Valentina signReview #96

We have officially finished blogging the entire 101 throughout Encinitas and are now coming back around to hit all of the new joints that have opened up in the last year and a half since we began our endeavor.

Moto Deli started out as a food truck, morphed into a brick and mortar, then blossomed into Valentina.  Same great owners, same location, it’s just all grown up now.  You will still find some remnants of Moto here and there, like the helmet on the wall, but Valentina is definitely a fresh new place.  Still casual, but with more elegance.

Valentina inside

One of the things we loved about Moto Deli was the cool patio to eat on, and thankfully, Valentina knew to leave well enough alone.  She just sparkles now with tea lights.

Valentina seating

A few months ago my neighbor, Carolyn, sent me a text.  It read, in all caps, “GET THE CHOCOLATE DESSERT THING AT VALENTINA”.  No “hi” or “how’s it going”.  Then a few weeks later I get, “WELL??  Have you had THE DESSERT THING yet??” So when I arrived to find my old friend Kim finishing dinner here with her newly fiancee’d man Ryan, I thought it would be nice to send them over a “chocolate dessert thing” even though I hadn’t even tried one yet.  Congratulations you two!

Valentina friends

Valentina’s on-line menu does not list prices, so we were all a bit nervous to see what we were about to shell out for dinner.  We literally had no idea. Our waitress, Rachel, sat us outside and brought us menus.  We all let out our breaths.  Ok, nothing too scary.  I liked the small menu.   It didn’t offer a lot of options, but everything sounded great.  Small place, small menu.

Valentina menu

The short and squat water/wine glasses didn’t do it for me.  I think Valentina can do better here.  But I always enjoy having my lemons labeled so I don’t get confused as to which are the ones I brought and which are the lemons belonging to the restaurant.

Valentina glasses

Our server Rachel talked us into a few of her favorite apps, and she wasn’t wrong.  The Heirloom Tomato & Burrata was the bomb.  As Valentina is the elevated form of Moto Deli, Burrata cheese is the elevated form of Mozzarella.  It’s Mozzarella on the outside, with curd and cream throughout the middle.  If you are imaging pillows of soft, creamy, decadence, you are understanding Burrata cheese.

Valentina burrata
Heirloom Tomato and Burrata

Jules was thrilled to see  Serrano ham on tonight’s menu.  This ham from Spain is dry-cured producing deep flavor.  I don’t eat pork, just bacon.

Valentina meat

The Meatballs and Marinara were delicious.  And when Rachel noticed we had plowed through the bread before every droplet of marinara was enjoyed, she just brought us out more.  Because two ain’t gunna cut it folks.

Valentina meatballs

The cheese plate looked pretty, but honestly, meats and cheeses aren’t typically my thing.  Although I love Burrata, I don’t like other soft cheeses like bleu, goat and brie.  Or figs.  Or pepperoni.  But I liked the olives.

Valentina cheese plate

But the curried crusted egg was very unique and very delicious.  More of those on the plate please!

Valentina egg

Someone ordered the Anchovy Plate.  Again, not so much my thing.  But I tried it.  Fishy, salty, and oily.  No thanks.  But if my friend, Danielle, were here, she would have lost it over this dish.  We traveled throughout Italy together this summer and she ordered anchovies everywhere.  I don’t remember seeing anything as good looking as this over there.   But I’m not the chovy-chick that she is so bleck!

Valentina anchovy

Dana’s salmon was cooked perfectly, look at that crispy skin!

Valentina salmon
Atlantic Salmon

The Chicken Palliard was delicious.  I have no idea how much oil or butter they used to get a crust like that without any breading, but good heavens it was delicious.  The little side salad was great too, I wish there was more.

Valentina chicken
Chicken Palliard

The winner was the Skirt Steak & Frites.  A few people ordered this and everyone went crazy over it.  The side of chimichurri knocked this dish out of the park.   Everyone knows that fried potato sticks called “frites” always taste better than french fries.  You can get “fries” anywhere.  Young, carnivorous Ricky puts this steak in his top 10 favorites he’s ever had.

Valentina steak
Skirt Steak & Frites

Jules and Dana left their son at home, but ordered him the Macaroni to go.  Our BP was left at home too, who also had macaroni.  Though his was more from a box and less with pancetta, chantarelles and microgreens.  Clearly, they love their son more than we do.

Valentina pasta

And finally, it was dessert time.  I was momentarily seduced by the words “Tres Leches” but I have been burned too many times before.  If I want Tres Leches cake, and I do, always, I know where to go.  Q’ero.  Tonight was about the “chocolate dessert thing”.  I was worried about the espresso.  I’m not a great sleeper and caffeine at night usually keeps me up for three days.  But I’m sure just a small taste wouldn’t hurt.

Valentina dessert menu

So now I know that there is no such thing as “a small taste” of this “chocolate dessert thing”.  OMG- it is absolutely incredible.  Wafer thin and crispy on the outside, with warm chocolate goo mixed with melting vanilla ice cream on the inside.  My left hand had to grab my right hand and hold it down to let others share in this magical dish.

Valentina chocolate

Churros scare me.  They remind me of 4th grade.  The kids from our cushy San Fernando Valley elementary school were bussed out be part of the “Integration” also called the “Desegregation” movement in the ’70’s.  They bussed the kids from more affluent areas to attend schools in low- income areas.  Our prissy white privileged asses never saw a neighborhood in LA quite like this one before.  This new school was scary.  Many kids were in gangs.   We were not welcome, and understandably so.  The playground was so violent, we all chose to have recess and lunch inside the classrooms.   But I remember there was this churro cart on the corner that parked between the bus and the school’s entrance.  We never stopped to get one, but the sugary, cinnamon smells filled our noses as we ran top speed, clutching each other, to class everyday.  And since then, I have always associated churros with fear.

But I’m all grown up now you see, and churros don’t scare me anymore!  So when Ricky offered to share a taste of his, I put on my Big Girl panties and tried one. It was warm, crispy and utterly delicious.  These churros are served with a side of Mexican chocolate.  I had mine served with maybe just a small side of fear.

Valentina churro

Of course Hubby had to take things a step further and went ahead and dipped his already-ridiculously-chocolatey-dessert-thing into the churro’s side of Mexican chocolate for an over the top chocolate experience.  This is a very advanced move, not meant for beginners.

Lynne and I couldn’t help but notice how much one of the servers looked like Milo from the show ” This is Us “.  We are sure he hears it all the time!

Valentina Lynne and Milo
Almost Milo


Bottom Line:

We love Valentina!  With a few tweaks, this place is going to be fantastic.  Here’s a few suggestions:

  • The staff is super warm and friendly, but the service has some room for improvement.  Things came out pretty slow.
  • Water glasses should be bigger and the wine should have their own glasses.  Float some candles in these squat ones instead.
  • The main course meals could use one more component.  The Chicken Palliard needed some potatoes, rice, polenta, just one more thing to complete it.  Same with the Atlantic Salmon.  The flavors are there, but to warrant these prices, they need something more on the plate.

Make sure you order this delicious chocolate dessert thing! Turns out the espresso in the chocolate had little effect on me falling asleep.  The power of age beats the power of caffeine.

Join us this Sunday, tomorrow, October 6th at 6pm at

Buona Forchetta


Karina’s Taco Shop

Karinas signReview #95

April 15, 2017 we blogged our first 101 dining experience at Kotija Jr. Taco Shop where it all started with a taco.  For the last year and a half-ish every Sunday night-ish Hubby, me, sometimes BP, always friends, sometimes strangers, have joined us as we took on this project to try every single place selling food on the 101, in order, throughout Encinitas.  Karina’s Taco Shop closes the loop.

A lot has happened over this last year and a half.  I started writing this blog as a judgmental, highly critical pissant if you will.  Along this endeavor, Kellen found his taste buds and became our Bottomless Pit, “BP”.  We survived an incredible hike/bike/kayak trip through New Zealand which I blogged:

Oldest started college and youngest started high school.  And I’ve changed too. I’ve turned 50, and like to think I have matured a bit over the course of 95 blogs.  I now play pickleball.  I drive slower.  Hell, I move slower.  Oh, I’m still judgmental and critical, but I have started to soften up a wee bit around the edges.  And this is why I have retired the nasty term “Crap Taco Shop” also previously referred to as “CTS”.  CTS: low quality Americanized, fast-food type of seemingly generic Mexican food.

Before coming to Karina’s I checked out their website to see what their hours were and whatnot.  I browsed through their “gallery” of pictures expecting to find photos of luscious burritos and voluptuous tacos.  Which they have.  Just substitute the word “women” for burritos and tacos though.  Out of 16 pictures in their gallery, only one photo is of food.  It is nice to see a family run place.  And quite a good looking family I may add!

Karina’s Taco Shop Gallery

Standing in front of Karina’s Taco Shop I noticed a few other odd things.  First of all, there is an actual payphone here!  I don’t mean an actual working one, but still.  I was curious to see what year they stopped replacing phone books.  What’s your guess?


If you guessed 2006 you are a winner!


Some of us just can’t accept new technology no matter what everyone else is doing.

Save the phone booths!

Under Karina’s Taco Shop sign it says “Mexican you can taste…”  Now I was really excited to read this.  I can’t tell you how many times I’m eating tacos and think to myself, “What the hell am I eating?  Am I even eating?  I know I’m chewing something, but I just can’t taste anything.”  When I eat Mexican food, I want to actually taste Mexican food.  Karina’s promises us we will!

