Fans of Coastal San Diego

This site is for the many fans of coastal San Diego, those who have lived here for years, as well as those new to the area. Here you can learn more about the different communities, the many things to do and places to visit in and around San Diego, share your experiences, and ask for advice and recommendations for restaurants, shopping, visitor activities, places to live, and more! Buyers thinking about moving here will find lots of information to help, too!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Dinner at Vivace in Carlsbad - A Memorable Evening

Dinner at Vivace, at the Four Seasons in Carlsbad, is a memorable evening. It comes at a price, of course, so the faint of heart, or those with a slim pocketbook, may find it a bit beyond their comfort level (it is easy to spend $50 - $60 per person, not including wine or dessert, but then we ARE there for pampering aren't we?).

And, for most of us, I expect, it really is for a special evening - a birthday, anniversary, gift - and not for everyday dining. Too rich for my taste buds on a daily basis, but they certainly appreciate the creativity, flavors, food combinations and plating that emerge from the kitchen, under the expert guidance of Chef Bruce Logue. [photo at left of a gorgeous flower display in the lobby]

Yes, the restaurant (partial photo at left) IS in a hotel, but you can't go wrong at the Four Seasons, at least in my experiences there, in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and elsewhere. We started our evening last Saturday (a birthday celebration) in the lounge to enjoy a drink before our reservation.

While the lounge is attractive I much prefer to sit out on the terrace to enjoy the views of the ocean in the distance, but it was a tad chilly. I will say that I am not fond of lounges that provide live music other than quiet jazz (sorry, that's MY preference), so while the entertainer had a good voice, it was too loud, with very predictable music, and just not something that added to the ambiance of the room. It actually was, for me, more an annoyance than a pleasure. The service was attentive and friendly (but flavored popcorn for table snacks?? Not up to their usual goodies, perhaps due to the holiday weekend)

The attractive dining room is rather large and divided into several dining areas, and beautifully decorated. Just past the Maitre D's desk is one such dining area...however, it feels like being in a hallway and not part of the restaurant. Don't sit there if you can help it - it feels a bit like an overflow area and lacks personality. Again, my opinion. The rest of the dining areas are much more pleasant.

The main dining room has a wonderful fireplace that is great for wintry evenings, but difficult to snare. Tables are well spaced so you don't feel crowded and the staff are knowledgeable about food preparations, the chef's specialties of the evening, and recommendations about the best things to enjoy based on the market offerings. The wine list is quite good, for a hotel restaurant, and the menu is eclectic in its offerings. There are some vegetarian offerings and I know they will assist diners with particular food allergies or particular needs, including vegan.
My Ahi tuna dish was fabulous, as were the other dishes the rest of our party had - a wonderful calamari appetizer, spectacular fresh pasta with peas, and a flavorful rack of lamb, to name a few. Desserts looked very appealing but the stomach rebelled at more food being consumed.

Vivace provides an elegant Italian style spot in North County to do it up right and celebrate. The views are magnificent from the lobby (see photo, bottom right) and the terrace, and you will feel pampered from the moment you arrive in your car until your departure. The staff are friendly and helpful, and clearly wish to accommodate your needs, whatever they might be.
Next time a special occasion warrants a dinner out, it is worth the trip to Vivace in Carlsbad.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Happy Memorial Day

Make it a Safe One, especially if you are traveling!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Follow-up on Plein Air Brunch at the Cannon Art Gallery, Carlsbad

I wrote a few weeks about about the upcoming Plein Air Brunch fundraiser at the Cannon Art Gallery in Carlsbad, CA.

This fine event took place yesterday, May 20th at the Gallery and I have posted a summary and a great slide show on my ActiveRain Blog - The 6th Annual Plein Air Brunch Fundraiser.
Hope you will stop by and take a look.


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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

My Place Bistrot in La Jolla

I wanted to share another restaurant that I tried recently that was a great find in La Jolla. [photo taken at the Torrfey Pines Hang Gliderport - La Jolla itself is off in the distance - it was not such a nice dya, as you can see]

My Place, a French bistrot at 7777 Girard Avenue in La Jolla (several blocks east of Prospect, between Silverado and Kline), was a delightful find. Quite frankly I am not sure we would have tried it, or even found out about it, if it weren't for the restaurant discount coupons we found on And I certainly did not expect a French place with that name...but what a great surprise.

The food was terrific, and a fairly good representation of bistrot food. The interior was charming (due to my mother-in-law accompanying us we opted to eat inside and not out in the sun). The service was attentive, the music was all French, and one could surely imagine dining on the Left Bank in Paris (the wait person we had that night WAS French although I understand that is not true of all staff). But who cares.

What was especially nice, in addition to good food, is that it was friendly, pleasantly decorated, and off the main drag in La Jolla that tends to be somewhat pretentious and overdone. And a bit on the touristy side for my taste.

I don't have a photo since I did not have my camera (my bad...). Next time. And there WILL be a next time. I recommend you try it out for a casual dinner of good food that is well priced and a good value, considering the town it is is.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Hairspray is Coming to San Diego

The broadway hit musical and winner of 8 Tony Awards in 2003 is coming to San Diego June 5 - 10, at the Civic Theatre at 3rd and B Street.
[photo taken from the website]
If you have NOT seen Hairspray, you really should. Based on the hit movie of the same name by John Waters (1988), the musical is a rollicking combo of great old (50s and 60s) and new songs, dance, social commentary (integration, or lack of, in Baltimore in the early 60s)and generally just a good time.The play is pretty true to the original story line (I saw the play first) from the movie, which was good to see - so see one or the other first, depending on your preference.

