Archive for the ‘Social Events’ Category

My 27th Birthday at Splash Wine Bar!

August 7, 2010

Last Saturday, I finally got the opportunity to visit Splash Wine Bar in Northpark, a trendy little neighborhood in San Diego with several bars and restaurants to satisfy a range of different tastes.  I had been dying to visit this local spot for awhile now and finally used my birthday as the perfect excuse!

Learn by drinking doing is Splash’s philosophy!  At Splash Wine Bar, they believe that the best way to learn about wine is to drink the wine, which is why when you walk through their doors you’re greeted by a collection of self-serve wine machines.  From the wine novice to the beginner, this is the perfect place for anyone looking to expand their palate and find a few new favorites by giving you the option to taste from a selection of 72 bottles of wine that are produced all around the world!

Splash’s unique self-serve machines are organized by price and color, with red wines in the round serving stations as you walk in and white wines located towards the back.  It’s a fairly easy system once you get the hang of it.

  1. Head to the bar and load up a card (think of it as your wine passport) with any dollar amount
  2. Grab a glass from the drinking station
  3. Insert your card into the self-serve machine
  4. Select your wine!  (Don’t forget to put your glass under the spout!  It’s okay, rookie mistake…)

Not only does this system allow you to try many different varietals from all over the world, but it also gives you the opportunity to try wines that you might not be able to afford by the bottle.  Each taste of wine equals out to a one ounce pour.  I tried an amazing oaky and buttery Chardonnay from Carneros, California that would have cost me a whopping $40 a bottle, however a “splash” only cost me $4.50.

If wine machines aren’t your thing, they also serve house wine and a revolving selection of wines by the glass, including sparkling wines such as the must-try sparkling Shiraz (has one ever heard of such a thing?!).  I enjoyed a glass of their house Chardonnay, made by Fallbrook Winery just north of San Diego.

Aside from wine, Splash offers a nice selection of “small bites” ranging from meat and cheese platters to flatbread pizzas.  I’m pretty sure I saw a server come out with a tray of sushi too—but maybe that was just the wine taking effect!   Words cannot describe how fantastic their goat cheese and spinach pizza was, so instead I will sum it up with a picture. I also tried their baked brie wedge smothered in raspberry chipotle sauce and served with slices of French bread.  It was the perfect combination of salty meets sweet.  On a side note, I must say that I love the perks of being a wino because it means getting to experience all the great food that goes along with it!

I enjoyed my experience at Splash so much that I am already dreaming up my next “girl’s night out”.  It’s the perfect place to grab drinks after work with a girlfriend or have a first date!  The low lighting, decor, and couch seating helps create a very comfortable and intimate environment.  While it may be a small venue, it can definitely accommodate a party of ten or less, but I would not suggest going over.  If you do decide to bring a large group, call to reserve your space ahead of time in order to avoid wait-time.  The owner of Splash, Tracy, was very helpful and willing to work with me on seating, despite my lack of planning!

For more information on Splash, visit their website at asplashofwine.com or visit them in person at 3043 University Ave., San Diego, CA 92104.

More pictures from the night:

The San Diego Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Festival!

June 29, 2010

Well, it’s been nearly a month ago, but I’m finally getting around to posting pictures from the San Diego Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Festival that took place on June 4th.  Boy does time fly!  This month has been busy for me, what with the end of one internship and the beginning of a new one with ONEHOPE Wine, but that’ll be the topic for another blog entry entirely!

Now, I’m going to give you the details of the event through the planner’s point-of-view!

The WCCF, as I shall now refer to it, is a fundraiser for the Women’s History Museum of San Diego.  The past couple of years the WCCF’s been held in Balboa Park, but this was the first year the event was held in Balboa Park’s Spanish Village.  It was a beautiful venue and perfect for accommodating the size of this year’s event.

I came on board the WCCF in February through my internship with Lindsay Pomeroy of Wine Smarties, whose been involved in this event since it’s inception.

Besides helping out in pretty much every area of the event, Lindsay’s main focus was securing all the wine donations for the event.  She did a great job because there was definitely more than enough wine flowing at the event!  We had some great sponsors including…

Jake-Ryan Cellars

Hill Family Estate

Skylark Wine Company

ONEHOPE Wine & PRP Wine

Orfila Vineyards & Winery

Fallbrook Winery

I was assigned with the task of finding cheese and chocolate sponsors for the event, which sounds a lot easier than it actually is!  You try calling local businesses during a recession and then ask them to donate their time and product for 600 guests, and let me know how that goes ;).

Luckily there were a lot of great businesses in San Diego that generously agreed to be a part of this year’s event.  This event would not have been possible without the donations from our sponsors!

Here’s a few pictures of our lovely cheese & chocolate sponsors…

Big Kitchen

I want to send out a special thank you to Judy and Mark from Big Kitchen!  We couldn’t have pulled off the festival without their help.  They loaned us kitchen supplies, baskets, and had staff from their restaurant help out in our kitchen.  HUGE thanks to them!