Karina funny sign

As I am about to walk in, I hear someone call my name.  I turn around to find a tall, slightly familiar looking surfer-dude smiling at me.  Then it hits me.  OMG, this is Nick, my college roommate from Davis!!!  I can’t believe I am running into him here, right at Karina’s Taco Shop in Leucadia!  We place our orders and sit down to catch up.  As Nick started spilling some of my less-than-proud crazy college moments, I decided to change the subject and asked what brought him and his daughter to Karina’s.

“I am a bred and born north county coastal Mexican food expert and I promise you this is the best food anywhere.  We eat here about twice a week.” Now that is some pretty high praise from an actual Mexican food eating expert!  Nick explained that Karina’s used to have a 5 star restaurant downtown.  Now they serve 5 star Mexican food out of a run-of-the-mill looking taco shop.  He told us not to judge a book by it’s cover.  He schooled us on the criteria of what makes a taco shop great.  He said to always judge Mexican food by their carnitas.  I’m not a big carnitas fan, but I trust him when he says Karina’s has the best.  He insisted that we try the ceviche, so Debbie and I ran back in and ordered some.

Inside Karina’s has a picture of their “Bomb” burrito.  It’s called the “Bomb” because every single person who has ever ordered one has died.  Immediately.  To have a burrito already filled with every artery clogging ingredient only to add deep fried ROLLED TACOS inside as well?!  I was mortified.  Hubby felt nothing but respect for Karina’s and said he now loves them.  He thought about ordering one, but decided to choose life instead.


Our food was ready quickly.  One bite of this ceviche and it was all I could do to stop myself from jumping up and bringing it two doors down to Solterra.  “THIS is what ceviche can taste like!” I would shout to their chef right in their kitchen.  Solterra’s ceviche was bland as sand compared to this one.  But then I would be escorted out and there were a lot of people over there.  I just wasn’t up for that kind of embarrassment in front of an old friend.  So I stayed here enjoying the almost over-the-top burst of flavors from this ceviche-done-right.  But then a slow burn started taking over my mouth and my fork desperately tore apart the ceviche in need of some cooling avocado.  There was none!  So it’s a BYOA type of ceviche here folks.  Very delicious indeed, but don’t forget to bring your own avocado!  I look over at Debbie who takes a bite, wipes her eyes, blows her nose, then takes another bite.  It hurts so bad but it tastes so good!  As I’m flailing my hands in front of my burning mouth and doing a hot-mouth-dance in my seat, I notice Nick looking oddly at me.  “Still strange…” I think I hear him whisper under his breath.


The Seven Mares soup arrived and was delicious.

“Howth your thoup?” Asks Debbie, completely congested from the nose running spiciness.

It was loaded with tasty sea creatures like calamari, octopus, fish, shrimp and mussels.  I took a bite or two.   I couldn’t have tasted past my first “mare” when that heat started coming right back to bite me!  I gulped down some water and the pain would temporarily subside.  But like those trick birthday candles, as soon as I put the water down, the heat came right back stronger than ever, burning my tongue, my cheeks, my face, my eyelashes!  I quickly passed the soup over to Hubby who gobbled it up saying how amazing it was.


That left me to eat a grilled fish taco.  The problem was that my mouth was so completely burnt, all I could taste was “hot” and I don’t think the taco had anything spicy on it at all.  Interesting that they serve lemons instead of traditional limes with their dishes.


So now I know what “Mexican food you can taste” means.  There was no doubt whatsoever that I was eating Mexican food.  I tasted those chilies, ohhh yes I did!

It all started with a taco.  And it all ended with one too.

Bottom Line:

The Encinitas 101 is filled with small, inexpensive taco shops.  I once found them all to be the same, completely interchangeable.  But I have come to see the light.  I’ve had my Jewish come-to-Jesus moment, a bit late in the game, but better late than never.  Karina’s Taco Shop is truly one of the better ones in town.  They love things spicy, so if you don’t, be careful of what you order. They want to make sure you taste what they are putting out, and their food is aggressively flavorful.

When you go to Karina’s Taco Shop you’re likely to see a good looking, tall, surfer-dude named Nick.  You can ask him what I was like as a college roommate.   Honestly, I don’t remember all that much from those years in Davis.  There may have been some drinking.  I’m sure there was some studying.  I know there wasn’t any Mexican food!

Now that we have completed the 101, we need to do “CLEANUP ON ISLE 5!”.  Much like the Golden Gate bridge that is being continuously painted from end to end, we will head back the way we came and catch all of the new places that have popped up since we began!

