Food Adventure Collage.

carnitas snack shack. c-level. world famous. woodstocks. terra american bistro. buddies. corbins. casey's cupcakes. mandarin beijing. nazca grill. eiffel tower restaurant. gordan ramsay burgr. in-n-out. bankers hill bar and grill. los primos. bistro sixty. ruth's chris.


... to a place I like to call my very own. *waving hello*

I invite you to enjoy reading about the food adventures that I have with friends, family, and colleagues.

I adore food and I cannot just choose one particular food that is my fave.

Food is really is my favorite. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tommy V's Urban Kitchen and Bar - Old Town Scottsdale, Arizona

It was our 'date day' as opposed to a 'date night' on one of our occasional trips to Phoenix. The grandparents were spending quality time with our son and the hubby and I spent the afternoon together.

We picked Scottsdale as our chosen location so I did a search of nearby restaurants on my trusty Yelp app and came up with Tommy V's Urban Kitchen and Bar in downtown Scottsdale.

Tommy V's looked fancy from the outside and even fancier and inviting, in the inside. Their cuisine is Italian with a twist.

Did I mention that happy hour starts at 11:00am? Wow! The happy hour food menu had a lot of choices and for *very* reasonable prices; certainly not prices we would see in San Diego!

We both started off with a Caesar salad [$5.50 - no picture]. It was crisp, fresh and very yummy. The croutons were homemade and the shaved parmesan was a plus to give it that usual extra bite of saltiness.

We ordered the Kobe beef stacks [$6.50], which were shaved Kobe beef on crispy potato pancakes and drizzled with a spicy remoulade sauce. Each stack was topped with roasted red pepper and chopped parsley.

The flavors were absolutely delicious together. The Kobe beef melted in my mouth. The crunchy potato, juicy beef, spicy sauce and the bitter greens were yummy in my tummy.

The hubby ordered the grilled cheese and short rib sandwich [$10.00]. Need I say more? Salty, delicious, and full of flavor. The sandwich had melted Manchego and cheddar cheeses, arugula, braised short rib and caramelized onions.

My dish was amazing. I ordered the risotto carbonara [$8.00]. Anything "carbonara" has the ingredients of pancetta (cured, not smoked) pork that resembles bacon, sweet peas, egg, and parmesan cheese. The risotto did not spread out like a traditional risotto would, but... I didn't care. It was SO good that even though I was already full from the salad and beef stack, I ate the whole thing.

There is a Tommy V's Urban Kitchen and Bar in Carlsbad, but I am not positive that there are the same family of restaurants since their logos and menus are completely different.

I still can't believe the bowl of risotto carbonara was only $8. We will certainly visit again, just for that reason!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

[To Go] Carnitas' Snack Shack - North Park

Although I have eaten a lot of delicious foods that make me *very* happy, there are flavor and texture profiles that I consider 'stand outs' in my head. These are amazing bursts of flavor and texture that make me absolutely speechless, ecstatic, and hungry for more... lots more!

This can be a blog post on its own, but here is my short list of my favorite flavors of all-time (in no particular order):

#1: the charbroiled oysters from Drago's Seafood Restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana,
#2: the French macarons from Bouchon Bakery at the Venetian in Las Vegas, Nevada,
#3: An's famous garlic noodles at Crustacean Beverly Hills, and now...
#4 (my favorite number): the pork belly app from Carnitas' Snack Shack in North Park.

The crazy thing is that I haven't even been to the actual Snack Shack yet. What?? Yup. The pork belly was a treat from my favorite foodie friend, Crystal, who had lunch with a friend and decided to surprise me with the beautiful braised meat, because she knows me SO well. The pork belly doesn't look like much from the picture above - it actually looks like a piece of a well done dry steak. But oh my goodness, that is not the case.

The braised pork belly is served with a a sweet and spicy glaze, and a small side of a crunchy frisee salad with apples and radishes, all tossed with a lemon vinaigrette.

