Tea Upon Chatsworth

TeaUponChatworthMy sister-in-law came to visit a couple of weeks ago and one of the highlights of our time together was afternoon tea in Point Loma.  It’s a cute little place with lots of ladies in hats and a hodgepodge of beautiful china.

image2They offer two different options- both include several teas and multiple courses.  I think ours included 12 and the other had 8.

When I first sat down, I couldn’t believe how many teas they had to choose from.  I usually drink green tea, so the array of choices was really exciting.  My favorites were the Vanilla Jasmine and the Creme de Earl Grey.

image1They encourage guests to visit their wall of herbs and spices.  I opened up a few and delicious aromas wafted out.  There’s so much in the world of teas that I’ve been missing out on!

image11We chose our first two teas and they brought us our starting course of kale soup.image9

image3Next they brought us a gorgeous tiered platter of finger sandwiches, mini quiches, scones, pastries, fruit, cookies, and mini red velvet cupcakes.

image4We sat in the window, chatting and enjoying the assortment of nibbles.

image6image7image8Everything was delicious, but my favorites were the sandwiches, the scone, and the chocolate mousse.  Ohh, that chocolate mousse.  I smile just remembering it.  It was rich but light, and it melted on my tongue.  It’s so rich and divine that only a few bites are satiating.  image1

It was a really nice, leisurely way to spend the afternoon.  The British are really onto something from this tea time thing!TeaUponChatsworth2

Posted in Indulgences, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

JLSD Food & Wine Festival

IMG_6979A couple of weeks ago my friend Alicia and I donned our Derby wear and headed up to La Jolla Cove for the annual Junior League of San Diego Food and Wine Festival.

A couple of my friends are members and for the last two years I’ve heard about this wonderful event.  This year, I finally went to support.  Within minutes I was sorry I hadn’t gone last year.  Katie warned me I’d regret missing it – will I ever learn to listen to her?


Tickets run about $85 (I think VIP is $145) but once you’re in the white picket fence, there is tent after tent of tasty little nibbles.


I really enjoyed watching this artist work as I enjoyed my libation under the California sun.

IMG_6957They gave us these clever little plates with a wine glass holder to assist in the balancing act.   I wasted no time grabbing everything from sliders to parfaits.  I wasn’t sad to see that the “Food and Wine Festival” is a bit loose in their definition- we tasted spirits ranging from beer to Alicia’s favorite- moonshine!

IMG_6964We spent the afternoon ambling from tent to tent under the sun, nibbling and sipping and (of course) popping over to the photo booth every chance we got!


The afternoon passed way too quickly, but only 50 weeks until next year’s event.  I highly recommend it to locals, or visitors who happen to be around!

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Coffee Creme Brûlée

CremeBrulee2I’m fancy.  Oh, I’m fancy.  Because I made creme brûlée.  At home.  From scratch.  And it was delicious.

Here’s my silky smooth, simple but chic recipe for coffee creme brûlée.


(This recipe makes enough for about 3 people, depending on the size of your ramekins):

2 cups whipping cream

1/2 cup + 4 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons instant coffee powder (I used 1.5 single-serve packages)

sprinkle of cinnamon

1 egg

3 egg yolks


Get a large sauce pan and combine the cream, 1/2 cup of sugar, a dash of cinnamon and instant coffee powder. Bring it to a boil, whisking to combine and dissolve everything.  Once it’s come to a boil, remove the pan from heat and cover it for 30 minutes.

Then you need to strain it.  If you have a sieve, that’s perfect.  If you don’t, you can use a colander and coffee filters.  It works- I tried it.

Preheat the oven to 325 and whisk your eggs and egg whites in a medium or large bowl.  Add some of the cream mixture, whisk it a bit, add some more cream mixture, whisk again, and repeat until fully combined.

Find a baking dish with high sides and place the large ramekins or custard cups in it.  You’ll need to add water, so that the ramekins are in a water bath.  The water should be about half way up the side of the ramekins.  Divide the custard mixture into the ramekins and bake for 55 minutes.  You can tell they are done because the middle will barely move when you jiggle the cups a bit.

