We’re spoiled in Southern California with al fresco weather nearly year-round, but that distinct summer vibe—think flip-flops, beach towels, late sunsets, and barbecues—is hard to replicate in the others seasons. That’s why I’ve been fighting my laziness and making sure I tick off all the summer goals I made mental note of in June. Things like heading to Sunset Cliffs to watch golden hour on a weeknight or hanging out in Imperial Beach on a Friday evening when the farmers market turns the pier area into one big block party. And also picnics, tons and tons of picnics.
There’s no shortage of good picnic spots in San Diego, from Balboa Park and Mission Hills’ Pioneer Park to Windansea Beach and even the area outside our baseball stadium, Petco Park, but my favorite is Kate Sessions Memorial Park in Pacific Beach. The wide, grassy space (on a sloping hill) has trees, ocean vistas, skyline views, and a very lax policy on keeping dogs leashed (you didn’t hear it from me). It’s also where I chose to ring in the big 3-0. It’s a really special, really beautiful spot.So with the spirit of summer in mind, here are six steps to to plan your next picnic party: read more
A place for a quiet cup of tea and petit, crustless sandwiches this is not. Breakfast Republic, the new North Park eatery dedicated to morning fuel, is bold, brazen, and a little in-your-face. The front patio is a mix of wood, steel, brick, and chalk. The interior palette consists of red, greens, and yellows. And the rooster motif? Let’s just say they weren’t afraid to play up the “cock” pun. In sum, it’s barnyard chic-meets-North Park hipster.
And Breakfast Republic’s menu is equally flamboyant, with pancakes in flavors like Oreo, churro, and mint chocolate chip (choose three different varieties to make the very awesome pancake flight), veggie tostadas, jambalaya, S’mores French toast, and a beer and sausage sampler amongst other items. There’s also Cafe Moto coffee and 20 beers on tap, along with a chance to buy some Breakfast paraphernalia, like tees and their very cute coffee mugs.
When my best friend turned 30, I got her a set of these West Elm cheese knives with this slate cheese board. Unbeknownst to me, she had already gotten me a huge package of fromage varieties from New York’s famous Murray’s Cheese for my own 30th a few weeks later. I realized that this cheese plate thing is like an entryway to adulthood.
Maybe it’s because—and I speak for myself and many of my 30-something friends—we prefer quiet nights in versus ragers, dinner parties versus bottle service. And when we entertain, we want to entertain at our best, and a sophisticated cheese platter is at the top of the list.
So I turned to the beautiful new Little Italy fromagerie The Cheese Store of San Diego for some advice on how to create a chic, design-minded spread. Together we created two options to suit every cheese lover: one classic platter, one adventurous platter. Read ahead for helpful serving and pairing tips from owners Aaron, Marci, and the whole Cheese Store gang, along with photos by my talented friend Chantal Pasag of Pasagraphy.
It’s party season—time to get your cheese on: read more
In the last few weeks, I’ve bought sandals, shorts, and sunscreen. Even though San Diego has perennially perfect weather, a definite summer vibe has set in. And now that my friends in my old stomping grounds of the East Coast and Chicago have finally gotten warmer temps, too, I feel like less of a schmuck talking about it!
Today I’m rounding up some fruity and fizzy mocktail ideas. Drink up! ‘Tis the season.
Today I start a temporary and part-time editor position at San Diego Magazine, filling in for one of the staffers who’s headed out on maternity leave. I’m all for the change of pace, but I’m less enthused about packing my lunch. Freelancing and working from home had allowed me to make lunches on the fly—whether it’s a just-mixed salad or freshly pressed panini. Now my meals have to be a little more portable, but I’m up for the challenge. After all, I’m a planner by nature.
I’ve rounded up six to-go lunch ideas, all of which are vegetarian, because that’s how I roll when I cook for myself:
I’m so in love with the new Kettle & Stone in Mission Hills. The cafe serves locally roasted WestBean coffee, and though $4 for a 12 oz. latte is on the steep side for me, the quality was all there. Plus, it’s worth the money for their amazing sidewalk seating. Lewis Street, where Kettle & Stone is located, has a variety of boutiques, which makes for just the right amount of foot traffic as you sip. On Saturday, we had a perfect mix of friendly people and even friendlier dogs. Good coffee + a gentle breeze + shade on a hot day + amazing doggies—it wasn’t a planned Valentine’s Day excursion, but I was certainly feeling the love.
My family was in town last week and when we get together, we’re not, how you say, a very active people. My parents aren’t the hiking type, they’re not much for the beach, and they’d rather eat out than “trouble me” with having to cook for them. (My mom saves the cooking for herself when I go back to New Jersey.) Paired with last Friday’s surprising (and welcome) downpour, we ate out four days straight. The closest we got to eating at home was picking up takeout. And as much as I loved my meals at Puesto, Cafe 21, Amarin Thai, Hanna’s Gourmet, Grill House Cafe, Cafe 976, and Extraordinary Desserts, this week is all about recalibrating with healthy food.
Yesterday I made one of my new favorites, a freekeh “salad” with caramelized shallots, chickpeas, and yogurt, a recipe that I spotted in a recent Martha Stewart Living issue. What is freekeh, you ask? It’s an ancient grain derived from the Middle East that’s packed with protein and fiber and sold at speciality grocerers like Whole Foods, where I got mine, and online. It reminds me a bit of bulgar and barley, so if you can’t find freekeh, I think it’s safe to sub one of those two and adjust cooking times. (FYI, I used cracked freekeh, which worked just fine.) This recipe also incorporates pomegranate for a nice dose of seasonality and sweetness.
The great vegetarian food blog Cookie and Kate has a great note about cooking freekeh. I’ve tried both of her techniques—letting it cook long enough to absorb its moisture and yield a risotto-type consistency as well as cooking until tender and then letting the freekeh steam for 5 minutes to get a fluffier texture—and I prefer the latter method, which I used this time around.