So join us this Sunday, September 29th at 6pm at



Kai Ola Sushi

IMG_3742 (1)

Review #94

You will not find sushi boats at Kai Ola Sushi.  Nor will you find any “Happy Hour” or “All You Can Eat” specials on this menu.  You won’t even find nice décor, and you won’t think it’s the perfect place to bring all of your friends.  Kai Ola Sushi is a tiny, no-frills sushi bar.  Simplicity is their shtick.  But sometimes the most seemingly simple things are actually the most complex.  Like that last sentence itself.

Hubby and I made plans with a small number of friends to enjoy Kai Ola with us.  We knew the restaurant couldn’t accommodate very many, so we invited out some real foodies.  We were seated by a very nice gentleman at the biggest table in the joint.


As we looked over our menus we noticed one of the sushi rolls was topped with “Friend Onions”.

“What do you suppose Friend Onions are?” inquired Hubby.

“And why on earth does sushi have to be so damn friendly anyway?” added Jules.

This got us all thinking.  Sometimes when you get a really smart, creative group of food friends together, magic happens.  And that happened right here, at Kai Ola sushi.

“We don’t need “Friend Onions” on our sushi.  We already have “Hapifish” right down the 101.  What this town needs is something different.  Something dark and bad-ass.  Something a little scary even.” I added.

We were all quietly contemplating this when Dana pops out, “Demonic Sushi!”.

“Oooohhhhhh” agreed all of us at once.

“There’s already Rock-n-Roll Sushi.  We need to take it to the next level.” said Hubby.

“We need Punk Rock sushi.  And not pop, sing-song stuff others coin ‘punk rock’ like Green Day and Blink 182.  We need the real heavy stuff.  We need Black Flag and GBH Demonic Sushi.” I added.

And this is how our million dollar idea for Demonic Sushi began.  And trust me, it’s not over.

Here at Kai Ola Sushi, a much happier place where the onions are your friends, the small menu looked pretty pricey.  Our waiter suggested the Moonlight and Grandview rolls.  We took his advice and ordered a few other things as well.IMG_3747

We warmed up our palates with a cucumber salad that was small but quite elegant.  The mild sesame dressing did not overwhelm the delicate flavors of the vegetables.  This cucumber salad was definitely a step up from others I’ve had.


Only Jules, a true carnivore through and through would order the Kurobuta Sausage at a sushi restaurant.  He was happy with this plate, but he ate it alone.  The rest of us were here for surf.  Not turf.IMG_3749 (1)

Our Moonlight roll came out next.   Our server begged us to sprinkle the finishing salt on top instead of using soy sauce.  He was right.  The salt allowed the beautiful Hamachi to shine.  It was extremely fresh and delicate


The Grandview roll was delicious as well, and I agree that those onions on top were in fact, extremely friendly.

Kai Ola Grandview

My favorite sushi roll anywhere is a Protein roll.  It was a must for me to order here at Kai Ola.  This one tasted great, but was disappointingly small.  Instead of seaweed, each piece is cleverly wrapped in a $20 bill disguised to look like cucumber.


Dana ordered the Black Cod.  Sweet Dana.  Smart Dana.  Divided four ways, we each got to try only a small medallion of carrot, one bite of bok choy and about a one-inch piece of Black Cod.

It’s such a small plate of offensively expensive food, you have to do it right.  You start with a sliver of carrot.  It’s the most incredible carrot you have ever tasted.  Your bite of bok choy is the sweetest and most flavorful of all vegetables in the world.  But when you slip that small morsel of smooth cod into your mouth, the world around you freezes.  Your heart temporarily stops beating and your breath catches in your throat.  Nothing prepares you for this moment.  You have an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for all things good in the world.  The white rhino has just avoided extinction.  Trump’s term is almost up.  And there is something as delicious on this planet as this small piece of fish melting away in your mouth.  Crispy and soft.  Sweet and salty.  You take your napkin and wipe away your tears.

IMG_3751 (1)

There is only one thing to do when one finishes the Black Cod at Kai Ola.  Order another.

IMG_3755 (1)

Lynne showed up late and, not understand the foodgasims we were having, ordered the Teriyaki Chicken.  It was no Black Cod, but it was a very good dish, and much more plentiful than anything else that had shown up at our table this night.

IMG_3754 (1)

At Kai Ola Sushi, your meal is over when you are broke, not when you are full.  We got our check at the same times as the table next to ours, but theirs came with a small plate of mochi ice cream.  Mochi is typically given out at the end of a sushi meal at many places.  Lynne was aghast and went to ask where our complimentary mochi was.  She came back and let us know that the other table actually paid for that mochi.  We didn’t order any because it never tastes as good when you have to actually pay for it.