Cool and refrigerate (overnight, ideally).

Everyone knows that the best part of creme brûlée is the sugary shell on top, and there are two ways to achieve it.  The first requires a blow torch (not something this single 20-something woman has handy) so I went with the broiler method.

Start by sprinkling about 1 teaspoon of sugar on top of each creme brûlée.  Turn on the broiler and put all the creme brulees on a baking sheet.  Place them under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, rotating if necessary for even cooking.  Remove from the oven, cool for about 30 minutes, and enjoy!


Breaking into the sugar shell is even more fun when you’re the chef! And the inside is silky smooth.


So fancy.

Posted in Indulgences | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Torrey Pines


This past weekend my brother visited from Colorado.  It was a short overnight trip but I was determined to show him the best of SD.  Our first stop was a local taco shop for some authentic Mexican cuisine, and our second was Torrey Pines.

These pictures are from the state park.  It’s located just South of the famous golf course and has miles of trails to explore.  We spent a few hours winding our way through the cliffs, up and down the rocks.IMG_6641_2

There are breathtaking views in every direction.  You can’t take a bad picture.IMG_6642_2

And at low tide you can walk on the beach below the cliffs.  The first time I went, the tide was in and I had to carry my shoes.IMG_6645_2

IMG_6647 IMG_6648After hours of walking around in the sun we headed to another California favorite – In N Out Burger for some animal style fries!

IMG_6656Tired and satiated, we headed home for gnarly Cali naps.  It’s all part of the experience.

Posted in Travel | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Basic Waffles

DSC_0157My 23-year old brother is a surprisingly good gifter.  Every Christmas and birthday, I intentionally don’t give him any gift ideas because he does so well when left to his own devices.  And this Christmas, per usual, he delivered.  He got me a WAFFLE MAKER.

This weekend, I made my maiden batch.  I don’t want to toot my own horn here, but it was an epic success.


To be honest, the recipe is just good.  I’ve had better waffles in restaurants,  but this was a great beginner recipe that would be a good springboard for things like chocolate chip waffles, cinnamon waffles, or even chocolate waffles.

I preheated the waffle iron, grabbed a whisk, and got to work.

I beat 2 eggs, and 1/2 a cup of vegetable oil with 2 cups of all-purpouse flour and 1 3/4 cups milk.  Then added 1 tablespoon of sugar, 4 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.  

Then I scooped about a cup at a time of the batter into the waffle iron.  I trusted the little green light on the waffle iron to tell me when it was done.  It made about 4 waffles.


I was thrilled with how beautifully they came out.  They were light and spongey and they soaked up the syrup beautifully.

DSC_0163I can’t wait to get more creative with this recipe.  Waffles are the new cupcakes. You heard it here first.

Posted in Food & Recipes, Indulgences | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Iron Mountain in Poway, California

Iron MountainWhile the rest of America huddled in front of their televisions binging on nachos and cheap beer this weekend, I did the complete opposite.  I grabbed a friend and a bottle of water and headed out to Poway to hike Iron Mountain.

Considering the number of hiking enthusiasts in the general area, there are a surprisingly limited number of trails in San Diego.  They each have their respective perks- Cowles Mountain is quick and convenient, Torrey Pines wins hands down for views, and of course no online dating profile is complete without a photo on Mt. Woodson’s Potato Chip Rock.  But Iron Mountain is my personal fave.

Unlike Cowles and Torrey Pines, Iron Mountain has adequate free parking.  It’s also far less crowded, since it’s a little farther away.  If these two perks alone don’t sell it, I should also mention that it’s a really fun hike with spectacular views.  It’s well-marked, excellently maintained, and suitable for a variety of abilities.

But in case you never get a chance to visit for yourself, you can come along with me on this virtual trip.  The only downside is not rewarding yourself with a nice greasy meal afterwards (OK, you can if you want, I promise not to tell!).


