Celebratory-Explorer Bears!

With anniversaries and birthdays, I think, what better way to celebrate than with doing/trying/eating/drinking something new? Recently, having just delved deeper into my third decade of life, I have decided that an important consideration when planning a celebration is to ensure that the celebration include trying something new–a new experience–Whether that be food, drink or activity or all three!  (my husband’s birthday is a week before mine, and our wedding anniversary is a week after my birthday–hence this topic of anniversaries and birthdays 🙂

I am all about celebrating the ole fashioned way of going out dancing/drinking but the frequency of such activities has become quite curbed due to my advancing age 😉


So recently to celebrate our birthdays/ 2nd year wedding anniversary (these events kind of blend together) and we went kayaking for the first time, and in a location that is right near our home (Carlsbad lagoon), and hah which I pass by every time I drive north on the 5.

(Warning heh I’m going to get all TripAdvisory on you) but this lagoon is a fantastic place to get started for water sports. There are jet skiing activities, paddle boarding (where you stand on your surfboard and use that core to paddle yourself without tipping over) and then there is good ole kayaking. Fwet, trying to be ambitious, also brought his fishing gear (no catches that day) but it was a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by water, and random jumping mullet fish (they really do randomly jump every like 30 seconds somewhere near you). If you paddle east enough, you get to a nice little reserve-like area amongst the tall grasses you can paddle your way through meandering paths–and see lovely local birdies (cranes?) So I highly recommend this activity to anyone visiting in town–as this brings you out of your comfort zone and it is such a refreshing feeling to bob up and down on the waves.

On a side note, kayaking is a great work out…and also made me realize how uneven my muscles are (the next few days my right shoulders/back were not sore at all whereas my left side was quite sore…makes me wonder if I’ve been walking around like quasi-moto).

Cute white crane looking birdies hanging out on a mini beach area
Fwet straight ahead
Secret lagoon path

Hiking Point Loma Tide Pools

Another lovely outdoor activity we decided to do (in celebration of our birthdays and anniversary) was to hike at the tide pools in Pt. Loma. Now for those unfamiliar with San Diego’s Pt. Loma, this chunk of land jutting out with the Pacific ocean on one side and the lovely San Diego bay/harbor on the other side, makes you realize man, the Navy has the best real estate!! Gorgeous views of the city skyline on one side, and the immense vast ocean on the other.

There is a little hiking path that goes along the Pacific ocean side, where there are some really unique rock formations, carved form years of ocean waves. The rock has a reddish orange tinge, which if you hallucinate a bit, looks a bit like another planet.

Pamplemousse Grill, Del Mar

A lovely splurge dinner– we met up with the Aylan and the Mimers for a wonderful 4 and half hour dinner (yes we were the absolute last ones in the restaurant when they were closing)…and ahem 3 bottles of wine later (Aylan kindly brought our favorite Caymus and then a bottle of Conundrum to start and pair well with the appetizers of course!–and Fwet and I brought our wine club vino, a robust Syrah by Rolando Herrara (maker of our first palate opening vino, Mi Sueno Il Llano). Although this restaurant was not new for me, it was for Fwet–and what follows is a lovely eye candy of foodie photos 🙂 Enjoy!

Agh I cannot remember what this was but it was a deliciously fresh sashimi lollipop-like appetizer

Moo…bless that dear cow
Scallops — sweet, silky on the inside, perfectly seared on the outside
CharGrilled Seafood stack

New Ristorante: Herringbone, La Jolla 

So to celebrate via our tummies for our anniversary we went to the new restaurant, Herringbone in La Jolla. (Our “adventure-way” to celebrate our wedding anniversary was our first ever road trip to Paso Robles and Monterey, which I shall share in another post 🙂

Herringbone is another of Brian Malarkey’s restaurants (he has many in San Diego including Burlap in Del Mar which I mentioned in an earlier post) and the head chef is Amanda Baumgarten from Top Chef’s season 7 (I actually do not keep up with the show and was not familiar with Chef Amanda’s style etc. But per the website, the restaurant seems to specialize on seafood fare)

I did have some reservations that the restaurant was associated with a “celebrity chef” because sometimes it becomes all hype …er as per old school rice rocket days, “all show and no go” 😉  Also, the Yelp reviews were only 3.5 stars…(and yes, I know Yelp reviews cannot always be counted upon since truly the review rating is only as good as the reviewers–and since reviewers do not have to pass a survey/test to submit their opinion, the stars can go both ways we have found–and in this case, it was a pleasant surprise!)

