Archive for February, 2010

Dinner Party on a Budget

February 28, 2010

We all know how expensive going out can be.  The cost of dinner, a movie ticket, plus candy and a drink if you choose to visit the concession stand can put you well over $30.  And don’t even get me started on how much it costs to get appetizers and drinks at your favorite wine bar!  So why not opt for an evening in instead?  That’s exactly what I did this past Friday night!

Putting together a small dinner party not only puts money back in your pocket, but it’s also FUN and EASY—my two favorite words :).  Pick a theme and start planning from there.  Ours happened to be men bashing—I mean celebrating being single—and wine!  Ask everyone to bring a side dish that goes along with the overall theme and, in our case, a bottle of wine—and wallah, you’re set for an evening of fun for half the price you would normally pay to go out!

Our spread included:

Wine, of course!  Other booze was there to visit but didn’t come out to play.  Apparently wine likes to party exclusively.

A delicious spread of cheese and crackers, veggies and hummus, chips and spinach dip, kabobs, and dessert!

Check out the amazing strawberry pie my friend Christina made!  Plus her kabobs were ah-may-zing!

I brought a bottle of Red Rover 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, a Californian red that was given to me as a gift.  I had never tried this wine before last night, but at $7.99 a bottle (yes, I did my research!), it wasn’t half bad.

Cab is a dry red wine known for it’s high tannin levels and bell pepper aroma.  This Cab was said to have aromas of cherries, berries, and cassis.  Cassis is a French term used to describe the black currant flavor that appears in wine.  Because of the high tannins that appear in Cabs, they are best paired with meat, strong cheeses and dark chocolate.  I picked up some Gouda from the grocery store which was absolutely fantastic when paired with the Cab.  You could also choose an aged cheddar, provolone, or Le Moulis.

If you want to splurge and plan an entire dinner around Cab, try this:

  • Filet mignon
  • Garlic herb mashed potatoes and steamed asparagus
  • Dark chocolate torte for dessert

Now you’ve got all the tools you need to plan your next dinner party!

Cheers,

Jess

An Extraordinary Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2010

Little Italy in San Diego

This year for Valentine’s Day, I wanted to get together with a couple of girlfriends (and one LUCKY guy friend).  We were going to go watch the movie Valentine’s Day but somebody was too good to watch a chick flick ;).  Instead we decided to go to “Carnivale” in Little Italy—a street celebration where people dress up in traditional Venetian Carnevale regalia.  It was basically like a very tame preview of the Mardi Gras celebration that is taking place this coming Tuesday, February 16th in the Gaslamp Quarter.

People in traditional Regalia costume walking on stilts!

A couple dancing in the streets.

It was a cute little festival.  There were several people on stilts dressed in character walking up and down the streets.  There was also live music outside a few of the restaurants.  People were dancing and having a great time!  It was definitely an event that people from all ages could enjoy.

There was a massive line out the door at Filippe’s.  I’ve never been but I heard it’s some of the best pizza in San Diego.  I think the 30 minute wait could definitely attest to that.  I’d like to go back to Little Italy soon to find out if Filippe’s lives up to it’s reputation!

But for this evening, I had other plans in mind.  I had been dying to check out Extraordinary Desserts for some time now.  It’s one of the most talked about dessert places here in San Diego.  So my friends and I hit up the location in Little Italy.  There are two locations—the second is in Balboa Park.

They are known for carrying the biggest and most eye-catching selection of desserts in San Diego!  I was speechless at the sheer beauty of the desserts which are a work of art in themselves.

Gerardo ordered some kind of chocolaty cheese danish.  It wasn’t as elaborate looking as all the other desserts but it definitely put Starbuck’s chocolate crossiant to shame.

I got the White Chocolate Linzer Torte which was actually kind of amazing.  If you like white chocolate and raspberry then this is your dessert!  The cake was supposed to taste like almond but I didn’t notice.

I tried a couple bites of the other girls’ desserts which were two different types of chocolate cake, and I have to say I was actually not too impressed.  I think the chocolate danish was probably the best of all, but even so I would have been happier with a slice of white chocolate raspberry cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory >:).

