Thursday, April 21, 2011
If you're wondering where to brunch this Easter or where to take the kiddos for egg hunting, we have plenty of suggestions for you.
If you're wondering where to brunch this Easter or where to take the kiddos for egg hunting, we have plenty of suggestions for you.
Barbarella Fokos is the author of the Diary of a Diva column and Your Week page at the San Diego Reader.
Erin Chambers Smith is the senior editor at San Diego Magazine.
ST. JOHN: You're listening to These Days on KPBS. I'm Alison St. John in for Maureen Cavanaugh. Well, it's we have thor weekend coming up of it's also saint George's day and Shakespeare's birthday, and lots of reason to celebrate. And maybe spring fever has you antsy to get out and enjoy some egg hunting or a little brunch and beer or some mimosas, we've got alternatives to suit every taste coming up, and our guests in studio are Barbarella Focus, is the author of a diary of a diva column. And yourweek page at the San Diego reader. Thank you, barbarella, for coming in.
BARBARELLA: Oh, thanks for having me.
ST. JOHN: And Erin Chambers Smith is the senior editor at San Diego magazine.
SMITH: Good morning.
ST. JOHN: Good morning, Erin. So let's see, all these different alternatives of places you have to go, for Easter extravaganza, this weekend. And Barbarella, you have got the idea of going to the birch Aquarium. Tell us about that.
BARBARELLA: Right, and alternative is a great word for this one. Everybody is used to Easter with, you got your fluffy chicks and your fuzzy bunnies of but at birch aquarium, they're eggs of a different kind, they are going to have their spring eggstravaganza, and they're actually going through ocean animal eggs.
ST. JOHN: Ocean animal eggs?
BARBARELLA: Yes, for example, marine animals and their eggs, like squid, fish, and wolf eels, and sharks, and I actually have to say on the KPBS website, you guys have some great videos of wolf eels. I wasn't sure what those looked like. I had to go through and see them.
ST. JOHN: What about the eggs? What do they look like?
BARBARELLA: They're creepy. They're -- you're not gonna paint them.
ST. JOHN: Do they taste good?
BARBARELLA: They're see through. It's kind of like an --
SMITH: Maybe after brunch. After you've had your --
BARBARELLA: Right. I wouldn't say after, but I would say -- but yeah, it actually starts today, and goes through Sunday. But they're also, you know, there are gonna be a lot of activities of so you can go on an egg hunt throughout the birch aquarium, where you're gonna be basically looking for those eggs. You're gonna learn what they look like as you hunt for them. I'm assuming there are gonna be little eyes peeking through.
ST. JOHN: Is this an able specific kind of event.
BARBARELLA: It is, 2 to 6 is really what they gear it towards, because there are little crafts, you get to make a shark egg and things like that, for younger kids.
ST. JOHN: You get to make a shark egg as well as eat --
BARBARELLA: Yeah, you get to make a shark egg but not the edible kind. I'm pretty sure it involves paint and messy stuff.
ST. JOHN: Okay. Are there any other sea creatures and egg related activities to talk about there?
BARBARELLA: Well, you know, they have the craft and the actual going through, no, they're just really the hunt and the craft and everybody, of course, is invited to go through the aquarium and search. But it's sort of -- it's springtime there at the aquarium, just like it is in the fields and the --
ST. JOHN: Scripps birch aquarium, presumably admissions included in this event, right?
BARBARELLA: It is. Kids under two are free, but it's $12 for adults.
ST. JOHN: So that's the spring Eggstravaganza. Which starts today and goes through Sunday at the birch aquarium. So now Erin, you've got several Easter brunches to talk about today, and I know just before the show, we were talking about going on an Easter brunch scrawl.
SMITH: Rancho Bernardo, in an older strip mall kind of a set up with a grocery store, and it's actually right next to a round table pizza, but it's worth founding and worth visiting. A great little beer, gastro pub.
ST. JOHN: Okay, what's on their Easter menu?
SMITH: Well, they're doing a beer pairing, so it's not all about mimosas and champagne brunch on Easter Sunday. So if you're a fan of the craft beer movement here in San Diego, they've got a great prefixed four course Easter brunch, and every course is paired with beer of there's fruit crapes on it, they have a cracklin' filled pancake, which is -- cracklins' are those crispy, crsipy pork skin little nuggets, and those inside pan cakes with cinnamon butter, and they're pairing that with a stone smoked porter, vanilla bean ale, so a really kind of interesting, gourmet foodie menu with beer pairing.
ST. JOHN: I can feel my mouth watering as you talk. So remind us what a gastropub is.
SMITH: Yeah, a gastropub is -- it's really sort of a combination of two words, gastronomy, which is the study and the adoration of really good gourmet food, local ingredients, and then pub, which is a sort of casual fun atmosphere where you drink a beer and hang out with friends so it sort of puts those two things together. You can wear your t-shirt and your flipflops and really casual atmosphere, but expect really, really excellent food.
ST. JOHN: Okay. Do you have any favorites from the food there.
SMITH: Yes. One of my favorites from the menu there is their French fries of I think it's $5 or something like that to order your own side of French fry. But they are amazing. They come with pork cracklins on them, and then they have a house made fondue that they pure all over the top, and then they put more cheese on top of that.
ST. JOHN: And that's the atmosphere like?
SMITH: It's kind of pub like. It's very family oriented, one of the owners, one of them is a local guy, he went to Rancho Bernardo high, and San Diego state. It's very family oriented. They a big chalkboard in there and a long bar, it's a larger restaurant on the inside, just very relaxed and casual. Like a neighborhood pub.
ST. JOHN: And is the cost of the brunch -- where does that fall?
SMITH: It's $45 for the brunch, which includes all the beer pairing, and that's if you buy your ticket beforehand. So if you make a reservation and buy your ticket on line, I think they're partnering with tap hunter which is a really great on line resource to buy tickets. And then if you just show up the day of and you want to get lucky and get a seat, it's $50.
ST. JOHN: Okay. So it's definitely worth making a reservation?
SMITH: Yes, for sure.
BARBARELLA: It's family friendly? Do kids quiet beer?
SMITH: No. Not from the bar, though.
ST. JOHN: But are kids allowed in? Can you take your kids? Perhaps not.
SMITH: I believe if it's early enough in the day, before 8:00 o'clock at night, you can have kids.
ST. JOHN: Okay. So that's urge gastropub in Rancho Bernardo is serving Easter brunch on Sunday. Now, shock dance -- culture shock dance center is it is having a performance on Friday, and another one is would. Tell us about that, Barbara Boxer.
BARBARELLA: Yes, it's called shock 101-evolution, I'll tell you a little bit about the studio first. Angie Bunch actually founded it 19 years ago. Culture shock is San Diego based, but there are five different cans troops if San Diego, and they have them all over in other sites like LA, Oakland, Vegas, Chicago, Canada, everywhere, it's pretty much international but we have it home here in San Diego. And the performance is actually called shock 101 evolution. So why 101? It basically -- this gap last year and when they realized is not only to educate the audience, obviously one very one, we think college. It's not just to education the audience on all of the things going on right here in dance, but to educate each other, I spoke with Angie and she said that though they pass each other in the hallway, and mate share studios, the actual dancers don't be each othery names all the time. So this, when they dance together, and they get to see what the other troops troops are go doing under the same umbrella of culture shock.
ST. JOHN: So what kind of moves will people see?
BARBARELLA: Now, it's all hip hop, but speaking of actual kind of moveses issue you know, they do break in and B boying, but one thing, I was talking about her, they're gonna pull from the archives, and there's actually gonna be one, really cool dance, and actually really well gone dance called wicked that was choreographed in 1995 where all hundred dance uppers from the young to the old, they've got mini shock and afta shock, they're all gonna be on the stage doing it at the same time. But basically, popping locking, and break in, anything hip hop, and they kind of go, well, is it fun you for you, Erin, when I say this?
SMITH: I'm just picturing myself trying to pop and lock at this thing.
BARBARELLA: Can you do it now?
SMITH: Thank God we're on the radio.
BARBARELLA: And she just started popping.
ST. JOHN: Let me just say, you can actually see this right now if you go to the KPBS website.
BARBARELLA: Oh, really? No, where? And I didn't do my air I didn't think they were gonna be --
ST. JOHN: Well, it's not you they're gonna be seeing of it's the folks from the culture shock dance --
BARBARELLA: Oh, I I thought, where's the camera? Where is it?
