Sunday, February 21, 2010

***Construction Alert***

This blog is under heavy construction. And yes, this post will disappear once we're up and running.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cafe Bleu

92103 is losing another little gem. Cafe Bleu is closing Saturday, and it's a damn shame given that we'd just started eating there. So, for the first of at least two farewell meals, we made a great go of it.

Amuse Bouche:

Goat cheese and raspberry reduction served on a cucumber slice over balsamic vinagrette. One bite of fresh goodness here. I'm swiping this one.


Olives, Dates, and Almonds Plate.

This plate is served with pecorino-stuffed dates wrapped in applewood smoked bacon, which even my strict vegetarian neighbors tuck in for. The plate is sprinkled with truffle oil and it's a surprisingly light indulgence.

Onion Tart

Oh sweet lord, I feel like protesting the closure just for this. It's a puff pastry shell with caramelized onions and Parmesan cheese layered with tomatoes, garlic, and a pistachio pesto that would make you weep. I have a burning love for this dish that will send me into mourning come Saturday.


Coq Au Vin.

I am the world's worst vegetarian when I hit up a great restaurant. Yeah, it's ye olde French standard cuisine, but one that's ridiculously easy to botch. And Cafe Bleu's is a good as my mother's. And she was a trained chef who could cook your underpants into an evening delight. The sauce was a beautifully balance mushroom and wine affair, served with potato souffle. I'm having my leftovers for breakfast, you better you bet.

The staff is lovely, and the bartender pours a kicking mixed drink. And he's a dead ringer for Bryan Dick, but hey. I'm not letting the week go by without another go at the mushroom vol-au-vent and an amazingly good gazpacho. And it's one of the coolest looking joints in Hillcrest without an ounce of the pretension easily found in this neighborhood. I'll be following this chef, and hopefully there will soon be more magical dances across my palate.

The worst part about Cafe Bleu's impending closure is that it's not because of slow business. The landlord -- who is already losing money since the space Rags occupied remains empty -- jacked up the rent in times like these. Yep, they turned down a steady rental for the prospect of a bigger check. I'll tell you, I expect that space to be empty for a while yet. Seven restaurants have come and gone in my lifetime, and the turnover is become ever shorter because of this mismanagement. It's a shame.

So, San Diegans, hit this spot up sometime this week if you can. The happy hours are great, and the Tuesday Night Out special will leave you patting your stomach all night. I highly recommend making reservations if you want to give a shot on Saturday (closing night).

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

How to Talk to a Widower

For a borderline misanthrope like myself, How to Talk to a Widower looked like it would be just my style for a nice morsel of chick-lit. I had picked it up just before jury duty, and I was caught up in the first ten pages. Now, the story of a binge drinking, miserable sap of a writer who can't begin to try and recover from his wife's untimely death sounds pretty dull. But this character comes with a family that fills the rest of the DSM IV in neuroses, and they are the color. From the twin sister hell bent on ruining what seems to be a perfect decent home life to the CVA-damaged and senile father, I find the Parker family far more interesting than the twattish central character. I was tearing through the story at a breakneck pace, completely engrossed and delighted to ignore any potential civil duties, until I hit the ham-handed ending. The tale had grit and honesty on its side until the pasted-on Lifetime Movie Network moment hit. Luckily, I only had to endure about twenty pages of tripe, but it really ruined the story for me.

I am quite literally ambivalent about this book. The concept is not exactly unique, nor in the writing Pulitzer-worthy. However, I was happy to follow the voice of this loser for several hundred pages. I waws truly entertained. And then, I got hit by a 2X4 of stupid. I can't recommend the book because of the ending, but I can't say that I hate it.

I call this one "read at own risk." You may like it, you may hate it. Even if you feel like you can't read past the shark jump, you may just get a chuckle or two out of the side characters in this neurotic East Coast circus.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"So if you believe in Christmas, like your uncle Billy does..."

Since I am a happy San Diegan, I am an unhappy Lushie. I am limited to either mail order or LA trips, and it makes me cry on the inside. That being said, I was up north for a show, and popped into the CityWalk location yesterday before heading home. While I haven't had the time to use the products enough to drum up a new stack of reviews, I would like to give my general feeling for that location.

You guys rock, and really do understand customer service. It can be very difficult to drum up customers in such a tourist-y locale. The parking situation was not marked as it had been explained to me before arriving, so I was instantly put right off. I am sure that's a typical situation up there. But I was very well taken care of once in the store. Again, apologies for being rubbish at remembering names, but the two ladies who helped my friend and I were very attentive and helpful. I really appreciated the help with product selection after my Fresh Farmacy disaster. I spent a lot of time going back and forth with things, and yet, they stuck with me. I always love, review, and revisit stores that pay detailed attention to what I am after.

