Archive for March, 2014

True Food Kitchen, San Diego

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

True Food Kitchen, Fashion Valley Mall in San Diego

The culinary highlight of my recent trip to San Diego was an exciting restaurant discovery: True Food Kitchen. It was without a doubt the best lunch out I have had in a very, very long time.

I was feeling a little disappointed because some plans had fallen through, so I needed a little retail and culinary therapy. My retail therapy resulted in a very cool pair of shiny black skinny jeans (found on clearance at Macy’s!), so I needed to keep these in mind when choosing my culinary therapy. I wanted a treat, but a reasonably light and healthy one.

Beverages

Cool and refreshing Green Arnie

As I enjoyed my Green Arnie, I relaxed and enjoyed a nice cool breeze on the patio. The setting was lovely and I was quite pleased with the cleanliness and overall atmosphere.

Table centerpiece

Patio seating

Cozy fire pit seating

Fresh herb gardens

There were so many choices on the menu that sounded like exactly what I wanted, but since it was cool outside, a little soup sounded perfect.

Starters ...

Miso Soup

The soup was rich with flavor, but also seemed fairly light. It was so good that I am right now trying to duplicate it at home. Close, but not quite. This will require further experimentation!

When I’m in a new restaurant that serves pizza, one of my tests is to try the most basic pie on the menu. This is the foundation of pizza – if their plain cheese or Pizza Margherita is not good, then it doesn’t matter what toppings you try. Their pizza will not be good. You absolutely have to have the right foundation – the basics: crust, sauce, cheese, fresh herbs.

I am a self-proclaimed pizza snob, but I think for good reason. I started working in pizza restaurants when I was just out of high school. My first was a family-owned restaurant and it was rare for a girl to be allowed to “man” the pizza oven. We girls could do all the prep work, make the subs, and for those of us who so aspired, one day we could run the grill and make the cheese steaks. The pizza men might even let us make the dough. I had mastered the subs. Mastered the grill. I had even mastered the dough. Come on! Let me spin the pies!

One day the “pizza man” called in sick and it was an all-girl crew. I enthusiastically jumped in to take over the oven and proved that a girl can make pizza. The “pizza man” took me under his wing and on occasion invited me to work side-by-side with him so he could teach me his tips and tricks. That’s when my love affair with making pizza really started.

Pizza ...

Pizza Margherita

My Pizza Margherita arrived. The crust was crisp and light. The sauce was rich with fresh tomato flavor. There was just enough cheese and the fresh basil was divine. I had about half of the pizza and saved the rest for later.

My server inquired about dessert. I was not going to have anything, but I love to look at dessert menus. I perused the menu, and politely declined, telling her about my new jeans and how I really should be good. She suggested the Chia Seed Pudding, saying it really wasn’t that bad. Hmm … chia seeds are loaded with all kinds of healthy things like fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. Hmm … this is a foodie adventure, so I suppose in the spirit of adventure I really should try it.

Chia Seed Pudding with Banana & Coconut

Oh. My. Goodness!

The Chia Seed Pudding was rich and creamy, not too sweet, and the toasted coconut gave it a nice crunch. The creaminess came from coconut milk, so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t as “light” fat and calorie-wise as I wanted to believe, but it was worth it.

I looked up a few chia seed pudding recipes today and have an experimental batch in my refrigerator right now. It will be ready tomorrow. I made it with unsweetened almond milk, low fat lemon yogurt, maple syrup, vanilla, and chia seeds. It thickens overnight in the refrigerator, so we’ll see tomorrow how well it sets up, but an initial taste was quite good!

My server told me that True Food Kitchen will be opening a restaurant in Walnut Creek, California later this year. It will be worth the hour-plus drive to dine there. I am looking forward to dining here again!

The service was awesome – friendly and attentive. The food was fantastic. I look forward to returning.

Southern California … Holtville

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

We left San Diego for Holtville early Wednesday afternoon. It’s about a 2-hour drive, so we wanted to make sure we got there in plenty of time for our evening event.

The drive was an adventure – rain, wind, sandstorm, beautiful views of the rugged desert landscape.

Leaving San Diego ...

Heading out Highway 8 ...

... first Border Patrol sighting!

Just like home - whirlygigs!

Artsy shot ...

Skies clearing ...

The scenery was quite striking; it possessed a very rugged beauty.

Winds kicking up ...

... into a full blown sandstorm!

The sandstorm looked worse than these photos show … we were in a little rental car that was getting kind of blown about the highway. You could hear the sand grains hitting the car and almost feel them scratching across the paint. Visibility was more limited than it appears here. Fortunately, the sand storm was brief.