The first few hundred feet are my favorite part of the trail.  After being welcomed through these iron gates, you’re treated to a romantic tunnel of trees.  I always want to linger through this portion, as I’m flooded with waves of childhood memories and East Coast nostalgia. It’s utterly beautiful but over too soon as you emerge on an open and dusty trail.


The trail alternates between short steep climbs and slow gradual inclines as you weave your way through the rolling hills and up the back side of the mountain.  You’ll quickly notice the change in geography from soft and green to brown and rocky.


image3MtnPoseIt’s fun to play the cloud game (where you say what the shapes resemble) with the bizarre boulders that look like they’ve been carelessly tossed around.  This was my favorite- a rocky fist fighting to emerge from the Earth’s rocky surface.


Others are just fun to climb and ponder life for a while.


In no time at all, you reach the summit.  It’s only about 2,000 feet in elevation, but the views are spectacular in every direction.  To the West, you can just make out the outline of downtown.  Looking South, you can see parts of Mexico.  And East, the beautiful mountains continue for miles.


I had to climb to the highest point for a proper 360 view… but it was scarier than I thought and I climbed back down almost immediately!


After resting a moment, we headed back down.  We went cautiously, since it’s easy to trip or slip.  Fortunately we both arrived unscathed and made it back to the trees just as the sun was setting behind the mountains in front of us.   We’d done the whole six miles (about 10 kilometers) in about two and a half hours (including a rest at the top and a couple of scenic detours).  And according to the app on my phone, I burned just over 1200 calories- which is what I probably would have consumed at a Super Bowl Party.  Patriots, smatriots… I think the real winner yesterday was me.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Spanish Tortilla

SpanishTortilla1Back in 2006 I spent a semester studying in Barcelona.  I opted to live with a local family rather than in an apartment with other foreign students for a more immersive Spanish experience.  I thought I’d be welcomed into someone’s home, treated like family and we’d all share paella dinners and laughs every Sunday afternoon.  It didn’t really turn out as I expected.  My “señora” was a starving artist type, Buddhist, young at heart, you get the idea.  I didn’t see much of her but she always left my roommate and me something to eat.  Unfortunately, it was always the same something: store-bought tortilla or freezer pizza (with a side of iceberg lettuce).


By the time I returned state-side in April, I cringed at the sight of tortilla.  But now, almost a decade later, I see it in a more sentimental light.  It takes me back to that exciting, carefree time of my life.

And the homemade version is much more delicious than that store-bought crap I lived off.

Here’s what you’ll need to make one:

– 1 large potato, thinly sliced

– 1/4 white onion chopped finely

– about 1 tbsp italian parsley

– Olive oil

– Salt & Pepper

– 5 eggs

– butter, approximately 1 tablespoon


You’ll want a frying pan about 6-8″ in diameter. Cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of oil and add HALF of the potatoes, onions, and parsley.  Saute until the potatoes are soft then remove them from the pan and repeat with the other half.

Once they’ve all been sautéed, I recommend washing your pan.  Mine had a lot of crispy bits that would have added a challenge in the next step.


Add salt and pepper to the potatoes to taste.

Now melt a pad of butter in the clean pan, making sure to coat the bottom and sides.  Beat 5 eggs and pour a thin layer of egg into the pan.  Add the potatoes mixture and distribute it evenly across the pan.  Now add the rest of the egg and cover, cooking over low heat.

Low heat and the cover are important because it will cook the egg thoroughly and evenly, rather than burning the bottom layer and leaving the middle runny.  I also used my spatula to lift the edges a couple of times and let the raw egg run under.

Once it’s fairly firm, it needs to be flipped.  I did this by sliding it onto a plate, coating the frying pan with another layer of butter, then flipping it back over into the pan.


It was a little messy, but I made do.

Then I let it cook another 5-10 minutes until the egg was cooked through.  Cut into wedges and serve.


It’s an authentic Spanish tapa, found in restaurants across Barcelona that can be recreated in your own kitchen for about $5.

This post is dedicated to my roommate Kelly, mi esposa de espana siempre en mi corazón.

Posted in Food & Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments