Carlsbad, CA (Not the caverns)

Filet Mignon
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2013/07/30 03:30:42 (permalink)

Carlsbad, CA (Not the caverns)

This weekend Bob’s mom, Bridin, took us to Carlsbad for a 4-day beach vacation. Best known as the home of Legoland, Carlsbad is about 20 minutes north of San Diego and also features 7 miles of beach, a cute little village with some great eateries and great surfing.

We arrived at the Hilton Garden Hotel around 4pm. It’s kind of a cross between a hotel, a residence inn and a motel. The room is large and clean and the hotel is quiet. It’s directly across the highway from the beach. It is raining, wouldn’t you know it. Boo. After settling in, Bob, my mother-in-law Bridin and I went to look for Vigilucci’s Italian. We came across Vigilucci’s Steakhouse first and everyone was ready to eat. I tried to stop it, because she’s a vegetarian, it looked pricey, and because I was wearing the only warm thing I had – a Harley Davidson sweatshirt. But it is ruder to argue than to be treated to a fancy dinner, so in we marched to the white tablecloth restaurant. 

We started with a fantastic caprese salad – 3 towers on heirloom tomatoes, basil and big balls of fresh mozzarella. Bridin found a lovely butternut squash and walnut tortellini and Bob ordered vodka penne with shrimp. Although the tortellini were first rate, the vodka sauce was slightly bland. My papardelle was a mixed bag. The cream sauce was delicious with just a hint of brandy. The serving of papardelle was too generous, so the delicate pasta clumped together, and the scallops were bland. Still, the sauce made for a semi-successful  plate. I know am being much tougher on them than usual because the food was so expensive. 
Sometime in the night it stopped raining and the next day we were ready to do some exploring.
Everything is happening at the corner of Carlsbad Blvd. and Carlsbad Village Drive. There is Pig Liquor, which is where locals gather to catch up on the news. All they need is a checkerbord on a barrel. They have a huge selection of rare and microwbrew beers. Next door is Cessy’s, a small Mexican joint that always has a crowd.

They are known for their carne asada, so I ordered  burrito which comes with only guacamole and pico de gallo salsa. There was a tiny bit of gristle, but that is common for carne asada. Where they really excelled was with their traditional fish tacos – deep fried fresh fish with cabbage and a mayonnaise sauce. One of the best fish tacos I have ever had.

Onthe other side of Pig Liquor stands a rare bookshop called Farenheit 451 – a nice place to while away a few hours. They had around 12 of the Oz books. I could have spent a fortune. As it was, I got a linguistics book, an Edward T Hall book about how different cultures understand the concept of time, and an autobiography by Gary Gilmore’s brother, who we strangely just discovered is one of Bob’s FaceBook friends.

After a rest at the hotel, we headed back to the corner of Carlsbad and Carlsbad Village to Jay’s Seafood and Pizza. We ordered a pesto pizza with ricotta and spinach, and added artichoke hearts. We took it back to the hotel and had a pizza party while watching Silver Linings Playbook. The pizza was so rich, it almost seemed like the base was butter instead of pesto. The crust was thin, but like most California pizzas slightly sweet.

post edited by EliseT - 2013/07/30 03:49:25

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    Filet Mignon
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    Re:Carlsbad, CA (Not the caverns) 2013/07/30 03:38:43 (permalink)
    We decided Tuesday instead of going to San Diego for Sea World we would continue with our mellow beach holiday. We went to the well-reviewed Naked Cafe, which surprise, surprise was on the corner of Carlsbad and Carlsbad Village in an outdoor mall next to the old Victorian. I got a half order of the coconut French toast that is their claim to fame, and it earned its reputation. It was not too sweet, but very coconutty. They have a huge selection of coffees and teas, and a cool mix of reggae and calypso playing over the sound system. I also tried the carrot-ginger soup. The carrot tasted like it had just been pulled out of the ground, with a definite bite of ginger. Bob and his mom were very happy with their sandwich and salad.


    We had a hard time finding the Museum of Making Music. Hint: approach it from Armada, not from Fleet. It is sponsored by or a part of NAMM, which puts on a huge convention in San Diego every year. It’s a nice little museum, small enough that you don’t get tired or bored. The interactive musical instruments were fun for everyone.

