Sunsweet watermelon, wild arugula and toasted pepita seed salad with golden balsamic dressing at Anthology

The Taste of Little Italy

When traveling one of my most favorite ways to get to know a new place is by going for a walk and tasting my way across town. Sampling all of the deliciousness that the local restaurants, cafes, and food purveyors have to offer all the while taking time to leisurely walk around looking at all of the bits and pieces that make up a place, things that one might otherwise miss if traveling by car. Since most of us are too busy in our day to day lives to slow down this much it can also be fun to take a few hours and do this in your own hometown. Here in San Diego we are fortunate enough to have events that cater to just this sort of activity and last night I had the pleasure of strolling the streets and tasting my way across one of my favorite San Diego suburbs at Taste of Little Italy

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Between 5pm and 9pm twenty different local restaurants opened their doors to event attendees and welcomed them with small plates of some of their most popular and scrumptious offerings. Here are a few of my favorites….

 

Sunsweet watermelon, wild arugula and toasted pepita seed salad with golden balsamic dressing at Anthology

Sunsweet watermelon, wild arugula and toasted pepita seed salad with golden balsamic dressing at Anthology

Dining at Anthology is a full sensory experience! Scrumptious farm to table fare served in a swanky three level venue with acoustics that make each of their nightly shows an unforgettable experience for all who attend.

 

Pasta with homemade pesto and a cup of berries with sweetened mascarpone cheese at Mimmo’s Italian Village Deli & Restaurant

Pasta with homemade pesto and a cup of berries with sweetened mascarpone cheese at Mimmo’s Italian Village Deli & Restaurant

 I have always had a soft spot in my heart for good pesto and the pesto at Mimmo’s did not disappoint. Where they really won me over though was with their sweet offering, fresh sweet berries with rich mascarpone cheese, oh be still my heart! The interior of this restaurant is so cute! Decorated to look like you are dining alfresco in old Italia, I think it would be the perfect place to take your special someone for a romantic date. 

 

Miang of King Crab with ginger, lime and coconut palm sugar drizzle at The Glass Door at Porto Vista Hotel

Miang of King Crab with ginger, lime and coconut palm sugar drizzle at The Glass Door at Porto Vista Hotel

A dragon belly mojito at The Glass Door at Porto Vista Hotel

A dragon belly mojito at The Glass Door at Porto Vista Hotel

At the Porto Vista Hotel their their resturant, The Glass Door was serving for the event on the roof, which had a cozy set up of couches, out door heaters, bar, and spectacular views of the harbor and San Diego skyline. The small bite of king crab, ginger, lime and coconut palm sugar was a delectable amalgamation of flavors and the mojito was the perfect balance of refreshing and sweet with just the right amount of mint (which can make or break a mojito in my opinion). I can imagine sipping cocktails here on summer evenings after work, enjoying the spectacular San Diego sunset. I peeked inside the restaurant on the 5th floor on my way out and it boasted a gorgeous view as well and was beautifully decorated with colorful glass lanterns.

 

Ceviche at Indigo Grill

Ceviche at Indigo Grill

There’s nothing quite like ceviche on a warm almost summer evening. Fresh veggies bursting with color and flavor and the subtle fresh from the sea flavor of the shrimp, its the perfect precursor to any number of Indigo Grill’s delicious entrees. Using fresh seasonal ingredients Chef Debora Scott is consistently creating the most delectable dishes. From the roasted butternut squash soup to the hickory and apple smoked pork ribs everything they offer is always incredibly scrumptious! 

 

Prosecco at Enoteca Style

Prosecco at Enoteca Style

I could spend hours sipping wine and relaxing at Enoteca Style. This classy yet cozy wine bar not only boasts an outstanding selection of wine offerings but has an array of paninis, salads and other scrumptious small bites that pair quite well with their wines. Pop in on a Monday for Half Off Italian Wine by the Glass Monday (I know I will be there!).

