I had plans to visit a few places for lunch off the main strip, but all the taxi rides were getting expensive, so we decided to stay on the strip for lunch. Since I had to make a visit to Bouchon Bakery inside The Venetian to pick up Thomas Keller’s macarons and other baked goods, we decided to check out Bouchon Bistro.
There was a slight wait time when we arrived, but we were able to munch on complimentary almond tea cakes while we waited. Not a bad deal at all.
After we ordered, we were give some crusty pan d’epi (wheat stalk bread). I was surprised that the bread is placed directly onto the table (which is lined with white paper, with linen underneath). The bread was accompanied with some Bouchon jams.
I loved the bread. Crusty bread is my favorite kind. I liked it so much I bought some home from the bakery section. FH only likes soft breads though since he didn’t like this at all.
Beignets du jour (house made special doughnuts with Bouchon Bakery jam)
You can choose jelly filled beignets or plain ones. I chose plain ones because I’m not a huge jelly fan.
This plate of fluffy beignets lightly rolled in sugar were the softest beignets I’ve ever eaten. Each one was pillowy soft, and melted in my mouth. I want to dine at Bouchon Bistro again just for the beignets. They were accompanied with Nutella and jam. Heavenly.
Tea eggs are one of my favorite ways to cook eggs. Not only do they make an amazing presentation, but they taste good too.
My brother went home for the weekend recently. Which means only one thing when he came back: lots of food from mom, including these chinese tea eggs. I know how to make the eggs myself and have made them before, but most of the time I’m lazy. It’s not hard to make, but it does require a lot of waiting while the eggs stew to develop flavor.
Tea leaves, anise and other spices are boiled with the eggs creating a savory hard boiled egg. Eggs are first hard boiled. Then the shell is cracked in several places before the eggs stew in a pot of tea leaves, five spice powder, soy sauce, salt. As the eggs stew, the tea sauce seeps through, staining the white skin of the eggs. Because of the cracks in the shells, it creates this beautiful marbled pattern when you eventually peel off the shell.
Last weekend, FH and I were invited to join in a Bite San Diego tour of Hillcrest. Bite San Diego is a food walking tour company which offers tours in various parts of San Diego. We participated in the Hillcrest one, since Hillcrest has so many hidden food gems we haven’t yet gotten to try.
Our tour included stops at six different restaurants. Walking tour groups are limited to 15 people, which creates a nice environment to get to meet people who share at least one common interest with you: food.
Our tour guide, Dani, was very cheerful, friendly and energetic. She did a great job keeping the group together and checking up on everyone throughout the tour to make sure everyone was still happy. Everyone introduced themselves at the beginning, with a little bit of background as to their favorite food and where they were from. I was surprised to learn that so many people were from San Diego, but there were also people who were just visiting, including a couple from Britain.
Our tour was a mix of food and background into Hillcrest’s history and sites. First we passed through part of Balboa park. I was surprised to learn that Balboa Park is actually the largest urban cultural park in the US spanning 1200 acres.
After some history, we were off to our first eating spot.
Jimmy Carter’s Mexican Cafe
We learned a little about the restaurant history, including that the owner, Jimmy Carter, was born and raised in Hillcrest.
The tour website states that the food are bite portions and so we aren’t expected to get too full from the tour experience, so the entire group was surprised when we were presented with so many bites at Jimmy Carter. I think the amount of food varies for the different tours though because one person mentioned that he had been on the La Jolla tour and while their had been a good amount of bites, it was nowhere near the amount we were given on the Hillcrest tour.
First we were given some chips and four different kinds of salsa to eat them with.
Beef quesadilla, Tostada
The highlight of this spot, and also of the tour, was definitely the calamari tacos. Everyone seemed to be in agreement that this was one of the best bites of the tour. The calamari was lightly battered. There was also a creamy cilantro japaleno sauce to accompany the taco, which I definitely recommend adding.