and was extremely happy with this pasta. It was very creamy, and the flavor of the broccoli was prominent. I only wish there was more. Luckily, even better things were to come.

Farfalline alla Zucca- Bowtie pasta with butternut squash, rosemary and garlic. Kelly described it as being “sweet,” and she was right! I had never had a pasta dish that was sweet before, but it absolutely delicious. It also reminded me of a Fall dish – perfect for November!

Spaghetti- Pretty self-explanatory – can’t go wrong here!

Fusilli Lunghi al Marscarpone e Fungi – Corkscrew pasta with porcini mushrooms, garlic and marscarpone cheese sauce. With all of the delicious options we tried- this was my least favorite.

Fusilli Lunghi ai Pepperoni- this was hands down my favorite pasta that we tried. Note- pepperoni in Italian has a whole different meaning- which is a type of bell pepper- not the common pizza topping ingredient . This dish was creamy, with a little bite to it. Kelly enjoyed it too, and I would order a whole meal of this pasta and be completely content!

Next up was the platter of second courses….I wasn’t prepared for the unique amazing flavors that I was about to consume! Check out the photos below- the presentation was absolutely fabulous!

Filetto al Mirtillo – Never in my life did I think I would have a steak smothered in blueberry sauce. Before you knock it- you must try it. It was sweet, savory and unique. The steak was served medium rare- just the way I love it.

Petto di Pollo al Porto – A sautéed chicken breast covered in a creamy port wine sauce. The chicken was moist, and the sauce was very light.

Filetto all’Aceto Balsamico- The greatest steak I have ever tasted- and I mean it. I am a sucker for balsamic- the thick, authentic sweet kind, and this steak was covered in a sweet balsamic glaze. This was definitely the star of the show, and I remember telling Kelly repeatedly how much I loved it. The only con- I will be craving this steak for months! When I return I will be ordering this again, and it would be hard to beat its flavor anywhere else.

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We felt as though we were going to pop, but nevertheless, dessert was next, and there is ALWAYS room for dessert. The sampler platter came with Tiramsu, Panna Cotta, Cheesecake, and a flourless chocolate cake. My favorite was the creamy cheesecake, and Kelly’s was the tiramisu. The meal was topped off with a cup of Caffe Americano, (cup of coffee).

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We were completely stuffed by the end of our sampling from the Specialty menu. Carlos, the GM of the restaurant, was a very friendly man and came over and chatted with us about our trips to Florence and our love for Italy. He also gave us the interesting restaurant tour where we learned a little bit more about Acqua and its history.  Thursdays are “Aperitivo Thursdays,” where happy hour is accompanied by complimentary delicious appetizers (Italian style). I will be checking that out soon- and will be sure to write about it. For those who will be eating out this Thanksgiving holiday, Acqua al 2 will be hosting a 3 course Thanksgiving Dinner which is up on their website. We had a great experience, and I would highly recommend it for anyone craving Italian food or for date night if you really want to impress someone special.

Acqua al 2
322 5th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 230-0382

El Agave – Old Town

Nestled on the second story of a business complex at San Diego Avenue and Old Town Ave lies El Agave Tequileria – an upscale and authentic restaurant for Mexican cuisine. Having never been there, my friend Michelle and I expected a restaurant much like the other array of restaurants scattered around Old Town. Boy, were we wrong! We were about to experience the most authentic Mexican food that we had ever tasted. Our years of growing up in Chula Vista with taco shops had lead us astray from the true qualities of Mexican food!

We walked up the stairs, and were greeted by a friendly host and a display of the most tequila bottles that we had ever seen in our entire lives. Tequila connoisseurs take note – El Agave boasts having over 2000 different Tequilas in their Tequila Museum/restaurant, which are displayed along every wall. That’s pretty unique!

We were seated in the indoor patio and had a view looking north on San Diego Avenue. As soon as we sat down,  we were served chips and a trio of dips -2 salsas and a black bean dip. We went through the black bean dip like it was nobody’s business! The General Manager, a friendly man named Alberto, greeted every table and took the time to explain to his patrons that El Agave prides itself on serving only true, authentic Mexican food (don’t expect to find any nachos or fajitas here- and the only burrito served is on their lunch menu).

The appetizer Michelle and I decided on was the “Tlacoyos Cuitlacoche.” Don’t ask me how to pronounce it- but it was delicious. Corn maze dough topped with deliciously tangy black beans, queso fresco and cilantro.

Our next dish – a Nopalli salad –consisted of cactus (yes! Cactus!!), tomatoes, avocados and spices. I have always loved trying new foods, so I was eager to try cactus for the first time. The presentation was beautiful, and the salad was very refreshing.