We put down our plastics and agreed that scaling down to a one car family is just better for the environment.  And only one of our boys actually needs to go to college anyway.

When we got home, Hubby did what Hubby does when he’s still hungry.


Bottom Line:

Kai Ola sushi is the perfect place to come for food when you’re not hungry.  Seriously, grab some tacos next door first, then come by for some sushi dessert here.  Kai Ola has nailed simple perfection in small pieces of extremely high quality seafood.  What it lacks in substance, it makes up for in flavor.  Eating here is a true treat.  More affordable options on the menu are the ramen and poke bowls.  Although not inexpensive either, they looked very good and may allow you to afford education for both of your kids.  The Black Cod might be the single best tasting bite of food I have ever had.  And if you are looking for a sure-thing investment opportunity, let’s talk.  Demonic Sushi is the next Starbucks, mark my words!

Something big is happening folks!  Next week will mark our official closing of the loop!  That’s right, Karina’s Taco Shop is the last stop needed to complete Dining on the 101 throughout all of Encinitas!  But don’t worry, we aren’t done, not even close.  We have tons and tons of new places to try that have opened up since we started.  We will try them all!

Please join us on our next blog, Sunday, September 22nd at 5pm at

Karina’s Taco Shop


Solterra Winery & Kitchen


Review #93

I’ve been on a very clean eating, low calorie, no sugar thing for the last few months now.  It’s hard to work blogging into this lifestyle.  Especially at a winery.  My plan was to just focus on the food and skip the wine at Solterra.  But I suppose just tasting some wine doesn’t count as actual wine drinking, so I partook in a tasting flight.  Tasting is not drinking.


All wines were very good with the second wine being my favorite.  It was listed as Solterra’s”Wine of the Month” in August.  It’s called the “’17 Barbera”.  I’m not a fancy wine connoisseur but I know what I like, and I loved this wine.


The live music was a treat.  And really, how many times do you listen to xylophone during dinner? Where does one go to learn how to play the xylophone past age 5?  I’m not knocking it, just curious.  This guy was terrific!


After taking a quick glance at the prices on the main menu, I suggested to Hubby, who had stopped breathing, that maybe we should just stick to the Happy Hour menu tonight.  He exhaled and didn’t stop nodding for three straight minutes.

As long as I was skipping out on drinking wine, I decided to just stick to the vegetable dishes on the Happy Hour menu. Because when I’m being good, I’m rock solid!


Hubby and I ordered the Roasted Carrots.  Carrots are full of Vitamin A and beta carotene.  Just a nice healthy vegetable dish.  It doesn’t matter if the carrots are smothered in pesto, nuts and cheese.  As long as carrots are the main ingredient, complimentary calories don’t count.  If we hadn’t just had the pesto at Nectarine Grove last week, we might have loved this dish.  But the pesto here just couldn’t compare.  It was good, it just wasn’t Nectarine Grove good.

Roasted Carrots

Next, we ordered the Cauliflower. Sure they were flashed fried and swimming in a vinaigrette sauce, but it’s basically just cauliflower.  This dish looks simple, but was actually outstanding.  I highly recommend getting this.


The hummus plate is essentially just vegetables too: garbanzo beans with vegetable crudites.  Sure, I ate some pita, but I didn’t eat the pita because it tasted good,  it was a necessary vessel to send the vegetables from plate to mouth.  Could have been a spoon.  Happened to be pita.  No calories in vessels.  And let me just say that for someone who mainly eats sprouted, whole grain bread, these pieces of white fluffy, nutrition-less dough tasted like little pillows of heaven.  And they were warm.  Our attentive waitress noticed our heavenly white pillows were long gone before our delicious hummus was finished, and brought us more.


The ceviche was a bit of a let down.  First of all, it lacked complexity.  It tasted “fine” but there is so much opportunity for greatness with ceviche using citrus and chilies, that this was just unremarkable.  And didn’t the menu say this was a bay shrimp and Dungeness crab ceviche?  I know crabs like to hide under rocks, but I checked everywhere, and there were none to be found.  I asked our kind waitress if maybe our Dungeness dudes took the night off to head over to the Krusty Krab for camaraderie. After checking in the kitchen, she admitted that their crab shipment never came today.  That was a bummer. I felt cheated.  Kind of crabby of them to list it and then deny us.  It was only a shell of the dish described on the menu.


Lynne was impressed with her $8 House salad.  Me, not so much.  Just…salad.  But it was organic and presented well.


Katie’s Patatas Bravas were very good and priced right for happy hour at $5.


Because I’m not eating sugar, ordering dessert would be a no-no.  Except when there’s something on the menu called “Chocolate”.  Just chocolate.  Not listed as chocolate cake or chocolate pie.  It’s just CHOCOLATE and one must order something just called CHOCOLATE.


The reason why this dessert is called “Chocolate” is because no other words would do it justice.  Tasting this pure chocolate with a smidge of berry and a dollop of vanilla ice cream was just perfection.  The sweetness on my tongue was like one’s first sip of water after crossing a hot dessert.  But I only allowed myself that one small bite.  Yah right!  NOT!  Our four forks attacked this dessert like we struck gold.  It was so violent, I’m surprised no one left bloodied.  See those green things on the plate?  VEGETABLES!  ‘Cause really that’s all I’m eating tonight!


Bottom Line:

The Good: The happy hour is legit. Many places offer a very limited happy hour, take off only $1 per dish, or make the dishes smaller.  But Solterra gives you the same size plate of food on their happy hour menu as on their regular menu.  For instance, the ceviche was $4 less here than on their main menu.  That put the happy in my hour!

The restaurant itself has a nice, casual atmosphere with both inside and outside dining.  It’s the kind of place where you want to hang out with friends, and the live music is a bonus.

Great wines for all levels of wine drinkers.  Or for those not drinking, just wine tasting.

Our service was better than “good”.  It was superb.  Couldn’t have been better.

The Bad: The food was inconsistent.  Some of our dishes were terrific (hummus, cauliflower and CHOCOLATE) but others weren’t at that same level.  At this kind of establishment I would expect more consistency and have top notch food across the board.

The Ugly: The prices on their main menu are atrocious.  I compare Solterra to 3rd Corner, our last winery/restaurant we blogged on the 101.  3rd corner was even more upscale than Solterra.  The food there was as outstanding as their wine list.

The Free Range Pan Roasted Chicken at 3rd Corner is $19.95.  Solterra’s Organic Chicken Breast is $26.  A steak at 3rd Corner will set you back $19.95, but at Solterra it is $41.  I’m sure the cut of meat may be different, but still, a $21 difference is a lot of beef!

I would highly recommend coming to Solterra during happy hour.  The dishes are good, the wine is great and the atmosphere is really nice.  Don’t forget to order CHOCOLATE.

Some have a “brag book” others, a “brag wall”.  They’re obviously doing something right here.


Please do not join us on our next blog.  I will not tell you what day or time we will be there.  The place is teeny tiny with only a few seats at the sushi bar.  Feel free to go on your own and share your experience with me!

Kai Ola Sushi


Travel Blog

Hi Readers!

I have been asked about my last travel blog to New Zealand from February.  Although a few of the posts made it to, the full blog is here if you are so inclined to read it.  It was an amazing trip that I highly recommend.  Thanks for reading!

Unfortunately, as in true blog form, you will need to scroll to the bottom to read it from start to end.  Super annoying, sorry about that!


Nectarine Grove

IMG_3714Review #92

Not too many people I know are as obsessed with organic ingredients as I am.  By “not too many” I mean zero.  No one I know is obsessed like me.  I think I would rather my oldest tell me he’s failing out of college before he tells me that he’s eating non-organic strawberries in the cafeteria.  I cringe just thinking about that.  I sent him to Colorado with a semester’s supply of organic snacks and the “Dirty Dozen” printed and glued to his dorm closet since I won’t be there guiding him around these landmines anymore.  Sniffle sniffle.

My food is organic.  My cleaning supplies, nail polish remover, even my sheets and mattress all proudly bear the “USDA Organic” badge of honor.  I call it smart, proactive living.  Hubby calls it totally nutso, money wasting insanity.  Tomatoes, tomotos.  To find an eating establishment that cares as much as I do about organic foods down to the condiments, is my kinda place.  Hubby rolls his eyes but goes with the flow.


Nectarine Grove is a small order-at-the-counter kinda place.  Our group of 25 completely took it over.  Who knew so many people would want to come blogging with us?  I was concerned that they would have trouble getting all these orders out, but they nailed it.  Our food came flying out of the kitchen in no time at all.  I was busy running around the place trying to grab pictures before everyone dug into their food. It was coming out fast and my people were hungry.

“Photos first!”  I yelled to everyone, one hand on my camera, the other smacking their forks away.  Come on guys, you know the rule!

Hubby ordered the Veggie Pesto Scramble with house-made oat and seed bread.  He was in heaven and insisted I stop what I was doing to try it.  THAT PESTO.  That pesto is so good, goat cheese would even taste great with it!  (I know many people like goat cheese, but it literally repulses me.  I can’t stand even one tiny curd of that god-awful flavor.)  Dare I say this pesto is even better than La Papagayo’s?  Yes, I do dare.  It is better!