Turning into a beautiful day!

Wondering if we're lost ...

Found our destination.

The hotel was … an experience. It was easy to see that it has lots of history. I thought it might be a great candidate for one of those “Save My Resort” type of reality shows. That’s really all I want to say about it.

By the time we got there the wind gusts were dreadful. After checking in, my colleague and I ventured into town for a bite. We ended up at the Food Court in the local shopping mall.

Imperial Valley Mall

Light lunch

My colleague tried the Chinese restaurant – his lunch looked and smelled good. I was looking for something very light and easy on my stomach. I found a beautiful fresh fruit salad at the Italian restaurant, and some fat free frozen vanilla yogurt with toasted almonds. That hit the spot.

In the evening we met an awesome group of students and their families in Holtville. I hope we see many of them here on campus in Fall 2014!

I woke up early and went for a little walk around the property. It was a lovely morning; the wind had mellowed to a gentle breeze.

Just a touch of sunrise left.

Red cabbage?

More fountains.

I packed up early in the morning to head back to the San Diego airport with another colleague. Starbucks for breakfast again. I tried their Hearty Blueberry Whole Grain Oatmeal – it was really good. This would make a wonderful pre-ride breakfast.

Here’s a summary of my flight home …

Leaving San Diego ...

... up ...

... up ...

... cruising altitude ...

Somewhere over California ...

Bu-bu-bumpiest landing ever!

Home Sweet Home! Looking forward to getting back on my bike!

 

Southern California … San Diego

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

My trip included San Diego and Holtville, two distinctly different places.

Being a tourist - taking photos from the airport shuttle.

The weather looked promising when I first arrived in San Diego, but it clouded up pretty quickly. It was much cooler than I had anticipated and I found myself wishing that I had packed a UC Davis sweatshirt. Thankfully, I at least brought a jacket.

I arrived one day ahead of the rest of my group. I was hoping to meet up with a friend and ride in San Diego, but my friend was sick and the weather was not great for cycling anyway, so I hung around the hotel and worked. Our group stayed at the Town & Country Resort & Conference Center. I wandered around the property, which has a very confusing layout, but it was interesting and had lots of character.

There were roses of just about every color.

Mustardy Gold

Pink & White

Peach

There were also lavender, white, different shades of red, pink, peach, purple, a wonderful collection of roses. Some of the blooms were huge. Sadly, my feeble little travel camera just did not capture the rich palette of hues.

My favorite part of the property was the variety of decorative plants and flowers.

Pots of flowers ...

... everywhere you looked ...

... bright and cheery.

Lush greenery

Hens & chicks?

Soothing fountains

After I got checked in and wandered around a little to stretch my legs from the flight, I logged on to the Internet for a bit of work. Then I treated myself to a spa pedicure. I should do this more often – that felt amazing.

Back to the room to work a bit more, then wander around to find some dinner. Every staff member I asked said that I had to try their “fancy” restaurant, Trellises Garden Grille. It was good, but apparently I have a different view of “fancy.” Details. “Fancy” restaurants pay attention to details.

Skirt Steak Salad

Malbec

“Fancy” restaurants pay attention to details like putting the dressing on the side when requested. I am not a huge dressing fan, so I always ask for it on the side. My salad came slathered with dressing, but I just did not want to hassle with sending it back. I know if I had, they would have corrected it and I am confident that my server would have been quite pleasant about it, but I just did not want to deal with it at the time. Overall the salad was good – the greens were fresh, the meat was well seasoned and cooked to my liking (on the rare side). The dressing was good, but there was just way too much of it for my tastes. If you like lots of dressing, you would love this salad.

“Fancy” restaurants would notice that splash of wine on the bottom of the glass and wipe it off before serving it. I promise these will be the only negative observations I will share about the food on this trip. It’s just that these are pet peeves for me.

After a leisurely dinner, I wandered around the property a little more. It was quite pleasant and I wish my little camera had been able to capture the lighting; it was lovely.

In the morning I worked out in the gym facility. I was so thankful to have this so that I could log a few March Madness miles. After a nice workout, I cleaned up and went to the Terrace Cafe and Deli for a healthy breakfast – oatmeal, fresh fruit, and a spot of coffee. The fruit was delightful and the service was efficient and friendly.

Terrace Cafe

Fresh Fruit

Back to my room for a few more hours of work.

