One thing I appreciate about Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee is the AP Style spelling of ‘doughnuts’ instead of the more common ‘donuts.’ It immediately concocts sophistication and extra effort in both spelling out the extra letters and it especially rings true when it comes to the actual donut itself. But that’s only one of many positive traits to Sidecar.
So when Anita (of Diary of a Mad Hungry Woman) suggested I check them out, I made a special trip to Orange County to do just that.
Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee is nestled in a unremarkable Costa Mesa strip mall but once inside, it’s a donut wonderland. Even on the verge of the clock hitting noon, they were still making donuts — a big plus considering San Diego’s Donut Bar has been criticized for usually running out of their stock early. Sidecar is open every day (with Sunday being their busiest) and continue making donuts until they close at 2.
Eight varieties are always available and for our visit they featured huckleberry, cinnamon spice, maple bacon, apple pie, black velvet with mascarpone glaze, madagascar vanilla twist, apricot with cream and chocolate with valrhona pearls. The menu rotates weekly with the exception of cinnamon spice and huckleberry, which are available all the time. It’s a nice variety, satisfying both chocolate and fruit lovers. And I learned that Sidecar occasionally offers a savory donut as well.
Without building up anticipation, everything was spectacular and it was hard to chose a favorite. The Tillamook cheese slice on top of the apple pie donut using Granny Smith apples was a nice touch. The raised apricot with soured cream and pistachios was light despite the copicius toppings. And I was glad to see crisp (not flacid) bacon on the maple donut.
While some artisan donut shops focus on the topping, Sidecar focuses on the entire product. The berries in the huckleberry are flown in from Portland and are folded into the batter as well as used in the topping. I had given up on cake donuts a long time ago because I found them too dense, but their black velvet cake is surprisingly light despite the deep color and not tooth-achingly sweet. (The rose petal topping the black velvet is handpicked from co-owner’s Chi-lin’s garden.)
A good donut is not complete without a good cup of coffee. Portland’s own Stumptown Coffee is served by the cup and you can also grab of bag of beans to make a cup at home.
With this quality and high standards to the art of donut making, the prices seem appropriate with a range of $2-3.50 each. If you find yourself in Orange County and are a donut fiend like myself, this place deserves a special visit.
Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee
270 E. 17th St., #18
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Taco Bell has been on a roll lately. With the introduction of tacos encased in Dorito shell followed a year later with a Cool Ranch version, they’ve rolled out with a breakfast variety but in a waffle form.
The appropriately named Waffle Taco has only one confirmed sighting and it’s in Santa Ana. Considering Taco Bell’s headquarters is located in Irvine, it makes sense to keep this experiment close to home. As with all breakfast items on their menu, the Waffle Tacos are only available until 11 a.m. How long they’ll have it on available on their menu as well a future outside of Orange County is still undetermined.
At $0.89, the Waffle Tacos are a steal, but the execution —specifically the fillings— was unimpressive. Each Waffle Taco consists of a waffle surrounding a sausage patty and scrambled eggs. The sausage was spongy and tasteless (meat and meat byproducts have never been a strong suit for this franchise). Meanwhile, the eggs are reminiscent of the powdered faux eggs mixes served at schools. Even the “table syrup” condiment did nothing to help tie the entire thing together. The only redeeming quality is the light and crisp waffle. At this price point, I wouldn’t hesitate to toss the filling and just eat the waffle instead. What should have been a salty-sweet morning treat needs to head back to the drawing board.
If you must check it out for yourself, head over to 2246 S. Grand Ave. in Santa Ana while it’s still available.
At first glance, United Fresh, a convention held at the San Diego Convention Center May 14-16, had me thinking the entire convention was only about efficiency in harvesting, shelf-stable packaging and tracking produce to the stores. But it turned out to be much more than that, to my relief.
