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Events: Restaurant Week, Whale Days And Cool Crafts


We'll get some recommendations for your weekend from San Diego Magazine's Erin Chambers Smith, including the best tips for Restaurant Week.

We'll get some recommendations for your weekend from San Diego Magazine's Erin Chambers Smith, including the best tips for Restaurant Week.


Erin Chambers Smith is the senior editor at San Diego Magazine

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This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm Maureen Cavanaugh issue you're listening to These Days on KPBS. Thought as your new year's diet begins to loosen up a bit, it's time for another restaurant week in San Diego, on this weekend preview, we'll talk about a few tasty destinations around town and take some time to celebrate whales and Bohemians. Joining us on this weekend preview is our whale and Bohemian expert, Erin Chambers Smith, senior editor of San Diego magazine. Well, the first restaurant week of the year, Erin, is underway. What should our listeners know about this Restaurant Week, 2011?

SMITH: You know, I'm betting that most of your listeners already know about restaurant Week. It's become a really sort of common event. We do it twice a year here in San Diego. People look forward to it. It's a one week and it's kind of spread to two weeks, and some restaurants even spread it longer than that. And it's an opportunity to try different restaurants around town. Most of them put together a special pre-fixed menu where you get three course for either 20, 30 or 40 dollars. And it's really -- it started as a way to encourage people to come out and try restaurants during the restaurants slow month, which is usually January. So you have a chance to come out and try restaurants you haven't tried yet.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And I hear that you're excited about the menu at Mistral.

SMITH: Yeah, Mistral has a really great menu. One of the things I always recommend to people during restaurant week is try a place that you either couldn't afford normally, 'cause three courses for $40 at a restaurant like Mistral which is definitely fine dining a very French kind of a menu would be much more extensive than that on a regular day. So this is it a great chance to go out and try. Yeah, there's only a limited menu to try at Mistral, there's two or three options for your first course and same for your second course, it's still a great chance to try kind of a fancy-pants restaurant. This one's over at Coronado at the Lowe's resort. I've eaten there several times recently. And it's just beautiful views out over the water, and really elegant French menu they have a great chef there. So three courses for 40 dollars. It's good. They have a good mushroom chestnut soup on their menu that looks good to me. And on their dessert menu for restaurant week, they have a lavender vanilla creme brulee that just sounded divine.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That does sound good. So this year, I hear that restaurant week is raising funds to help with culinary and hospitality education. Tell us more about that.

SMITH: Yeah, if you go to San Diego restaurant, that's where you make your reservations and that's where you can manner more about the sort of charitable component. But they do donate a percentage of the money from each reservation to programs that encourage young people to go into the culinary arts and work professionally in that area. So it's a great opportunity, there's a couple restaurants too that I like to recommend during Restaurant Week. J-Six and Whisknladle. They offer their entire menu for the restaurant week price.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: J-Six and Whisknladle.

SMITH: J-Six is inside the Hotel Solamar at the corner of Sixth and J downtown. A great farm to table kind of a restaurant and a great chef, Christian Graves. So anything on their menu, you can pick three courses from their appetizers and from all their entrees and their deserts. Same thing with WhiskinLadle in La Jolla. A great locally focused menu. And you get to have a much wider range of options. And I like that because some of the critics say, well, when you pick from a set menu, a lot of times, the food's been sitting around for a while. They make a bunch of it in advance and then they kinda keep it hot and crank it out, so if you're picking from the whole menu, you know you're getting the freshest sort of quality.

CAVANAUGH: Okay. So the last day to take advantage of restaurant week is tomorrow night. So is it possible that some of these restaurants might just be booked?

SMITH: Yes. You want to go to Cucina Urbana, good luck. It's over. You can't do it. But the website is very user friendly, if you go to I think Opentable also has some of the data in there that you can use. So I would definitely call first and make sure you have reservations.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Gotcha. Okay. There is a whale festival on the Broadway pier this weekend.

SMITH: Off the coast of San Diego and Baja of it's just kind of all whales all the time down there this weekend.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Well, I mean, how do you celebrate whales? What will people find down there.

SMITH: Leave it to the port of San Diego marketing people, and all those great waterfront museums that we have, and the Cabrillo national monument. And there's just all sorts of things set up to celebrate whales of there's [CHECK AUDIO] free admission like the star of Indian, the maritime museum, either free admission or discounted admission, the horn blower and the harsh or excursion companies are doing special whale watching excursions out on thirds requirement boats, error reduced prices, they're doing give aways, and this is something that's happening all through the month of January. This specifically will is gonna be down on the Broadway pier [CHECK AUDIO] which has been in the news a lot lately. Very sort of political charged and controversial. So it's kind of a good time to go down and check out the through cruise ship terminal. But last weekend, I was at the Cabrillo monument, and there was booths face painting, and all kinds of fun stuff happening up there.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So is it kind of go up and down the coast for the rest of the month?

SMITH: Yeah, they all throughout -- around San Diego bay, mostly. Sort of the Embarcadero and over to Cabrillo. It's a great thing for kids. Especially this weekend web effects at the Broadway pier, like I said, face painting and they have a big stuffed grey whale that's gonna be out there. And all kinds of art projects for kids, so it's kind of a good education event for families, and a lot of the stuff happening is free.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now you mentioned that there would be music. But there'll be a I concert for the whales? What is that?

