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San Pasqual Winery

San Diego AMGEN Tour of California

Last weekend started with a relaxed cup of coffee crafted with my newly acquired Chemex coffeemaker and delicious beans by 49th Parallel out of Canada. One of my favorite coffee shops in town, Bean Bar sources their beans at their shop and it’s great being able to procure them locally at a fair price point without paying for shipping. My good friend Scott was nearby and we decided to check out the start of the AMGEN Tour of California (think Tour de France, but here in the states) and finally take advantage of the San Diego Urban Winery passports we’ve had for almost a year.

Balboa Park San Diego penny-farthing bicycle


May Gray was in full effect at Balboa Park and it was great to catch a bit of the race as it rolled through the neighborhood along with the many cycling enthusiasts who came out to watch the cyclists, some of whom had caught the beginning of the race in Mission Bay. I took a particular liking to this penny-farthing bike that was as tall as I am. I can’t imagine riding them.

 San Pasqual San Diego Urban Winery

If you’ve checked out my Instagram in the past few years, you know that I’m definitely a craft beer enthusiast, beer geek if you will, but my first love has always been wine. My college friend Jill was a big lover of the grape and although it took a few tries to convince me, slowly I became a fan. We have over 100 breweries here in San Diego County, and although we’re not Napa, we have over 100 wineries here as well.

 San Pasqual San Diego Urban Winery 1 barrels


Our first destination of the day was San Pasqual Winery just east of San Diego in La Mesa. It’s a small suburb with no vineyards to speak of. Unlike the sprawling vineyards you may be used to when it comes to wineries, San Pasqual is an urban winery that sources their grapes elsewhere and produces wine in an industrial park not far from an interstate. We almost drove right past the facility, which is near a couple of breweries, Bolt, and Helix. They’re close enough that you can easily do a wine & beer crawl on a weekend.

 San Pasqual San Diego Urban Winery rose

A big advantage of small wineries like San Pasqual as opposed to big tourist-oriented wineries in Napa and nearby Temecula is that you’ll be speaking with someone who’s much more knowledgeable about the wines themselves and is eager to engage. At San Pasqual, the person who was pouring the wines(I hate that I can’t remember his name) was eager to discuss the wines, answered my questions about the grapes sourced south of the border in the Valle de Guadalupe, as well as discuss the vineyards throughout San Diego County and California. We had a chance to get  a barrel sample of their famous passion fruit wines as well as taste the finished product from a bottle.

 San Pasqual San Diego Urban Winery 1


My favorites included an albarino made with San Diego fruit, a Rhone blend sourced from the Sierra Foothills, an Amador County zinfandel and passion fruit “Roselle” wine with added hibiscus, raspberry spiced with habaneros. Yes it sounds a little odd, but trust me, it’s one of their hottest sellers. I’ve tried a ton of cloyingly sweet wines in Georgia and there’s a big difference in what they’re doing here. Although we visited the production facility in La Mesa, they also have a tasting room + gallery in the heart of La Mesa, as well as a tasting room popular with tourists near downtown San Diego at Seaport Village.

A Pitcher of Palomas for Cinco de Mayo

Windansea Beach San Diego California

Seventeen miles. That’s how far I live from Mexico and the influences are everywhere here in San Diego. Mexican restaurants, much more tequila and mezcal at liquor shops than the bourbon and whiskey that I was used to in Atlanta, and Mexican TV and radio stations that dominate the San Diegan airwaves. I might not be able to find a good biscuit to save my life, but I can get amazing tacos all over the city, a trade off that I guess that I can live with. 🙂


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Sauza tequila was kind enough to send me some product to help me celebrate Cinco de Mayo this year. Margaritas will be flowing in pitchers throughout the city however when given the option, I love a good paloma. The ingredients can vary but overall it’s a ridiculously simple drink with many options for customization. Lately, I’ve taken to making my own tortilla chips from store bought tortillas and I find that taste a whole lot better and I can customize the spice and salt content to my liking, and I’ve tried them both fried and baked. I used a riff off of this baked tortilla chip recipe with cumin spice blend from Penzeys.

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Back to the libation at hand, this recipe is a simple ratio, which makes it easy to scale up for Cinco de Mayo or a party, or to simply have for a drink or two. The Sauza Paloma calls for grapefruit soda, but if you’d like to use bottled or fresh squeezed, feel free to do as I’ve done and substitute 1/2 grapefruit juice and 1/2 club soda. Feel free to muddle a serrano or jalapeno pepper to give it a bit of a kick!

San Diego cocktail paloma tequila + grapefruit juice

The Paloma


  • 1 parts Sauza® Signature Blue Silver 100% Agave Tequila
  • ½ parts lime juice
  • 3 parts grapefruit soda
  • ½ parts lime juice

Instructions: Add tequila into tall glass with ice. Fill remainder of the glass with grapefruit soda. Squeeze juice of lime and garnish.


This post was made possible by Sauza Tequila as part of their #MyKindOfCinco campaign. All opinions expressed here are my own.