More to the point, after I explained my parking woes, I had what seemed like an embarrassing amount of samples handed over to me. They didn't need to do that. Sure, we're all used to getting a couple of little guys tossed in with our purchases, but this was above and beyond the call of duty.* You know what? The next time I am visiting my partner in 818, I might just deal with the parking price and stop on by.** I spend my days bending over backwards dealing with corporate customers, and getting some of that service back leaves me a very satisfied customer.

* Lush's sample policies and practices may vary from store to store, but it's very nice that you always get something extra when you go in. They don't have to give any freebies, but they do. That's worth some cookies off the bat.

** No disrespect meant toward other LA-area locations. The Santa Monica store is also quite awesome!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lush Review III: The Search for Spock

So, I promised to review the hair care products I got, and I am happy to bring you my results!

1. New Shampoo Bar (4.75/5)

So this whole bar shampoo thing was a crazy new idea to me. But with the promise of a longer lasting product with no SLS, I figured I'd give it a go. Plus, the five year old in me thought it looked fun. I hit the showers as soon as I could and the five year old in me gleefully shook hands with the paranoid android twenty-something. As a ginger, enhanced though I may be, I am always terrified that shampoos will wreck my hair. I have a lot of it, but it is quite fine. One false move and I am praying for my next hair appointment to disguise damage behind layers. So as the tingly sensations took over my scalp, I knew I would have to wait. First of all, the reports are true - you just need a couple of swipes and your head is lathered up and good to go! I overused it the first go round, but it was a learning process. Second, I loved the tingly feeling from the cinnamon and clove, which made for a lovely lingering scent as well. My hair made it out just fine, and in fact, is looking a little better for the experiment! I just wish it didn't stick so easily in the tin. Of course, this has been alternated with another bar...

2. Squeaky Green Shampoo Bar (4.75/5)

Despite my Cartman-like fear of the hippie label, I was bolstered by the support of my friends and decided to give this one a go. I am very glad that I did! Now the overall shampoo bar experience is the same. I doubt that changes much from bar to bar. But this one left me feeling gloriously clean and my scalp was very happy. The bits that came out of the bar were a bit odd to deal with, since that's new to me. Still, I love how clean my hair felt without having the life sucked out of it in the process. I seriously recommend it for nights after concerts, road trips, or serious gym workouts. You can feel nice and fresh without sacrificing comfort or hair health.

3. American Cream Conditioner (2.5/5)

OK, I get that this is insanely popular. And the smell might be it. However, it's not my favorite conditioner thus far. Yeah, my hair soaked it up, a bit too well. I usually can go a day without having to wash my hair, and with this conditioner, my hair got very heavy right away. On the couple of hot days we've had hit since I picked this up, my hair was very happy to have the extra moisture, and I might just keep the rest of the bottle for those days. It's just a bit much for my hair. It feels very healthy, and it's definitely not bad, but it's like putting a full body cast on someone with a mosquito bite. Major overkill for me. Sure, this may be Lush heresy, but I am being honest.

4. Jungle Conditioner Bar (4.5/5)

Now, I expected to hate this. Coming off of the heaviness of American Cream, I was thinking this would leave my hair devoid of life. But I have seen the light! This conditioner was perfect for my hair. It's a Goldilocks formula - not too much or too little. Since I was going off of samples, I can't tell how long and actual bar would last me, but I am certainly going to make sure I find out. Yes, you do have to do some warm-up softening voodoo to get it ready to go on your hair. And you will want to make sure your hair is detangled to get the fastest and easiest results. The .5 knockoff is because it is a royal pain in the hindquarters to get this going at 5:30AM when I am half-asleep. Since that is my natural state of mind when showering, that's a deserved slap on the bum. Beyond that, I have to say that I am very pleased with this product and I recommend it, despite its quirks.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Big Lush Review Part Deux

Recently, I made another large mail-order purchase from Lush, and I took a swing by the Santa Monica Lush store, so I have a bunch of new and fabulous things to review!

1. Coalface Cleanser (5/5)

I have used hundreds of products on my face that have been promising then let me down thanks to my sensitive skin. Dermalogica, Origins, Estee Lauder, Clinique, Murad, Neutrogena, Boots Botanics, etc. have all led me to have a blown up face, breakouts, and other fun side effects. Think - "OH GOD, IT BURNS, IT BURNS!" On the surface, Coalface seems to be a pretty rough and tumble bar, but this little black wonder is a softie. For the past four weeks, I have been using this, and my face has undergone quite the transformation. I love what this is doing for my skin. I had decent expectations, but I hadn't expected the turnaround. When I want a bit more exfoliation, I rub the bar directly on my face, but normally I lather it up and then go for it with the lather. I love this stuff, and the only downside to the product is that I have to rinse out my sink after each use.