SMITH: Yeah, there's gonna be a free concert down at the Broadway pavilion Eve Sellis from 1:30 to 2:30 on Saturday, so if you're kind of planning out your day, and you want to hear the live music portion, plan for kind of the middle of the day. There. And actually, it's worth going to the -- I don't know who sets up this website, but there is I baby set called while or .org or something. And they have a lot of coupons on there, that you can print out, so if you are planning to go down with kids, it's worth going of because there's a lot of kids, cruise free, free child admission kind of coupons on that website 678 so --

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay. So the whale festival takes place this Saturday on the Broadway peer, it starts at 11 in the morning. A Bohemian market will be downtown this weekend. Tell us about this, Erin.

SMITH: Yeah, this is cool. I learned about this actually from our fashion contributor, Rebecca Segar, she does a fashion blog for us. And she discovered this cool new spot. It's called the industry showroom, and they are billing it as a fashion art culture design sale and showcase. So a little bit of everything, very Bohemian kind of a sales event.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What is the industry showroom?

SMITH: It's kinda like one of these -- I call them the slash things. It's like an art gallery slash boutique slash art space, very warehouse, industrial, down on sixth avenue, kind of right in this blurry area between the gas lamp and the east village. Really cool sort of artistic, modern kind of space.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So what sort of things will be on sale?

SMITH: Oh, they're gonna have all kinds of things, it's all local artisans that will be coming in. So it'll be set up kind of like a swap meet, open air market, kind of craft fair set up. [CHECK AUDIO] candles frames, music all that kind of stuff.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And, like, one of a kind things.

SMITH: Very one of a kind thing. They bull themselves as the anti-mall. So if you don't want to go to the mall this weekend, this is the perfect place to go. And they also call themselves the opposite of a Wal-Mart. So this is very sort of locally made am I'm sure a lot of the craftsman that are gonna be there. Or a lot of the productions that are gonna be there, the actual people that made them are gonna be there selling them as well.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now the review of the Bohemian marketplace took place about a month ago. Did you go to that one? Will this one be similar?

SMITH: Very similar and they're gonna try to do this on a monthly basis.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Oh, at the same place?

SMITH: Yeah, at the same place. They're gonna try and do it monthly. It's a big space and they have rotating exhibits and things for sale in the Boutique area and they just want a chance to kind of open up their doors and really blow it out and expand it and let different crafts people come in there that may be can't be there on a permanent basis.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, when people hear crafts items and one of a kind, they think expensive. Is this stuff expensive?

SMITH: No, this is -- it's not expensive at all. Well, there's a range. Certain art pieces are gonna be a lot of money. But this is definitely not pricey. It's much more sort of funky and one of a kind pieces.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, there'll be some music and maybe some local celebrities?

SMITH: Appearance by the band call the the plat brothers which I'm not that familiar with. But I see that on all their sort of materials that they're putting out there. And it sounds like it's gonna be a fun, downtown event for the weekend.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay, so Bohemian market takes mace downtown industry show room, that's located at 345 Sixth Avenue and that's this Saturday morning. How early in the morning in do you know, Erin.

SMITH: I don't think it's necessarily in the morning. I think it's gonna go all day long. So you can stop by whenever. I think Bohemians like to sleep in.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So I've heard. I think we have a moment or two to talk about a new restaurant on Adams avenue. It's called Cueva?

SMITH: Yeah, this is a fun new spot on Adams Avenue right next door to the Farmhouse Cafe, which is an established French restaurant that people are probably familiar with. Really cool new restaurant, teeny tiny little spot, like a long, vertical cave like space. I think Cueva means cave or something like that.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That's interesting. So what's on the menu.

SMITH: It's a really tiny menu, really limited, it's almost like a wine bar with nibbles. They have good some craft beer available on draft and in bottles, and they have a really good, approachable wine list with stuff, lots of Souther American wines and Spanish wines. Then the food, they specialize in empanadas, one the owners has a lot of old family recipes and he makes really, really good empanadas, and then flat breads, so things with cheese and herb on them so they'll have meat or ham or bacon or things like that.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That's interesting. So there's a cool story about the owners, tell us about that.

SMITH: Yeah, I've been in a couple times. I love to go to places where you see the owners there a lot or you see chef there a lot, and this place, every time I've been in, the two owners have been there, and they married a set of twins, so they're brother-in-laws who are married to twins and they both live in the neighborhood in university heights Northpark area, and they lived together on the east coast. They moved out here when they married the twins so it's very much a family operation. And I just love restaurants like that where you walk in, and if it's not too busy, the two of them are sitting and chatting and having a beer together, and you order food, and the one gets up and goes right back to the kitchen and starts cooking why are food, and when it's done, he brings it right out to you. So it's very small and intimate and neighborhoody.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And is it a cramped feeling though, or is it --

SMITH: It's not cramped. It's sort of candle lit. I wish I had more travels in South America to compare it to. I wish, but it reminds me a lot of a bar in Spain sort of a corner bar in Europe. It's tiny about you intimate. And little tiny tables with little candles on it, you'll probably end up meeting the people sitting at the take next to you, but it's neat.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We've been talking about Cueva, on Adams, it's open for business, it's in University Heights, between Panorama drive and Mississippi Street.

SMITH: And they did just get their beer and wine license plate. Some people might have -- it's been open for a while now. But they did not have that. But they do serve food -- or beer and wine.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Beer and wine. Makes it even better. Erin, thank you so much.

SMITH: Thanks.

CAVANAUGH: I've been speaking with Erin chamber Smith, she is the senior editor at San Diego magazine. If you would like to extent, please go on-line, slash These Days.

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