So,  the thing that intrigued us to try the restaurant was the description of the decor–apparently it is in an old warehouse with 100 year old olive trees. So try it we did!

We were blown away! And again, I always am cognizant of gushing about a place, because everyone’s experience could be different–and hence I suppose that is why food reviewers make repeated visits at different times of day or days, before drawing up a comprehensive review of a restaurant–but Fwet and I were very impressed.

The ambiance is definitely unique–I would recommend a visit just for that alone (but the food is also delicious so that helps)–A blend of modern, urban, industrial, rustic–basically hah exactly what Fwet and I strive towards in our own design for our cubbiecave.  High airy ceilings–It used to be a big warehouse of sorts, with the corrugated steel ceiling/walls, brick, but with beautiful olive trees spaced throughout the space, adding rustic warmth. On the walls are large bold modern and inspiring/creative paintings. In the back is the kitchen with glass walls (heh so a semi-open kitchen). The front bar area looked like a cool place to grab a drink.

All right…so to the food! Instead of bread, they delivered these fresh ridiculously sweet heirloom tomatoes to munch on while we waited–and I admired their water glasses (I think they have them at Anthropologie hmm perhaps a future buy hehe)

We had a wonderful start, with a dozen oysters (half dozen of our go-to Kumamoto and a half dozen of Evening Cove) we have found that we prefer those oysters out of Canadia (eh) or anywhere super north from the icy cold waters—as this seems to yield the most perfect blend of sweet and briney and just a clean taste. We had this with a lovely chilled glass of prosecco– a bit on the dry side which paired wonderfully with the oysters. I wonder if one of the reasons why champagne or a sparkling wine goes so well with oysters is because of the textures–the cool, creamy slide of oysters is nicely balanced with the sharp pop of the fizz in the prosecco. That was a bit of random food analysis hehe

Then we shared the Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho (I loff tomatoes!! Perfectly refreshing soup with the spice of raw garlic) and from their “Crusts” section of the menu, the Pancetta, Egg, Lamb’s Quarters and Fontina (they had me at Egg…and this is runny yolk richness type of egg).

We also shared the Shrimp n’ Grits with Pancetta, Heirloom Tomato, White Corn & Humbolt Fog. The shrimp, and man ALL of their seafood was absolutely perfectly cooked. The shrimp meat just popped in your mouth (you know how its easy to over cook shrimp so that the texture when you bit into it, is basically the same firmness–but when its PERFECTLY cooked, the outer part of the meat is just a tad bit firmer than the interior resulting in the wonderful “pop” sensation and the meat is so light and makes you appreciate this little often taken for granted animal. I do not get to have grits very often but this makes me want more—just creamy comfort with bright sweet kernels of corn and then the pungent richness of the Humbolt Fog cheese…mmmmm.

Then came the piece de resistance! The Fish Stew. Now I think this was the dish that really just blew us away. Again, most Cioppinos, fish stews etc.–basically a blend of stew with mussels, clams, chunks of fish tend to be overcooked on the mussels or on one piece of the puzzle–and I appreciate why–all of these guys cook differently at different times—so the fact that EACH type of seafood in this stew was to a science, perfectly cooked, it communicated to me the almost reverent respect this chef must have towards seafood.

Also, the amazing flavors of this stew–with the aioli drizzled on top, the rich seafoody garlicky broth, with charred country bread—reminded us actually of the stew we had in Southern France. Yes, that is a huge statement to compare the two–but it really did!

And I must give Herringbone’s wait-staff and customer service super high marks, because  knowing it was our anniversary, he kindly waived the corkage fee (not a small price), gave us this delicious desert plate below, AND, custom-put together a cheese plate for us (it wasn’t on the menu and we mentioned we were craving some cheese to go with the last bit of our Rombauer Cabernet).

SO! Based on our dinner experience there, the ambiance, the service and of course the food, I’d give this 5 out of 5 fuzziepotatoes (I think I stopped rating but hah since I happen to remember now I’ll do it!)

To wrap up, cheers to another wonderful year to my soulmate fuzziebear whom I’ve shared 2 goofy, love and laughter filled years with as hubbie and wubbie!