Tagged Beach Town

Wander’s First Giveaway! Win Tickets to Westfield UTC’s Uncasked event

The Wander crew is happy to announce our first giveaway!

Congratulations to Tiffany A, who has been selected as our winner! We hope you enjoy yourself this Saturday!

Don’t fret if you weren’t chosen; there is still plenty of time to buy tickets to the event at https://ticketsauce.com/e/uncasked15. The event is expected to sell out again this year, so purchasing tickets in advance is highly recommended. Each $20 ticket includes a branded tasting mug, 10 tickets for pours, unlimited food and beach games.




We are teaming up with Bay Bird Inc. to give away a pair of passes to Westfield UTC’s 2nd Uncasked event coming up on Saturday, August 22 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Westfield UTC (4545 La Jolla Village Drive).

If you’re looking for an amazing opportunity to enjoy the great San Diego backdrop, combining Westfield UTC’s beautiful outdoor setting with San Diego’s favorite craft breweries, including Karl Strauss Brewing Company, Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, Rough Draft Brewing Company, Groundswell Brewing Company, Stone Brewing Company & Mother Earth Brew Co., then this is the contest for you!

Guests can try ten local brews while sampling unlimited bites from some of Westfield UTC’s favorite restaurants, including fresh California cuisine from Lemonade, savory grill items from Seasons 52 and comfort food from Tender Greens. To round out the afternoon’s festivities, guests will enjoy live music from Casey Turner and Nathan and Jessie, plus play fun beach games while they sip their suds.

To win: 

It’s simple really:

  1. Follow our Wander Facebook page and the Westfield UTC Facebook page. Your odds are better increased if you share the post with your friends about the contest!
  2. Comment with your name and the name of your favorite local brew by 4 p.m. Wednesday.
  3. Check our Facebook page at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, August 18. 

If you want to guarantee that you get to go to Uncasked, tickets can be purchased at: https://ticketsauce.com/e/uncasked15. The event is expected to sell out again this year, so purchasing tickets in advance is highly recommended. Each $20 ticket includes a branded tasting mug, 10 tickets for pours, unlimited food and beach games.

One hundred percent of the proceeds from Uncasked will benefit the San Diego Brewers Guild, the local nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting awareness and increasing visibility of fresh, locally brewed beer. The SDBG is responsible for maintaining San Diego’s reputation as the “Capital of Craft,” and does this through its core annual events and public educationThe proceeds from this tournament will help to sustain these initiatives, including San Diego Beer Week, and the Rhythm & Brews Music and Craft Beer Festival.

Good luck, and we’ll see you at Uncasked!

Playa Del Carmen vs. Cancun: An Amazing, Authentic Alternative for a Riviera Maya Vacation

by Andrea Verdin

When planning a vacation, who doesn’t immediately begin to daydream of an all inclusive resort, with beautiful white sandy beaches? Who doesn’t yearn for miles of beautiful tropical jungle, with a small village nestled in between the leaves and fronds? Who doesn’t want to climb and explore the ancient ruins, only to be washed by a rainstorm once at the top?

Jordan Verdin Photo
Jordan Verdin Photo

Well, for my family and me, this was the experience we had at Playa Del Carmen. Playa del Carmen is located on the Caribbean coast of Mexico, about an hour south of Cancun. It’s in the state of Quintana Roo, in the Yucatán peninsula. While it’s only an hour away from the popular Cancun, it’s worlds apart in terms of experience. Firstly, Playa Del Carmen is still considered a beach town; that means everything is still smaller scale. Even the hotels and resorts, which are monolithic, are on the outskirts of town, leaving an adorable, sleepy town with locals at its center.

Playa Del Carmen has regulated hotels and large business so that they cannot go past three stories in height. This means that you do not have to worry about your view of the jungle or beach being marred by an obnoxious skyscraper. This is not the case in Cancun, which has a much more industrialized feeling attached.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t find great food, or that you won’t be able to get some great shopping done while at Playa Del Carmen. Guests are encouraged to experience La Quinta, more commonly known by tourists as 5th Avenue.

La Quinta has an interesting mixture of shops. You can find both Mayan-made products with their makers sitting quietly in their booths, or you can access a sprawling, air conditioned mall with designer shops and familiar chain restaurants. One of the best ways to unwind after a day full of adventure, snorkeling and eating is to walk as far as you can down La Quinta. Pop into each shop, take a look at their wares, and negotiate with the shop owner to get the best bargain on the trinket, piece of clothing or memento you want to keep from your trip.

Jordan Verdin photo
Jordan Verdin photo

If you walk off the main strip, there are more localized shops and stands with food that the locals eat, such as el Fogon. This two story taco shop was packed with families, couples on dates, and tourists who knew how to shop around before settling on dinner. Everything was chopped as it was ordered, and you can’t help but try to fill yourself with as many tacos and tortas as possible.

