Wednesday, August 26, 2015

JRDN Restaurant at Tower23 Hotel Makes Waves!


I've lived in San Diego for over 30 years, yet I tend to stay in the South Bay area. The beaches I frequent are usually Imperial Beach and Coronado Beach. Occasionally Mission Beach.  Recently, I ventured out to Pacific Beach for a chance to meet Executive Chef Danilo "DJ" Tangalin at JRDN Restaurant at the Tower23 Hotel.  Boy, was I glad I went!

As part of the San Diego Filipino Blogger Network, our mission is to promote Filipino organizations and in this case celebrate the accomplishments of this Filipino culinary talent!  Chef Tangalin has been at the helm of JRDN for only four months and has since changed the menu twice from steakhouse fare to cuisine that is focused on local ingredients.  His goal is to create an "innovative, even daring" experience where the menu is "flavorful, vibrant and satisfying."  If dining at JRDN was an Olympic event, I would give Chef Tangalin's effort a solid 10 on technicality and artistry combined!

Our group of six was seated outside on the patio which gave us a great view of the pier and water. The gentle sea breeze embraced us as the evening turned to night.

Brennan Price was the Manager on Duty that night and he promptly greeted us with a bright smile and a bottle of this!

This made my fellow blogger and diner, Michael, really happy!

The novelty of our blogger group is you never know who you're going to meet so not only do we get to dine on great food, but make new friends as well! We all took turns introducing ourselves and sharing a little bit about our lives! This is Karen and Ferchil!

After we had a couple of sips of champagne, the show started!  

First Course: Coconut Shrimp. Chef Tangalin came out just like you see on Top Chef and explained the dish he was serving.  I felt like Padma for a second.

The plump poached shrimp sat atop a mound of chilled honeydew, red chilies, flavored shaved ice and the flesh of the young coconut. A lime dressing and micro greens topped off the dish.  The colors alone whet my appetite and with every bite I was transported to a tropical island somewhere in the world!

Second Course: Lobster Spring Roll. Next, Chef Tangalin brought out his version of Filipino Fresh Lumpia which I called a Lobster Spring Roll as it reminded me of a Vietnamese favorite.

This was chunks of lobster meat with bean sprouts and watercress wrapped in turmeric rice paper with chipotle crema. I was trying to locate this item on the menu and then realized it wasn't listed.  Chef was doing his own menu for us that night! At JRDN, there is an option to order the Chef's Whim Tasting Menu which is a six course experience that pretty much leaves it all up to the master! I love the idea of extemporaneous dining!

Third Course - Siopao Surprise! When Chef brought out the next course, those of us who recognized the siopao shape oohed and aahed!  This is Chef's Red Wine Braised Short Rib Bao Bun with a Blueberry Jam Gastrique and Micro Basil.  I had to break out my stylus and jot quick notes on my phone when he described this one. 

The purple sauce smothering the bun and puddling around the plate made me want to take my finger and at first poke the bun like it was Pillsbury Doughboy's tummy, then secondly, swipe up some of that sauce and lick it right then and there. But, I restrained myself. You see, I have this....THING for dumplings and this was just a BIG FAT DUMPLING sitting in front me!!! It was like the size of my hand!  

Then, I cut it open. It was like a blueberry, meaty, calzoney, siopaoy, meat piey, ohmygawdy!  I was so into getting the right picture of it that my table mates reminded me that I needed to eat it before the next course came out! It was too pretty though!   I wanted to put it back together and take it home in a box with a ribbon tied around it. I wanted to ask "Chef, do you sell these by the dozen?!"  

Jennifer's, a fellow blogger, son came to the table probably mesmerized by the luminescent purple bun and asked her what she was eating. He tasted it and came back for another bite!  I love seeing kids try new foods and knew Chef Tangalin had a new fan!

