Cafe 21

I know I sometimes complain about how San Diego is not like LA when it comes to the food scene. But readers of this blog always remind me just how lucky I am to live in San Diego. San Diego may not be as glamorous as LA or NY or have as many famous chefs, but it is full of hidden gems. So many gems that there is always an endless list of places to try.

Cafe 21 is one example. It’s been on my to-do for quite a while, but it’s taken me more than a year to get around to it. While Cafe 21 is a popular brunch spot, DH and I recently dined their for dinner and had a very enjoyable time.

Cafe 21 focuses on using fresh, local ingredients, but what I was most impressed with was the creativity of their menu.  Eggplant fries, homemade fruit infused vodkas, were just some of the interesting items we sampled that night.

Sangria Flight

Cafe 21 is well known for their sangrias. There are quite a few flavors offered and since we hadn’t yet tried any, we decided to do a sample flight of them all. The sangrias were indeed delicious and I didn’t even miss the fruit that is usually floating around in them. I liked every single one I sampled, though I preferred the sweeter ones. They were also quite strong too.

Jalapeno Pear Margarita

This was one of their new seasonal offerings that the manager brought out for us to try. It wasn’t too sweet and had a little bit of a spicy kick at the end.

Fruit infused strawberry peach vodka

Another new item Cafe 21 is now offering is fruit infused vodkas made in-house. They muddle the vodka with fresh fruit creating a very natural fruit flavored vodka. We tried the strawberry peach one which was actually quite sweet. Not candy-sweet, but just sweet enough to take the bite off of the vodka.

Goat Cheese Stuffed Figs wrapped in Prosciutto

I love figs and prosciutto so I immediately knew I would enjoy this. The figs were sweet, the goat cheese creamy, and the prosciutto added a saltiness to it. I’ll have to recreate this one at home. Healthy greens accompanied the appetizer plate.

I’ve said many times that strawberry and Nutella are a great combination. So why not add some strawberries to my Nutella chocolate cups?

These were a little trickier to make than my regular Nutella chocolate cups because it was hard to stuff strawberry chunks and Nutella into such a small little cup. But it tasted pretty good.

For those of you who did not win the last giveaway, I have another one! And this time there are 5 pairs of tickets involved.

Remember last year when I wrote my post about attending the Foster Farms Regional Finals? It was a lot of fun. I got to watch the finalists cook, taste all the recipes, meet the contestants and their families, meet the judges, and vote for the audience favorite. Well this year’s California Regional Finals is almost here.

And I have five pairs of tickets to give away to the event, so that my readers can also watch the cooking competition first hand and try all the samples.

The Contest will be held at The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of California – San Diego (7650 Mission Valley Road, San Diego, CA 92108) on Friday, September 7, 2012 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Yes, it’s on a Friday which can be a problem for those of us who work, but it’s over by noon so you could take just take the morning off work

Judges this year are: Christine Ross, editor San Diego Union-Tribune, Lori Lange, blogger of and Susan Russo, blogger of