Food

Bluewater Grille (SD Bucket List #17)

Even though we had this on our “Bucket List” it was really just a front to go there again. Because it is The Happiest Place on Earth. Bluewater is a Fish Market and Grille. Meaning that you can either buy fresh fish to go, or order fish to eat there.

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The menu is pretty simple, you get to choose from many different types of fish, but your options are Taco, Sandwich, Salad, and Plate. You then pick a marinade (Lemon Butter, Lemon-Garlic Butter, Teriyaki, Blackened, Chipotle, Bourbon Butter, or Bronzed) and then order Waffle Fries. Because they are delicious.

I am not a huge cabbage fan, so I’ve never loved Tacos. But Charlie says they are THE BEST IN THE WORLD. And our dear friend who actually grew up in San Diego, but had never been to Bluewater, said they were the best she had had as well. So that proves it. #science

The Sandwich (my choice) comes on this freshly baked delicious bread, with a delicious tartar sauce, tomatoes, lettuce, onion, and the fish of your choice. I always 86 the onion, and add avocado. Because it is California and avocados should be on everything. I do have to add the disclaimer that I usually am a huge tartar sauce hater, but this is the most delicious sandwich sauce that has ever existed.

The Salad and Plate are both larger portions, and kind of self-explanatory on their menu. Honestly the fish serving sizes in the Taco and the Sandwich are WAY more than enough for us – so we usually stick to those. The appetizers Charlie loves are the Ceviche and Cioppino. We actually just recently started getting the calamari. I swear they look like chicken nuggets, and they are so freaking delicious it almost hurts my mouth.

The only downside about Bluewater is that you have to wait in line. For a long time. But it is really fun people watching, and as long as you anticipate the wait, it won’t seem that bad. If you’re really impatient, or just don’t feel like cooking, you can order To-Go and skip the line and eat it at home. But don’t try and be sneaky and eat a To-Go order in the restaurant. They don’t tolerate those kinds of shenanigans.

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If we do move from San Diego, this will be one of the places we miss the most. I hope if you’re in town you’ll stop by. It is really close to the airport, so you basically have no excuse, whether you are coming or going… or live here already!

xx

Amanda

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Life

Sea Cave Tour with Everyday California

Everyday California was once again – the bomb diggity.

This time around we signed up for a Snorkel and Kayak tour. It was an absolutely gorgeous steaming-hot day of 95 degrees. I had convinced myself that my new super spiffy rash guard would be enough to snorkel in the Pacific Ocean. For background – the only other place I have snorkeled is Cayman. And I figured – I’m from Michigan! I can go swimming in cold water! Well, Charlie pulled the husband card, insisted we rent wetsuits and I am SO GLAD that we did. I don’t care if you like to go swimming in your skivvies in Antarctica. The Pacific Ocean is COLD. C.O.L.D. I took the opportunity all day to thank him for his wiseness and repeat those priceless marital words “You were right!” over-and-over again.

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Anyway – enough on wetsuits. We headed out into the ocean with a group of about fifteen other people… To be honest, I figured with it being a Sea Cave Tour – we would actually be going into the caves – but we didn’t! I’m not sure if that was because of tide, or if we’re never allowed. Instead we pulled up next to the caves, docked, and then jumped in the water to do some snorkeling.

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We saw lots of Garibadli (State Marine Fish of California/Giant Goldfish/Dr. Seuss character) as well as some sea lions sun-bathing on the rocks.

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Charlie and Tim saw a leopard shark, but I was back in the boat at that time. I was so bummed! Leopard sharks are totally harmless, their mouth is the size of a quarter, and they’re more likely to give you a hickey than a chomp.

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It was such a beautiful day and so much fun to be out on the water. I was a little bummed we didn’t have our ridiculous aquatic dolphin-bonding experience like the time before, but that may have just been beginners luck! Still love Everyday California – had awesome guides (again) and would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a water-based tour in La Jolla. (For more “tips” see this post.)

Side note – one of the fun things about getting “film” developed is realizing how magical digital cameras are. At the same time – it is so fun to be surprised by what pictures we “caught”! Even though the instant gratification of a digital camera is fun – it was exciting to have a little throwback to our disposable camera days! (No filter needed. The film is literally a filter…) Enjoy the rest of the photos!

Food, Life, The Manimals, Travel

Little Brother Visits/Brewery Tour (SD Bucket List #7)

Family is the best. This past weekend Charlie’s brother came out to visit us in SD. We had a jam packed schedule all weekend, and I am only slightly recovered. Tim got to meet his nephew, Tucker. He was already familiar with his other ornery nephew, Walter. And we got the opportunity to really show off our “home” in San Diego!

Tim arrived late Thursday night and had a Monday afternoon departure, which left us with all day Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and part of Monday to cram as much SoCal as we could. If our sleep deprivation is any proof, we succeeded.

Friday

I had to work… LAME. But I was kept up to date with Snapchats and texts as Charlie and Tim headed out to explore SD. After breakfast at the casa they headed to Fiesta Island/Dog Island so Tucker had a chance to show off his talents. Then they, of course, headed to In-N-Out for a classic animal-style lunch. (Digression – Does anyone else not really like In-N-Out? Not a huge fan. Apologies to the West Coast.) They then headed to the brew store to pick up some brewing equipment as well as the ingredients for a Honey Dunkelweizen (NOMS! Amanda Beer!) I arrived back at the apartment from work to a steaming hot apartment, beer debris everywhere, and two very happy productive men.

After they finished their liquid gold, we headed to Hodad’s for dinner. Hodad’s being what I believe is the best burger place in SD. After a brief line we headed in to the beautiful license plated dining area and ordered our food. I conquered a milkshake for six people, and we all felt terrible about ourselves afterward. (Terrible meaning – absolutely satisfied with no regrets.)

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Saturday

We had a JAM PACKED Saturday, which required a very early morning alarm and a rush out the door to get to a Farmer’s Market where no one was ready for us. (Whoops!) Must have been Daylight Savings Time hangover from last week – the merchants at the Little Italy Market were moving sloooowly. We ordered up some Papalecco coffee drinks and patiently waited for our favorite stands to kick it into gear. We had some delicious Crepes courtesy of La Creperie – the boys feasted on the California Surfer while I returned to the Green Gobbler. With time running out, I headed to pick up our CSA from JR Organics while the boys perused our other favorite stands – including Vonda Lee’s California Cheesecakes – YUM!

We raced home and changed into our sea-adventure clothing and headed out to kayak! We got to La Jolla just in time and wet-suited up to prepare ourselves for a deep sea adventure of snorkeling and kayaking. We brought waterproof cameras, and learned afterwards that no one does one-day film photo anymore? It has to be sent away – so pictures and a recap will come next week.

When our time with mermaids had come to an end, we showered, and changed to go to breweries! We started at Intergalactic. Oh. My. Nerdfest. I say that in the best endearing way possible. Classic Star Wars posters, hilarious beer names, amazing people – definitely a new favorite for this girl.

After Intergalactic we set out for Greenflash – a consistently awesome brewery that is extremely popular in San Diego. Apparently it had been a while since we had gone, because they did a COMPLETE overhaul of the place. It’s beautiful! There is even a fancy Greenflash food truck with meat and cheese plates. And parmesan garlic fries. We were so impressed with the new set-up, and can’t wait to spend some cash in the gift store. When we have cash.

We then set out to Rough Draft, another brewery we had been before, where we played a tantalizing game of Connect Four and drank more beer. (Are you sensing a pattern? A beer pattern?)

To finish off the day we stopped at St. Archer, or the Mockingjay Brewing Company. See the similarity? Credit to Tim. I loved the set-up of St. Archer – they had a great patio with lots of space and some nice lighting that came on as the sun set.

We decided Tucker had probably had enough stimulation for the day and headed home to drop him off before going to dinner. He basically crated himself and waited for us to leave, we must be such a bother to him. We decided the best way to finish a day of total debauchery was pizza – so we headed to Pizza Port. An OB staple that is a must on our visitor checklist. Good beer. Great pizza. Awesome people watching. At this point all of us were completely exhausted, and two of us had definitely been over-served. (Spoiler Alert – it wasn’t me. I was driving).

Sunday

After a VERY long lazy sleep we woke up and crafted some breakfast burritos. They took a long time, but the end result was worth it and delicious. I’ll more purposefully make the recipe again so I can post it on here.

I sent the boys to go to Torrey Pines and told them I would walk Tucker while they were gone, but instead I took a nap… It was 90+ degrees out, so when I did wake up and try to get Tucker to go outside, we made it about a block before he turned me around. In that he dragged me across the street towards home and wouldn’t walk any farther. Dogs are hysterical.

When the boys returned home we cooled off in the pool for a bit and then headed to the ultimate SD spot – Bluewater Grille. We had originally tried to go Friday but it was SO CRAZY. They were basically out of every kind of fish. Sunday was just as insane! They hadn’t run out of quite as much fish though. After about 45-minutes we made it to the cash register to put in our order. I can tell you indisputably, no matter how long you have to wait for Bluewater. It is worth the wait. I will do an entire Bluewater Ode eventually. But here is a preview of what deliciousness is waiting for you if you head our way…

Because we felt that our stomachs still may not be stretched to their absolute maximum capacity, we stopped at a new favorite Baked Bear. To give you an idea of how the gluttony had finally taken a toll on me – I didn’t finish my ice cream sandwich cookie. That’s a really big deal.