Chef's story: We took the opportunity to also interview Chef Tangalin when he brought out the siopao. When else do you get this amount of face to face time with Chefs? We had to take advantage of it! Chef DJ shared that he started in the business as a kid in the Philippines. He and his mom had a cantina along the side streets of Baguio, serving jeepney drivers and bus drivers.  Chef manned the grill, grilling skewers of chicken heads, chicken necks,  and blood sausage to name a few. They also ran a fish stall in the street market and would go around selling rice and fish to office workers. He migrated to Hawaii for three years with his family and then relocated to New Jersey.where he went to culinary school.  He worked for the Ritz Carlton in Philadelphia, two restaurants in New York,  traveled to San Francisco, and Napa Valley before landing in San Diego.  

Then it was time for more food!

Fourth course: Octopus Adobo with Squid Ink Polenta, garbanzo beans and baby corn.

I would never order octopus as a main entree or squid ink anything. That is what is again great about a tasting menu.  On a whim, I tasted it! This ended up being my favorite dish of the night!!


The octopus was so tender, it was expertly cooked!  This was the perfect bite! The mixture of the protein with the color of the squid ink polenta kind of resembled dinuguan which is a dish I adore, if it is done right that is. I thought our meal was completed for the night, but Chef brought out more!

Fifth Course: Breakfast for Dinner! Filipino comfort food, like Tapsilog! This dish featured a rosemary skewer of sirloin prime steak with a dijon tamarind glaze served with bacon fried rice finished with foie gras. FOIE GRAS FRIED RICE! Wow!


This photo is courtesy of Joyce, my new found kdrama/kpop lovin' friend and fellow blogger!  At this point, I could barely move. I didn't feel like Padma anymore, more like Kermit's friend. You know who I'm talking about, right?  I seriously had to ask to have this boxed up to bring home to the hubs.

Jennifer generously bought the table another round of champagne and Johnny, our amazing server, brought out some drinks for us to try! We sampled the chili mango margarita,  the gin basil lemonade, and the whiskey cooler. Any more and I was afraid I couldn't drive myself home! 


Chef also brought out his sous chefs with him who helped assist with the night's meal preparations! Shout out to John Dolan and Eugene Guerrero!  The food and service were just fantastic!

Last but not least, dessert!

Sixth course - Ube cupcakes and coconut panna cotta

Chef brought out this piece of edible art! Again, all I could do was appreciate the vibrant colors, I was so full of shrimp, bao, and polenta!  I did eat some of the panna cotta and it was a melt in your mouth experience. What a great way to finish off the night!


Chef chatted with us some more and we learned more fun facts!
  • He truly loves being in San Diego and calls it home! 
  • He lived in National City for a time and frequents Tita's, Manila Sunset, Chow King, and Goldilocks for his Filipino Food Fix! (Hey, me too!)
  • On the weekends he and his family enjoy shopping at the local farmer's markets and swimming. 
  • He is a true supporter of local vendors, fresh produce and has his own personal fisherman that he buys from.
  • Although not on the menu (yet anyway!), he like to make his own sausage!
  • He was recently nominated for the 2015 San Diego City Beat's Best New Chef Award.
After tasting his food and meeting him, this humble, hard-working and extremely likable chef has my vote!


Follow Chef on instagram @dj_tangalin to get the latest on his culinary creations and get to JRDN soon!

Disclaimer: I  received a complimentary meal for this blog post. All opinions are my own.

Special Thanks to Stacy Warner, PR for Tower23 Hotel for arranging this event, to Manager Brennan Price for your warm hospitality, and especially to Chef Danilo "DJ" Tangalin for hosting the San Diego Filipino Blogger Network and providing an incredible dining experience!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

College Dorm Essentials for Back to School Success!

With one daughter done with college and one to go, this is my list of College Dorm Essentials for Back to School Success! I've listed the items in the categories of comfort , cleanliness, organization, and emergency.

COMFORT ESSENTIALS- Environment is everything.  Create the ideal dorm room environment with the following items.