On the shuttle ride from the hotel, I struck up a conversation with a woman who was also traveling from Northern California. I overheard her tell the shuttle driver that she was “here with the University,” so naturally I assumed she meant my University – UC Davis. So we chatted. It turns out that she is faculty at National University, not UC Davis. She gave me a few suggestions of things to try to do in San Diego. She recommended checking out the Fashion Valley Mall, located just over “the river” from my hotel.

Around lunchtime, I ventured out to explore the mall. Wow. It really was a beautiful mall. We don’t have a mall in Davis – you have to travel to Sacramento, Roseville, Fairfield, or one of the other neighboring cities for a mall. We have some decent malls within a reasonable driving distance, but it’s been a long time since I have been to a “fancy” mall like this. Wow!

I indulged in a little retail therapy and wandered in and out of a few shops. I will tell you all about my foodie exploration at True Food Kitchen. This was hands down the best meal I had on my trip. It deserves a post all of its own.

So, after a leisurely lunch, I wandered back to the hotel to get a little more work done and to prepare for our evening event.

We had a terrific event. It was exciting to meet prospective students and their families. We met some incredible students and look forward to seeing them in Fall 2014!

After the event, I went out for dinner with two of my colleagues to A Taste of Thai in San Diego.

Grilled Salmon Salad

Noodle Dish

Pad Thai

These pictures do not even begin to do this food justice. It was wonderful!

Breakfast

Wednesday morning I worked out again and then had breakfast with one of my colleagues.

I had seen a Boudin Bakery at the mall, so I had my heart set on breakfast at Boudin. Around 8am, we walked over to find that Boudin didn’t open until 9am! What?! A bakery with bankers hours?

So, off to Starbucks we went. I got the Greek Yogurt with Honey Parfait and a banana. This would make a great mid-ride snack.

The weather was off and on cloudy, cool, breezy. It threatened rain, but didn’t until after we were on the road to our next destination.

Storm's a blowing in!

Ominous dark clouds!!

Finally - sun as we leave.

And so begins the next leg of our journey – to Holtville, California.

 

 

 

 

Southern California Adventure

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

Waiting at SMF for the adventure to begin!

This past week I got to go to Southern California for work. I traveled with some awesome colleagues and met some amazing prospective students and their parents.  How cool is that? I am looking forward to seeing many of these students in Fall 2014!

I enjoyed my first ever visit to San Diego. I envisioned abundant sunshine (SPF 100+ worthy, at least), warm gentle breezes, fresh ocean air … it didn’t quite work out that way, but it was still beautiful.

I’m going to do a few different posts for this trip. Food. Scenery. Travel. Maybe day by day. We’ll see how it plays out. That way you can look at just what interests you, and not have to feel like you’re suffering through one of those dreaded slide shows of a friend’s vacation or honeymoon.

Today’s weather in Davis is cool and breezy with thunderstorms in the forecast. I don’t think I’ll be doing any outside cycling today. It’s a good day to get resettled, get some chores done, and maybe make some good healthy bread and soup.

Lots to write about, best get to blogging!

Almost There!

Friday, March 28th, 2014

I am at 98% of my goal for March Madness.

I am at 82.4% of my goal to become a Champion in the fight against diabetes!

I’ve been traveling for work this week and am trying to do a little work catch up today, so I’ll finish my March Madness miles this weekend. I stuck with it through my trip, though, and rode at least 1 hour daily on a stationary bike. I didn’t get a chance to ride yesterday, due to traveling. I’m hoping to wrap up here soon and get out of the road before noon today.

True Food Kitchen, San Diego

I’m hoping to do some blog catching up this weekend, too. I got to travel with some awesome colleagues, and meet amazing prospective students and their parents. I got to see some very interesting scenery and to try some really good food on my trip. I especially look forward to telling you all about my lunch at True Food Kitchen in San Diego, California. Oh, my goodness, it was wonderful! Rumor has it they’ll be opening one in Walnut Creek later this year. It will be worth the drive.

Happy Spring!

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Beautiful evening for a ride!

Time for early evening rides is here!

Thank goodness – I might actually meet my meager March Madness goal this year.

Speaking of goals … the 2014 Napa Valley Tour de Cure is Sunday, May 4th. I am close to my goal – please help me to raise $1,000 for my ride.

We’re also looking for volunteers. Interested? Click here to sign up!

 

First Post-Work Ride of the Season!

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Ooops ... apparently I smudged the lens.

Sweet! 20.1 miles.

Total 30.7 for the day.