 

Braised pork shoulder with orzo, spinach, and feta cheese at Illume Bistro

Braised pork shoulder with orzo, spinach, and feta cheese at Illume Bistro

You can tell that a great deal of thought is put into each and every dish that Illume offers. Farm fresh ingredients prepared and combined as to bring out the most palate pleasing flavors and textures. Their offering at the event was the perfect example of this, the soft orzo and sharp feta and sweet sundried tomato melded perfectly with the melt in your mouth slow roasted pork and spinach that tasted as fresh as greens I have grown in my own backyard. I will definitely be back again soon as I am dying to try their herbed gnocchi with fiddlehead ferns and pearl onions.

 

Chipotle sliders served on a Hawaiian roll with chipotle sauce and grilled onions at The Waterfront

Chipotle sliders served on a Hawaiian roll with chipotle sauce and grilled onions at The Waterfront

Since they first opened their doors in 1933 The Waterfront has been a popular spot to share a brew with friends and unwind after a day at work or even better mid day on a lunch break! In addition to beverages they also have an array of delicious twists on pub style fare such as Italian style fish and chips, breaded fish tacos and an array of mouth watering burgers and sandwiches. They are also open for breakfast and brunch serving everything from eggs, bacon and hash browns to French toast or pazole. 

 

Strawberry tart and green apple tart frozen yogurt from Yogurtland

Strawberry tart and green apple tart frozen yogurt from Yogurtland

Yogurtland has been one of my favorite frozen yogurt shops for a while now so you can imagine I was pleased as a peach when one opened up in Little Italy so close to us here at Specialty Produce. They always have a great selection of both tart and creamy flavors and an array of tasty toppings, from rainbow sprinkles, fruity pebbles, and mochi to fresh fruits and nuts Yogurtland has something that will please just about everyone.

 

If you happened to miss this delicious outing don’t fret, there will be more deliciousness to come at the Fall Taste of Little Italy! In the meantime why not pick a few restaurants, grab some food loving friends, put on your walking shoes and spend an evening tasting your way across Little Italy on your own.

 
strawberry-mint-lemonade

Lovely Lemons

Nothing says, “hello summer!” quite like a glass of fresh squeezed lemonade. Now I know summer does not officially start for few more weeks but Memorial Day weekend always feels to me like the unofficial kick off to summertime. Particularly when it’s a warm sunshiny one like we are having here in San Diego. Luckily here at Specialty Produce we have an array of delicious lemons to choose from for all of your summertime lemonade making needs. Three of my personal favorites lemons are:

 

Organic Italian Sorrento Lemons

 Sorrento Lemons

Sweet Meyer Lemons from Garcia Farms

Myer lemons 

And a beautiful Farmers Market find, Pink Lemons from J.J. Lone Daughter Ranch.

Pink Lemons 

All three of these lemons made for an amazing glass of lemonade, are perfectly tart, and so lemony that their scent will linger deliciously on your fingers long after you have squeezed them of their juice.

There are so many different delicious ways to enjoy lemonade…

  • Infused with herbs such as lavender or basil
  • Served bubbly by substituting a little club soda for the water
  • Sweetened with a simple syrup infused with vanilla bean
  • With any number of colorful fruits chopped up and mixed in such as kiwi, blood orange, pineapple or blueberries

Here is one of my personal favorite lemonade recipes…

 

Muddled Strawberry Mint Lemonade

strawberry-mint-lemonade

When at the peak of their season berries are a sweet addition to the tart lemon juice and on particularly warm days mint makes for an extra refreshing beverage.

 

Ingredients

2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice

5 or 6 cups of water

1 cup sugar (or alternative sweetener of choice)

1 cup sliced strawberries

1/3 cup mint leaves

 

Preparation

After juicing the lemons pour 2 cups of the juice into a pitcher and set aside.

Place about half of the strawberries, mint and sugar in a bowl and muddle together using the back of a spoon or fork. Add this mixture to the lemon juice and stir to combine. Add 5 cups of water and the remaining strawberries, sugar, and mint and stir until combined.

At this point you should taste your summery concoction and feel free to add more water or sugar to your hearts content.   

Pop the pitcher in the fridge to chill for a few hours or serve immediately over ice. If you have time you can make ice cubes with bits of mint leaves frozen inside of them or make ice cubes out of the lemonade to later serve it over.

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