July 10, 2007

Retro-Blogging: Out & About

After almost an entire year of living in Hillcrest, I finally made it to Arrivederci a few months ago when Mr. Tall’s parents were in town for a visit. Mr. Tall and I have gotten takeout at the sister Pizzeria on the next block and their pizza was quite tasty. So, we expected the original location to be quite impressive as it is always, always crowded. It was a relatively early dinner on a Friday so luckily we beat the crowd. We were quickly seated right in the center of the restaurant.

It is very quaint and you just have to get used to the fact that there is an apparent space limitation. But that’s what is so homey and rustic about the restaurant. They had a very nice wine selection but I believe Mr. Tall’s parents enjoyed the house white wine that they ordered. For appetizers, Mr. Tall’s parents got a salad, which they said was good, while Mr. Tall and I shared the fried calamari. The dish came with some fried zucchini as well topped off with a squeeze of lemon and tangy marinara sauce; it was probably the best calamari I have ever had! The batter was light; the calamari was fresh—producing a crispy and easily enjoyable appetizer. I probably could have asked a bottle of their marinara sauce because it was so tasty. I love when the tomato is fresh and light, and not weigh down with that tomato paste consistency.

I was definitely not counting my carbs that night because I dove right in to the Spinach Gnocchi with a velvety cheese sauce (the dish was recommended by the waiter). The gnocchi were like little pillows of heaven! I barely ate a fraction of my plateful of food because they were very filling. Mr. Tall got the very rustic dish of Lamb Ragu. The addition of peas and carrots to the sauce made it light and not too tomato-y—just how Mr. Tall likes it.

I was polite and did not take pictures of Mr. Tall’s parents’ dishes, which means that I don’t remember what they ate—sorry! We were incredibly stuffed or else I would have definitely tried some of their desserts. Overall, Arrivederci was memorable and I hope Mr. Tall and I will return for another meal.

Several Saturdays ago, Mr. Tall and I were out on our usual Saturday adventure. We were at Fashion Valley and already picked up dessert at The Cheesecake FactoryLemon Raspberry and Oreo Cheesecakes. Captain Jack’s San Diego Restaurant Review visited Limonz in Pacific Beach and I was salivating. So, after a day of shopping, we decided to check it out. Mr. Tall ordered the Half Roasted Chicken, which included tortillas, garnish, salsa and tops.

It’s a bit overwhelming at first because there are so many options, but having read Captain Jack’s review already, I knew what I wanted. Mr. Tall chose cilantro, lettuce and cheese for his garnish; cilantro rice and black beans for his tops. I went with two soft tacos—chicken and pork carnitas. I enthusiastically ordered the tops of poblano rajas and spicy pasta, achiote and mango habanero salsas. I don’t actually remember which went into which but they were all quite flavorful. The salsas were more like sauces, but tasty nonetheless.

I really enjoyed the tops and choices of the salsas; but I think because the restaurant is still relatively new, the traffic was not frequent enough (we were there early Saturday evening), the food was not as freshly cooked and heated as we had expected. Limonz definitely has a lot of potential so I hope that the word of mouth spreads that it is an innovative and delicious place to try. If only parking in PB wasn’t such a pain, I would visit there again. But I guess most places in San Diego with a good culinary selection don’t exactly have the most convenient parking. In short, Limonz = good, parking in PB = not so good, and needless to say, dessert was yummy.

A friend of Mr. Tall and I, Will, wanted to try this Thai restaurant to see if it lives up to my authentic Thai standard. Spices, located on Mira Mesa Boulevard, was a small yet welcoming
without being too cheesy or tacky with the “Thai” decorations. Will, Mr. Tall and I ordered the food and shared family-style—Pad Thai, Crispy Duck and Bangkok Chicken Curry. Like many Thai restaurant, the spice level was numbered. We ordered all the entrees to be at level 6, I think—the boys couldn’t handle as much spiciness as I could. The prices at Spices are a few dollars more expensive than most Thai restaurants, but the portions are worth it especially if you go with a large party. The Pad Thai was decent and had a good kick to it, but nothing impressive.

The Crispy Duck, served on a bed of fried noodles and topped with a spicy basil sauce, was actually pretty good—not so good as leftovers though as the fried duck became chewy. The Bangkok Chicken Curry was huge! The serving size literally had the entire breast, practically half a chicken, which lasted me 3 days of lunch after the meal! The yellow curry with chunks of potato, carrots and bell peppers was mild yet flavorful.

Typically, curries in Thailand are never served with carrots, bell peppers and the likes but I think that these vegetables have adapted well in these Thai dishes. My philosophy in enjoying Thai food is that unless you hit up Thai Town in Los Angeles, your food is not going to be entirely authentic. However, I approach each meal at a Thai restaurant as to whether they attempt to be as authentic with the availability of the ingredients, and adapt the recipes so that they maintain the integrity of the Thai soul of the dish while pleasing the palate. As much I often feel put on the spot and embarrassed to bust out my Thai in restaurants, it really does help because most of the staff I have encountered are very helpful in suggesting (or not) the dishes my friends and I would enjoy.

Now, I will leave you salivating with some of the sweets I recently indulged in, not all by myself, of course, at Extraordinary Desserts (Hillcrest location).

New York Cheesecake – The cheesecake was not so New York because the NY style is usually dense and heavy but this Karen Krasne’s version was so light and delightful.

Chocolate Croissant Pudding, served with Chocolate Ice Cream – My absolute favorite special—I can never resist ordering it when they do have it!

Viennese – White chocolate cheesecake layer sandwiched between two walnut cakes—not one of my favorites, I must admit.


Little Miss Contrary

P.S. They're opening a Pinkberry in Hillcrest around the corner right from where I used to live on 4th and Robinson--talk about timing!


girl_ngan said...

reading your blog at 2:45am, a time when only dennys and the 24 hr Mcdonalds is open ... not a good idea..

nope, not, just isnt.

sincerely starving,

Captain Jack said...

Thanks for the love LMC!

Kane said...

Hey Twizz! You and Andrea have totally inspired me to start blogging again. Your pictures leave me feeling rumblies in my tumblies.

How do you get your pictures all the same size like that in your post? You must educate me on all things blog, as I am a n00b.

imTSENsational said...

My my, those desserts are extraordinary! I think I'll have to stop by later and have a few plates of my own :P

- Roger