An unexpected gem

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Last night SweetPrince and I had our standing Friday night dinner date. Our original intention was to go to Fidels which is a mexican restaurant where we particularly enjoy the crab burritos, but it is a very popular place and even at 7:45, it was packed and the wait was 40 mins. Plus, the bar was jammed and there was nowhere good to sit for that time. Back in the car we go and continue north along the coast which gave a lovely view of the sunset. He remembered that there was a newer Italian place that he’d heard about so we made out way there. Torches out front of porch seating just across from the railroad tracks and the ocean greated us. It’s called Cicciottis Trattoria Italiana and Seafood.

There were three seating areas, the outside porch, a front room which looked to be an add on – almost more like a sun room area, and then the inside room with the large bar and live music. We were asked “music or no music?” and of course I said music! I do like that they give you a choice 🙂 For me, the inside seating was perfect because there was also a tv over the bar with the Padres game on. Right away, they brought us bread with a dipping bowl of stewed tomoatoes:

Oh, heaven! And the bread had a lovely warm center.

OK, I should be truthfull. That picture up there is bowl #2, here is what happened to #1:

The menu had a terrific selection of salads and appetizers and soups and pasta and wood fired pizzas. I mean, I wanted to try everything I saw. Initially I spotted a very interesting sounding seafood lasagna which appealed to both of us. There was also lobster ravioli which is one of my favorites. So we agreed to order both and share. Unfortunately, they were out of the lasagna! Seems it is a very popular dish there. So instead I stuck with the ravioli and SP ordered a linguini shrimp with diablo (spicy marinara) sauce. He ordered his personal favorite caesar salad to start. I was content with the bread and tomatoes! I ordered a glass of sangiovese wine which was one of the cheapest by the glass on the menu ($7.50) but was really lovely. Smooth and fruity with no after taste at all. Oh yes, given that my last review focused on the overall price value, this menu was VERY reasonably priced. In fact, at the end the overall bill for the two of us was the same as at whisknladle, but we’d had much more food here.

SP declared the salad delicious and he is quite critical when it comes to caesar salad. He likes to taste the anchovi, though the dressing should not overpower and of course the romaine should be crisp. The cheese was in lovely flakes over the top.

Then the entrees arrived:

The shrimp diablo was wonderful. SP used the bread to soak up every last drip of the sauce. The lobster ravioli was not quite as good. I realize that I prefer the dish in with a blush sauce, or vodka sauce vs this pure white sauce which was a bit bland. There were generous chunks of lobster in each ravioli though which was nice.

For dessert I ordered the creme brulee knowing it would probably not match up to what I consider the best creme brulee at Ruth Chris’ Steak House. I was right. The top part was too thick and overly flambe’d. The inside custard was fine, though not perfectly smooth. Served with strawberries and sprinkled with powdered sugar it was still quite a nice touch of sweet to share at the end. SP wants to try the canoli next time 🙂

Yes, there will be a next time despite the not quite perfect review. There are many more items on the menu we would both like to try. Plus, the atmosphere really makes this place. The live music was one gentleman who could not have looked LESS like he sounded! Long hair pulled back in a ponytail under a fedora with a rather rough looking face and wearing abeach casual linen button down shirt and khaki slacks, he looked like a local folksy musician from the beach. But, he played the keyboards and sang just beautifully! From operatic Boccelli pieces to Andrew Lloyd Weber to the Beatles to Sinatra to finishing up as ate dessert with Billy Joel’s Piano Man. He was wonderful! Even though we arrived around 8pm, the place steadily filled up so that by the time we left every table was filled in all eating areas. Service was excellent. Very attentive. Water refills and bread/tomatoes came frequently. And the value – fabulous! With the wine and dessert, two entres and the salad it was just over $60 before tip. Given the location, atmosphere and entertainment, that was well worth it!

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Gardening day today. Lots of overgrown things to cut back.

Move 2008 – Week 27 + more food!

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IF my weekly goal was 2 – 30 min aerobic routines and 3 strength routines, I would meet it every week. But I should be doing 5 – 20 min routines so I keep falling short. I have caught up enough at work to be able to join the daily walks so that will help. And I’ve been  consistent enough with the hand weights that once the peeling stops, I know I will look pretty darn OK in sleeveless tops. Yes, still peeling and still applying aloe twice a day. I told you it was a pretty damn good burn.

On to the food! We went back to Spread last night:

Apologies as always for the poor picture quality. The phone does a good job in the outdoor daylight, but is only so so indoors. That is the remains of the almondine dish. I’m going to steal from orangeclouds115 again for a description of what we ate because her memory/knowledge is much better than mine!