    They had session musician Hal Blaine’s drum set, which was used on Good Vibrations, Be my Baby, Galveston and Mr Tambourine Man by the Byrds.

    I also discovered the Mellotron, the sound of which I immediately recognized as the beginning strains of Strawberry Fields.

    We took a friend’s advice and checked out the Crate and Barrel outlet. Bob got a pair of shoes at the Rockport outlet and I bought a few birthday presents for family.

    By now it was time for dinner. We escaped the Carlsbads corner and checked out Village Kitchen and Pie on Tamarack just east of the 5 freeway. It is kind of like a Spires, but family-run. My chicken pot pie had a thick, flavorful gravy and lots of fresh vegetables in a thick housemade crust.

    The salads were enormous. I’m not usually jealous of the person who ordered salad. The cornbread was sweet and cakelike.

    But the big draw was the fruit pie. My blueberry pie was so good I ate more of it than I intended, and Bob’s raspberry sour cream pie was flavorful and not a bit tart. It’s such a treat to find raspberry pie and at the height of the season.

    I fell into a food coma at 7pm and slept.
    Wednesday we walked around town and shopped. We were again sucked into the vortex that is the corner of Carlsbad Blvd and Carlsbad Village Drive. We found a gastropub called Compass, with all the current hip food, like sweet potato fries and beet salad with fried goat cheese. Which was good, because I was in the mood for some beets. Did I mention it was all organic?

    They also had the de rigeur chalkboard of brews, whichwas good, because Bob was in the mood for a Sculpin IPA. His chicken sandwich was so-so and they sprinkled sugar and cinnamon on the sweet potato fries, which annoyed me, but it was worth it just for that beet salad.
    We watched movies and read for the rest of the day and ate takeout Italian subs. The next day we headed home. Not my usual action-packed and misadventure-fraught holiday, which makes for a dull blog but was really nice for a change.

    Double Cheeseburger
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    Re:Carlsbad, CA (Not the caverns) 2013/07/30 06:46:32 (permalink)
    Nice report with great pictures...Thanx!
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    Re:Carlsbad, CA (Not the caverns) 2013/07/30 06:55:59 (permalink)
    Hey,great report. Love the area. That pot pie looks awsome. Thanks!
    Filet Mignon
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    Re:Carlsbad, CA (Not the caverns) 2013/07/30 08:31:26 (permalink)
    Elise, looks like a good 4 days, food pictures look wonderful........thx for sharing......................pnwc
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    Re:Carlsbad, CA (Not the caverns) 2013/07/30 12:07:48 (permalink)

    Which was good, because I was in the mood for some beets.
    I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've ever read or heard this in my entire life.
    Carlsbad looks like an interesting place, especially the music museum.  And no shortage of good and varied food, either!
    Filet Mignon
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    Re:Carlsbad, CA (Not the caverns) 2013/07/30 15:25:04 (permalink)
    A few weeks ago I went to Ventura for a 3 day weekend. Based upon what you wrote, Elise, I think my next weekend trip is going to be Carlsbad. The Museum of Making Music looks phenomenal and that Chicken Pot Pie is almost making me jump in the car now to drive to Carlsbad just to eat that for lunch. Thanks for the great review, Elise. I'm glad all of you had a great time!

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    Re:Carlsbad, CA (Not the caverns) 2013/07/30 15:56:18 (permalink)
    Im with Ed
    THAT POT PIE LOOKS AWWWWWWESOME (in my best Barney Stinson voice)
    Thanks for sharing with us and WELCOME BACK we missed you.
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
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    Re:Carlsbad, CA (Not the caverns) 2013/07/30 16:28:52 (permalink)
    Elise,  Wonderful report! What a nice relaxing kind of holiday! Thank you for sharing it with us.
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    Re:Carlsbad, CA (Not the caverns) 2013/07/30 16:34:12 (permalink)
    Nice report Elise!!  Now I'm going to the store for some beets........I love them too!
    ann peeples
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    Re:Carlsbad, CA (Not the caverns) 2013/07/30 20:17:33 (permalink)
    Yummy report!
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