ST. JOHN: No, we're not filming live right now. But our producer Angela Crone here has actually got the video right here from a recent video on the website.
BARBARELLA: Oh, that's great. And they've got three showing of this, I'm actually gonna try to make one the tomorrow at two, but it just sounds so amazing, especially with all these shows, so you think you can dance, you have a lot of people really committed to it, and doing it, and a lot of themingly did on to be initial and international choreographers and dancers.
ST. JOHN: Okay. It looks fun. Ages six --
BARBARELLA: As young as four years old. And as old as 51.
ST. JOHN: Okay.
BARBARELLA: And on to there's really a range. So that everybody can have fun dancing.
ST. JOHN: I'm gonna go to culturelust and have a look at this. The best thing to do would actually be to go and culture shock dance center will be performing shock 101, evolution, Friday and Saturday at the David and Dorothy gar field theatre in La Jolla. All right, so Eric, your turn now, the cacamaran resort is also hostingab Easter brunch. Talk about their extensive spread.
SMITH: This is gonna be a very traditional Easter brunch, and I'd liking to mention check -- San Diego setting, the weather is supposed to be really nice this weekend, and the Catamaran is right down there in Mission bay. And they have the whole spread. They've knot prime rib, they've got waffles, they've got a make your own omelet station, they've got the whole seafood station set up with the crab claws coming out of the cocktail sauce, and peeling each shrimp, and it's very traditional, flowing every, champagne, that kind of thing. But what I do love is if you have kids, they have a small buffet that's just knee high so that kids can take their own little plate and walk along the buffet, and pick out thirds requirement own things too. [CHECK AUDIO].
ST. JOHN: Okay, so this is at the catamaran. Are there any particular in am items on the menu that you suggest?
SMITH: Yes, the chocolate cherry bred pudding. It's not just on the brunch. They have it on the menu all the time. And ti's absolutely divine. If you like bread pudding --
BARBARELLA: How are you so skinny? First it's French fries, now it's chocolate pred pudding. Stop it.
SMITH: Little bites. You've gotta have just little bites yes.
ST. JOHN: Good advice. It's true. Erin is very slim, so advice worth taking. Tell us a little bit about this restaurant.
SMITH: It's Polynesian sort of themed, kind of tropical feeling, it's set there on mission bay so it's quiet, it's right out on the water, there's the big expanse. You've got the sand, you got the water, it's kind of touristy a little bit. But for special occasions like this, especially if you have people in from out of town, it's a great place to go and feel like you're somewhere very San Diego, very coastal feeling.
ST. JOHN: Is it costly?
SMITH: It's not cheap, but it is all inclusive, it's 4495 for adults and only 1995 for kids and you could just sit there and eat for three hours if you want for that. And if you have little little kids under the age of five, then they eat for free.
ST. JOHN: Ha. Soap that's the catamaran resort on mission bay. Which is serving a Easter brunch on Sunday. [CHECK AUDIO] so there may be some English centered party it is around, and Barbarella, you've got one at the house of England.
BARBARELLA: Right, very timely with the wedding on the horizon, so everybody with all this English centric, at the international cottages, house of England has this Sunday, and they're going to do a great performance with dancing, a brass band playing popular melodies, and the merry England singers, you know and Morris dancers gonna contribute to a quote, jolly good time. I won't try to fake the accent.
ST. JOHN: That's pretty good, yeah. What is Morris dance something.
BARBARELLA: Morris dancing is basically English folk dancing, it's in costume, and utilizes most often props, they have swords and bells and sticks.
ST. JOHN: That's the one where they have the sticks and it looks like a mock battle right? Sort of ritual.
BARBARELLA: Right, right. And there are different kinds of folk dances, it's really hard about the morris dancing could involve any kind of dancing in costume. I'm not sure exactly which one they're going to choose to perform but there will be props, there will be costumes, and there will be action on stage.
ST. JOHN: Okay, and it's saint George's day as well. I know that Saint George was the patron saint of England.
BARBARELLA: Yes, patron saint of England. Actually, and I'm sure you also know that that is where the British flag comes from that was his emblem.
ST. JOHN: That's right. Of the Red Cross. Uh-huh.