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We then all collapsed on the floor at home, praying to the digestion gods that they would move quickly so we could all feel back to normal.

Monday

I again had to work – STILL LAME. So Charlie and Tim headed to Dog Island and Lucha Libre! Ugh – taking away my bucket list items before I even get the chance to go! Not fair. They said it was delicious, and I am making Charlie take me back sometime soon. After that Tim went back to the cold east coast and Charlie and I slept for a day straight.

(Please note the sleeping comment is wishful thinking… we’re still trying to get off the struggle bus.)

xx

Amanda

Life

Best Coast Brew Fest

To be honest, the only thing I can think of that is better than drinking a cold beer on a 75 degree day at Embarcadero Park South in San Diego, is doing it all for charity. Yes, that is right – this past Saturday we sacrificed our time and money to drink beer and support Cancer For College. The fun twist on the whole event is that Cancer for College is a charity started by one of Will Ferrell’s best friends from college. There were Anchorman references galore and the website is so Will Ferrell it is hysterical.

First of all, whatever extra shifts Buddy had to take to get Santa to give us the most BEAUTIFUL day so far this year, kudos. He must be improving on his Etch-a-Sketch skills. I wore shorts and a ratty old Green Beer Day shirt from college. It was so youthful. There were over seventy breweries including some of our favorites: FAT CAT, White Labs, Ale Smith, Anchor Steam, Ballast Point, Green Flash… to name a few. We also discovered a new favorite; Toolbox Brewing, with flavors including Purple Drink – Boysenberry Brett Farmhouse and Grass Fed Lettuce – Dry Hopped Blonde Sour Brett. These oddly named happy serums were both absolutely delicious. Shockingly so.

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Another bonus of the fest was the mass amount of food trucks hovered around the entrance, waiting for us famished pickles to come searching for sustenance. I gravitated toward plain macaroni and cheese, because I honestly can’t think of anything more delicious. Charlie got a pork belly sandwich and he scarfed it down before I could even get an aroma.

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After perusing the different stands and drinking a ton of water, we trekked to the Gaslamp Quarter and had some sobering appetizers at Werewolf. (I mean sobering in a good way, since I had to drive our crew home).

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The whole time we were at Embarcadero Park, I couldn’t get over the fact that we live here.. in San Diego, where on March 7th it is sunny and warm and there is beer everywhere. It is so easy to take the place we live for granted, especially being so far from friends and family. I need to make the effort to appreciate where we are each and every day – get outside, drink beer, and enjoy every bit of SoCal!

xx

Amanda

Life

Torrey Pines

Along with the weather, San Diego has some of the most beautiful views in the world. Disclaimer being that I have only seen a small percentage of the world, but there really does seem to be a consensus that San Diego is ridiculously beautiful.

One of the benefits of this “beautifulness” is the opportunity to easily view it – such as Torrey Pines. You may know Torrey Pines from the famous (public) golf course, I (duh) haven’t golfed it, but I hear it is a great course! Torrey Pines is also an amazing State Park with free access (as long as you are not parking in the park). Pre-Tucker we hiked it probably every other weekend, but since it isn’t dog friendly we haven’t been going nearly as much.

A tip on parking – park on S21/N Torrey Pines Road. There is always street parking! It adds a little bit on to your hike, but aren’t you there to do something good for your body anyway?? Or show off where you live. Either way…

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Whenever anyone visits from out of town, we insist on bringing them here. It is an easy hike and the views outweigh any minor physical discomfort getting to the top of the mountain/hill. Last weekend my girlfriend Taylor came in from Chicago, she left -13 degree wind chill, which is a nice reminder that San Diego really is better than Chicago… at least in terms of weather! We did the “Broken Hill” trail. It is a little longer, but not necessarily harder. One time I was hiking with my Mom and someone had just seen a rattlesnake on the trail! (We have those in San Diego… point Chicago).

Anyway, I got to play a little bit with our fancy new camera. Clearly still have a lot to learn – but in the meantime… enjoy!!! (Click for larger views!)

xx

Amanda

Life, Material, Travel

Sea Kayaking with Everyday California (SD Bucket List #9)

Save the time I called 911 to report that our family cat was missing, I like to think I can handle high-pressure situations pretty well. Apparently in the Amanda Book of Life, high-pressure situations do not include being surrounded by dolphins… which is exactly what happened last weekend during our Everyday California Whale Watching Tour.