The first bite was crisp, soft, salty, sweet, and sinful. Hello, pork goodness. I was floored. For the second bite, I ate it with the frisee, which is a type of endive (and bitter in my opinion), but the sweetness and crunch from the apples and the acidity from the vinaigrette balanced out the flavor. Well done, Chef.

Absolutely amazing. The funny thing is that I just had a barbacoa salad from Chipotle just 15 minutes before Crystal surprised me with the greatest thing ever. I could have, but didn't, eat all of it. That's how delicious it was.

She also surprised me with the Shack's seasoned bag of fries and their homemade ketchup. Spicy and so, so good too.

I am geared up to visit Carnitas' Snack Shack to try their pork sandwich, steak sandwich, and of course, to experience 'favorite flavor burst number 4' once again, the pork belly app. Since their menu changes depending what is fresh... I am looking forward to visiting multiple times.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Terra American Bistro - La Mesa

I CRAVE the food here. Terra American Bistro, what have you done to me?  My mouth seriously waters when I think of the truffle fries and the deliciously charred skirt steak I had for lunch the most recent time I visited.  And, I want to go back.  NOW.

Terra American Bistro used to be located in Hillcrest and moved to the College Area near 63rd Street and El Cajon Boulevard.  Terra offers a humble, but cool lunch menu consisting for soup, salads, sandwiches, burgers, and these *bowls* that are so savory and wonderful.  I will talk about those in a bit. *smile*

We started off with the hand cut bistro fries, with truffle, asiago cheese, and chives.  The fries are served with their amazing chipotle aioli on the side.  I couldn't stop eating these.  They were so delicious and the presentation of the fries was impressive.  From the galvanized bucket and flat stone rock as a dish, I loved every detail.

The BOWLS... we all got the lunch bowls, the bowls that I CRAVE!  Here's how it works, you pick your protein (grilled chicken, grilled local fish, chipotle skirt steak, or tofu), then you pick your "flavor" for the bowl:  South of the Border, Asian, and Californian.

I love my red meat, so I selected the grilled skirt steak with the Asian flavor.  The bowl consists of fluffy brown rice, stir fried local veggies, cilantro, sweet chile soy sauce, and wasabi aioli (which I omitted).  

Oh, the flavors were wonderful.  The char of the steak and the tenderness of the meat was amazing.  The vegetables were crisp and fresh.   The stir frying time was perfect, in that they did not overcook and kept the integrity of the veggies.  The vegetables in my bowl were broccoli, sugar snap peas, carrots, and purple cabbage.  Absolutely delicious!

The bowl was a perfect portion.  I was not in a food coma, but I was full. 

My friend, Crystal, ordered the grilled swordfish, California style, with cous cous, fresh local veggies, shiitake mushrooms, in a garlic sauce.

T ordered the grilled chicken bowl, Asian style, with cous cous instead of brown rice. Our server actually told us that there were no substitutions but she surprised us with T's cous cous! That was a plus for customer service.

I love Terra. They also have a rewards card program with points. I seriously believe that I will always crave the flavor of Terra's bowls. I must go. PRONTO!

Monday, October 01, 2012

Corbin's Bar and Grill - Phoenix, Arizona

Other than La Fonda del Sol, Corbin's Bar and Grill in Phoenix, Arizona, is one of our family favorites for great, flavorful comfort food. My husband's parents know the owner very well and it is always a joy to eat at Corbin's when we are visiting. It's a quaint place to dine and the food does not disappoint our palates!

Our family met for Sunday brunch. The brunch menu consists of eggs benedict, variations of french toast, sweet and savory crepes, waffles, and frittatas. They had a brunch special that was not on their regular menu. Once our waitress said the magic words, I knew I had to, just HAD to, order it. Homemade corned beef hash. I love corned beef. I have to admit... I know it's not the *same* thing, but I grew up on the canned corned beef. Cooked until lightly crispy with diced onions and potatoes and served with fried eggs and steamed rice... it was a great meal anytime of the day!