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You can’t go to a Tequileria without ordering a drink , so we indulged. Michelle had the Hibiscus Delight, and I tried the Exotica- a drink made with agave and my favorite ingredient- cilantro. Delish!

We ordered our entrees next. El Agave is known for their menu of different Moles – they have 9 different variations on the menu. I went with the Mole Poblano Don Julio, one of the restaurant favorites. For those of you who don’t know what Mole is, it’s a spiced Mexican sauce made with chili peppers and chocolate, served with meat. I was so pleased with my selection. The chicken was moist, and the mole was a thick consistency that was so delicious. I couldn’t get enough of the Mole!

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Michelle ordered another restaurant favorite, the Filete Chipotle. The Filete Chipotle was a grilled steak topped with Machego cheese and chipotle sauce. Once again, the presentation was fabulous, and she loved every bite.

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We finished our meal off by splitting the Chocolate Crème Brulee and felt like we were ready to pop with how full we were.

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All in all, we had a great experience at El Agave. The wait staff was extremely attentive to every table, and the food was gourmet. Be forewarned, on a cost scale of 1 to 4, the cost is at a 3. Tip – if you check in on yelp, you can get a free appetizer! But you are paying for the delicious quality of food. This is nooooo typical Mexican restaurant in San Diego – but truly authentic Mexican cuisine. I walked away having a deeper appreciation for Mexican food and culture, which is something I won’t soon forget!

www.elagave.com
2304 San Diego Ave, San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 220-0692

Brunch at West Coast Tavern

Rise and shine! I hope you all are enjoying the “Fall Back” extra hour to sleep in this morning, and the rain we had last night! For those of you who are just getting up, or those who are lookin to get some good grub, I have to tell you about the delicious brunch at West Coast Tavern in North Park!

Last Saturday I went to brunch with my parents and Brady. We were craving something different, so I suggested West Coast Tavern- a place that is known in North Park as a great brunch spot. Lucky for us, we got a table right on the patio- a prime spot for people watching -and oh, did we see some characters!

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We started off with a mimosa pitcher for $15. We figured it was a nice touch to a late breakfast. It came in an adorable oversized mason jar, and served about 5-6 mimosas. Careful though, the person who gets the first pour ends up with the most champagne!DSC_0775

Brady and my Dad both ordered the Beef Tenderloin Egg Benedict and absolutely loved it. Brady has been talking about it all week, so that’s a pretty good indication of how tasty it was! He said that the beef was extremely tender, the poached eggs were perfectly cooked, and the lemon and chive hollandaise sauce was the perfect compliment to the dish.
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Mom ordered the Green Eggs n’ Ham, which consisted of scrambled eggs with all sorts of healthy green veggies, house potatoes and toast. The toast came with house made blackberry jam which was fresh and delicious.
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As for me, I have been CRAVING chicken and waffles, so I naturally gravitated toward that item as soon as I saw it on the menu. The chicken was so tender and juicy (and I am extremely picky with chicken!). The combination of the savory flavors of the chicken with the sweet syrup and waffle was perfection. The only hiccup was that it was covered in bacon. I am one of the few people on this planet who dislikes bacon, but for anyone else, they would find it delish. Needless to say, I am embarrassed that I ate the whole thing, but it was for a good cause.
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We had a great time and would definitely be back again. Bryan, our server, was absolutely fantastic. He was so friendly, had a great sense of humor, and was extremely welcoming. If you get Bryan, you will be in good hands! For those of you looking to check out West Coast’s happy hour and dinner menus, I wrote about it a while back, you can check it out here. If you would like to know more about their brunch menu, which is complete with scrambles, sandwiches, breakfast potatoes and more, click here! Enjoy the rest of your Halloweekend, and thanks for checking out my blog!

West Coast Tavern
2895 University Ave. San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 295-1688

Haunted Happenings This HalloWeekend

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Halloween weekend kicks off tomorrow in San Diego! Still unsure of where to show off your costume? As always, I put off my costume planning until last minute. But for those of you who planned it out right- there are some pretty epic prizes for costume contests out around town that one of you should win! Here are some haunted happenings around San Diego that will surely leave you dying for more!

Downtown 

MonsterBash in the Gaslamp
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Barleymash
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Hard Rock Hotel
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San Diego Zombie Crawl in the Gaslamp
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Pier Pressure Titanic Masquerade
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Haunted Hotel
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House of Blues Halloween Block Party
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Halloweird at Stingaree
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Hillcrest

Uptown
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North Park

West Coast Tavern
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Wang’s
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SoundDiego Live Halloween Bash
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True North
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Pacific Beach

PB Alehouse
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PB Shore Club
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North County

Haunted Harrah’s Casino
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Scream Zone
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I hope this post gives you some good ideas of what to do this weekend. Have an awesome Halloween filled with costumes, fun and thrills! But as always – don’t drink and drive!