I took a trip to San Diego, and here is the report:
We flew into San Diego late Friday night. On Saturday morning, my boyfriend, boyfriend's stepmother C., and I drove out to La Jolla to visit Chuao Chocolatier. This is a very sleek and modern-looking store, with a large display case of pastries in addition to the chocolates. They have all sorts of unusual flavor combinations. Boyfriend's favorite was the sambuca (anise-flavored liqueur.) It was fairly overwhelming anise flavor to me. C.'s favorite was the chevre with peppercorns. Mine were two of the plainer sounding chocolates--the honey, and the cardamom. The interior of these chocolates are fairly gooey, which makes sharing them difficult. I also think that some of the strong flavors they use are not well-balanced with the chocolate, though the goat cheese and peppercorn works for me.
We spotted Fresh restaurant on the way to Chuao, so we decided to stop there for lunch. Boyfriend opted for the cioppino and I got the smoked salmon, both off the appetizer menus. C. ordered some Kobe beef sliders. The cioppino had something like two shrimp and a clam in it, and the salmon was a very small portion as well. C. generously let us try one of the sliders, which had an excellent beefy flavor. We had enough room for a bit of dessert, so we ordered the molten chocolate cake with butter pecan ice cream that we'd seen everyone getting. The cake was ok, nothing particularly exciting, but the ice cream was unbelievably good. I've never understood the appeal of butter pecan before this. Such a fresh buttery taste!
For dinner, David's parents suggested a sushi place called Shien of Osaka near where they live. There are 2 or 3 large sushi bars there, but we sat at a table. C. ordered chicken udon as she doesn't care for sushi. We ordered several rolls and some cooked items, including a grilled ginger squid that was the best thing on the table that night. Rolls were kind of gloppy and heavy on the mayo and avocado. Not a highlight of the trip.
On Sunday, we visited Old Town San Diego and Berta's for lunch. Boyfriend's dad had veggie empanadas, I ordered a lamb dish, C. ordered chicken stew, and boyfriend had Jamaican chicken. C. has difficulty with spicy foods and discovered her stew was too spicy. I offered to switch with her, since my lamb seemed mild enough, but that proved to be too spicy as well. It's tough when you can't even register the heat level that's too much for someone. Liked both the lamb and the chicken stew, and the Jamaican chicken (boyfriend and I share our food). We split a banana coconut dessert (overly coconut-y IMO, but my tolerance for coconut is low) and a flan with red wine and cinnamon sauce, which was light and creamy.
Sunday night, Boyfriend's dad, boyfriend, and I needed to go somewhere close by for dinner, so we went to a little Vietnamese place near the house called Pho Hoacali Express. The menu is very similar to other Vietnamese places I've been, but the interior is brand-spanking new and the service is almost scarily efficient. I had pho with brisket, boyfriend had a beef stew with baguette, and boyfriend's father had a shrimp rice noodle soup. The broth of the pho was a little weak, but I loved the brisket, and they gave us plenty of greenery to go with it, which always makes me happy. The beef stew was good, but I can't remember anything specific about it. This strikes me as the kind of place to take someone who has issues with hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurants and indifferent service, but might otherwise enjoy Vietnamese food.
That was the final meal of the San Diego trip. Thanks to all who offered suggestions.
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