I enjoy eating salted, cured meats, especially corned beef and pastrami so I immediately ordered the special. My mouth watered as I patiently waited to see how the Corbin's kitchen made the common brunch dish their very own.

YUM. The corned beef brunch special were served with beautifully poached eggs, seasoned country potatoes, and toasted rustic Italian bread.

Ths corned beef was crispy, salty and very flavorful.  The eggs were perfectly poached where the soft egg yolk oozed onto the corned beef.

[perfectly poached egg]

The country potatoes were soft, cooked through, and SO yummy. They had great flavor and texture from the red and green bell peppers.

[my perfect bite of the hash with the potatoes]
Another dish enjoyed at our table were the french toast made from rustic Italian bread served with fruit on the side. 

...and the Via Mexico Frittata which contained spicy chorizo sausage, Anaheim green chiles and aged cheddar cheese.  It was served with salsa, a buttered tortilla, and the yummy country potatoes. 

Visiting Corbin's is always a joy.  I have also had their pulled pork, burgers, and their amazing spinach and artichoke dip.  I am definitely looking forward to visiting again and trying a new dish.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

[Guest Post] Islands Restaurants Media Preview Dinner - La Jolla

When I think of Islands, I think of endless fries and their Big Wave with cheese. I was fortunate to be invited by the Los Angeles PR firm, Murphy O'Brien, to a media dinner at the Islands in La Jolla to try new menu items before they are released to the public. I asked my friend and fellow foodie, Crystal, to attend in place of me. I now present to you, Crystal's guest blog post... ENJOY!

* * * *

Hello new friends, Crystal here!  I am guest blogging for Janice and I hope you all are ready for a delicious post!

I have recently had the pleasure to attend Islands Restaurants Media Preview Dinner that took place at the La Jolla location. The purpose of this media dinner was to introduce new seasonal dishes and drinks by inviting local food bloggers/social media gurus for a taste run. I was given the lovely opportunity to go in place of Janice. I must admit that I ate enough for her and I both.

My guest and I started the evening with three new delicious (and potent) cocktails at the bar. The drinks are absolutely perfect for the warm summer evenings. Islands promoted these bad boys with a tagline that read: "Drinks Strong Enough To Knock Your Flip Flops Off”

[left to right:
Jager Bay, Paradise's Mai Tai, Maker's Wedge]

I was loving the fact that the mai tai is only 149 calories! It is a great drink that will leave you feeling giddy in the summer breeze but will keep guilt out the door due to the low calorie count. That mai tai is a sure winner in my book!

We had the Pointbreak Sliders as appetizers. This simple slider was a culmination of the perfect flavors; concentrated and flavorful, with bursts of gruyere and bleu cheese, and bacon that has been rendered in balsamic vinegar and finished off with a port wine reduction. Tomatoes and lettuce were served on the side, and in my opinion, the taste of the burger was much more prominent without the veggies.

After a round of drinks and sliders, we migrated to the dining area to get more comfortable. Entrees were up next, and although my tummy was already satisfied, I could not pass up the opportunity to taste their new figure-friendly dish, Chicken Beach Bowl.

Being a health-conscious individual, I was curious to see how this new dish would taste. The Chicken Beach Bowl consisted of grilled chicken, topped with fresh grilled pineapple, sweet red bell peppers, crunchy snow peas, water chestnuts, red onion, broccoli and diced scallions in a hoisin sauce, served over fluffy brown rice. At only 576 calories, I was the least bit guilty as I stuffed my face with this delicious and healthy meal.  We had a choice of either grilled chicken or mahi mahi with the Beach Bowl.

Dessert time rolled around and I decided to go all the way. I am normally not a 'dessert kinda gal' but I started off strong and wanted to finish strong. What better way than to end it with a frothy, sweet, moussy chocolate sundae? The sundae is not a new menu item, but it was a great way to end our dinner.