BARBARELLA: And though it's not celebrated currently, like saint Patrick's Kay, even in England, but traditionally for Saint George's day, you would wear a red rose in your button hold. Did I get that right? It's the national flower. [CHECK AUDIO] would be slain in battle, and then brought back to life. So that went along with the traditional dancing, about you now it's just a big celebration.
ST. JOHN: Huh. Okay. I understand it's also Shakespeare's birthday just by chance.
BARBARELLA: Yes, April 23rd is saint George's day every year, and not a lot of people even know that that's the actual day. But it's the same every year.
ST. JOHN: That would be a good reason to go to the house of England. And presumably there will be authentic English food there, yes.
BARBARELLA: There will. And it's not the traditional English Indian food of today. It's sausage, you know, sausage rolls, bangers, and scones will be for sale. And just a lot of people milling about, and it's also beautiful to go to Balboa Park.
ST. JOHN: That's true that's true okay, so the oafer and saint George's day sell abrasion or if you want to go for Shakespeare's birthday is all happening at the house of England at Balboa Park on Sunday. Now, Erin, the La Valencia hotel in La Jolla is having brunch on Sunday also. Tell us about this one.
SMITH: Yes, I would say the best word to describe the la Valencia's brunch is refined. This is the place to go for brunch this Easter Sunday, [CHECK AUDIO] if you have kids in matching outfits that you want to show off to the world, if you have a very fancy aunt or someone coming into town, this is a very refined, Easter brunch, it is a family affair, they have a little egg hunt. This is that beautiful pink hotel right on prospect street in La Jolla. They're gonna have an egg hunt and the Easter bunny will be appearing as well.
ST. JOHN: How's the food?
SMITH: It is, the brunch is if I have dollars for adults and $32 for kids and the food is excellent of it's gonna be very are fined, it's not gonna be a loud, boisterous run around kind of affair. But the food, it's really good food, and you are paying a little bit extra for the view and for the setting. You can see right down to La Jolla cove, it's gorgeous.
ST. JOHN: And that is such a big part of having a good day out, isn't it? Are they serving more traditional food?
SMITH: Yes, very traditional, they're gonna have the champagne, the eggs benedict, a huge seafood station, it's all a beautiful set up. And if you've never been to the La Valenica before, they have the sky room, which is up higher, and you can look out and really see a really panoramic view of the ocean, then they have the whaling bar and the Mediterranean room. And really Sunday on for Easter, it's the kinda thing where all part o the hotel are gonna be sort of opened up and people can mill about and try a few different places and find a little grassy place to sit and that kind of thing.
ST. JOHN: Sounds beautiful. And visit the cove maybe while you're down there.
SMITH: Yes, it'll be very, very beautiful.
ST. JOHN: La Valencia hotel in La Jolla, that's Sunday morning, they're serving Easter Brunch. Okay. Barbarella, there's an Easter inspired luncheon part at the San Diego botanic gardens in Encinitas on Saturday. Tell us about this one?
BARBARELLA: Oh, yeah, and I love the events at the San Diego botanic garden buzz because it's just such a gorgeous place to be in anyway. This is one of their usual event, but it's themed for Easter. There's going to be a bunny, not a real bunny, but a person in a bunny suit. And children will get to parade through the gardens and do a craft, and have snacks and they're actually, they'll do a rabbit snack, which probably would appeal to Erin but not so much to me. I think it's a way to get children to eat -- get their carotene. Tell them it's a bunny snack, you're dona like these veggies.
ST. JOHN: Little artificial bunnies or --
BARBARELLA: No, their rabbit snack is actually gonna be veggies, yeah, they eat like a bunny. And the rabbit snack, when I do that for my nieces and November, it's here, have this carrot, and you sneak healthy food into their bodies.
ST. JOHN: Good. Is there anything there for adults? That's just a wonderful place, the botanic gardens of is there something -- something else going on that they can see beside lunch.
BARBARELLA: Well, aside from, you know, obviously having your kids entertained and great, but aside from the children's activities, if you're just going for a day, right now, there is one particular plant in bloom. And it's called the sapphire tower. And this is really cool. It's usually about three-foot tall, and six feet across. But the bloom itself spikes, you know, the spikes rise 3 to 4 feet above the foliage. They're bright blue with an orange stamen, and one thing, I was speaking to somebody there, and she said it's really fun because all of the it is mocking birds go in and pollinate it, and right now, they all have little orange head, they're flying around with orange heads because the pollen really sticks to their heads. [CHECK AUDIO] it really is a striking, looks like wax turquoise bloom.