  • I buy silky soft sheets that are never less than 800 thread count.  The investment is worth it. Good sheets = Good sleep, necessary for optimum focus in class and studying.  Target has amazing sales after Thanksgiving. Bed, Bath and Beyond also has Back to School sales especially for dorm items that you can combine with their 20% coupons, SCORE!

  • Mattress Topper. Most dorm mattresses are awfully thin. Plump up the mattress with a nice thick mattress topper. I found an exceptionally great priced Serta brand  (the one shown) at Big Lots years ago. Recently, Kohls had a 2 in 1 combination Mattress Topper with a Mattress Cover sold in the same box at 50% off. I used my 30% Most Valuable Customer coupon in addition, and it was a steal!

  • Seat Cushion.  Dorms usually come with a desk chair that's hard as a rock.  Provide a comfy cushion so your kid can endure those study sessions!

  • Clip on light. Studying may take place on the desk or in the bed.  Make the lighting mobile so that your student can travel between the two.

  • Portable Fan.  The dorms at UC Berkeley are OLD and there is no AC.  It gets hot in the Bay Area.  I need my girl to stay cool and comfortable so she can study.  Maybe the school your child attends is the same way. Buy a fan that is space conscious but does the job.


(Other comfort items may include a microwave and refrigerator, but those items usually need to be agreed upon by all the roommates due to cost and space reasons.  While I highly recommend them to provide more comfort to your child. I don't list them as essential items.)

CLEANLINESS ESSENTIALS - For every one's health and safety, these items are critical to have in the dorm room and perhaps on your student too.

  • Brita bottle with filter.  Keep your student hydrated at all times!  This is easy to carry in the backpack and refill at the water fountain!


  • Hand sanitizer.  Germs are easily spread when many people are living in a small space.  Stay healthy by sanitizing often!

  • Clorox wipes.  These also keep the germs in check.  Wipe door handles, desk tops, anything that accumulates dust!

  • Hand vacuum.  This little tool will clean up cookie crumbs, shed hair, and other yuckies that land on the carpet, desk or bed. 
  • Flip Flops. Who knows what gets tracked into the room on shoes, especially on rainy days where mud and dirt may be dragged in! Your student should have a pair to use in the room and these are must-haves travelling to the bathroom to shower as well! Old Navy has awesome sales on flip flops, you can get one in every color!

  • Shower Caddy.  This is for all your student's personal items. Some universities provide individual cubbies or lockers in the hall bathroom so be careful that the one you buy fits the necessary dimensions.
  • Medicine Kit.  Moms know what medicines work best with their child.  Make a kit yourself or buy one that's ready made.  Your kid will need it one day and it'll make you feel better that you've prepared one for them!


  • Rolling Hamper with Storage! This handy dandy hamper will make doing laundry super easy. Just wheel it down to the laundry room!  The horizontal structure also makes the most of space in the closet. Pockets keep the detergent stored too! 
  • 3 in 1 Laundry Sheets!  My daughters love these!  Instead of having separate detergent, softener and static cling sheets, this was all in one! Transfers with the load from the washer to the dryer! You may have to find these online.
ORGANIZATION ESSENTIALS - These items make the most of wall and floor space in a compacted area such as a dorm room.

  • Command hooks of all shapes and sizes! Because these are removable, they are great for just a one year use and will not leave holes or damage on the walls.  Look at how many different ways they can be used! These are MUST HAVES!















  • Cork board/Whiteboard combo. Visual reminders of important items, upcoming events, etc...can help keep your student organized!

  • Power strip - We live in a electronic world where practically everything needs to be charged. I have seen pictures of free-standing power strips but only on the web, see below.  I would imagine these may have less cord chaos on the floor.

  • Hair claws!  (Or large paper clips for boys.) These can also be used in ingenious ways in addition to holding an updo!  My daughter used them to keep the curtains together to block out sunlight in the morning!  They can also keep snacks fresh, keep belts or cords together, use your imagination!




 EMERGENCY ESSENTIALS -  These are for peace of mind for both parent and student!

  • Credit Card - I gave each of my daughters one to use for necessities so that they don't have to carry cash all the time and to have for emergencies. Can you tell we are a Disney family? Chase Disney cards have really cute designs! We also rack up our Disney Dollars to use on a rainy day through purchases!


  • Call Mom card.  College is tough.  When things get tough, all you want sometimes is your mom, right? Reassure your child that they can call you, no matter what time, no matter the reason.  
  • A Love Note.  We could be waiting forever to get that call, but we don't have to! Everyone loves getting a text, an email, an actual letter or card in the mail and a package of goodies! Send your kids a love note every once in awhile (even on a napkin!)  to let them know they are important, valuable, and that you're proud of them! It is essential we give our kids all the love and support they need during this often challenging time in their lives! 

Well, that's all of my suggestions for College Dorm Essentials to make for a successful school year! I hope these helped! Please share with friends you may know who are sending their kids back to school! I would love any comments and/or ideas to add! 


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Walt Disney Records - The Legacy Collection Sweepstakes!



The number one reason that I am a huge Disney fan is because they specialize in making family memories! Memories that become family classics.  Memories that last a lifetime and leave a legacy. No one can deny that Disney is the master of storytelling, not only through their parks and attractions but also through blockbuster movies and their soundtracks. In addition to family memories that can be relived and passed down, music to some of Disney's most popular blockbuster hits can also be enjoyed time and time again with Walt Disney Records’ newly created line of collectible CDs, Walt Disney Records The Legacy Collection.  

This collection celebrates the anniversaries of Disney’s most beloved classics.  In total, Walt Disney Records will celebrate 12 anniversaries in this collection including “Pinocchio” (75th), “Fantasia” (75th), “Cinderella” (65th), “Lady and the Tramp” (60th), “Sleeping Beauty” (55th), “Mary Poppins” (50th), “The Lion King” (20th) and “Toy Story”  (20th), among others. If you are a serious Disney collector, you will not want to miss this incredible collection of Disney history.

Click here to own a piece of the magic.
To honor the anniversaries of these classics, Walt Disney Records has teamed up with H20+ to sponsor The Legacy Collection Sweepstakes!  H20+ is  the exclusive worldwide provider for in-room amenities of the Disney Resorts. This is an amazing opportunity to win an incredible prize package and reflect on your family memories and what you want to pass on to future generations.

WHAT IS YOUR LEGACY?
We are all linked by legacy…
What are you leaving behind as you travel through life…Great memories?  Wonderful experiences?  Valuable pieces of advice?

Together, we invite you to #ShareYourLegacy because all women have a story and all stories lead to a legacy.

We encourage you to go to www.h2oplus.com/legacy  to submit a video and #ShareYourLegacy.  Here's mine:




SWEEPSTAKES INFO:
U.S. Residents only and 18+
Participants do NOT have to post #ShareYourLegacy to enter the sweeps.
Enter now for a chance to add an exciting Broadway story to your legacy. Grand Prize Winner and a guest will be whisked away to New York City for a once in a lifetime Broadway experience. Find out more at: www.h2oplus.com/legacy.
Prizes are:
  • Round-trip airfare for two to NY
  • Two night hotel stay
  • Two tickets to The Lion King and exclusive behind the scenes tour
  • H2O+ Skin & Bodycare Beauty Basket ($500 retail) full of bestsellers for healthy, glowing skin for your big night on the town.

Disclaimer: I am participating in this campaign as a member of Entertainment New Media Network. Although this is not a paid post, I was sent a small thank you gift for my participation. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Day at the New Children's Museum!