Extraordinary Desserts official report card:

  • Atmosphere: B
  • Dessert Selection: A+
  • Beverage Selection: A+
  • Creativity: A+
  • Taste: B

Cheers,

Jess

Valentine’s Day Themed Weddings!

February 5, 2010

With Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought I would post pictures from a wedding I worked at last summer as an intern for Cathy Teeters Beautiful Weddings.  This particular wedding had a very romantic feel to it.  They were going for a summery “watermelon” theme by using green, red, and pink… but I think the look came off more as Valentine-y.  Had I been consulting them, I would have suggested going with a dark green and light green paired with either the red or pink.

The wedding reception was held at the Salt Creek Golf Retreat in Nashville, Indiana.  The reception room had a spectacular wall-to-wall view of the luscious green golf course, which I loved.  I also adored the fireplace which you can see in the background of the first picture below.

I put together the lovely table centerpieces.  The small picture doesn’t show it best, but if you click to enlarge the photo you can see the vase is filled with cellophane and water, which gives a very interesting effect.  They chose hydrangeas for the main centerpiece with roses floating in water surrounding it.  The flowers were a very simple way to show elegance while remaining cost effective.  We all know in this economy just how important that is!

Guest favors included green, red, and pink jelly beans in a small jar sealed with a cork.

The wedding cake was a very simple buttercream cake with green ribbon bordering each layer and roses cascading along the side.  Cathy was responsible for decorating the cake with real roses.

These pictures show just how easily you can put together a Valentine’s Day themed wedding.  Remember these tips!

  • Color choice is everything!  Stick to romantic colors like red and pink paired with neutrals such as white or black.
  • Candles spell romance so use as many as possible in your table centerpieces!  Tea light candles are a great way to incorporate candles while remaining budget-conscious.
  • Roses are the classic Valentine’s Day flower.  Remember, roses come in all sorts of colors (peach, light pink, red).  Don’t be afraid to mix it up a bit!

Cheers,

Jess

Stone Brewery

February 4, 2010

I recently planned an outing with my friends to Stone Brewery, located in Carlsbad, California.  Stone Brewery is known best for their Arrogant Bastard Ale, a beer I first tried back when I turned 21 and was just developing my palette for craft beers.  Little did I know that 5 years later I’d be living half an hour away from Stone Brewery, where this delicious brew was born.

I’ve only lived here in San Diego for nearly 6 months now, and I’ve only been planning a trip to Stone Brewery since before I set foot outside of Indiana.  The point of the outing was to introduce all of the new friends I have made in San Diego to one another and to check out a fun, new spot that most had not been to before.  The event was a success and everyone ended up having a great time!  I’m so lucky to have met some really amazing people here.

Christina, me, and Jasmine

Being a huge fan of beer myself, I thought that Stone would be the perfect place to unwind on a Sunday afternoon just before the work week was set to begin.  While not all of my friends are beer drinkers, I knew they would at least appreciate the atmosphere and the great food that microbreweries are so well known for.

Also, for anyone who isn’t a fan of beer, I recommend getting the cider!  They’ve got a couple different bottled ciders to choose from.

Cider

Me?  I love a good dark beer so I tried their Stone Smoked Porter and was not disappointed.

We waited about 2 hours for a table (yikes!) but it was well worth the wait.  The table was located in a secluded spot outdoors.

Outdoor seating at Stone

The food was absolutely delicious.  I ordered the beer mac ‘n cheese with broccoli.  Sooooooo good.   When it comes to food though, I think the pictures speak for themselves!

Hummus and crusty bread

Beer mac 'n cheese with broccoli

Dessert

Dessert! Brownie a la mode

Stone’s report card:

  • A for atmosphere.
  • A for food.
  • B- for dessert (it was ok but I’ve definitely had better).
  • A for beer and selection of drinks on tap and bottled.
  • C for wait time.  Should you visit anytime soon, I definitely advise calling ahead for seating if possible.

Cheers,

Jess

*Photos courtesy of Jasmine.

Hello world!

February 3, 2010

Welcome to my new blog!  I am beginning an event planning blog as a way to show all the events I help produce.  I hope you enjoy it!