Cupcake Love

Let me just tell you a thing or two about Cupcake Love.  They have the best cupcakes ever!  Their chocolate cupcake with whipped peanut butter frosting is to DIE for!

I really can’t say enough about them other than you have to go check them out :P.  Their store front location is in Solana Beach.

Ghirardelli Chocolates

Godiva Chocolates

Eclipse Chocolat

I wish I could pay homage to each and every sponsor, but my blog can only handle so much!

Even Jasmine, my friend and fellow blogger showed up to check out the event and do a write-up about it on her blog.

At the end of the day, I think the festival turned out to be a huge success.  I’m so glad I got to be part of such a great event.  With that said, I’ll leave you with some festival highlights below…  Enjoy!

Cheers,

Jess

Rhythm and Vine Music & Wine Festival

April 19, 2010

Music @ Rhythm & Vine

I went to last night’s Rhythm and Vine, a music and wine festival in Escondido, California that benefits the Girls and Boys Club.  Rhythm and Vine is put on by Fast Forward Events, the event company that I interned for last semester when I helped out with the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival.  It’s such a small world!  Anyway, I was there last night helping out my mentor, Lindsay Pomeroy of Wine Smarties, who was brought on to host a segment for Taste of Wine TV.

We basically got to go around and handpick restaurants, wineries, breweries, and spirit purveyors we thought would have the most compelling stories and bring them back to our booth for Lindsay to interview on camera.  Among the various exhibitors, we spoke with Fallbrook Winery, Orfila Vineyards & Winery, Cupcake Love, St. Petersburg Russian Vodka, La Jolla Pub & Brew House, and PaQui Tequila.

It was interesting to be on the other side of the fence as an exhibitor.  I got to spread my wings a little and experience the event as an attendee would.  I had so much fun that I didn’t get any pictures despite bringing my camera :(… but I still have my memories!

This event was much smaller than the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival, but I think as a spectator some people may prefer it if they are looking to avoid big crowds and long lines.  Despite the size, I feel like this event still had a lot to offer in terms of wine.  Many of the wineries participating at this event were also a part of the SDBWFF so in terms of quality, you were getting a lot of the same great wines but on a much smaller and local scale.

I was really impressed with Fallbrook Winery‘s 2007 33 Degree North BDX.  This is their first wine made entirely from grapes grown on their Estate.  67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 8% Cabernet France and 100% delicious, it mimics the qualities of a red Bordeaux—smooth and enticing, it definitely leaves you wanting more.

Another favorite wine came from Ryan-Jake Cellars, a vineyard that grows and produces their wines up in Napa Valley.  I really enjoyed their 2007 3.SUM.  Strange name, but great taste!  Also a blend, this time of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Syrah and Zin.  They describe this wine as full-bodied and “packed with flavors of cherry, rhubarb, caramel and blackberry preserves, with undertones of cocoa and spice.”  Their 2007 Viogner was also quite delicious, but it was definitely not a match when compared to Orfila‘s Estate Viognier.

The emphasis at this event was definitely not on food.  SDBWFF is jam packed with amazing chefs from all over the San Diego fine dining restaurant scene, whereas the food at this event consisted of many more casual dining restaurants with a few big names like Harney Sushi and the Winesellar & Brasserie.  I enjoyed the lasagna of Lady Lasagna (San Diego), they had both a tomato and pesto lasagna that were delish.

Also the ladies of Hotcha Salsa (Carlsbad) were so cool—they gave me TWO free containers of salsa.  Their hot salsa is made with cucumbers, which I normally hate, but it was actually quite tasty.

Mmm... Hotcha!

And I can’t forget The Chocolate Traveler (Pasedena) for hooking me up with a free sample of their milk chocolate wedges… yum!

Milk chocolatey goodness!

In addition to wine, I got to try a variety of delicious beers.  Firestone Walker Brewing Company came down from Paso Robles to show off their beers which have won numerous accolades in world competitions.  I was blown away by their Double Barrel Ale, which is actually aged in oak barrels like a wine, leaving hints of vanilla and toasted oak on your palette.  I definitely recommend picking up a case of the DBA at your local Vons.  Another favorite came from North Coast Brewing Company (Fort Bragg, CA).  With 9% ABV, their Old Rasputin Imperial Stout punches you in the face with flavors of espresso and chocolate.  It was quite possibly one of the BEST stouts I have ever tried.  I’m going to have to keep my eye out for that one and see if it’s offered locally!

All and all this was a great event that I’d highly recommend to anyone with the money to attend.  With tickets at $75 (advance) – $100 (at the door) it can be a little pricey, but if you have the funds it’s a wonderful way to spend an evening while giving back to the community.

Cheers,

Jess

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

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.