While there are lovely restaurants along La Quinta, there are plenty of taco stands along the blocks near La Quinta that will give you the best – and cheapest – fare. What you need to do is look for a stand that has plenty of locals waiting in line for something to eat. This lets you know that the stand will have fresh food, great flavors, and a decent price attached. One of my husband’s favorite parts of the taco stand crawl was the churro guy at the end: once he received an order for churros, he would place the fresh batter into boiling oil before throwing it into the cinnamon mix. Customers are left with delicious, piping hot churros to top off their already full bellies.

Another bonus of being in Playa Del Carmen is the quick access available to Cozumel, an island sitting just a few miles off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. For under 20 dollars, guests can take a round trip ride to an even more remote part of the Riviera Maya. Cozumel is only partially developed, and doesn’t have a lot going on after the sun falls, so it’s great for a day trip.

The view from our fish house in Cozumel
The view from our fish house in Cozumel

Once you arrive, don’t feel like you have to stay in the port village of Cozumel. There’s an entire island to see! We rented a buggy, then hit the open road. There’s a single road that circles the entire island, and we were able to stop at the southernmost point of the island and have lunch at a small shack on the beach.

The fish was freshly caught, the breeze was beautifully cool, and the sights were spectacular. Along the way around the island, there are several stands selling coconuts just off of the trees, and you can even stop and get a massage on the sand while your family or significant other snorkels along the reef.


Hello Betty Fish House Celebrates a Great Year of Amazing Food

By Andrea Verdin

I love birthday parties. There’s something great about celebrating achievements that have occurred throughout the year, and the Hello Betty Fish House celebrated all of its accomplishments at its birthday in style: Beats ~ Boards ~ Bites ~ Brews.

As a part of the beautiful Oceanside landscape, Hello Betty Fish House is more than just an adorable restaurant — some serious eats can be had here.

While the downstairs restaurant features more formal dining options, such as whole fried fish, Betty linguine, and a whole seafood boil, I was instantly drawn to the upstairs patio. This patio has a great view of the Oceanside Pier, and guests can sit back in the open air deck, grab a drink, eat some tacos, and watch the sun set.

Oysters freshly shucked by Executive Chef Nick Schultz
The Open Air Deck of Hello Betty Fish House
Oyster shucking presentation
Caramel Panna Cotta
Smoked Octopus
Chips and smoky salsa served in campechanas
Shrimp skewers
Fabulous crab cake sliders
The set is gorgeous
Mexican Brownie

If you ever get a chance to head to Hello Betty Fish House after work, I highly recommend coming on an empty stomach and gorge on tacos. eat the calamari, eat avocados, and devour the mahi mahi.

For more information on Hello Betty Fish House, head to their website.

Thyme Out cocktail credit Mike Norquist

Nick’s Cove tempts with oysters, sustainable seafood menus and romantic cottages this Valentine’s Day

Nick's Cove Waterfront Cottages credit ©2012 frankenyimages.com
Romantic cottages on Tomales Bay at Nick’s Cove. Photo courtesy ©2012 frankenyimages.com

Written by Nadia Ibanez, photos courtesy of Nick’s Cove

I’m a HUGE fan of oysters. I can’t eat enough of them and if I had it my way, I’d eat them every night with my hunny. While it’s known that oysters are an aphrodisiac, I childishly laughed to myself when I found out about Nick’s Cove Restaurant, Oyster Bar & Cottages in Tomales Bay. Seriously, why aren’t there more oyster bars within walking distance of romantic cottages?!

Thyme Out cocktail credit Mike Norquist
Cocktails, oysters and the Tomales Bay. What else could you ask for? Photo courtesy of Mike Norquist

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A look back: San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival Grand Tasting

San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival
Sunny skies and full belies at the Embarcadero Marina Park North

Written by and photos by Nadia Ibanez

The San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival Grand Tasting is not only an afternoon full of delicious bites, great wineries and fun spirit purveyors. But rather, the characters and chefs in attendance and on display are just as entertaining and interesting as the event itself. I had my fill of nibbles from San Diego’s top chefs and the sunny, 75 degree weather had me searching for white wines and gin cocktail concoctions.

Here’s a look back at the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival Grand Tasting.

My favorite bites

Jake’s juicy and perfectly seasoned ribs.

I’m a sucker for some good ribs and while I don’t eat them often, I know when I find a good one. Jake’s Del Mar was serving up some delicious dry rubbed pork ribs. Go into their beautiful ocean front restaurant and you’ll find them on the appetizer menu.