We started out with a chop salad made with 10 different kinds of heirloom lettuce, strawberries, red carrots, apples, and a thyme vinaigrette. Next up was a truffled almondine made with Spanish almonds, string beans, squash, and beets cooked in a black sesame reduction. We finished our meal with tacos made on corn tortillas with purple potatoes and guacamole. All made from local, organic ingredients picked today.

The chop salad and almondine were amazing. We both agreed we could have stopped right there. And we probably should have given that we already had plans to go to Extraordinary Desserts for an Obama meet up. But, both our eyes had lit up when we saw the description of the tacos. Here is what they looked like:

Besides being basically full once these (4 of them) arrived, I also learned that there is a limit to how far I can stretch my taste buds. Raw tomatoes, zuchini, almons – all things I normally avoid have been consumed happily at Spread. But, the guacamole would not pass. Avocadoes are icky to me no matter how fresh apparently. On top of that, the overall flavor of the tacos was too salty – we both thought so. Which was too bad because the potatoes and the corn and mini corn tortillas were delicious.

Since it was prices that took away from my enjoyment of the last week’s dinner, I should mention that Spread is much better. When I say prices, I mean in proportion to the amount of food. I understand that truly well prepared food will be more expensive, but the problem I had with Whisknladle was paying so much for a such a very small portion. At Spread, while each dish is prepared with the intention that it be shared, it is still plenty of food. If you were going there by yourself, the portion of chopped salad (which I think was $15 or $16) was more than enough so that if you ordered something else, you would be taking food home for sure.I still only had room for some mango sorbet for dessert!

Oh, and I need to thank Robyn for educating me on what a cat does when in heat. Her description and picture allowed me to identify the “funny thing” that orangecloud’s cat Molly was doing! She thought it was funny how Molly would scrunch her legs up and whine…I asked if Molly was fixed – nope! Guess what dear, your cat is in heat! Apparently she was doing some night time howling too. lol! Quite a contrast from my two lazy butts who spent the afternoon pinned to my side yesterday while I read:

That was the view as I looked up from my book. I expect more of the same today.

Welcome to Food Month!

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I decided to practice for the full scale NaBloPoMo festivities taking place in November again by participating in the July food theme challenge. So I got myself onto their blogroll and here we go!

Restaurant review – WhisknLadle.  Sunday night SweetPrince and I met FoodGal there in the heart of La Jolla. A nice outdoor patio location on a warm summer night. Very nice setting. The restaurant has changed owners and names a few times, but the overall theme remains the same – the freshest local food they can find, presented very elegantly.

FG and I each ordered a cocktail. Mine was a Lavender Cosmo and hers was  the Smoked Pear & Vanilla Rum. Mine came with a fresh lavender sprig and was just delicious. Very light with just a hint of sweet. Hers though, was well…too cloyingly sweet! She described it as ‘dessert’ and stopped sipping it until dinner was over and even then I could tell it was just too much sweet for her.

FG is vegetarian and there were plenty of options for her to choose from the dinner menu. I should first state the menu was limiting. There was a large selection of what the waiter described as ‘appetitzers’ and just a few main entrees. For SP, it was a challenge because nothing really interested him. He is basically a meat and potatoes kind of guy though he also loves seafood and there was really nothing there for him – too much of a frou frou organic selection I think! However, I was quite happy as was FG. I ordered two appetizers – seered Maine scallops in a sweet corn salsa and then papperadelle bolognese. Just two large scallops on the plate and I shared one with SP. However, they were sooo good. Perfectly cooked and the light corn sauce was a great accent. The pasta was also very very good. The perfect amount of sauce to go with the pasta and, for me, the perfect serving size. FG ordered a mixed green salad and then cheese lasagna with fresh tomatoes and arugala pesto. I had a taste of that and it was good, but she had not paid attention to the arugala part (which she does not like) so she didn’t finish it all. SP ended up ordering the burger – which sounds mundane, BUT, it was a really big sirloin burger with a fried egg on top and..something else that I cannot remember. The shoestring fries that came with it were yummy. We all enjoyed the bread they put on the table. Perfectly crunchy on the outside, a hint of some sort of seasoning and grain and a nice warm center. We actually requested another service of bread in lieu of dessert!

I am not certain if it was the best food for the prices, given the limited menu and the serving sizes. As SP put it, yes the scallops were great, but they were bascially $8 each since the appetizer dish was $16! The location and atmosphere were lovely. The service was excellent – just the right amount of attention and very quick to respond to requests. The food was quite good, but not worth the price IMHO.

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Still no word from Sportsboy. I emailed his dad this morning to see if he had heard anything. Apparently he received the first phone call yesterday and did remind SB to call or email his mom…still waiting! Little stinker is having too much fun 🙂