Thursday, August 26, 2010
1555 Camino Del Mar
Del Mar, California 92014
Smashburger is a burger chain which has recently come to San Diego. A few months ago, it opened a location in downtown La Jolla. This week, it opened a second location in Del Mar. I had been invited to have a sneak preview prior to the La Jolla opening, but was unable to attend.
So when I got an invite for the Del Mar opening, I was excited to finally participate. As you may recall, I love burgers. So I'm always up for trying new burger spots.
I meant to snap a picture of the front of the restaurant, but I forgot. The Del Mar one is located in the Del Mar plaza, on the street level. It's fairly large and easy to spot.
Food bloggers, PR, and other media were invited to have a sneak preview the day before the grand opening. As part of the sneak preview, we were invited to order whatever we wanted from the menu. You can view the San Diego menu here. The menu consists of various burgers, chicken sandwiches, a few hot dogs, and salads.
I chose to sample the San Diego Smashburger, which includes fresh avocado, cilantro, onions, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and chipotle mayo. You have a choice of 1/3 pound or 1/2 pound patty. I chose the 1/2 pound because I like my burgers meaty.I also ordered some sweet potato fries.
The burger came out in a long basket, which I had trouble taking pictures of. I was trying to be quick with my shots, and not draw attention, so it made it a little hard to get good angles. The burger arrived open faced. It looked a bit small when it lay split open like that, but once I put it together, it appeared fuller.
I really enjoyed my burger. The patty was juicy. I loved the chipotle mayo sauce. I had my doubts about cilantro in my burger but it actually worked well with the chipotle mayo. I do wish the avocado was served in slices rather than one round chunk. The best part was that my bun remained unsoggy, a huge pet peeve of mine when eating burgers and something that seems to happen far too often.
All in all, I was pretty happy with my burger. It's not necessarily the best burger, but it's pretty good and it's something I'd go back for again.
The sweet potato fries arrived lukewarm. They still tasted pretty good, but they weren't crunchy. I felt like the side order was a bit small.
BF opted to try the Smashchicken. I don't recall what variation he got, except that there was fresh avocado and bacon. I'm not a big fan of chicken sandwiches, so I only had a bite of his. It was served on a wheat roll. He ordered the Smashfries with his meal.
The smashfries are tossed with olive oil, rosemary and garlic. I could definitely taste all three in the fries. It gave them a different taste from the classic fry, but it was pretty good.
We also ordered a side of fried pickles. I really didn't like this. I thought it was way too salty. I'm not sure if the salt came from the batter or the pickles.
Throughout the night they also passed out samples of their Haagen Daaz milkshakes. We sampled an oreo and a lime one. I liked the oreo but I didn't really like the lime one.
I had a good experience at the Smashburger. The Del Mar location is a bit far though, so next time I go, I'll try the La Jolla location.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
With so many variations in the banana bread that I've baked lately such as banana peanut butter chocolate chip muffins, blueberry banana bread and chocolate banana bread, I still had to go back to the classic banana nut bread.
Usually I'm not a fan of nuts, but I love what it adds to the banana bread. When I don't put nuts, I always feel like something is missing. Usually the recipes call for walnuts, but I prefer to use pecans.
I love banana nut bread. I love all quick breads, but banana nut bread may just be my favorite. And I love how easy it is to make.
Banana Nut Bread (recipe adapted from Esther Nelson on allrecipes)
Yields: Two 7 x 3 inch loaves
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup of chopped, unsalted pecans
oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Grease two 7×3 inch loaf pans.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Mix in eggs, mashed
bananas, yogurt, vanilla and cinnamon. Mix in salt, baking soda, and
flour. Stir in pecans. Divide into prepared pans.
- Bake for 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Top Pot Doughnuts
2124 5th Ave
Seattle, WA 98121
One of the things I looked forward to most as my Seattle trip approached was a chance to eat some delicious doughnuts. I’d read that Seattle was known for their doughnuts. Since Seattle is filled with coffee shops, it makes sense that they would have a lot of doughnuts available as well.
I spent most of my childhood in New York, where doughnuts are readily available almost all the time. With Dunkin Donuts everywhere, donuts were a staple breakfast item, mid-afternoon snack, and treats at all the birthday parties. When I moved to California (South Bay Are), I was shocked by the lack of donuts. Donuts were only available at the supermarket bakeries and the occasional small time donut shop. Worst of all, it seemed Californians only ate donuts in the morning, and it was nearly impossible to find fresh donuts in the afternoon.
San Diego suffers a similar fate to what I experienced when I moved to the South Bay. So I was definitely looking forward to the donut goodness in Seattle.
Top Pot Doughnuts is a donut chain in Seattle that is highly rated and popular. It’s open from 6am to 7 pm, allowing you to enjoy donuts early in the morning and into the early evening.
When we arrived, I was amazed at how big the store was. Inside, it was more than just a donut shop. It was designed to be like a library or a large bookstore. The sides of the store were filled with books. There are two levels of seats to allow you to enjoy your donuts and coffee, as well as stick around to read the paper, do some studying, etc.
We were greeted by some very friendly employees who patiently waited while we made our donut choices. There were so many to choose from. One thing I noticed during my trip was how friendly all the store employees were. Seattle is definitely a tourist friendly city with the staff of the stores very accustomed to all the tourists that come by.
In the end, we settled for an old fashioned, a chocolate cake donut with raspberry glaze, a blueberry cake donut, and a twisty. I really wanted to get an original glazed. The original glazed donut looked huge, but I thought we should try some new ones out and that I could always come back for the original glazed later.
I found the old fashioned to be way too sweet. The outside glaze was thick and sugary. The donut was also very sweet and had a layer within the cake donut that tasted of condensed milk mixed with something, making this donut way too sugary for my taste.
Next up was the chocolate cake donut with raspberry glaze. This was my favorite of the ones we sampled. The chocolate cake was soft and moist and the raspberry glaze added a sweet and tart finish. The donut was good. I probably would have loved it even more had I not experienced the melt in your mouth cake donuts from Dynamo Donuts.
The blueberry cake donut was okay for me. I liked that the inside was filled with little pieces of blueberries. But the batter just didn’t really pop. The flavor was subtle and a little bland.
Glazed twisties are usually my favorite donut next to the regular glazed donuts. Unfortunately, I was pretty disappointed with this one. I expected soft, puffy, yeasty doughy doughnut. Instead, the twisty was thin, hard, a bit hollow inside. It didn’t have any doughy goodness.
I left Top Pot not as satisfied as I thought I’d be. I haven’t experienced many donut shops, but I thought that Top Pot paled in comparison to places like Dynamo Donuts and Stan’s Donuts. I do like that Seattle has such big donut shops open all over the city that serve donuts all day.
After my experience with Top Pot, I really wanted to try out Frost Doughnuts, which the gastronomer has raved about. But sadly, it just wasn’t in the cards. Frost was a bit far from where we were staying and required a car. We had chosen not to rent a car since almost everything we were doing was within walking or bus distance.
By the time we finished with our donuts, the shop had filled up and was quite busy. I didn’t want to get in line just for a glazed donut, so we left without me getting a chance to try it.
Our next stop was the Space Needle. a huge tower in Seattle built for the 1962 World Fair. It costs $18 to go to the top, but you get to see a beautiful view of the city. I was worried that it would be horribly crowded, but we went early enough in the morning that there wasn’t much of a wait.
Here’s a view of the Space Needle from far away.
Here’s some views of the city from the top of the needle: