Here is a quick snap of a Blueberry Mascarpone Tart. I used the cheese filling recipe from Chef Dennis Littley’s “No Bake Peach Tart” with an almond crust and a pound of organic blueberries. Gotta snap up those berries when they are on sale!
Three cheers for date nights! Papa Bird and I have a professional Disney princess who babysits and sings. And with the Little Birds happily entertained, we are starting to venture out to more San Diego restaurants. Here are three of my top date night picks in San Diego for foodie couples — including a giveaway to one of them below.
Disclaimer: Specialty Produce invited us to a night of fresh Italian and Mexican dishes by chefs Javier Plascencia of Bracero and MJ Testa of Caffe Calabria in order to sample their Farmers’ Market Boxes. There was no obligation to write about them and my decision to post was based on my excitement to share them with you. Opinions are my own, as always.
1. Modern “Baja Med” Fusion at Bracero in Little Italy
Javier Plascencia’s restaurant empire in Tijuana ranges from the modern Misión 19 to Mediterranean/Mexican “BajaMed” fusion and often features fresh Baja California ingredients. Over the last decade, he has frequently outshone most San Diego chefs. Bracero Cocina de Raiz, named after a guest worker program that brought Mexican labor up to the U.S., is his second restaurant this side of the border (after Romesco in Bonita), opens tonight in Little Italy, and is at the very top of my list of San Diego restaurants I most want to visit. Check out a sneak peek of their modern Mexican fusion menu here, and see why I can’t wait.
Below is a sample of what to expect: Yucatan-style cochinita pibil sopes, made from heirloom corn masa, slow braised pork, heirloom beans and fermented pineapple. You can make a reservation for their upstairs dining room here, or try your luck walking in to the more casual downstairs and crudo bar. And if I haven’t convinced you to try Plascencia’s cuisine, maybe Jonathan Gold or Dana Goodyear can.
2. Neopolitan Pizza and Craft Cocktails at Caffe Calabria in North Park
When I was chipping away at my Masters of Social Work, I often studied at Caffe Calabria. I usually ordered a Viennese and brought home a bag of the beans they roast on site. Since then they have added a traditional wood-fire pizza oven from Naples, and brought in chef MJ Testa. Caffe Calabria has also started mixing craft cocktails with the same level of attention they bring to the coffee bar. Enter to win two free pizzas from Caffe Calabria at the bottom of this post.
My favorite dish of the night was chef Testa’s Grilled Prawns with farmer’s market box squash and peppers in a cream sauce, inspired by the Amalfi Coast of Italy. I was too busy chatting and the first dish she put out was inhaled by the crowd. For dessert, she roasted white donut peaches and served it with a honey marscapone crema.
As an aside, they have done a lot to renovate the upstairs and back patios. I would definitely look into Caffe Calabria for hosting a private event. The building was once a bank and has tons of character. North Park has changed a lot since I lived there, and there are a ton of bars and clubs to walk to after dinner. Want to be the lucky couple to win dinner there on me?
You can see more of our night in the gallery below.
Celebrated Tijuana chef, Javier Plascencia, opens Bracero in Little Italy this week.
Ensalada de nopal by chef Javier Plascenscia of Bracero with white beets, dill and Easter egg radishes from the Specialty Produce farmers market box.
Craft cocktails at Caffe Calabria, featuring Specialty Produce seasonal fruit.
Caffe Calabria fig and prosciutto pizza by chef MJ Testa.
Me and Papa Bird by the Caffe Calabria roaster.
Roasted Specialty Produce Doughnut Peach with a Honey Marscapone Crema by Chef MJ Testa of Caffe Calabria.
Our backyard birds are expanding with Guinea fowl! In addition to our eleven chicken hens and chicks, we now have three brand new Guinea babies (called “keets.”) They arrived in the mail, only a day or two old. As you can see, they are about as cute as can be.
What are Guinea fowl?
Purely Poultry, from whom we purchased the keets, explain: “Guinea fowl are native to Africa. They are known as pest controllers and wonderful backyard guard birds due to their loud noises and wild behavior. They make a great addition to the backyard flock if you are looking for a tick and bug eater and a clown like character to enjoy.”
1. Watchdogs. Guineas do a great job at guarding your property, sounding a halting alarm when something unfamiliar approaches. Hawk, hawk, hawk!
2. Nutritious eggs and meat. Unlike chickens, who produce eggs throughout the year, guineas typically lay large a couple of times a year. Don’t let their tiny size get you down (two guinea eggs equals one large chicken egg) The flavor is more delicate. Guinea meat is darker and richer than chicken, with less fat and lower cholesterol, and considered a delicacy in Europe and some trendy American restaurants.
