anniversary dinner at toast enoteca & cucina
Jake and I recently celebrated our 8th anniversary! EIGHT. E-I-G-H-T. It is crazy how fast time flies by. When Jake and I started dating, his youngest son (S) was only four years old! And S will be 13 this year! Holy crazy cakes, Batman.
Jake and I have been through a lot of ups and downs but I feel like the last few years have been more ups overall which makes me quite happy. I wouldn’t change anything and everything we have been through has lead us to this point and I’m very happy that Jake is my best friend, my partner, and the love of my life!
For our anniversary, I baked something (of course). I didn’t get all elaborate like I did for Valentine’s Day and kept it a little simpler:
I know you can’t really tell, but in the bottom right corner that is a mini Death Star. Stacey got me a Death Star mold for Christmas last year and I decided to make a white chocolate with krispies Death Star treat to go with the cupcakes. I didn’t want to make a pure chocolate ball since I know Jake wouldn’t have liked that and I figured the rice krispies would make it more fun to eat.
If I had a Millennium Falcon mold, I would have put that on the cupcakes, too! I cheated and used a box mix but instead of water, I used strawberry water (blended strawberries). It didn’t really make the cupcakes taste more like strawberry, sadly enough. I think I put too much water in the blender. I also tried making frosting with coconut oil instead of shortening but that did not work out the way I hoped it would. The frosting was very runny but at least it still tasted good.
I also spied this bag of red velvet mini donuts at Target and also got those for Jake (among other things). Behind this is a bag of salted caramel mini donuts which were way, way, way too sweet.
For my present, Jake put it in a cooler. His new puppy has a tendency to eat EVERYTHING and he wanted to make sure the little one couldn’t get to it. It was wrapped in a towel and I saw the belt first and I thought, “Why did Jake get me a belt…?”
Of course as soon as I saw the holster I knew exactly what it was. If you’re not a Firefly geek like me then you might think, “Is Mary really into guns or something?” No. No, I am not. What I am really into is Firefly and this is a replica of Malcolm Reynold’s pistol! I knew what it was immediately and make some shrill girly noises when I opened it up. Jake had really, really, really been hyping up this present and I was still BEYOND excited when I saw it. He knows me so well.
Here’s a photo of the pistol with Nathan Fillion. Swoon.
I aim to misbehave.
[toast enoteca – outside]
I was invited to a few restaurants recently and decided to use one of them for our anniversary dinner, the same as I did for Dad’s birthday dinner. Our dinner would be at Toast Enoteca & Cucina in the East Village in Downtown San Diego. We were very close to Petco Park that evening!
[toast enoteca – inside]
It is quite cozy inside. There are some indoor and outdoor tables, one of those “pour it yourself” wine machines and a nice bar area showing the Padres game.
[toast enoteca – menu]
The menu consists of Italian fare by Chef Martin Gonzalez. A few of the pastas are made in house!
[fagioli verdi all’uccelletto / $10]
After some recommendations from the manager and our waiter, Jake and I decided to start off with the Failoi Verdi all’Uccelletto. I can’t pronouce that in any way so let me tell you what that means: it is homemade, sautéed Italian sausage with green beans, garlic and slightly spicy pomodoro sauce. When we first heard about this dish, we thought the green beans were mixed into the sausage meat itself so we were a little surprised to see it presented like this. Silly us. No matter though because the dish was pretty tasty. The pomodoro sauce was a bit on the spicy side but not burning hot, hot spicy. The green beans took on a bit of the spiciness from the sauce which gave the whole dish a lot more flavor.
[housemade baguette / $1.50]
The manager also recommended we get some of the housemade bread to soak up some of the sauce and liquid from the sausage and green bean dish. The fresh is made fresh and was warm and crusty. It was put to good use with that sauce.
[pizza bianca / $14]
Jake and I also wanted to try one of their pizzas and decided to try the Pizza Bianca which came with white sauce, roasted pork belly, fontina cheese and potatoes. Pork belly and potatoes! On a pizza! Just put it in my mouth already!
The potatoes were cubed into little bits. You can see little bits of pork belly here and there but it wasn’t a really strong flavor of pork belly overall. I wished for a little more of it or maybe some bigger pieces of pork belly. I did enjoy the potatoes and cheese quite a bit and this had a nice seasoning overall.
Here’s the bottom crust of the pizza. It was a bit on the softer side for my tastes but we still both enjoyed the pizza.
[pollo parmigiana / $18]
The manager also told us about a little twist the chef does for the chicken parmigiana. Instead of breading it like most places do, the chicken is oven baked and has a parmesan and dried fruit crust on it. I was very intrigued by this twist and decided to try it. It does not come with pasta on it’s own but you have the option to add it on.
It is chicken breast with the skin still on and it’s not really a crust, but more of a topping. There was a mixture of dried apricot and other little cubes (including the dreaded raisins but those were easy to avoid). The chicken was a tiny bit dry – it is chicken breast, after all – but the outer skin was quite nice. You get bits of fruit mixed in with your chicken for a little extra sweetness but I wished the chicken was a bit more moist. I can’t say this is my favorite preparation for Chicken Parm – maybe I’m too Americanized for it – but it was a stunning dish with the bits of herbs and edible flowers on top.
[lasagna di maiale arrosto / $13]
Jake decided to get the Lasagna which was made with slow roasted pork belly, tomato ragu, and a Parmesan/fontina sauce. Those crusty bits of cheese around the edges were his favorite part (mmm, cheese crust). I found this to be very rich. Almost a little too rich! Jake and I really missed the ricotta in this, too, but then again ricotta is one of our favorite cheeses. Again, I didn’t really get any bites with much pork belly in it, but from the deep, rich, flavor I know it was in there somewhere.
[torta cecilia / $8]
Jake isn’t really a dessert person but he’ll always at least have a bite when I order dessert. I chose the Torta Cecilia which is an apple pie with pannacotta gelato on top. Look at this pretty presentation!
Jake though the crust on this one was dry and crumbly and weird but I really liked it. It was like a buttery, sandy crust – almost akin to crumble topping – on some of the edges of the crust. The apple filling itself had nice soft apples that were not too tart. The creamy sweet pannacotta gelato was a nice additional treat to eat with the warm pie.
While we were eating dinner, we could hear the crowd from Petco Park cheering when something good was happening. We’d look over and watch the TV to see what had happened since there was a slight delay. It was cool to be able to hear the crowd cheering. I could pretend that they were really happy and cheering for when our food came!
I have mixed feelings about the food here – some of it was good and some of it was just okay. I was really hoping for a “wow” factor in one of our dishes but I didn’t quite get that here (except for maybe with dessert). Nothing was bad or terrible, but I felt like I wanted something just a little bit more amazing.
Toast Enoteca & Cucina
927 J St.
San Diego, CA 92101
Disclaimer: I was invited to dine at the restaurant and our meal was complimentary. All opinions and statements made here are completely my own.