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.
Everyone once in a while I find a recipe that grabs me and calls to be made immediately. It happens every few months and it sends me running to the grocery store to gather all the ingredients if I already don’t have them on hand.
The sauce is a modified version served at Momofuku. It’s an infusion of ginger and scallions concentrated in a oil. It’s extremely salty so a little goes a long way.
I forget exactly when I saw the recipe for ginger scallion sauce but I remember having a conversation with Leanne of Three Dog Kitchen about it. (To my delight, our conversations always revolve around food. Or dogs. Or purses.) She had made it on several occasions and instead of using peanut or corn oil as listed, she recommended substituting it with grapeseed oil for its high smoke point. In addition, it gives it a cleaner taste.
The great thing about this sauce is its flexibility. I used it as an impromptu sauce for dipping bread, swirled into noodles or mixed into plain rice, I’ve also used it as a marinade for fish. I always have it available. Apparently it’s also a great addition to eggs, according to Francis Lam who posted this recipe on Gilt Taste.
It is my favorite condiment hands down. In recent incarnations, I’ve also added red pepper flakes if I want a little heat.
Ginger Scallion Sauce
Adapted from Gilt Taste
Makes 2 cups
2 bunches whole scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths
2 ounces ginger, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup grapeseed oil
3 tablespoons salt
Garlic, one head, cloves peeled
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Using a food processor, add the scallions and shred until scallions are minced. Place scallions in large heatproof bowl that can accommodate hot oil.
Mince ginger (and garlic if adding) until it’s the same size as scallions. Place in bowl with scallions. Add salt.
In a medium pan, heat grapeseed oil until it just starts to smoke and pour into bowl. (Sizzling is normal.)
Cool and store in refrigerator.
It was 2011 and I was head deep in work because I had two jobs at the time: my regular newspaper job AND I was also maintaining the food channel for the now defunct Tree.com. Although I was stressed out trying to find balance between the two, they’re both a part of what I love to do: newspaper design AND writing about food. My job at Tree.com was great. Though the time we worked together was short, I met a lot of people whom I now consider friends.
One of the highlights of working at Tree.com was meeting Giada De Laurentiis. The opportunity was actually offered to me by Katie Dillion aka La Jolla Mom who passed on it. And instead of writing about the meeting for this site, I decided a better venue would be to feature it on Tree.com.
Giada De Laurentiis was at the guest of honor at the Sicilian Festival in Little Italy and was on hand to sign copies of her new cookbook as well as promote Belle Serra Wines. Before the book signing, I had exactly 15 minutes to interview her, which is time for only a few questions. You can read the entire interview here, but behind the scenes I was nervous wreck: laughing uncontrollably with Paul recording the entire thing with an iPhone. There was only one snippet that worked out: her mispronunciation pet peeves.
If you’ve ever watch Giada’s show, she tends overemphasize Italian words. BIZ-Chochi. LEE-Munh-CHELL-oh. You get it. It was one of my favorite projects and I learned a lot from the experience (mostly not to interrupt while interviewing someone and that an external microphone is a absolute necessity).
And despite what people say about her head to body proportions, she looked fine to us.
Attending comic conventions aren’t new to me. For nearly two decades I’ve been both an attendee and exhibitor in San Diego as well as around the United States. I know the difference between Marvel and DC characters and on geekier level, pre- and post- Crisis continuity. But when confronted with anything anime-related, it’s all Greek to me.
So it’s no surprise that I usually dismiss Anime Conji, a annual convention dedicated to all things anime (held April 12-14 at the Town & Country Resort this year). But I quickly changed my tune when I saw a maid cafe as one of the side events.
An extra $13 allows you entry to Mochi Cafe. (Regular admission to Anime Conji was $25 for one day and $45 for all three days.) Mochi Cafe is a take on the traditional maid cafes seen in Akihabara, Japan, where patrons are waited on hand and foot by cosplayers. Women are usually dressed up as French maids — and if you’re thinking this is all just for the men, there are also butler cafes with, you guessed it, men dressed up as butlers. So in theory, there’s essentially something for everyone.
The menu consists of your choice of drink (water, black or green tea and lemonade), one of two entrees (chicken katsu bowl or vegetable yakisoba) and a cupcake personally designed by your maid or butler.
Service lasts for approximately an hour, then they rush in another group of anime-loving attendees. Halfway through the service it appeared that something was off. Where was the food? The group at my table had already played three board games and were starting a round of Apples to Apples. The catered food provided by an outside vendor was late. What’s a maid to do? Serve dessert first of course!
Instead of a cupcake as indicated on the menu, everyone received a slice of cheesecake. Every slice was hand-decorated by the maid/butler servicing your table. Each one was decorated with pieces of Kit Kat, Pocky and syrup; you could also add M&Ms if desired.
With sugar surging through my blood waiting for the main entree to arrive, I was amused with spurts of sporadic dancing and tamborines/crystal microphones being handed out to willing participants if they weren’t already clapping.
The entrees eventually arrived. Servers busily created the bowls behind the counter. The chicken katsu was mediocre with almost no seasoning. Even the generous pour of soy sauce by the attending maid didn’t help out and left me a tad uncomfortable as she hovered over my bowl. But she (as well as everyone else) was helpful and very sweet wanting to make my meal as pleasant as possible.
Looking back on Mochi Cafe, my illusions of quality meals made on the premises was asking for too much. It seemed like many people were going for the “maid cafe experience” and not the food. It’s a unique, if not overwhelming, meal that works all of your senses. Mochi Cafe has a few events throughout the year in San Diego as well as Los Angeles; be sure to check out their website.
Some stray observations:
- Out of the six people at my table, only two of them (one of them me) used chopsticks. With everyone so invested in wanting to experience Japanese culture, it’s weird to see so many requests for a knife and fork.
- Apparently maid cafe = Hello Kitty decor.
- Just how cool are these Finger Tentacles?? No manicure needed!
Check out Abby Denson of City Sweet Tooth’s account of a butler cafe in Shibuya here.