Food is Like a Fine Wine

Walking food tours are pretty awesome.  If you haven't been on one, then you should definitely go.  It's a great way to meet new people!

For starters, I was not paid to write this post, so all opinions are soley mine.  However, in exchange for a ticket, I was asked to write a blog on my experience on this food tour.

Bite San Diego has been around since 2010. They have a selection of food tour locations, such as: Encinitas, Coronado, La Jolla, North Park, Downtown, NTC Liberty Station and Pacific Beach.  Uhm, there was too many for me to choose from, so I went with Encinitas because: 1) it is near me; 2) I have only been to Union Kitchen & Tap; 3) I like discovering new places.

The Encinitas tour just started back up on January 9, 2016, so I was excited to get out and participate.  The weather was perfect.  Maybe a few drops here and there (at least when I parked). Our meeting place was at The Potato Shack Cafe at 2pm.  I was ten minutes early (unheard of for me, but I am getting better at this).  I was not told who my tour guide would be or where exactly I needed to meet, so I waited outside.  The ticket only indicated the meeting place. Others who were part of the group we a bit confused, but once the host asked if we were part of the tour group, he directed us inside. Our tour guide, Mimi, was so awesome.  She was full of knowledge and experience. Oh, and from Belgium.  She has a sweet accent and demeanor about her.

By the way - you have to sign a release to go on this tour.  I get it.

The Potato Shack Cafe - Our First Stop

I think this is a great breakfast spot. It's a cash only place, but there is an ATM located by the entrance.  Jim, the owner, was so very hospitable.  He actually reminds me of my Deck department head from back in my Navy days - a stern man, but deep down a big teddy bear :) anyhow.  The Potato Shack Cafe has been in Encinitas for about 32 years. Jim has owned it, 27 out of the 32 years.  Remarkable, no? The Potato shack serves breakfast and lunch daily from 7am - 2pm Monday through Friday and from 7am -2:30pm on Saturday and Sundays.  Now, this is not one of those places that serves alcohol.  No sir,  this is a family restaurant.  Coffee, tea, milk, water, orange juice is their thing.  You know what, that is quite alright! Now, let's freaking talk about the food.  Everything is home made.  The salsa, the pancakes, the potatoes.  Those loaded bastards are so good.  We got to sample potatoes with jack cheese and also with cheddar cheese. Throw on some of their homemade salsa and you got a feast!  The batch of salsa we had yesterday definitely had some kick to it.  I like kick! Portion control is a non-issue at The Potato Shack.  So, you should go with an empty stomach.  For real.  I made the mistake of snacking on an apple and coffee before coming to the food tour.  Never do that.  EVER! 

Potatoes with Jack Cheese.

Potatoes with Jack Cheese.

So, while we are chowing down on our potatoes, Jim gave us some insight on The Potato Shack.  Jim let us know that he does the best he can to buy local.  He purchases his bread locally from several bakeries (not just one).  He also told us that the produce is purchased locally.  Turkey is roasted in house and they offer gluten free bread and pancakes. Pancakes and establishment after my own heart.  One was apple cinnamon and the other  was blueberry. The last time I saw pancakes that huge was at a Cafe in Coronado. uhm. Remember when I said to go in hungry. This is why:

Apple cinnamon pancakes

Apple cinnamon pancakes

This is why.  I was stuffed after bite three.  uhm. Can you imagine eating this whole thing yourself?  Serious #fatkidstatus right there! Mind you everyone got a slice.  My husband would love this place.  SO VERY MUCH! Fifteen minutes later and we are off to our second stop.

Encinitas Hermitage, Retreat & Gardens

Nothing but a brisk walk up to K Street sits the Encinitas Hermitage, Retreat & Gardens. Mimi told us that Yoga originated here in Encinitas founded by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1920. It is understood that Encinitas is the Yoga capital of the world.  There is a studio on almost every corner.  I have yet to try hot yoga.  The Gardens, stunning.  There are so many places to sit and meditate. It was a bit crowded when we went by there.

I believe you can sit here and close your eyes, listen to the ocean and breathe.  Meditate freely.

I believe you can sit here and close your eyes, listen to the ocean and breathe.  Meditate freely.

I was taken by the beauty of the location.  I think it's perfect.  I'm not very spiritual, but to me being as close to the water as possible and being as close to the sky that I can, I would feel at ease. It certainly is a peaceful gardens.