2. Fresh Farmacy Cleanser - (2/5)

I know this is a product that a lot of fans, but you can't count on me as one of them. Simply put - "OH GOD, IT BURNS!" My face exploded within ten minutes of use, and I felt the reaction for days. However, the saving grace for this was that on my less-sensitive areas, it served nicely as a post-sun calmer. I am not sure what went so pear-shaped, but I am not going to be buying this again.

3. Tea Tree Water Toner (4.5/5)

Well, you have to give the product this - it does what it says on the label. In using this with Coalface, I have seen my skin calm down and clear up, and this product is an equal partner in the process. I have used tea tree products in the past and had my face melt away or crackle like plaster. Thankfully, this formula is well-balanced and gentle, so you can actually get the results that tea tree formulas promise. On the other hand, this is not a magical cure-all either, so be aware. I definitely recommend this for anyone who has sensitive combination skin!

4. Imperialis Moisturizer (4.5/5)

OK, well, let's get the only bad thing with this one out of the way. If you use the wrong amount, your skin will let you know straight away. You'll either be too tight from too little or very oil from too much, all in a matter of minutes. That being said, that's about the only bad thing about this stuff! I mean, the only problems my skin had with it were totally based on the quantity of product used, and not the scent or formula. That's a new thing for me, since I almost always have some sort of problem with the perfumes put into products. Also, major bonus points for the amount needed for use. Your dollar/pound/chocobo tokens will go a long way with this one. I may choose a different moisturizer next round, but I am still happy with this!

5. Love Lettuce Facial Mask (5/5)

Well, when I got my mitts on this little gem in the store, I was concerned that I was not going to be my money's worth out this little tub. After all, securing an icy cooler to ferry beauty products from LA to San Diego is a bit of a bother, so I was looking for serious results. Yeah, I got 'em. Despite the lavender content of Fresh Farmacy, I decided to give this one a go based on the recommendation of the Lush magician who was helping me. (More on the store itself later). And I am one satisfied little monkey. I love the feeling, the smell, and how gentle it is on my skin despite the ground content. I am definitely buying this one again!

6. Buffy Body Butter (4.5/5)

After being disappointed with the half-life of You Snap the Whip, I decided to try this out. WOW. I am very pleased with the results! I get a softer, more even result from Buffy than I have with much more expensive body scrubs. Granted, I need to make sure than my skin is good and wet to use it so that I don't give myself a rugburn, but it's very nice to use! Yes, it is a bit oily, but if it's taking too long to soak in after rinsing, I can just wash off any excess. After about a month of using it, I am even seeing some sun damage coming off, and that makes me a very happy monkey indeed!

7. King of Skin Body Butter (5/5)

Oh yeah, baby! I am using this right after using Buffy on a few places that I have rough patches, and I am getting out of this world results. I am very moisturized, but not overly done, and my skin is renewed! I promise that the following statement is not hyperbole. This is really turning back the hands of time on a couple of spots for me, and even my husband is noticing the difference. Also, this butter does not run out so quickly, so it's a good deal for what you're getting!

8. Sympathy for the Skin Body Lotion (4.5/5)

Now this was a very pleasant surprise. Granted, most Lush products are fairly concentrated, but with the SoCal summer bearing down on us, I was worried that I was spending an awful lot for a small pot of lotion. Umm, wrong. Yes, this product is an awesome lotion, and smells totally edible, but that's not the best part for me. I love the fact that so little lotion goes such a long way. After all, Lush is super-fantastic, but it's not cheap. The longevity of the product balances out the price here, and that's an even bigger deal these days. So go ahead and splurge, you'll get your money's worth, easily. More importantly, you'll get the same use out of it that you would from the same cost of a cheaper product.

9. Foot Treatment Combo: Running to the Embassy Body Butter/Volcano Foot Mask/Pied de Pepper (4.5/5)

I am pretty rough on my tootsies these days, so I thought I'd indulge in some foot love. I am glad that I did. The feeling of Running to the Embassy is very relaxing. I love the minty-fresh tingle, and it really does soften up the skin and exfoliate some of the craziness away. I follow this with the Volcano foot mast. I was concerned about the tomato content at first, since I am not a huge fan, but the smell and the feeling are anything but gross. After a long setting, brush the magic mask off, and your feet will be happy with you! After the scrubbing and soaking, I used the Pied de Pepper foot lotion, and I am very happy with the results. I think I might switch the lotions next time, but overall, this has been a great combination for me. If nothing else, giving your feet a little spa day is a great way to relax, so that's worth the price of admission in itself.

10. Coconut Deodorant Powder (4/5)

Since switching to the Aromaco/The Greeench combo, I have been very happy with the results. However, I thought it would be fun to give Coconut a whirl. After all, on a hot day, the Aromaco does come through, More to the point, if you read my last review, I would rather have rabid ferrets munch on my lady bits than smell like a dirty hippie. Well, hot day problem solved for me! The Aromaco/Coconut combo keeps me drier, and does smell much girlier. I still use the other combo, but when I know the temperature is rising, I will be reaching for this every time. I just wish it came in the same size conatiner as The Greeench, which makes for a 1 point penalty.