After wandering through the heavy machinery on display, I spied several exhibits featuring produce. There was a heavy emphasis on getting kids to replace their junk food with fresh food like tomatoes, touted to be as sweet as candy. The reigning sentence I eavesdropped throughout the convention was, “I want to get our produce into the mouths of kids.” And that was true when the biggest announcement at the convention was the donation of 350 salad bars to California schools, which is part of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative.
One of the largest exhibits on the floor was Sunkist, offering a bevy of free samples including soft drinks, popsicles and fresh citrus in smart packages. Even Panera Bread was trying to get into the mix with a display of their new line of salad dressings that will be available at grocery stores. A nice effort on their part but it seemed to be a strange addition in my opinion.
But I was most impressed with locally owned Fresh Origins and their line of sugar crystals infused with either flowers or herbs. With only two ingredients listed, I can imagine this being incorporated into unique baking projects or lining margarita glasses. For the small fry, pie-baking kits by Pumpkin Patch Pals will available in the fall that includes two sugar pumpkins ready for baking— a fresh alternative to the canned stuff.
It was an interesting convention (a far, FAR cry from comic conventions) and I’m looking forward to seeing some of their products on store shelves soon.
Considering my love for all things ice cream I had to ask myself recently if price was an issue when I visited Bardot Bars, an upscale ice cream shop that opened last year in La Jolla. But there are several things to consider with Bardot:
- It’s located in the heart of La Jolla, smack on Prospect Street between Herschel and Girard. If you crane your head a bit, you can see the ocean and in the opposite direction the multi-million dollar properties. It’s one of two locations with the second at UTC. (Two other locations can be found in the L.A. area.)
- The entire shop is set up like a boutique jewelry store. Ice cream bars are set behind glass for you to ogle. The only thing missing a security guard to watch over any unsavory characters.
- The bars are made with high-quality ingredients: Belgian chocolate, Manila mangoes, marscapone, etc.
- If you order four or more ice cream bars, they pack it in dry ice with an assurance that they will last for several hours. Now that’s fancy!
Even with all those items factored it, it hits you right in the gut when handing over $5+ for an ice cream bar. With its red stick and intricate design, I hate myself for wanting to eat something so fleeting. But I went ahead and did it anyways.
The Scarlet Letter ($5.80) is part of their higher end Bardot Collection. If there’s a flagship ice cream bar for Bardot, this is it. With its lipstick design, it’s similar to what the model on the display window is holding over her own lips. The bar is made up with dark, milk and and chocolate layers and a nice coating of chocolate. Despite its looks, it’s underwhelming even with its visible stacked layers seen after one bite.
But the Ebony & Ivory ($5.40) is a different story and is included in their lower (but not much lower) priced Classic Collection. Marcarpone and dulce de leche make up the interior of the milk chocolate-covered ice cream bar. There’s a tiny hint of saltiness that doesn’t distract from the creaminess. It’s a complex taste and being a fan of anything dulce de leche, it left me licking the stick, not wanting to waste an ounce of deliciousness.
Other cleverly named ice cream bars available at Bardot include The Heart of Darkness (chocolate), Lucifer’s Dream (marshmallow) and Mr. Wilson (coconut). They all sound delicious but trying them all requires a bigger stomach and a hefty pocketbook.
An alternative to breaking the bank on these pretty bars, Magnum sells a comparable product that’s a fraction of the cost, is available at most grocery stores and often have limited flavors available. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a view of the ocean.
1025 Prospect Avenue
San Diego, CA 92037
With San Diego weather being bipolar lately, overly hot one day followed by cooler weather the next few days, one thing remains constant: I am always in the mood for ice cream.
Pacific Beach remains one of my favorite places to explore since moving from Hillcrest. They have a Trader Joe’s, several places open to eat (usually with late hours) and the people watching is fun. On one trip, leaving Pacific Beach, I noticed a line snaking around a shop’s front that prompted investigation. It turned out to be Mr. Frostie, apparently a Pacific Beach institution since 1949.