Ridiculously Beautiful Morning

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

It is a ridiculously beautiful morning out there and I wish I could spend all of it on my bike. No time for photos … sorry! I logged just over 12 miles, but now I have to go to work. I’m hoping for a post-work ride later, too.

I’ve got a ways to go for both March Madness and my 2014 Napa Valley Tour de Cure.

Here’s hoping you get a chance to ride today!

The Luck Of The Irish

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

We had a terrific weekend for cycling in Davis – loads of sunshine and warm temperatures, and just a bit o’breeze. The 2014 Napa Valley Tour de Cure is just 7 weeks away, so it’s time to start getting some longer rides in. March Madness is in full swing and I’m now about 2/3 of the way to my goal.

Saturday 80 miles, Davis, Winters, Vacaville, Winters, Davis. We rolled out to Winters on Road 29, out to Vacaville through English Hills and Gibson Canyon, then back to Winters via Pleasants Valley Road, and to Davis by way of Putah Creek Road and the Russell Bike Trail. That was about 68 miles, but I also did about a 12 mile warm up loop.

It was absolutely gorgeous out there, but I did not take a single picture. We got a little bit of a late start and I didn’t want to risk not getting back before dark.

We had a nice rest stop at Steady Eddy’s on our homestretch.

By the time we got home, we were pretty hungry. We had started talking dinner while we were still on the road. Salmon. Asparagus. Salad. That sounded like an awesome plan.

Wild King Salmon.

Roasted Asparagus.

Salad.

Never send me to the store to buy salmon when I am this hungry. I came back with enough salmon to feed an army. Though I bought only two filets, they were huge. As hungry as we were, we could eat only one! We nibbled on the leftovers throughout the day yesterday. For dinner last night, I simply crumbled the last bit on top of a light green salad. It was amazing.

Roasted Avocado

I was craving avocado, but none of my avocados were ripe. At $2.49 each at my local market, there was no way I was going to buy one. I have grilled avocados before, so I wondered about roasting one. It was interesting. Simply cut it in half, remove the pit, drizzle with a little avocado (or olive) oil, season with a little salt, and roast until softened.

This avocado was a little dark on the inside to begin with, so this is not the best photo, but it was very interesting and an idea I’ll try again.

Sunday 44.1 miles, Davis, Winters, Davis … easy spin, recovery ride. It’s a really good thing I didn’t venture further than that …

I stopped at Steady Eddy’s for water and a quick stretch and rest. As I was doing my usual Facebook check in there was a loud BANG! That all too familiar sound of a bike tire exploding just as a large group of cyclists was leaving. They checked their bikes, no flats. Then they started looking at everyone else’s bike to see who the lucky one was. They kept looking at my bike and futzing with it. I walked over to see what was going on and asked why they were looking at my bike, but then they found the exploded tire. Mystery solved. They left happy quite it wasn’t one of theirs.

Oh, dear ... not good.

I stayed a few more minutes, then saw the “lucky” cyclist. I was heading out, but wanted to let him know there’s a bike shop just down the block who could fix him up if he needed it. He wasn’t feeling so lucky.

Well, the luck of the Irish was with me because another cyclist happened to be there when all of the commotion happened and he stopped to tell me that on his way in he noticed this …

I am profoundly grateful that he pointed this out to me. I don’t think this tire would have made it home.

Funny. As I was leaving for my ride, I realized that I did not have my debit card with me, but I didn’t want to turn around and get it. “I’ll be fine! It’s just a quick ride.” I thought. So off I rode with just $39 in my pocket.

The Best Bike Shop in Winters!

So I walked my bike down to Mike’s Velo City Bike Shop in Winters. A while back I had to replace a tire mid-ride and it cost me more than $100. Now wishing I had turned around to get my debit card, I thought I might have to walk my bike home 20+ miles to Davis.

The luck of the Irish was with me. Mike’s Velo City Bike Shop fixed me up with a used tire and got me back on the road for $15.75. I was so, so thankful! I love this bike shop. They’ve helped me out before with minor mid-ride adjustments, flat tires, and other basics like this. I took my Trek in there for a full tune-up a while back and they did an awesome job.

So, a HUGE shout out to Mike’s Velo City Bike Shop in Winters!

Here’s wishing you and yours a very Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! May the luck of the Irish be with you!

Wishing you a rainbow
For sunlight after showers—
Miles and miles of Irish smiles
For golden happy hours—
Shamrocks at your doorway
For luck and laughter too,
And a host of friends that never ends
Each day your whole life through!

Way Cool Moon Over Davis

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

Should be full by tomorrow night!