VEGGIE PESTO SCRAMBLE with insanely good pesto

I ordered the Fajita Bowl over Butternut Noodles with chicken.  Sweet potatoes, black beans, chipotle cashew sauce, it was a party of flavors in my mouth and I was dancing the Merengue!  I don’t like to exaggerate (yes I do, all the time) but I was ecstatic over this bowl.


The only other thing I personally tasted was Gavin’s pizza so I could see what this Paleo crust was all about.  Oh mamma, sooo good!  It’s very unique, a little dense and slightly sweet.  It’s the Hubby of pizza crusts!  Absolutely delicious and one I would order again and again for the rest of my life.  ♥♥♥♥♥


Jule’s and Shosh’s poke bowls were as delicious as they were beautiful.




The only bummer of the night was Qwenn’s sad Acai Bowl.  It was as watery as the tears running down her face at the disappointment of it all.  I urged her to let them know she was unhappy but when she told her server, his response was,

“I know, this batch really didn’t come out good.  The problem is that the acai isn’t right.  I tried adding more and more ice to fix it.” And then he walked away.

That is NOT the correct way to handle the problem, and I wasn’t going to let that be the last word.

“Excuse me” I called him back over.  “I’m sure if she’s not happy with this sub-par acai bowl, she can return it, right?”  He looked stumped.

“Errr, I….don’t know.” he stammered.

“Of course you can return it.” I assured her.  Which she did.

Nectarine Grove, please train your staff on customer service a little better here.  If the acai mix wasn’t perfect, it should have never been served in the first place.  Don’t try to water down your mistakes, we have an acai expert here that will notice, and she did!


Bottom Line:

Walking into Nectarine Grove felt like coming home.  This is my she-shed.  These are my people.  (Well, I literally brought my people, but I know those patronizing here are my people too).  The menu is filled with organic, locally sourced, gluten-free, no refined sugar items.  Breakfast is served all day.  The food here tastes absolutely divine.  Prices are extremely fair for organic food, trust me, I know, and the portions are generous.  This is how I cook at home.  (Ok, not as tasty) This is how I try to live my life.  You will walk out of here feeling not only satisfied, but healthier than when you walked in.  I heard the plantain crusted Chicken Sammie is phenomenal.  I will find out later this week.

The 2019 Dirty Dozen Foods List

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes

    Join us this Sunday, September 8th at 5pm at



Let us know if you’re coming, we need to book a rez here

Coffee Coffee & Saint Archer Brewing Company

Review #90 & #91


We have a friend named Leo who spends every weekend morning at Pannikin.  Rain or shine, Leo is always there, reading the paper and drinking his joe.  If you’ve been to Pannikin on any weekend morning over the past 20 years or so, you have seen him there.  He’s a freaking institution.  So we were shocked, shocked I say, when we saw him over at Coffee Coffee Sunday morning, reading the paper and drinking his joe.

“Leo!  How could you?!” We accused as if we just caught him cheating on his wife.

He lowered his eyes to the ground and sheepishly replied, “I know, I know.  It’s just so much quieter here, you know?  And look, it’s not like I never go back there, I’m just taking a little detour.  Just trying her out for size.” He pleaded with us to understand.

“Oh Leo” We both said with utter disappointment.

If Coffee Coffee can relocate a permanent fixture such as a Leo away from Pannikin, there must be something to this place.

Coffee Coffee is right by the old Surfy Surfy which is now Bing Surfboards.  They took over the lease and still have a lot of Surfy Surfy stuff.  The owner, JP, was a partial owner of Coffee Coffee.  ” Surfy Surfy is now like the friend who crashes on your couch and doesn’t pay rent.” explained JP.



The Regal Seagull even got in on this!


The front patio of Coffee Coffee is quite large and so dog friendly, that they even have a place to tie your dog to with a water bowl while you order.

Mommy please come back!

Inside is the real deal.


I always love when local spots highlight community artists, don’t you?


I found Sima Kelly’s work to be unique and thought provoking.  Kind of instrument meets drift wood and has a wind-chime baby.




The display case of goodies looked tempting, but I wanted a real breakfast today.


Mary ordered a gluten-free almond cake that she said was “good”.  Did she not see the donuts, turn-overs and croissants?  Was all of that delicious gluten blinding her in some way?

“Good” GF Almond Cake


It was tough to decide what to order.  Every item on their relatively small menu sounds tempting.  I was leaning towards the avocado toast when I was mocked by Hubby.

“Please don’t order the most boring thing on the menu.  You make your own avocado toast all the time.  Don’t be boring.” And just like that, I allowed myself to be influenced away from it.  Which is kind of funny if you know me.  Because I’m not really one easily influenced or one that does well with being told what to do.  When I was 9 months preggers with my first son, my father and Hubby were going out kayaking in Newport Beach.  I packed a bag to come too.

“Where are you going?” asked my dad.

“Umm, kayaking, duh.”