I would to thank the La Jolla Islands location for hosting this wonderful event and introducing us to their new items. Also, thanks to Jenny and Maggie at Murphy O'Brien for planning the dinner on behalf of Islands Restaurants (and for the awesome goody bag!).

The new cocktails and the Beach Bowl should be available on the menus at your nearest Islands location.

As a little tidbit to end my post, word on the street is that they will soon be catering to football fanatics once NFL season rolls around. Can’t wait to see what they’re going to cook up next!

Way to go, Islands!

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Nazca Grill - Clairemont

When my friend, Shaye, told me about the Peruvian dish, lomo saltado, I knew I *had* to have it. The combination of grilled steak, french fries, and tomatoes over white rice sounded, well, just lovely. Right??

Although Shaye recommended another restaurant in Pacific Beach (The Latin Chef is on my list), my Japanese-Peruvian friend, T, suggested that Nazca Grill is where to find her favorite Peruvian food in town.

We were the first to arrive for lunch on a weekday. The restaurant was dark, but inviting because of the friendly staff who greeted their first customers of the day. We ordered our drinks. My friend T ordered in espaƱol and they returned with our drinks, including this one for her....

Chicha morada is a traditional Peruvian drink made of purple corn. I did not have a taste, but it appeared to be tangy and sweet. There were no ice cubes in it either.

T ordered two appetizers for us to share, starting off with the papa a la huancaina, potatoes in a cheese sauce. We were surprised that this was a *cold* dish. The potatoes were boiled and sliced, like the hard boiled egg that sat on top. The sauce was not your average 'nacho-type' cheese sauce and was thinner and lighter. The dish was really simple and good.

The yuquita frita, fried yucca, was crispy, light and amazingly delicious! The yucca was topped with shaved pickled red onion that gave the yucca a touch of acidity. They also served a side of that same cheese sauce for dipping. Yum! I seriously could have eaten this all day.

I ordered the lomo saltado - the dish I have been wanting to eat for a long time. The steak was tender and moist, the fries and rice soaked up the sauce, and every bite was heaven. There also was crunch from the sauteed onion; I ensured that I had a little onion with every bite. So delicious, or should I say, "Delicioso"?  T also ordered the lomo saltado and our friend, J, ordered the saltado de pollo, which is the exact same dish with chicken.

For dessert, T ordered the alfajores, which are sweet 'cookie-like' sandwiches with a dulce de leche, caramel-y, center and dusted with confectioners sugar. They were very light. Our friend, J, tried breaking one in half, resulting in a crumbly mess on the table. When I took a careful bite, the alfajor crumbled to pieces anyway. Still, it was a sweet finish to our Peruvian experience.

There are so many dishes here I would like to try, like the bisteck a la parrilla con tallarin verde (grilled steak, noodles, spinach-basil cream sauce), pollo a la brasa (rotisserie chicken), and arroz chaufa (fried rice).  The next time T is in town from the east coast, we are definitely going!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Bankers Hill Bar and Restaurant [Happy Hour] - Bankers Hill

The truth is that I have not been to a happy hour in years.  I look forward to the happy hour *food* specials rather than the alcoholic drinks. A group of girlfriends and I visited Bankers Hill Bar and Restaurant after work one early evening.  One of my friends, CK, works at Bankers Hill occasionally on the weekends and in the evenings and she invited us to visit her workplace.  I have heard so much about this restaurant from her, especially their amazing truffle fries and their amazing dishes.

Bankers Hill prints out a new menu every week and they use the older menus as napkin rings.  LOVE it. Very sustainable! 

We sat on the outside patio, which is located at the front of the restaurant.  I had to take a picture of their 'plant wall'.  It was absolutely amazing to look at. 

The happy hour menu consists of many eclectic appetizers to share.  CK took the liberty to order for all four of us.
We started off with the Deviled Farmers Market Eggs.  Three eggs come in a serving laying on a bed of crispy arugula and shaved parmesan.  The filling of the egg was quite flavorful and had capers in them. 