Mr. Frostie serves a variety of things, including sandwiches, hot dogs and chili, but the main draws are their cool treats. The menu is all over the place but if you’re looking for the basics, look no further than either a vanilla or chocolate soft serve and start from there.
Soft serves start at $1.25 for a small, $1.50 a medium and $1.75 for a large. But if you need a little more, there’s an additional $.50 to have the cone dipped in chocolate, butterscotch or cherry.
The dipped layer gives it a cool look and added flavor, but does nothing to prevent melting. Eating it fast is of utmost importance, as evidenced by my half-eaten cherry-dipped vanilla cone. The soft serve is what you find at most places with nothing particularly extraordinary about it but knowing this place has been doing it forever makes it special.
As for sundaes, there are several to choose from, all starting from a vanilla or chocolate base. Two examples were their Nutty Nutty and Dirt Cup.
The Nutty Nutty ($4.25) is soft serve topped with hot fudge, roasted peanuts and a generous helping of whipped cream. It’s a nice treat that doesn’t skimp on hot fudge or nuts.
The Dirt Cup ($2.50) is chocolate bomb through and through. Chocolate soft serve is surrounded by crushed Oreo crumbles, Hershey’s chocolate syrup, gummi bears and whipped cream. I never got the notion of putting gummy bears onto ice cream or frozen yogurt and even after this, I’m still a bit bewildered. The gummi bears texture becomes tougher and the added fruit flavor distracts from the chocolate. In addition, I wonder if they were out of gummi worms because it would have made a lot more sense considering the name.
Custards, shakes, freezes and other treats round out the menu. Tight parking can be found adjacent to the walkup window and yellow picnic benches are convenient places to hang out to eat your treats.
1470 Garnet Ave.
San Diego, Ca 92109
The San Diego Food Bloggers Bake Sale is officially over and while the count is still being tallied (looks like we’re ahead of last year), there were some lessons to learned from this year. And really, I should have learned them after last year’s Faux Ho’s debacle: never experiment with an untested recipe the day before.
I was a little bit ambitious this year and decided to make two things: my mother’s recipe for pecan tarts and pie on a stick resembling a eye ball. I got it in my head a few weeks in advance that I liked the sounds of ‘pie’ and ‘eye’ together. I imagined an eye ball on a stick with gooey strawberry filling oozing out of it; a “pie eye” if you will.
The filling was easy enough: fresh strawberries with sugar, a pat of butter and a bit of water and cornstarch to thicken it up, all mashed up to fit into a pie.
After three attempts making a mold with a 3D printer (with a lot of gracious assistance from JennyWenny’s husband), I finally arrived at a design that worked for my needs but it was the final execution that needed some tweaking.
Some lessons learned when making pie on a stick:
- Less filling and dough made as thin as possible is an absolute necessity when putting it on a stick, otherwise it becomes too top heavy.
- Lollipop stick should be placed half way or more inside the dough for maximum hold. Any less and the possibility of the pie falling off increases.
- Seal the pie with a light egg wash. Using the same egg wash, brush a little bit on top of the dough before baking with a light sprinkling of white sugar.
- As cute (or in my case, gory) as pies on a stick were, the work to create them was a bit too much. Sometimes a regular pie is just as delicious.
There’s still time to make a donation to the San Diego Food Blogger’s Bake Sale benefitting No Kid Hungry. You have until Wednesday to donate here. A big thank you to everyone who came out for the event!
It’s a busy day for us this Saturday with both Paul and I out around San Diego.
The Food Blogger Bake Sale is a national event that was started in 2011 to benefit Share Our Strength. All proceeds from the sale will benefit the organization. San Diego’s goal this year is to raise $3,000 or more. It’s turning out to be a big event every year so stop by or consider making a donation to our team page.
If you can’t attend, there are several raffles and preorders available on the website.
While you’re out and about, it’s also free Comic Book Day and Paul will be in Clairemont Mesa at Southern California Comics. There’ll be a big turnout and this year they’ll have food trucks. For more info, check out Paul’s write-up.