Walla Walla, Washington & Courtyard’s 1000th Hotel

Horizon Air plane

There’s a wide range of cities on the planet that stick out in your memory when you hear the name, and Walla Walla, Washington is certainly one of them. The name rolls of the tongue and when sitting at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport waiting for my connecting flight to the city, a number of passengers around me were repeating the name with smiles on their faces.

I made it out to Walla Walla as an invited guest of Courtyard Hotels as they were preparing to open their 1000th hotel in a town known for sweet onions and fantastic wine. I’m always up for an adventure and jumped at the opportunity.

Walla Walla is a picturesque town with a main street, friendly faces and winery tasting rooms on every corner. A nice bonus when traveling from Walla Walla airport on Alaska Airlines, a box of wine can be checked in free of charge!


I love staying at boutique hotels when I travel, and from what I gathered from staying at the Courtyard’s newest property, they’ve given a fresh injection of what works with those hotels and put their own spin on it. The lobby is inviting with comfortable seating, local art is prevalent and there’s an interactive wall which helps to provide directions and a layout of the area.

One big improvement for me, having gone to a Courtyard a few years ago, is the availability of craft beer and local wines at the restaurant. It always seems a bit strange to travel to a new place and only have the same options available in my own city.

Blintzes + Biscuit at Maple Counter Cafe

Blintzes + Biscuit at Maple Counter Cafe

While in Walla Walla I had a chance to check out some of the culinary options from an upscale restaurant to down home comfort food. It can be hard for me to find decent biscuits in Southern California so I order them whenever I see them. I ordered it as a side to a plate of blintzes at the Maple Counter Cafe although they’re a meal in itself and I shared it with my new friends Jenna and Cat, awesome vloggers with a massive following on YouTube. As most places in the town, they offer local craft beers and wine.TMaccaronesPorkShank

Dinner at T. Maccarone’s was one of the highlights of the trip. Our group ordered most of the appetizer menu and there was plenty of wine flowing. The highlights for me were their dungeness crab cakes and my entree, a kurobuta pork shank from a farm in nearby Idaho, which was braised in cider and accompanied by smoked pork belly, a white bean ragout and local chard. I’m not a huge merlot fan but I had a chance to to try a number of Washington merlots on the trip and was impressed by what the winemakers in the area are crafting with the varietal.


I had a chance to try a few meals in Courtyard’s in-house restaurant, the Bistro, that serves full meals during breakfast and dinner hours. I was a bit nervous that I’d be disappointed at the restaurant, given that hotel meals can be hit or miss and I was the only food-focused blogger on this sponsored trip. I’m happy to say that I was impressed by their offerings here. At breakfast my croissant was flaky and I was able to order eggs any style with crispy potatoes. At dinner, the herb roasted chicken was a hit along with the wild mushroom and fava risotto. Both meals are a far cry from rubbery eggs and dry chicken breast that I’ve had elsewhere.

The Bistro5

I had a great time at the hotel and Walla Walla in general. There was a whole day dedicated to wine tasting as well and I’m looking forward to sharing that on my partner site, Sartorial Exposure. In the meantime, take a sneak peek on my story over on for a preview. I’d like to send a huge thanks to Courtyard for allowing me to be a part of their celebration!


San Diego, California




Twelve Months. 365 Days. One year. I honestly can’t believe that time has moved so quickly since I made the decision to try life out west.



I’ve always loved visiting friends in San Francisco, Los Angeles/Long Beach, Sonoma/Napa and here in San Diego and thought it might be a nice home base for awhile.



I’ve had an amazing time watching The food scene grow since launching the blog and it seems odd to pivot and concentrate on a different locale but I’m looking forward to the challenge.



Hopefully you’ve been able to keep up with me on Facebook and Instagram and if not, please do! I’ve been having quite a bit fun with Pinterest as of late as well.



It’s been fun exploring a new city and giving pointers to friends who have come out west for vacation. I still have plenty of stories to tell about Atlanta my adopted hometown. Stay tuned, we’re just getting started!




Atlanta Food & Wine Festival 2014 preview



It’s that time again! The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival returns for its fourth year to the grounds in and around the Loews Hotel in Midtown Atlanta.



Chefs from around the South will return for cooking demonstrations, create special dishes at dinners around the city and serve crowds at the popular tasting tents May 29th-June 1st.





Modeled after popular events held for years in Miami and Aspen, the Atlanta event champions Southern chefs over television personalities common at other events. If you’re looking for Giada or Guy you’ll have to head to South Beach.


Many chefs featured as part of the festival’s advisory council over the years have become famous in their own right and have won James Beard awards and hosted television shows.




Please check this link for photos from past years. Although I posted a few mobile photos on the blog last year, I have a number of shots from my “big boy” camera that I never had the chance to post, and you’ll find them on this page. I can’t wait for another round this year.


If your time is limited and can’t make it to the tasting tents or the seminars, be sure to check out the About South dinner if tickets are still available. It was without a doubt my favorite meal of 2013. Tickets for events range start at $55 and can be purchased at the AF&WF website. Cheers!