First let’s address what Everyday California is… Formerly OEX, it is based out of La Jolla, CA and run by ridiculously good-looking ex-Abercrombie models. (Really – every employee was beautiful.). These are the cool kids, and they want to take you on the water and show you their world. Our guides were Sam and Draper. They were both high-energy, excited, and gave thunderous high-fives. The check-in process for our tour was a bit chaotic, but somehow we all ended up exactly where we were meant to be. There were about 17 of us (8 pairs and my girlfriend Taylor), lots of different familial pairings. We headed down to the beach at about a quarter to 2 PM (our tour time), to get situated in our kayaks before heading out into The Great Unknown. Charlie and I were in a kayak, and Taylor rocked the single. We were given the opportunity to rent wet suits, but I was in full Lulu, and we figured being Midwesterners, we would be fine.

My immediate thought when we were pushed into the water, was “I’m so glad I don’t have my phone/camera/tablet/any electronics.” You get wet on this adventure. Soaking. Kudos to Lulu for making unintentionally amphibious workout gear. (For reference I was in the Run Inspire Crop, Run Swiftly Tech Crew, and the Forme Jacket.) We started paddling out to Sea (about 2 Nautical Miles!) from La Jolla Cove, and I just couldn’t believe this was the first time we were doing something like this since moving to SD. The ocean was breathtaking and peaceful. On our way out to the “Whale Zone” we ran into some friendly seals and sea lions who stopped by to say hello. We also ate kelp, because apparently that is what the cool kids do.

After arriving at the “Whale Zone” we parked for a bit, waiting for some social whales to stop on by. We spotted a dolphin coming in from the distance – and I got so excited! A dolphin! A wild dolphin! Well apparently this dolphin was a scout for its pod, because soon after its arrival about fifteen dolphins showed up. They were jumping in the air, swimming together, flying under the water. It was absolutely unbelievable. At one point they zeroed in on our kayak and there were six swimming underneath and jumping in front of and to the side of our kayak. This is apparently where I lost my cool and just kept saying “THIS IS AMAZING!” over and over again. And asking Charlie if he saw the dolphins, to which he replied “I’m right here! Of course I see them!” Truly one of the few times I wished we had a GoPro, other than to strap it on to Tucker’s head. But I honestly don’t even think I could have worked a camera at that point. I was so awe-struck at the beauty of NATURE.

After some time with our dolphin friends, we headed back into the cove. To be honest, the only time I felt cold was getting OUT of the water, and walking back to EC. Other than that I was fine in my garments. But I can see why you may want a wetsuit if you’re not from Northern Michigan.

Another bonus of Everyday California is their merchandise! I am not one for buying “tourist-y” things – but their logo is just too cute to pass up. Trust me on this. I ended up buying a sweatshirt and leaving with it on. Because I was freezing.

Charlie and I are definitely planning to do a trip with Everyday California again – in fact we’ve already booked a Sea Cave and Snorkeling Tour when Charlie’s brother is here!

Tips for Everyday California:

  1. Call for great pricing. They do have Groupons pretty often, but if you call they give you a pretty comparable price. Plus it feels good to be directly supporting a local business.
  2. Parking can be tricky – arrive 45 minutes ahead of time to give yourself parking AND check-in time. They like to be on the water at your scheduled time. (There is also a super cute restaurant next door we want to check out next time – Shorehouse Kitchen)
  3. Bring CASH for tips – This is your Guide’s livelihood. We didn’t realize that and only had minimal cash on hand. We’ll plan better next time.
  4. Bring any waterproof cameras you may have – we plan on buying these before our next adventure.
  5. Equipment is included – except for a wetsuit. If you get cold easily, plan on renting one. (They’re not expensive to rent – maybe $10.)
  6. Be prepared to wear a helmet and life vest. This is for your safety, and the safety of people around you. Deal with it and prepare your hair ahead of time.
  7. Try not to black out when you see nature. You may think you’re better than that – but you’re not.

Since we also have surfing lessons planned for March, we decided to invest in some Rash Guards and Swim Pants/Trunks. Here is what we ended up with. Try not to be blinded by our stylishness. (All via Lands’ End)

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Happy Swimming!

XX

Amanda

P.S. Since I failed to provide any cool live-dolphin photos, please accept this Lisa Frank Dolphin as a substitute.