ST. JOHN: Okay. I went and looked at their website last night, and it said one of the flowers in bloom was the hot pants flower.
BARBARELLA: Eon the plant of the month, it's the sapphire tower. The [CHECK AUDIO] can you tell me about the hot pants?
ST. JOHN: It had little red flowers on it, this is a good reason to go, to find out what --
BARBARELLA: There are thousands. I have been this. You can get lost. And right now, lush is the word to describe it. This happens to be their feature plant of the month. But everything that they planted for the children garden and everything has really grown in now, and this is the first big spring so it's just lush all around.
SMITH: So yes, bring wild flowers, I know are blooming everywhere across the city.
ST. JOHN: And this is an outdoor event, right?
BARBARELLA: It is.
ST. JOHN: Described IT a little bit, what it's like there.
BARBARELLA: Well, it's really cool because you can take little back paths. I was walking there once and went on this little back path and happened upon a giant bamboo forest that was right next to a little pond I had never even known was there. So as you're walking around the gardens, there are all these secret little, you know, secret alcoves and things like that, and each one has its own habitat and environment, and plants, I don't know how they keep it all growing in the same place, but it's gorgeous.
ST. JOHN: And it is a great place for kids, isn't it because there's a whole area special for kids designed there?
BARBARELLA: The new one, the children's garden, I'm not sure if I'm saying the title wrong, and I did go play there. It's also for adults. They have a giant chair that's like lilly Tom Lynn when she used to do her comedy thing, which is a tiny person in a giant chair, I brought some adults friend there and we were like pushing the kids out of the way. Not really pushing them, I just got disparaging looks, everybody. Don't push children, Barbarella.
ST. JOHN: Now what kind of a breakfast are we gonna have if we request to the botanic gardens?
BARBARELLA: Well, there's no breakfast there, this is really a kind of a spring party with the kids. They say there's a bunny hunt, but there will be no live bunnies, so I don't know if they're gonna look for, you know, wild rabbits, or they're just gonna have little bunny toys hanging around.
ST. JOHN: So maybe go have brunch somewhere else.
BARBARELLA: Yes, I have my own brunch suggestions. Can I squeeze it in?
ST. JOHN: God for it.
BARBARELLA: I want the hang over brunch at Starlight. There's gonna be an Easter brunch at Starlight, which is an awesome bar and lounge and they have one thing called the Manhattan brunch, it's a breakfast Manhattan, and it's basically a manhattan with maple liqueurs, and a bacon twizzle stick inside. It's perfect for the morning after. You have your nice happy, family friendly, and I've got my hang over brunch.
ST. JOHN: Okay. Right, so maybe you do that after you have fun with the kids and drop them off at home. But we should just mention that the spring party that's happening at the San Diego botanic gardens in Balboa Park is on Saturday. Wait, is this the one in Balboa Park? No, this is the one in Encinitas?
BARBARELLA: This is actually the spring botanic garden.
ST. JOHN: Right. In Encinitas. Right. So that's on Saturday. Good. So now we've got the ritual tavern brunch. Is this the one for the beginning or the end of our --
SMITH: This would be an end of day brunch of in the a kid brunch.
ST. JOHN: Okay.
SMITH: Yeah, this is at ritual tavern which is a teeny tiny little tavern, another gastropub kind of restaurant in Northpark on 30th street. Actually one of my favorite restaurants in the city, and I love that they're started doing brunch and that they're doing a special thing for Easter.
ST. JOHN: Okay, so why did you pick this one to recommend specifically?
SMITH: Well, I love small restaurants it's a big part of my job to go out and try restaurants and meet chefs and try different menus. And I just love small restaurants, I love the intimacy of that, I love low ceilings, it's a little bit quieter, sometimes you can get to know the person sitting next to you at the bar. This one only has about 12 table, and they do a lot of fun themed events and menus throughout the week, so it is almost like a collective dining experience. I would go quite often for their oyster Thursdays. They would do fresh oysters on Thursday, and dollar off whatever beers are on draft. And everybody kind of comes for the same thing. So it's a very community oriented restaurant. I justice love it.
ST. JOHN: And it's got this sort of authentic feel to it.
SMITH: Yeah, it does. You drive by it on 30th street, it looks like a tavern from the outside. They do have a few seats on the patio, that kind of wraps around half of the restaurant in the front, but the bar is made out of carved wood, and nay have dim lights on the inside, and again, it's very small feeling.
ST. JOHN: Now, since we're coming up for earth day, and some people who are vegetarian might be looking for somewhere. Are there a lot of vegetarian options.
SMITH: They do have a lot of vegetarian options. . They have a really good vegetarian shepherd's pie on their menu, and this is it a restaurant that's very dedicated to a slow food style of cooking so their menu changes quite often depending on what's freshest and most locally available and abundant in terms of produce.
ST. JOHN: Oh, that's cool.
SMITH: Yeah, they do a lot of that. Upon and they're known for their craft beers as well. They have a lot of craft beers on tap. Not just the local craft beers which are excellent, but they have a kind of motto that their food and their beer is supposed to reflect the honor that we pay to traditions of old. So they have a lot of British beers issue German beers, and old European style lagers there, that are kind of hard to find in other pubs in the city.
ST. JOHN: Now, the thing about pubs certainly in Britain is that they have clientele, the same people go in every day, is it a little cliquish or would you feel completely on the home?
SMITH: You would feel completely at home. This is definitely, if you're not into sipping mimosa and putting a tie on Easter, then you would feel at home here. They are serving this a beer instead of champagne for their brunch on Easter, it's a goose land Sophie, it's a very tart, dry, sparkling kind of ale, so if you're into beer, and a neighborhood kind of person and you like that sort of Northpark Hillcrest kind of scene, then you'd feel very at home there. But it's very nice, friendly people. And I'd say one out of every two times I've been there, just a really, really need intimate neighborhood space.
ST. JOHN: So being small, is it worth making a reservation? Can you even make a reservation there?
SMITH: Yeah, you could call ahead, but I would say being Easter Sunday, just pack your patience, and be prepared to wander over there [CHECK AUDIO] plenty of places to kind of have a beer and wait for a table in the neighborhood.
ST. JOHN: And what about the price range?
SMITH: The prices are really, really good here. All their entrees range between 10 and $15, and their beers are 4, 5, or 6 dollars so you're really not gonna break the bank unless you stay all day. But --
ST. JOHN: Okay. So that is the Ritual tavern in downtown which is serving brunch on Sunday. And since we have just about a minute left here, Barbarella, you want to tell us a lot bit more about your first? The Starlight.
BARBARELLA: Oh, yeah, sorry about that. I wanted to get it in because I've been living there during the Sundays. Yeah, no, they just -- well, Starlight also like ritual is all about local food, and I sort of like live at the lounge. But they are doing a brunch. And one thing they was mentioning to Erin earlier that I love about it, if you're not ready for the big sunny, Sunday Easter day and getting dressed up and having loud restaurant stuff happen, it's really dark, it's like going into a bar, there's no light and you can relax into the booth and really kind of take your time to wake up, which is crucial to me on Sundays. And when you have, you know, it's like being there at night.
BARBARELLA: Only not. So it's just -- it's -- what did you call it? Like a transition into the day.
BARBER: Yeah, if you're not a morning person be that's a good place to go and sort of be half awake. And it is a very cool sat sphere, the bar is kind of sunken in down. And there is a patio outside in the back, so if you need to get a little bit of your Vitamin D, and move your day along a little bit, you can walk to the back patio which is where I like to sit when I go.
ST. JOHN: Well, you guys have given us so many idea, you could literally start from the morning, and just work your way --
BARBARELLA: Let's brunch crawl. You go to Starlight, I'll be huddled in a corner inside.
SMITH: And there's so many more, we've just been tracking Easter brunches for a week now, and I think there's like 50 on our list. So make sure you check them out.
ST. JOHN: Barbarella focus of the San Diego reader, and Erin Chambers Smith of the San Diego magazine.
ST. JOHN: Yeah, you've really inspired us. So have a good weekend.