Happy Hour Help is here!

Drinking, eating and dressing up are the makings of a good time. Now, if you can do all that on a budget it's a BLAST! With the recent splurge on my YSL work bag eating into my budget, saving on my girls night out and social time is a must.  I LOVE a good Happy Hour.  I'm not talking about a Joe's Sports Bar happy hour of all you can eat wings and endless bowls of chili fries, BARF!  A great Happy Hour for this WESTCOASTWIFE consists of a swanky scene, snobby food, affordable wine, and good looking people.  With San Diego being known for its fabulous weather you can always be sure to find a spot with great scenery and fun outdoor seating.  Here are three of my current faves:

The Patio Lamont St. Pacific Beach and The Patio on Goldfinch Mission Hills-

 Pacific Beach location

Pacific Beach location

The Scene ****

Both restaurants are in awesome locations with a contemporary rustic vibe.  As it's namesake states, both restaurants are centered around their cleverly decorated and arranged patios.  In the Pacific Beach location you will find a young, professional, trendy beach crowd where "bros" put to bed their striped tanks and opt for a clean cut vibe and recently graduated San Diego State sorority girls don effortless looking $300 highlights and trendy over sized tote bags.  In Mission Hills you get a mix of the neighborhood's old money novelists and hipsters in non-prescription Warby Parkers. Both are circles I would happily like to be included in!

 Mission Hills location

Mission Hills location

Wine and DIne ***

The food on the Happy Hour lists slightly vary at both locations and consist of high quality yummies including things like fancy artisanal flat breads and delicious ahi poke tacos.  The wine list consists of esoteric brands with varietals from unusual locales; like a Pinot Noir from Argentina and a sparkling wine from Austria.  Fun stuff to tittilate your taste buds!

The Happy Hour $$$$                                                                                                                                                                         3-6pm and 10-12am

This is a spendier Happy Hour than most because the food is just a couple bucks cheaper than the regular menu.  It won't break the bank but you will be spending over $10 for a flat bread versus other competing restaurants. The nice thing is you make up for it in their awesome cost of wine.  Here they give 1/2 off on all wines on the menu. A steal considering the quality.  There's an early and later Happy Hour making The Patio a great spot for an early evening blind date where you can get a clear view of your suitor's goods,  or for your late night booty call you're trying to keep under wraps. 

Cafe la Rue at La Valencia Hotel La Jolla

The Scene ***

 "Miss Khloe K, we are ready to serve you."

"Miss Khloe K, we are ready to serve you."

At the front of the La Valencia Hotel doubling as an espresso bar and French bistro-style cafe, Cafe la Rue has a classic throwback charm that exhibits luxury with a welcoming feel. This spot is a La Jolla landmark where you get a mix of local La Jolla cougars, businessmen divorcees, swarthy European travelers, and posses of wives looking for a night away from their cheating husbands.  There's diamonds and bedazzling all around you with a "I look like I shop at Cache but this is actually a dress by Escada" or "My outfit is inspired by Kris Jenner" theme. In fact, this is the hotel of choice for the Kardashian Klan when they visit San Diego where their grandmother is a La Jolla native.  Even more incentive for me to make a visit!

Wine and Dine ***

The Happy Hour is limited to their extensive appetizer list consisting of Franco-fusion cuisine. You can order one of my favorite go-to's Moules with Pommes Frites (mussels and fries), or an extensive Charcuterie et Fromages plate with fancy cheeses, preserves, mustard, meats, and pates.  Oui oui!!  All the dishes are great to share and are easy to pair with the extensive wine list.  They have a very global wine list with an emphasis on European classics like Spanish Tempranillo's, French Sancerre's and German Rieslings.  Alas they still must cater to their demographic by offering their fair share of "Cougar Juice" otherwise known as buttery California Chardonnays.  

The Happy Hour$$                                                                                                                                                                        4pm-7pm

Cafe la Rue's Happy Hour offers: half off all beer, wine, and appetizers, $5 house cocktails and $7 martinis.  Wanna make a guess at how often this is??? EVERY DAY of the week! In my opinion, one of the best deals in the county. The later time frame of 4pm-7pm makes it convenient for those who would like a quick moment after work to touch up their makeup and have themselves a little ho bath before hitting the town again. In fact, a little bird told me they might be extending their Happy Hour an extra hour from 3-7! This is one of my personal haunts for a gossiping, gorging, guzzling, girls night out.  The silver foxes putting out the vibe at the bar with tan lines on their ring finger also make for great entertainment.  

Oceanaire, San Diego Gaslamp

The Scene **

This is your classic fine dining establishment with a touch of that Mad Men time warp feel. The Happy Hour is limited to the small lounge/bar area with dimly lit booths and tables with hot bartenders dressed in shirt and tie.  It's a mixed crowd of San Diego locals, young professionals, and travelling businessmen. The tight quarters demand for either making interesting conversation with an unlikely patron or a run-in with a martini spilling down the back of your silk Joie blouse.  Still a fun spot to dress up and cast glances at your potential Don Draper.    

 Can Jon Hamm be my barstool?

Can Jon Hamm be my barstool?

Wine and Dine ***

If you are a seafood fan, this is one of the best destinations in downtown San Diego for high-end seafood fare.  The happy hour offers an extensive appetizer list with a mix of fresh ceviches and shrimp & grits shared plates. What really puts Oceanaire on my fave list is that the oyster bar is also included on the Happy Hour menu!  They boast a large selection like Fanny May Oysters, Kumamoto, Blue Points, etc...  (I admit that I once came and ate 18 oysters all by myself!). What brings down the stars for this spot is the limited wine list with mid- to low-level wines.  I generally choose to peruse the main wine list where they offer well-known trophy brands and heavy hitters from Sonoma and Napa Valley.   