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Food

Spicy Sweet Potato Burrito

Do you know the difference between a Sweet Potato and a Yam? That’s great. California doesn’t. Among other things California does… oddly, they mess up Sweet Potatoes and Yams. I know this because in a hurry for an impromptu belated Thanksgiving Dinner I grabbed a Yam, instead of a Sweet Potato. Thinking it was a “silly old me” moment, I brushed it off. Until I went back to the grocer a few months later and my horrors were confirmed – they have Yams and Sweet Potatoes mixed up. This is consistent with almost all grocers in San Diego, save Target and Trader Joe’s. I feel like I am living in The Truman Show and everyone is laughing while I hold a Yam to the sky and yell “Why, God?! Why!” I even tried talking to the Produce Manager at the grocer and she said “No, Yams are orange on the inside and sweet. Sweet Potatoes, are white on the inside.” I wanted to grab a knife and slice open that tater, cook it in the deli, and make her do a taste test between a Yam and a frozen Sweet Potato fry. But I didn’t, because at that point I thought they might tackle me if I wielded a knife.

Yam Controversy aside, I love Sweet Potatoes. So much. I also love a company called Penzey’s Spices. It originated in C’s hometown, but now there are franchises everywhere. INCLUDING SAN DIEGO. Add that to the list of things I like about SD. Penzey’s sends out a catalog each month, we get two – I’m not sure why, and not only does it include a coupon it also includes lots of fun recipes that include Penzey’s Spices! One of these recipes was for a Sweet Potato Burrito, so I thought I would give it a shot.

Spicy Sweet Potato Burrito

  • Servings: 6 Burritos
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print
Ingredients:

  • 3 Medium-Large Sweet Potatoes
  • A dash of Salt
  • ¾ tsp Vindaloo Penzey’s Seasoning
  • ¼ tsp Sweet Curry Penzey’s Seasoning
  • Juice of ½ a Lemon
  • 1 ½ cups Sharp White Cheddar Cheese – grated
  • 1 15 oz can of Black Beans – unsalted or reduced salt
  • 1 15 oz can of Corn Kernels – unsalted or reduced salt
  • 6 Whole Wheat Tortillas

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Pierce Sweet Potatoes with a fork and roast until soft. (Around 40-60 Minutes)
  3. Remove Sweet Potatoes from oven and let them cool.
  4. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees.
  5. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil.
  6. Combine Spices, Black Beans, Corn Kernels and Salt in a large bowl.
  7. When Sweet Potato has cooled slightly; puree, rice, or smash the insides in a separate bowl.
  8. When Sweet Potato is smooth to your liking, combine with other ingredients.
  9. Add 1 cup of Cheese to the mixture.
  10. Spoon mixture into Tortillas and top with remaining Cheese.
  11. Wrap Burrito tightly and lay fold-side down on baking sheet.
  12. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until heated through.

Food, Life, Travel

San Diego Bucket List

We recently hit our 2-Year Anniversary of living in SoCal. I can’t believe it! We arrived via Subaru Forrester, boyfriend and girlfriend, with an ornery cat, and not a couch to our name. Two years, one puppy, a marriage, and a lot of Ikea trips later we are starting to build our “home” in San Diego.

I think one of the biggest mistakes one can make is not being a tourist in your own backyard. So Charlie and I have decided to start a San Diego Bucket List/Repeat List! You must tell us if you can think of anything we’re missing from the list… For those who think we are missing the zoo, we went a TON pre-puppy, so we aren’t including it on the list. (But we agree, baby pandas are awesome.)

So far we have:

  1. Surfing (scheduled!!!)
  2. Camping
  3. Coronado (The day in…)
  4. Catalina Island
  5. Paddle Boarding
  6. Potato Chip (The hike… We eat enough potato chips on our own.)
  7. A Brewery Tour
  8. George’s at the Cove/Day in La Jolla
  9. Sea Kayaking
  10. Del Mar (Again, the day in…)
  11. Sunset at La Jolla Cove/Torrey Pines (We’ve already done this… but it is too beautiful to not do again!)
  12. Shady Taco Place (I can’t remember for the life of me the name of it – but it apparently has the BEST tacos in SD. Which is a big deal.)
  13. Man v. Food Locations
    1. Lucha Libre
    2. Phil’s BBQ
    3. Broken Yolk
  14. Balboa Park and Museums (Again)
  15. The Pearl “Dive-In”
  16. Little Italy Farmer’s Market (Our obsession…)
  17. Bluewater (The BEST food in San Diego. At least we think so…)
  18. Fish Market
  19. Fiesta Island/Dog Island (Again…)
  20. Hillcrest Farmer’s Market

I cannot wait to get going on this list… and adding more items to it!

xx