Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I love Pink and I love Berries.

Pinkberry. Tangy and cold. On a beautiful 82 degree day in Southern California, it's no wonder I've been excited to try this tasty treat. They have done nothing but dangle themselves in front of me. Gaslamp Quarter: Opening Spring 2008. Palm Desert: Opening Spring 2008. Well, ya know what? There's an open Pinkberry in Temecula. Yeah it's 60 miles from my house. But I'm half way there when I visit Husband at work! So after taking him a picnic lunch, I continued north on my pretend pilgrimage to Pinkberry (I wasn't exactly sure if I can consider myself a Pinkberry worshiper yet).
I found it in a strip mall on the north side of Winchester near a Trader Joe's. Okay, works for me. Wait! I could actually see a Pinkberry sign on a store that was OPEN FOR BUSINESS! It was time for my first Pinkberry. There were a few people in line in front of me. I had to wait a little longer. But I was in line inside! The Alessi items for sale on the wall were brightly lit but would not distract me from my mission. And then there was Ben. Ben, my first Professional Pinkberry Swirler created my virgin taste for me this afternoon.
I now know the answer to that burning question about my potential for Pinkberry devotion: possibly. I will patiently wait for the San Diego Hard Rock Hotel's Pinkberry to open to be sure. I only tried one yogurt with one topping. Green Tea with Yogurt Chips. I sat down on a pink melamine chair to taste my first spoonful. The previously soft yogurt chips made crispy by the frozenness of the light green yogurt were just like the ones I ate as a child. The color contrast was soothing. The natural pebble floor made me feel like I was outside, while the barely audible house music made me feel like I was down the street from a thumping nightclub. I liked the entire experience. I think the 80+ weather helped. But I want to try all the flavors. There's still original and coffee. And all the vivid diced fruits looked like they wanted to jump into the bowls of “swirly goodness.” But at least I have actually tried Pinkberry. Now maybe Husband won't think I'm a freak for anticipating its opening like a rock star coming in concert. Or maybe I will never live down driving to Temecula before the local store opened.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

BBQ worth a 60 mile drive?

The Bailey Barbeque at the corner of Main and A Streets in Julian, CA might just be the BBQ worth a leisurely 60 mile drive. President's Day provided the perfect opportunity to take a look at the eastern area of our beautiful county. We arrived around lunchtime too. Funny how that works out. Being tempted by the Monday Lunch Special of a half sandwich and a cup of soup was easy. Black bean with sausage soup was coming my way before I could even decide which type of sandwich to order. I went with beef, which wasn't as tender as the pork, but was still tasty! The bread these sandwiches come on is amazingly soft and delicious. If you are in the mood to do some sight-seeing in your own backyard, head to Julian ... and don't pack a lunch! The folks at Bailey Barbecue are ready to serve you some warm, fresh, home-style biscuits with your meal.
And when you are simply craving a tamale, Tacos El Panson, Tacos El Panson on Urbanspoona place right on El Cajon Blvd just east of Fairmont that makes great ones. Next time I'm going to try their gorditas. I used to think the gordita was a quasi-food invented by the Taco Bell Chihuahua. Apparently I'm not a very good Mexican. My Grandmother would tell you I'm Spanish anyway. I love beans, I love avocados and I love tamales. And I can't wait to try the gorditas at Tacos El Panson! I saw one being made and that's all it took. They make two fresh corn tortillas, melt cheese under them and then scoop a giant spoon full of carne onto the bottom one. This is then topped with any of the sauces you would like. I will get it all: cilantro, onions, salsa and of course guacamole. Then it is covered with the other melted cheese corn tortilla. All for $2ish. I would venture to say it would kick a Flatbread Sammie's ass. I'm sure I will let you know. I love Food Fights. Aaaaand a new blog section is born ... The Food Fight. Coming soon.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Desert to Mountains in under a week

Driving out to Rancho Las Palmas last Tuesday was beautiful. Especially since I didn't have to drive. Just so you know, I never drive, unless I'm alone. So as I am being driven out to the desert between snow-capped mountains, I realize (again) just how lucky we are to live in the amazing region of Southern California. The Palm Springs Energy people have added larger windmills to generate more renewable power since the last time I was out to Palm Springs in the early '90s (yeah!). Arriving at the resort of Rancho Las Palmas really blew me away. It's La Costa but drier. There are poppies planted all over the property (pictured right). Which is nice, because they are the state flower and I rarely see them. It inspired me to plant some at home. My friend Shannon has a few planted. We'll see. I'll post pictures of mine if they ever bloom. Anyhow, it was 72 degrees and lovely for four days. Lots of reading time and sunshine.

Friday we packed our things and took the 247 to the 18, also known to San Diegans as the "back way up the mountain" to Big Bear Lake. When we arrived at Happinest Manor there was much frolicking in the snow. As the rest of our friends arrived we had a full-blown Friday night shindig. The hot tub was roaring (thanks to Bobby, the repairman) and the drinks were flowing. We broke out Loaded Questions, best game ever.

Saturday, everyone but us got up and went to the mountain to fly down it on their chosen form of transport. Hubby and I walked around the village and visited what seemed like 10 candy shops amongst other tourist traps. Then we drove around the mountain area for a bit and found the quaintest place for lunch: Grizzly's Big Belly Deli. Yeah, we just HAD to stop there. I had the most marvelous tuna melt on rye ever grilled and the TAB was darn wonderful as well. I noticed a picture of the owner on the wall. He was wearing a baseball cap from Ray Kroc's birthday Padres game back in the '80s. He was clearly from San Diego. Sure enough, Jaime owns the deli as well as another restaurant he's been running on the mountain for 16 years. It's obvious too. We chatted with Jaime while he wiped down some recently emptied tables and before you knew it he was back behind the counter making sure folks got their sandwiches with just the right toppings. We didn't have a chance to say goodbye since he was taking good care of a large group that had just wandered in. But we think we'll see Jaime again someday soon. You should visit too. If you're heading to Bear for the day, stop by before you get to the resort and grab lunch to go. It's on the left a bit up Moonridge Road. Much better than resort food, and it's less expensive.

Sunday we said goodbye to Happinest Manor and all its rooms. We sent the snow bunnies on their way and headed out of town. The front side. Man, now I know why people take the "long way down the backside" home. Six hours later, we were back in San Diego. I am not allowed to complain about the drive, all I had to do was be car sick. No worries. The sunset was beautiful. But it's all about the 247 from the desert. Totally worth it.