One of several Koi Ponds in the Gardens

One of several Koi Ponds in the Gardens

There are at least three koi ponds in the gardens.

I don't know what kind of flower this is :(

I don't know what kind of flower this is :(

I found these beauties in gardens as well. I am not sure what kind of flower these are, but they were beautiful.  

Off to our next stop---

Saint Tropez Bistro & Beyond

Oddly enough, I have had a meal from here (well the downtown location) a while back.  I haven't had quiche and I just realized that I have mistaken a frittata for quiche.  Anyhow, I am obviously lactose intolerant, but don't care. One of these days, I will pay for it. HAH! The sample quiche we had was: goat cheese, turkey and mushroom, and spinach and cheese. I LOVE THEM ALL!! They were light and the crust was perfect. I am pretty sure I can eat those every day.  My mind says that, but my body would definitely be opposed. Oh well.  Along with quiche, oh and bread, we also got brownie bites and mini lemon bars. Deliciousness!!

Table topped yumminess!

Table topped yumminess!

Savory Spice Shop

This place, UH-MAZING.  I thought I would have to order spices online.  I mean, real spices to cook with. Mimi's favorite spice is the Black Truffle Salt.  OH...to smell that...DIVINE.

A beautiful wall of spices!  

A beautiful wall of spices!  

The bottles with the red stickers are testers, so you can open them to smell or taste.  Now, I know where I can pick up some Z'atar (perfect for dipping) and cooking with beef or chicken.

We watched a demonstration on making a dill dip and a parmesan pesto dip! (I received permission to record the demo)

I promise, it took a while to get us out of there, but I know now where to get some amazing spices!  Also, they offer a military discount.  NOICE! My favorite is the dill dip. Because I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the smell of DILL.

After walk around spices, we walked next door for some HEAVEN!! ErrrrrrrrMAGERRRD!!!!

Chuao Chocolatier

I LOVE Chocolate as much as the next woman. Who is ready for Valentine's Day? Chocolate and Beer Pairings, why yes!

Uhm, I do  believe these chocolates can be purchased at target.  Okay, check it.  Honeycomb.  Yes. Honeycomb. Try it, eat it, buy it. 

Oh, and the Gelato, Spicy Maya.  Winner!

Treats, Treats, Treats ( I just remember that there are almond and pistachio,  I don't remember the filling :(

Treats, Treats, Treats ( I just remember that there are almond and pistachio,  I don't remember the filling :(

Oh and they have Wine.  Hello, Wine and Chocolate night! Who is hosting, I'll be right over!!

WINE and Champagne!!!

WINE and Champagne!!!

After munching on some deliciousness, we took a walk to see a landmark. 

You can read the history of these historical landmarks here. The boat houses are meant to be turned into a museum once the loan on the houses are paid in full.

Then on to the next. I forgot the back story to this. Foodie Fail.

Walking up the block, then two blocks over to Lobster West. Yes, My boss sure did tell me about this place. I am so glad I came on this tour! Now, we had some east coast transplants in our walking tour group.

Lobster West - Last Stop 

I sure do feel like Mimi saved this stop for last.  I am so glad she did. I never liked lobster because I didn't know how to eat it. Also, because I think that it is messy.  My first go, when my in-laws had some sent about over a year ago. I have tasted a couple of lobster rolls, but they were more full of mayonnaise than lobster.  I think that turned me off more. Now these babies, HOLY COW!

Lobster Roll. YUM!!

Lobster Roll. YUM!!

The lobster to lobster to lobster ratio.  Awesome. Little to no mayonnaise.  Stuffed into amazing tasting bread. I still don't know where this bread is from, but I LOVE IT!! Chad was our gracious host who told us about the history of Lobster West.  Did you know that they have been here for almost 3 years?  House made coleslaw (Mom's recipe!), how can you pass this up? Oh and the clam chowder, AWESOME! Best Clam Chowder, hands down! I have had some clam chowder, but Lobster West is AWESOME! Lobster West recently introduced scallop rolls, which has been well received. More, the Lobster Bisque is divine?? Say What!! Word on the street is, Lobster West is going to hit Coronado, keep an eye out for it!! 

This was a fruitful walking tour.  It's nice to find places "off the beaten path" so to speak. I learned more about Encinitas that day.

Bite San Diego has other tour options, but definitely check their website for details on different tours.  It is definitely a way to learn more about San Diego County. I definitely like the food options on the #BiteEncinitas Tour.