Richard Blais and fresh uni is the perfect combination.

Richard Blais is one of San Diego’s top celebrity chefs and he’s climbing the culinary totem pole everyday. His chefs from Juniper & Ivy served up a beautiful dollop of Catalina uni paired with an essence of sunchoke, sunflower seed and smoked black trumpet mushrooms. It was absolutely heavenly.

A first look at Catania, opening March 2015.

The Whisknladle and Prepkitchen restaurant group is opening their newest venture, Catania, in March 2015. The restaurant is coastal Italian inspired and if it tastes anything like the Smoked Duck Liver Mousse I tried at the event, I’m all in. In keeping with the seasonal menu inspiration, the mousse was covered with a persimmon, almond, date and red onion salad.

Javier Plascencia’s Pork Tamalito from Romesco.

I’m a huge fan of anything Javier Plascencia and I was thrilled to see that his restaurant, Romesco, was serving a Pork Tamalito (tamale) with all of the Mexican fixings. The tamale was delicious and by the looks of his menu, everything else looks equally amazing.

Rock Shrimp Ceviche from The Shores, La Jolla.

Seafood and ceviches were welcomed on this warm November day and the Rock Shrimp Ceviche from The Shores in La Jolla was wonderful and beautifully presented. The shrimp was seasoned with a bell pepper citrus soy and topped with a taro crunch and micro cilantro.

Bacon-wrapped shark from Tavern in Pacific Beach. I feel like this should be hitting the county fair circuit any minute now.

Pacific Beach gets a bad wrap but is adored by 20 somethings for the Vegas-like bar scene. I vaguely remember dining at Tavern during my 20s but apparently they’re upping their restaurant game. They served up a bacon-wrapped shark, because anything wrapped in bacon will attract the masses. Mako shark marinated in a sweet asian sauce was wrapped in applewood smoked bacon and topped with a creamy sriracha and chili whiskey sauce. After spending some time on their website, it doesn’t look like this dish can be readily ordered at the restaurant so ask ahead if you want to try this out.

The Patio on Goldfinch’s grilled clams.

I’ve recently discovered The Patio on Goldfinch as it’s become just one of the handful of new restaurants to take over the booming Mission Hills area. They served up a Grilled Cherrystone Clam with a Meyer lemon vinaigrette, guanciale and pickled cucumber gremolata. These aren’t always on the menu so call ahead if you’re searching for them.

Roppongi-SD-Bay-Food-FestBy far, the longest and continuous line at the event went to La Jolla’s Roppongi. They served a spicy Togarashi Crusted Seared Sea Scallop served on a bed of cold green tea soba noodle salad and ginger-miso vinaigrette.


Coin-Op-SD-Bay Food Fest
The Coin-Op guys bringing some serious flair.

The bartenders from North Park’s Coin-Op were really bringing it in terms of flair and cocktails. The Pear & Loathing cocktail consisted of gin, pear brandy, cinnamon, fresh lemon and bitters. More so, the guys brought their own arcade games and music so their tent was continuously busy and packed.

SD-Bay-Food-Fest-Martini-WinesMartini Wines was pouring their Italian sparkling wines and kept the party going with music, tastings and education. How could you not love their bottles?!

Temecula Valley Winegrower’s Association brought their A-game to the event.

I was pretty happy to see that my friends from the Temecula Winegrowers Association was pouring some of the Valley’s best varietals. They had a nice selection of wines from Baily, Doffo and others from the association. Wilson Creek, Ponte, Callaway, Europa Village, South Coast, Monte de Or, and others also had their own tents.


Find these gourmet salamis at your local health food store.

If seafood, pastas, poultry, fresh salads and sandwiches weren’t enough for the thousands of guests in attendance, plenty of gourmet food vendors were showing off their best products. I especially loved all four organic salamis from Olli, which can be found at local health food grocers and gourmet food shops.

Loved sampling all of these tea liqueurs from Tatratea.

Tatratea is something that should be on your radar if you love making your own cocktails at home. Tea-based and inspired cocktails are quicly gaining steam and these tea liqueurs are great for mixing into your favorite concoctions.

Bourbon barrel aged maple syrup? Yes, please.

How could you say no when someone offers you Bourbon barrel aged maple syrup? These small batch, individually numbered bottles of pure maple syrup from Bissel Maple Farm should be on everyone’s table.

We are extremely lucky to be invited to food and wine festivals in San Diego and the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival is one of our favorites. Not only is this five-day event providing education and excellent food and drink to consumers, but it’s also just one of the more unique ways to experience our beautiful city. Where else could you bask in the sun and indulge in the city’s best food right before Thanksgiving?

For more information, visit www.SanDiegoWineClassic.com.