Tickets are now available through TicketMaster or 1-619-220-TIXS, or the Civic Theatre Box Office at 1-619-570-1100. ($20 - $72).


Tuesday, June 5 - 7:30PM

Wednesday, June 6 -7:00PM

Thursday, June 7 - 7:30PM

Friday, June 8 - 8:00PM

Saturday, June 9 - 2:00PM

Saturday, June 9 - 8:00PM

Sunday, June 10 - 1:00PM

Sunday, June 10 - 6:00PM

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Feng Shui For Real Estate: How to put the appeal back in Curb Appeal

As many real estate agents know, most potential buyers decide within the first 30 seconds whether a house is right for them or not—nothing like a little pressure, right?

Interestingly, in Feng Shui the most important area of a house isn’t located indoors but, rather, it’s the front walkway that leads up to the main entrance and front door. This area is used to "capture interest" and intrigue guests to the point of wanting to see more. Ideally visitors should connect with this area on all levels—and through all senses—sight, scent and sound. When you combine the common denominators of curb appeal with Feng Shui you’ve got a valuable focal point when it comes to staging (and enhancing) the outer expression of your listing, and creating an experience that potential buyers will remember.

Feng Shui uses techniques such as subtle symbolism to direct opportunities (—offers—) into a house, rather than away. Everything (including your real estate signage and flyers) has its place which helps to create a sense of balance and convey a story. To discover how Feng Shui can be an asset to your business, have your office manager schedule a "Feng Shui for Real Estate" lecture, or contact Feng Shui Resource to schedule a consultation.

Wishing you happiness and success,

Feng Shui Resource

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Jazz Festival in the Gaslamp Quarter

In 2 weeks (Memorial Weekend), on May 26, you have an outstanding opportunity to listen to terrific smooth jazz in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter (map).

The 32nd Anniversary of the Harrahs' Rincon Smooth Jazz 98.1 Gaslamp Festival takes place from 2 - 10 PM, featuring some of the best known smooth jazz musicians around. In addition to the headliners, like Rick Braun (a fave of mine), Peabo Bryson, Richard Elliott, Mindi Abair, and Norman Brown, there will be live music at 30 different locations in the area.

Gates open at 1 PM and you must be 21 (and have a ticket) to attend.

Tickets are available and may be purchased on-line ($40 + fee for on-line, but I believe you can get them at other locations right now for slightly less money, such as Staples).

Sound like a cool thing to do? Check it out. Expect lots of crowds, challenging parking, and loud music, but a fun time. If you plan to have dinner, though, do so far away from the main venue. The music IS loud. Let's hope for terrific weather!


Thursday, May 10, 2007

BlueFire Grill at La Costa Spa in La Costa, Carlsbad, CA

I just wrote an article about a great dining experience at the La Costa Spa and Resort's BLUEFIRE GRILL in Carlsbad. If you have not yet dined there, it is worth the trip, especially in the warmer months where you can dine outside beneath the stars.

Scott Diehl, Chef de Cuisine, and Rosie (Rosalinda) Watling, Restaurant Manager, will take good care of you.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Californians are FAST Drivers

I decided to write some more about my observations of living here in California as compared to my former life in Boston. I haven't done much of this recently, and there are still rambling thoughts about how different it really is, even after being here 2 years.

Californians are FAST drivers. You can't deny it. I noticed it right away when I got here and it is still obvious to me. Now don't get me wrong - I drive pretty fast myself, having spent time in the Midwest (Michigan) where all the roads are straight (not completely, of course) and Boston. The problem in Boston is that the roads are all small and curvy, and traffic gridlock prevents you from driving as fast as you want. So frustrated Bostonians make up for that by being some of the rudest and most aggressive drivers around (I can tell you that Europeans are actually worse).

If you have driven in New England you know these things about Boston drivers:
  • They ignore stop signs and street lights
  • They cut in and out without ever using their signals - why bother?
  • Tailgating is a sport, no matter what your speed
  • Rotaries are the most fun of all - the first to get around the fastest wins, and who cares about the lanes
  • Pedestrians take their lives in their hands then they cross the road, which they do wherever and whenever they want, plus they ignore the “walk” and “don’t walk” signs anyhow
  • Horns and middle fingers are the favorite form of expression, no matter what the situation, and even more vigorously if the driver is at fault
  • They don’t stop or slow down to let folks pull in from a side road or parking lot
  • They zoom up the side of the road or on the far side of a waiting line of traffic in order to cut in up front since they don’t want to wait in the line
  • Left and right turns are made from the wrong lane, and u-turns in the middle of the road holding up traffic or illegally are expected
  • They pull out into traffic and move across two lanes to get where they want, no matter how it inconveniences everyone else or holds up traffic
  • And so on. You get the idea

I don't "commute" because of my real estate business, but I am on the freeway a good bit, especially to and from LA fairly regularly, and I can attest to the fact that CA drivers are fast...other than the slowdowns for accidents, highway chases (what's the deal with that??) and huge volumes of traffic at rush hour. People are driving 80 in the slow lane...well, there really isn't a slow lane, since there are so many of them and folks just drive wherever they want and can. But fast drivers are also on the secondary roads. And it's not just young drivers or those with sports cars, but a good percentage of drivers in general (I saw a guy the other day who had to be in his 70s or 80s and he was faster than the best of them)...and on all the roads. And the SUVs are some of the fastest (which, BTW, there are a lot of here - everyone seems to drive a big car or SUV, or a high-end import).

But I like the roads here overall. It's easier to drive fast. And I keep up as best I can.

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Jeff Dowler (RE/MAX Associates): Real Estate Agent in Carlsbad, San Diego County, California on