“You are 9 months pregnant.  You CAN’T go kayaking” said Hubby, laying down the law.

“Excuse me, did you just tell me I CAN’T go, as in CAN NOT?” I said defiantly.  Very much a “Don’t call me stupid” thing.

I think we all can guess what happened here.  I DID take a kayak out, a single, much less stable than a double.  I DID flip it and fall into the bay.  And NO, I couldn’t exactly get back in.  YES, I had to swim the kayak all the way back to a dock where a nice gentleman, fine, TWO nice gentlemen helped me out onto solid ground.

We ordered at the counter and I mentioned the blog I’m writing.  We all sat down and in no time flat, my nonfat half coconut milk latte was delivered to me, lickity split!  I’m not sure what my barista was going for, but I see a maniacal genie in there, do you?  It was delicious!  Maybe the best latte I have EVER had.  Seriously.  I was very excited.


Meanwhile, Mary and Qwen who had ordered right after me, waited and waited, but neither of their drinks appeared.  They finally went back inside to find out what happened and there were their drinks, getting cold on the counter.  Mary asked why no one brought them outside and was told that drinks are not delivered.  Except to very important blog-writing customers.  Ah hem.  Mary didn’t love her latte as much as I did, but I think she was just bitter at being treated as common folk.

Julie’s avocado toast arrived and guess what Hubby?  NOT BORING! In fact, incredible!

Avocado Toast

Hubby and I shared a Breakfast Wrap and a Jose Special.  Both were outstanding.

The Breakfast Rap:

I know I’m a wrap what can I do?

I’m filled with things that are good for you.

Eggs.  Maters.  Avo and feta.

Tastier grub you will find, that’s neva.

Disclaimer:  It’s really late and I’ve been up since 4am.  I have no business writing right now.

Breakfast Rap er… Wrap
Jose Special

Diane and Mary each ordered Dawn Patrol.  One with tomatoes, one without.  I prefer my bacon crisp as can be, but others, like BP, like it more wiggly.

“You don’t see tomatoes on an egg sandwich too often”- Mary
Avocado fingers have ya?

Diane thought it was good but said there was too much egg in it.  Yes Diane, I hate when restaurants give me way more food than expected.  I’m constantly complaining about all that value for my money and being full after the meal and all.  Terrible.

Bottom Line:

Coffee Coffee was was much much better better than than I I expected expected.  I will stop with that now.  It was so obvious, I wasn’t going to go there.  But then I went there.  ‘Cuz I’ve been up since 4am and all.

I really love this place!  Tremendously good coffee and food, with a great sized patio to hang out on the 101.  Sorry Lofty, I think I have a new favorite favorite in town.

Saint Archer Brewing Company


Hubby and I have a rule that there is no skipping any establishment that sells food on the 101 that is not a big chain. Although Saint Archer doesn’t technically sell food, beer is made from barley.   Barley is a plant and plants make flour.  Flour makes cookies, and cookies are food so beer is food.  But we combined the blog with Coffee Coffee just in case we were to get fined by any blog police who don’t understand that cookies are food.

The first thing I noticed walking in to Saint Archer was the smell.  There wasn’t any!  Usually these tasting rooms stink of old beer and who-knows-what mistakes were made the previous night.  But Saint Archer smelled as crisp and clean as it looked, and I was impressed.

There’s not much to the place, just a square room with a small section selling merch with an open-air feel conducive to people-watching and hanging with your friends.


Hubby and I got a flight of 4oz beers for $7 which we found quite reasonable.  The Hazy IPA was my favorite in the bunch, and I was reluctant to share.  Geoff had his own beer.  As much as I enjoy hanging out with Geoff, Drinking Geoff is even better.   I don’t remember what he said, but I was crying tears into my IPA.  He is hilarious!!


Do read the story on the wall about The Man From Mars and on how Saint Archer got it’s start, it’s actually very cool.

The Man From Mars

There are dogs and babies everywhere here.  But who are all of these 4pm beer drinking mothers with their babies in strollers at a brewery?  Looking all cute and done-up like they have all the energy in the world?  I tell you, I was flat on my face by 4pm at that stage, and I am only recently ready to put forth enough energy for a little going-out make-up.  I just sent my oldest to college!


Bottom Line:

I liked Saint Archer better than many other breweries I have been to in the area.  Not only is the beer delicious, the atmosphere here is just great.  4pm Sunday drinking is a must, it’s just the perfect time to enjoy brew.  And that’s all I have to say about that.

Except I ran into my friend  Kelly from book club at Saint Archer doing some 4pm drinking herself and I want to give her a shout out out on the blog.  Hi Kelly!

Join us this Sunday, September 1st at 6pm for dinner at

Nectarine Grove