3. Sustainable Living. These low-maintenance birds helpfully protect other farm animals and are free from poultry diseases that are troublesome to most farmers. Their nutrient-rich manure can be composted and used in the garden.
4. Pest Control. Working as a team, guineas will eat any pest they can get their beaks on, but unlike chickens, do so without tearing and scratching up your garden. Since they free-range, they will hunt ticks (or beetles, fleas, grasshoppers, crickets, snakes) all over your property. They are a more natural option to control the insect pest population than pesticides.
5. Entertainment. What great personalities! What beautiful plumage! What strange looking feathers! You can see them in colors ranging from pearl grey to lavender, royal purple and blue. They’re very curious and fun to watch.
Check out Guinea Keets for Sale. We have three Royal Purple Guinea Keets, purchased from here. We are not affiliates, or profiting in any way by recommending them. Just passing on the info of where we found them!
Want to See What They Look Like When They Grow Up?
Subscribe to Baby Birds Farm and I’ll be sure to update on their growth!
I’m excited to spend extra time off work this summer with my “little birds.” We’ve been enjoying museums and parks, but they can start to add up. So I thought I’d share some of the free activities and fun I’ve found to do in San Diego this summer (2015.)
Photo by Sarah Burvenich, via unsplash
1. Hullabaloo at the Waterfront Park
We caught the first of this series and loved it. If you have a little one and live in San Diego, odds are you have heard Hullabaloo play their fun, infectious “kid-folk.” Little Bird is in groupie status, having seen nearly 20 shows. I love the small intimate shows (see number 2), but nothing beats a summer evening outside in San Diego. Skip the hot midday concerts, and bring a picnic dinner and a blanket. I won’t tell anyone if you have an adult beverage in your thermos.
Remaining dates are July 19, August 30 and September 27. Activities by Kid Ventures start at 5:30 pm, music by Hullabaloo starts at 6:00 pm, and the park is open all day. Go early to let the kids play in the fountains, on the playground equipment and friction hill we call the “North Mountain” at the Waterfront Park.
Photo by Natalie Chiles Photography, via Hullabaloo
Other free outdoor shows are planned for Solana Beach, Belmont Park and Mission Hills. Check the Hullabaloo calendar for dates and info.
2. Free Music at San Diego Libraries
If you enjoy smaller music shows for kids, nothing is better than catching Hullabaloo at your neighborhood library. Steve, Hullabaloo’s lead vocalist and guitarist, played our library last week. Little Bird told me she most wanted to hear the songs “Little Bird” (no relation) and “Run Bunny Run.”
Watch this video to see my Little Bird flapping her wings to Hullabaloo:
During the smaller shows, shy kids, like mine, have room to bounce between dancing up front and returning back to “home base” (their parents.) Check your local library for their lineup. To catch Hullabaloo, subscribe to their emails, or check their calendar.
3. Summer Reading Prizes from the San Diego Library
Speaking of the library, while we were there we signed up for their summer reading program. The incentives are awesome! As long as your little (or you and your little) read 10 books or for 10 hours, you are guaranteed a full list of free passes and meals. Here is the list for children aged 3-11:
Flute/Recorder or Inflatable Guitar
San Diego Zoo Pass
San Diego Air & Space Museum Pass
San Diego Natural History Museum Pass
Ruben H. Fleet Science Center Pass
Free Kid’s Meal at Chipotle
Free Kid’s Meal at Daphne’s
Free Kid’s Meal at Wendy’s
Free Kid’s Meal at Rubio’s
Free Round Table Personal Pizza
Seeing as how it can take 10 books to get to sleep any given night, we are looking forward to returning to some of the museums I didn’t think we could afford. You can sign up online here. The Summer Reading program runs June 15th – August 15th and is completely free. There are also programs for infants/toddlers, teens and adults.
Go enjoy your summer!
What are your favorite free fun things to do during summer in San Diego with kids?
Mild Anaheim or Poblano peppers are roasted, peeled and stuffed with a quick filling of shrimp and gooey cheese. Served with a fresh red pepper and tomato sauce, or a green tomatillo salsa verde, they make the perfect dinner alongside rice and beans.
I am experimenting with a new post format: just a quick look at what we have been eating. I have such a backlog of photos and recipes, and never enough time to write up the posts. I wanted to play around with a quick post, without writing up a full recipe. Maybe the photos and descriptions will inspire your next dinner? Please let me know what you think. I’ll be happy to share the recipes if requested. For tips on roasting the peppers, see this post on Spanish Tuna Stuffed Peppers.