East Village Diner in Encinitas

At East Village Asian dinner you can expect to sample dishes from Japan, Korea, China with some really decent craft beers.  The food is delicious with friendly service.

It is also the home of the Monk’s Stone Pot, a signature dish at East Village.

The pot has baby spinach, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, carrots, zucchini, mushroom with house blended spicy sauce, rice and over-easy egg.  We ordered ours with brown rice and organic tofu.  They can be customized with choice of meats – beef, chicken, salmon and shrimp.  The bowl arrives super hot with slightly charred and crispy brown rice.  Blending in the over easy egg with the rest of the ingredients adds a rich taste of smoothness!

The carrot ginger vegan soup was fresh with great texture.  It did need a touch of spice and I added the spicy house made sauce.

Seaweed salad with cucumber and carrots.

The Hitachino White ale is a great Japanese micro brew – nice flavor with hints of coriander, nutmeg and orange peel.

The East Diner is a great place for a quick hearty meal in a super casual and cozy atmosphere.

East Village is located on 628, South Coast Highway in Encinitas.



A Walk Through Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco

Haight-Ashbury is a district of San Francisco named for the intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets.  Connie and I ate breakfast at a neighborhood restaurant and walked it.  Here’s what we captured …

Haight Ashbury Music Center to indulge your rock n roll urges …

Gramps enjoying a cup of SF’s finest … Blue Bottle coffee

Fresh, beautiful produce in abundance all over Northern California.

Tat shops and rock n roll mix well in this neighborhood.  The neighborhood became the center of the San Francisco Renaissance and with it, the rise of a drug culture and rock-and-roll lifestyle by the mid ’60s. College and high-school students began streaming into the Haight during the spring break of 1967. San Francisco’s government leaders, determined to stop the influx of young people once schools let out for the summer, brought additional attention to the scene, and an ongoing series of articles in local papers alerted the national media to the hippies’ growing numbers.

Some great vintage shops dot the streets.


The Haight-Ashbury’s elaborately detailed, 19th century multi-story wooden houses became a haven for hippies during the 1960s, due to the availability of cheap rooms and vacant properties for rent or sale in the district.  The bohemian subculture that subsequently flourished there took root, and to a great extent, has remained to this day.

And great street art with music themes.

We skipped the Nutella crepes even with the resounding “OMFG”

With the morning well spent, it was time for lunch at Nopa 🙂

Paul Smith Sid Moto Boots

Paul Smith Sid Moto Boots in Black. These are cool on the street or while riding on your motorcycle!  Get ’em at Bloomingdales in San Francisco or Paul Smith online (if you are lucky … these sold out pretty quick)

Features a tonal lace-up closure. Silver tone eyelets. Double wraparound adjustable buckle straps. Gunmetal tone buckles. Signature embossed detail at side heel. Topstitched wooden midsole. Rubber lug sole. Approx. 1.5” heel. 100% leather.

Distinguished Footwear Presented in B&W

In Black and White … boots, lace-ups, drivers … all from Barney’s New York

Bettanin & Venturi

Bettanin & Venturi is an Italian family and artisan company that manufactures exclusive luxury men’s shoes.  The company is known for very refined leather colorings on their footwear.  The brand has a limited distribution in the world and in the US, it is an exclusive of Barney’s New York!


Classic horsebit loafers in canvas and leather


Like Bettanin & Venturi, Berluti is a company that manufactures and retails a very exclusive luxury brand of shoes and boots solely for men. It is known for its unique leather finishing and patina. It was founded in 1895 by Italian Alessandro Berluti and is now helmed by his descendant, Olga Berluti. TheLVMH group acquired Berluti in 1993. The brand has very limited distribution—in the US it can only be found at their New York store and five select Barney’s locations and in Europe it is limited to eight Berluti boutiques.

Crockett & Jones

Founded in Northampton, England, Crockett & Jones make fantastic shoes with good welt construction.



Tod’s is an Italian company most famous for its driving shoes.

Lunch at Blackbird, Chicago

Blackbird is one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago.  Located on 619 W. Randolph, this Paul Kahan (chef, owner) eatery has won numerous accolades including numerous James Beard Foundation awards.

We were early for our reservation and enjoyed hanging out on a relatively warm Chicago afternoon till our table was ready …

Once seated we were in the very capable hands of our host and server Matthias.  He helped us through the entire menu selection, provided exceptionally warm service and to boot handed me over a list of a dozen great restaurants around Chicago (some that we tried and some that will be saved for our next visit!).

The dining space inside the restaurant is small and most tables close to each other unless you are seated by the window which offers a bit more intimacy.

We scored the table by the window!

We kept the ordering process simple; Pre-fixe was the way to go.

Connie chose the beet soup with bacon, roasted orange and endive marmelade.  Rich, thick and full of fresh beet flavor with a gorgeous dark color.  Great soup to start off the meal.

I chose the charred baby sepia with green tomatoes, blueberries, chamomile almonds and cynar.  The sepia is a cuttlefish generally caught for food in the Mediterranean, East Asia, and the English Channel.  The preparation at Blackbird had a nice grilled, chewy and dense texture with Cynar, an Italian bitter aperitif made from 13 herbs and plants.

For the entree, we both chose the wood-grilled sturgeon with chantrelles, kohlrabi, plums thai poppy jam and brown butter fish sauce.  The sturgeon was perfectly cooked with the a fruity, woody, and earthy fragrance on the chantrelles. The kohlrabi added a nice texture but could have used a lighter touch on salt.

Perfectly matched with a dry white recommended by Matthias … yikes – what was it?  My memory fails me.

And finally the dessert.  Connie chose the bittersweet chocolate cremeux with cashews, butternut squash and bergamot. Beautifully presented artwork on a plate, the creamy mousse like flavor of the cremeux was nicely balanced with the crunch of the cashew nut and fragrant bergamot.

I chose the almond financier and curd with plums, curried cous cous and thai basil.  The financier cake was moist made with almond flour with beurre noisette (brown butter), egg whites and powdered sugar.  The name “financier” is said to derive from the traditional rectangular mold, which resembles a bar of gold.  Another theory says that the cake became popular in the financial district of Paris surrounding La Bourse du Commerce (the former name of the Paris stock exchange).

This Financiers was accompanied by plum curd in place of the normal whipped cream.  The subtle curry and basil was a nice touch.

It’s cutting edge cuisine and people like Matthias that make Blackbird and the great city of Chicago such great dining destinations.  Can’t wait for next meal there.