The Bacon Wrapped Buffalo Drummettes were my absolute favorite appetizer.  They were spicy, salty, moist and delicious.  They were served on top of my favorite salad... crunchy coleslaw.

The Crispy BBQ Braised Pork Tacos were really cute and fit into the palm of my small hand.  If my husband were holding them, two or three of them would fit in his hand.  The taco shells were freshly fried and had a little chili seasoning dusted on each one.  The braised pork melted in my mouth.  Oooh, I enjoyed the cool sour cream that was doused over each taco... I love sour cream.

The mini BH burgers were pretty darn cute.  Aged white cheddar, caramelized onions, sweet tomato slice, and a crunchy pickle slice  all settled in between a soft burger bun.


The truffle fries were deliciously crisp and had a sprinkle of parmesan on them. They were served with truffle aioli. Eaten together, they were super addicting and we could not stop eating them.


To satisfy our need for something sweet after a variety of savory happy hour dishes, we ordered the blueberry cheesecake. Oh my, a bite of the cheesecake took me back to my childhood when I used to enjoy the BEST blueberry flavored frozen yogurt by my parent's home.


Bankers Hill is a place that will definitely thrive in San Diego for their flavor, environment and committment to delicious food. My girlfriends and I highly recommend!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Culver's Butterburgers and Frozen Custard - Phoenix, Arizona

What is a "butterburger"?  Burgers cooked in clarified butter?  Butter in the center of the hamburger patty?  So many guesses went through my mind before I found out that it is a simple brush of melted butter on the toasted hamburger bun.  Culver's motto is "Welcome to Delicious" and I know why.  The butterburger and frozen custard that I ordered in Phoenix were just that; delicious.  

The first Culver's opened in Wisconsin. They only serve beef from the Midwest and use dairy products from their home state of Wisconsin at their restaurants.  Pretty cool, huh?

My butterburger food adventure occurred in Phoenix, Arizona where we have family.  We arrived one warm evening ready to indulge in our first Culver's experience.  The restaurant layout is the standard fast food chain restaurant... booths, tables, a counter where you place your order, and self-serve soft drink station. 

Culver's serves a wide range of comfort fast food, like burgers, fried chicken, fish n' chips, and salads.  They even have their own root beer.

My hubby and I ordered the "special" butterburger that is not on their regular menu - the French Onion Butterburger with a side of crinkle cut fries

When we found out that every burger comes with two patties, we thought that we would be overindulging, but the patties are super thin and both had a crispy exterior.  The French Onion Butterburger was super rich and absolutely delicious.  The ingredients were simple... burger patties, grilled red onions, melted Swiss cheese, and a smidge of mayo.  The bun was soft and fresh.  Each sandwich/burger is topped off with a slice of a dill pickle.

 [crunchy edges on thin patties]

Other items enjoyed were the Beef Pot Roast sandwich and Wisconsin Cheese Curds...

....and the Patty Melt.

The cheese curds were something that I have not tried before.  The Culver's employee told us that they are similar to fried mozzarella cheese.  Yeah, they pretty much tasted like that.  There is nothing else exciting to report about the cheese curds, but I can now say that I actually ate one.  Sorry, cheese curds.

FROZEN CUSTARD.  Yum.  Frozen custard is like ice cream, but has a different and smoother consistency due a higher concentration of milkfat and egg yolks.  Every bite was creamy.... and yummy.  The "flavor of the day" during our trip was Caramel Fudge Cookie Dough.  What?  Yes, it was definitely a must HAVE at Culver's.

If you want to satisfy your sweet tooth and there is a Culver's in your area, I suggest trying their "flavor of the day" or even treating yourself to a root beer float (with their own brewed root beer).  My burger was delicious, but because it is not a part of their regular menu, I will probably skip having an entree here and mainly just go for dessert. 

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