200 West Island Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101
619 233 8792

     Our East Coast relatives recently spent a day here at the San Diego New Children's Museum (NCM) in downtown SD when they were in town.  It had been awhile since we visited, so one Sunday afternoon off we went to check it out!
     The theme of the two-story museum is "think play create" which is exactly what the museum achieves when you're there! The current project being featured is "Feast", exploring art through various mediums around the focus of food! Right up my family's alley!



     It seemed that there were some remnants of the ever-popular San Diego Comic Con still present in the museum as the annual epic event occurred the week before.  One of the activities for kids was to create their own superhero. Participants could select body part templates for their hero, color them in and then add their creation to the wall display.



     Downstairs we found the clay & paint stations. These stations are located on the patio where families could enjoy the San Diego weather while engaging in their creativity! The clay activity could take up quite some time so I suggest surveying the whole museum and then carefully choosing the activities you want to do in the time you have allotted for your museum visit.




     Also downstairs was the "Rain House" a fun play house to well,... play house!!

      There was also this Sandbox Gallery located downstairs where visitors could literally take off their shoes and play in the sand. We just can't get away from the beach here in San Diego!


With shoes back on, kids could  also climb on the jungle gym!


     In the background of this last picture behind my son, you can maybe see these suspended orange balls. Adults and kids can hang on them and every time the suspended string is pulled, a musical note sounds off! I thought it was pretty neat!

     Time to explore downstairs!  A cool looking exhibit was  "Stacked Stories" sponsored by Woodbury University's School of Architecture. Get the pun?! This area had a Jenga feel to it and was just interesting to look at! Style and function are weaved together to create a place to think, play, and .....read!  



      Also downstairs was the "Chicken Cam" where you could see chickens in the exhibit area in real time. The actual exhibit is only open certain hours so it is best to check out the website for the hours before your visit.  


     Speaking of chicken, a tent of sorts was set up where inside various films that centered on food were projected onto the four inside walls!  This was the "Dinner and TV" exhibit!



      Beanbags were spread on the floor inside the tented space so you could get comfy while being mesmerized by the food films being played around you!

      Also located downstairs was the party place, a private room where specialized workshops are held. These workshops usually cost extra because of the materials and dedicated staff.  It is also a place that can be rented for parties!  


      Then it was time to ride the elevator all the way up to the third floor!  Upstairs seemed to be the floor dedicated to the younger children.  Outside on the patio was the bubble area. These kids had fun swishing their bubble makers in the soapy water, whipping them through the air and watching their bubbles float away!


      Also featured upstairs was a paper exhibit.  Kids can make their own confetti pieces and add to the paper mural!


      Babies and toddlers had their own sea-themed area to explore with lots of chunky shaped furniture to climb on, climb through, touch and feel!


    The popular popsicle stick station attracted many kids and parents to make creations!



      Since the New Children's Museum is a non-profit organization, of course we wanted to donate a little something. We watched the money get sucked up and away and travel through the wall web of tubes!




      This is an aeriel view of the entrance walkway from the front door to the counter.  The wide open space of the museum is something I really appreciated about the structure of the building!


      My college aged daughter came with us on this visit mainly because she used to intern here years ago. She wanted to see what was new. She summed up our visit on the chalk wall.


      We didn't get a chance to explore EVERYTHING since we had another event to skedaddle off to that day. And I purposely didn't want to feature all the exhibits to give you something to discover when you visit!
For example, there is an outdoor park across the street along with a garden to explore that is part of the museum as well. In addition there is an onsite restaurant that serves food, open to the public, so museum entrance is not necessary to eat there.

       The museum changes exhibits regularly so if you become a member, there is a reason to come back and see something new throughout the year.  And as mentioned before, the museum runs workshops, camps, and special activities specific to certain age groups. Lastly, every second Sunday of the month is a discounted admission for families, only $1 per person, thanks to the generous sponsorship from Target.  Hopefully you can bring the family to explore the New Children's Museum!  For more information check out their website here.

Disclaimer: I was given free tickets in exchange for this blog post.  All opinions are my own.

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