The Happy Hour $$$                                                                                                                                                                      Mon-Fri 5-6pm, and 9pm-close Sun 8pm-close

For a high-end establishment, Oceanaire does a fabulous job at offering an appetizer list so affordable you can have things like crab cake sliders for $8 or a lobster roll and fries meal for $16.  Truly a steal for the quality and location.  The oyster bar offers a large variety at a dollar each!  Great spot to get the libido going (although this is actually just relevant to men, and has no spurring of the groins for you ladies. Boo.)! The price of the wine fits the quality...CHEAP, and at $6 for all glasses it's hard to complain. With me eating mainly the oysters, I often pay the corkage so I can pair my eats with something a little snobbier.  Oysters might not make me drop my Hanky Panky's,  but pairing a bottle of Clicquot with them sure will! The hours of Happy Hour operation are a bit of a puzzle so i'm going to focus on my favorite time slot...SUNDAY FUNDAY!  With an 8pm-close, it's a great date night with the hubby and a perfect way to end the weekend.  

-Tuyen

 

MMMMM Carbs

I am just finishing up vacation and I am in a place where me = No F&^%ks given.  Reality hasn't sunk in yet and I will get to my starvation detoxes and calorie counting as soon as my sand soaked bikinis get out the laundry. But tonight is my last night and  I'm gonna live on the edge of reason and take in all the sweet yummy goodness of my near and dear lover.  Oh, Pasta I'm sorry I've scorned you all these months.  Tonight you and I will be reacquainted again for even if it is just one night. Hell, I'll even include my husband in this delectable cheat. So unlike Jeanie and her discipline in the kitchen and at the gym from yesterday's blog, tonight I'm going to share with you a recipe for one of my favorite hot pots of starchy goodness... My Sesame Pasta is the ultimate crowd pleaser.  It can be a side dish, an appetizer, a potluck addition, or dinner if your in a carb loading mood. It is an East meets West noodle dish with a taste of sesame and spice YUM!!!!  But because I don't want to scare off those who have dietary restrictions or who are currently taking part in some kind of 21 day sugar detox, I will also include alternative ingredients.  But first, let's take a 14 second look at the process....

As you can see my hubby has made an emphatic cameo.  Anyhow, let's go through the process... You will want to cook your noodles first.  In this particular recipe I used standard thin fettuccine pasta because it was in the cupboard and pasta is delicious. There are other dietary options I have included at the end in hopes I can keep the Paleo dieters and Celiac disease sufferers intrigued long enough to read through.  After your fettuccine (or whatever noodle you chose) is prepared and still hot, return it to the pot and add all the other ingredients. Mix thoroughly and serve at room temperature.  

Ingredients:

  • 1 pack of pasta
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 inch cube of grated ginger
  • 1 tsp of crushed red pepper (add to taste)
  • 1/4 cup of roasted sesame seeds

If you are looking for a gluten free, paleo, or annoying route for this recipe some substitutions could be Korean glass noodles (derived from sweet potato), spaghetti squash, or zucchini ribbons in lieu of pasta, and Bragg's Liquid Aminos instead of soy sauce.   

Champagne for My Real Friends...

Whether it's your turn to play the hostess with the mostest or you're just attacking another Tuesday night, here are some WCW-approved sips that won't break the bank or offend tastebuds- go away two buck Chuck, you're not wanted here.

 
 ***DISCLAIMER: I'm feeling like quite the daredevil taking on this post since Tuyen is the resident sommelier of the two of us.  While I drink wine like it's my job, it actually WAS Tuyen's job for a respectable amount of time and hopefully my picks don't vex her snobby pallet ;)                                                                                   CHEERS!!!

***DISCLAIMER: I'm feeling like quite the daredevil taking on this post since Tuyen is the resident sommelier of the two of us.  While I drink wine like it's my job, it actually WAS Tuyen's job for a respectable amount of time and hopefully my picks don't vex her snobby pallet ;)                                                                                   CHEERS!!!

Bubbles:

The fact that champagne has less calories than wine is reason enough to celebrate!  My fave these days is Bouvet Rosé Excellence. If you haven't jumped on the rose train yet- ALL ABOARD- time to wet your whistle.

Bouvet.jpeg
 

Sauvignon Blanc:

Does it have minerality? Is it citrus forward? Not sure, but Kim Crawford is damn good and always goes down wayyyyyy too easily.  Easy to find too, Costco is a good bet for the best price.

kim crawford.jpg
 

Chardonnay:

As much as I hate being that person who just 'adores a rich, buttery chard'... I'm going to own it because DAMMIT if I don't freaking love a creamy, cool glass of chardonnay paired with...um...everything. My hand. Finding a chard that fits this bill at a decent price can be tough, Newton Unfiltered, Rombauer, La Crema, pretty much anything Russian River can't do wrong in my book, but Chateau St. Jean is a pleasant surprise at the price point.

 

Pinor Noir:

When the temps cool down or you have a tinge of wine flu from the bottle of white you gulped last night while watching Real Housewives of OC and need to switch it up, Pinot Noir is one of those versatile reds that's light enough to drink alone or pair with seafood and not be judged. I've been feeling J. Lohr lately although there are tons of budget-friendly options I wouldn't kick out of bed.

j lohr.jpeg
 

Other reds:

I couldn't do a wine post without paying homage to my old faithful Apothic Red. It's big, it's juicy, it's got the tiniest hint of sweet and it's BOMB.COM.

The end. Salud. Prost. Let me know if you've got a must-try hidden gem!

~Jeanie