11. Avobath Bath Bomb (4/5)

Bright green and fresh-smilling, this one made for a fun little explosion as soon as it hit the water. I love the smell, and it was a very rexling little bath treat. It looked like I was actually swimming in lemongrass, and my skin liked it a lot too! It did go by pretty fast though, so I am looking forward to some of the longer-fizz ones that I purchased.

12. Lip Squeak Lip Balm (4.5/5)

Nom nom nom! I am all about this stuff now! It's even surpassed my beloved Boots Original Lipsalve! The apple pie flavor is delightful, and my lips are sweet and soft. The container bends very easily, so watch out, but I dig it. Be careful, you might end up eating a lot of pie.

13. Emperior of Ice Cream Buttercream (4/5)

I got this one as a sample, and I have to say that I enjoyed it a lot. It's a nice a subtle scent, and it went well with the rest of the regimen. However, I still didn't get that clean feeling. I think I might either pass on buttercreams altogether or only use them after a good dosing of Sonic Death Monkey.

14. Rock Star Soap (2/5)

Well, I liked the soap part, as it did not dry my skin out and it got me clean. The scent was a bit overpowering for me, which will undoubtedly make some laugh given that I smell like a Lush factory half of the time now. It smelled... weird. I can't place it exactly, but it's like when you smell a candy you just don't fancy. Sickly sweet and eew. I am sure a lot of people like it, though.

15. Karma Soap (4/5)

I am not a huge fan of soaps, as they dry my skin out like no one's business. However, the Karma soap might just change my mind about that. I cried a little on the inside when my sample gave its last. I love the freshness of it, and despite the hippie-stink factor, I might try it again.

16. Sea Vegetable Soap (4/5)

Oh, I really liked this! Fresh smell and minimal dryness! I walked all over Hollyweird in scorching heat, then headed back down the 5 to SD with no AC and the windows down. That makes a girl pretty dirty. This got me feeling nice and fresh again, so kudos to you, you green piece of love.

17. Soft Hands Treatment (2.5/5)

Well, it's got a crap rating from me. It's not because your hands don't get soft! They get frighteningly soft. But I felt like I had a parrafin wax/sulfuric acid treatment afterwards. I am pretty sure that it was the Ocean Salt that did it, but I won't be going for that combo... ever. It sucks too, since after saving my poor skin from the flames of irritation, my hands felt quite nice. I hope that a non-salt based scrub heads our way in the near future.

18. Lush Store, Santa Monica 3rd Street Promenade

This was my first store excursion, and I loved it! The whole staff was very helpful and informative. More to the point, I am very easily won over by the mentioning of Doctor Who, so that's a killer way to land a sale with me, LOL. I had a great time, and I love the set up. I am definitely going back. Love to all of you down there!

Coming Soon! Reviews for: Squeaky Green Shampoo Bar, New Shampoo Bar, American Cream Conditioner, and more!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Kensington Grill

Nothing like a Friday night happy hour to cap off your week! Once again, my father and I ventured out into the culinary world to try something new. We decided to hit up the Kensington Grill.

We got there very early, right before opening. However, the hostess kindly let us in and sat us at the bar. Once we were able to order, I ordered the Blueberry Lemon Drop and my father ordered a Sidecar. The Stoli Blueberi added a very nice compliment, and I definitely enjoyed it... rather them.

I checked out the menu, and the menu is very creative. The flavor combinations are very modern without getting lost in an avart-garde fog. I ordered the quesadilla of the day, which was pork, cheddar, and apple with a very nice pico de gallo on the side. The blend was so well done, and I enjoyed the smoky flavor of the pork with the cheddar. The presentation was neat and attractive - an acheivement for my favorite, albeit, messy appetizer. My father ordered the fried calimari, which came in a fun bowl presentation. I wish I could give a better description, but I am allergic, so I tragically leave the review to my father. "It's good." Not much, but he also did not come up for air until he had eaten the whole thing, which is his true stamp of approval.

Since I was denied a tasty seafood treat by the fickle finger of genetics, I ordered the chocolate pot de creme for a dessert. To the chef, thank you! Thank you a million times over for realizing that chocolate dessert does not need to be overpoweringly sweet! The texture of the creme was spot on, and the topping was not burned. For a lot of places, that alone is praiseworthy. The true chocolate flavors give the dish a beautiful aroma that you simply don't get anymore - chocolate without a serious candy bar bent.

As happy hours go, when you see a spot as full as the Kensington Grill is, you may wonder what the big deal is. The prices are right, the service is excellent, and the ambience is relaxing. You will not be disappointed!

Kensington Grill
4055 Adams Avenue
San Diego, CA 92116