When Jen asked me to make her a birthday cake, I began scouring the internet for recipes. Although her favorites include coconut and salted caramel, I didn’t want to end up making a repeat of Lauren’s Coconut Rum Layer Cake. So when I came across this London Fog Cake, knowing that one of her favorite warm drinks is London Fog, I knew I hit the nail on the head. Separately, I also used this decor inspo from Pinterest. Semi-homemade makes this cake easy to execute and unique.

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London Fog Cake
Adapted from The Cake Blog 
INGREDIENTS:
Cake
2 boxes Dark Chocolate cake mix
2 cups water
1 cup vegetable oil
6 eggs
Topping
Early Grey Buttercream (below)
Store bough salted-caramel sauce
Decorations:

DIRECTIONS:

Cake

  1. Heat oven to 350°F
  2. Make cake according to the directions.
  3. Pour cake batter of first 2 layers into 2 9” pans that have been greased and lined with parchment paper.
  4. Bake approximately 30 minutes at 350°F or until you can put a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean.
  5. Repeat with remaining 2 layers.
  6. Cool all layers completely at room temperature (~12 hours).
  7. Level with cake leveler and discard one layer (or reserve, but you do not need it. I always bake 4 layers and pick the best 3).

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Earl Grey Buttercream
INGREDIENTS:

2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup loose Earl Grey tea
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (150 ml) egg whites
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
Seeds from ½ vanilla bean
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place 1 cup of the butter in a saucepan with the loose tea. Heat over medium heat until the butter melts, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the tea steep for 5 minutes more. Strain the butter through a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl and refrigerate it until is reached the same consistency as softened butter, 20 to 30 minutes. Small bits of tea may remain in the butter.
  2. Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk them together by hand to combine. Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and place it over medium-high heat. Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double-boiler. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. Whisking intermittently, heat the egg mixture until it registers about 155-160 degrees on a candy thermometer or is hot to the touch. Carefully fit the mixer bowl onto the stand mixer.
  3. With the whisk attachment, beat the egg white mixture on high speed for 8 to 10 minutes, until it holds medium-stiff peaks. When done, the outside of the mixer bowl should return to room temperature and no residual heat should be escaping from the meringue out of the top of the bowl. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk attachment for the paddle.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, tea-infused butter, and 1 cup butter, a couple tablespoons at a time. Once incorporated, turn the mixer to medium-high and bet until the buttercream is silky smooth, about 3 to 5 minutes.

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For the Assembly
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place the bottom layer of cake on a cake plate or serving dish. Spread on about ½ to ¾ cup of the buttercream with an offset spatula. Top with the next layer of cake and repeat.
  2. Frost the cake with the remaining buttercream. Refrigerate until set, about 15 to 20 minutes or overnight.
  3. Pour caramel sauce over the chilled cake, starting with about a ½ cup, letting it drip over the edges. Add more caramel as necessary.

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February started off with an action packed snow weekend in Big Bear, and now I can confidently say I (think I) can snowboard. No more falling leaf or ambidextrous riding. Finally I’m able to carve without resorting to stopping via snow plow!

I signed up for a month of unlimited yoga at YogaSix, during one of the challenges to practice yoga every day (or 28 times in the month).  I started off the month strong with some two-a-days, thinking I could accomplish this challenge, but it was short lived when I got hit with a cold that everyone seemed to be catching. This put me out of commission for a week straight, and I kind of gave up on the competition.

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I also knew at the end of the month I’d be spending around a week in Monterey for a work conference. Jen and I experienced perfect weather with blue skies, and several runs/walks along the coast. It was quite out of the norm in comparison to the weather they had been experiencing up there. We stayed at a super cute bed and breakfast, just walking distance to Cannery Row and Pacific Grove. We even saw a very baby (like umbilical cord attached) harbor seal during one of our coastal explorations! More to come on this trip as I can see it being an inexpensive getaway for Southern Californians.

Weekly Workout Recap (1/30-2/5):
Mon – Rest
Tues –  Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Wed – Power Yoga @ YogaSix + Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Thurs – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Fri – Snowboarding
Sat – Snowboarding
Sun – Snowboarding
Total Weekly Mileage: 0 mi
Number of cross-training workouts: 7
2017 miles: 5 mi


Weekly Workout Recap (2/6-2/12):
Mon – Rest
Tues –  Rest
Wed – Rest
Thurs – Rest
Fri – Rest
Sat – Rest
Sun – Hot Yoga @ YogaSix
Total Weekly Mileage: 0 mi
Number of cross-training workouts: 1
2017 miles: 5 mi

Weekly Workout Recap (2/13-2/19):
Mon – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Tues –  Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Wed – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Thurs – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Fri – Hot Yoga @ YogaSix + Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Sat – Climbing
Sun – Climbing
Total Weekly Mileage: 0 mi
Number of cross-training workouts: 8 
2017 miles: 5 mi

Weekly Workout Recap (2/20-2/26):
Mon – Climbing
Tues –  Rest
Wed – 5 mi run
Thurs – Rest
Fri – 8.5 mi run
Sat – Walk along the Carmel Coast
Sun – Climbing
Total Weekly Mileage: 
Number of cross-training workouts: 2
2017 miles: 18.5 mi

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Post sponsored by Mirum Shopper. All opinions are my own.

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It’s probably no surprise, but I am no longer a well-conditioned running machine. For me, the hardest part about not running is trying to get back into the groove of things. I constantly have to remind myself it’s ok to take it slow, and to make it easy.  Taking a running hiatus usually leads to some aches and pains because I tend to pressure myself into running xx miles, forgetting I’m not trained like I used to be. Lately, when I try to go out for runs, I’ve been experiencing the same type of pain I felt in my knee last fall when I jumped into running 14+ miles without ramping up. It feels like my knee isn’t moving smoothly in a forward motion, but rather tracking out to the side.

I couldn’t have found the Whole You Dynamover knee compression sleeve at a better time. Normally I would never wear a traditional, bulky knee brace. However, the compression material in the Dynamover sleeve intrigued me because both compression socks and calf sleeves have helped me in the past when I used to suffer from plantar fasciitis.

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The Dynamover is seamless and very sleek. It has a 5 zone design, providing different levels of compression to different areas of the knee. Here’s what all of the zones help to achieve:

Zone 1: high stretch for strong compression around the patella to support the knee.
Zone 2: moderate stretch allows flexibility around the thigh and knee.
Zone 3: elastic weave to prevent slip-down during even the most active exercises.
Zone 4: (behind the knee) has a high density weave to stabilize the knee.
Zone 5: delivers exceptional breathability and flexibility thanks to the honeycomb weave.

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I’ve worn this sleeve on several runs, including an off-roading adventure into some swampy lagoon trails. It definitely held up to the test and my standards–I almost forgot I was wearing it! The Dynamover sleeve allowed for natural movement and mobility, while helping to correct my knee issue. It was comfortable and breathable, providing just the right amount of compression without being too tight or constricting.

If you’re interested in trying out Dynamover, use promo code ASHEEJOJO for 50% off and free shipping (plus there’s a money-back guarantee). Hurry before it expires 4/12!

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For Lauren’s Sweet 16, I was inspired by the coconut cake served at Solace and the Moonlight Lounge (her favorite). The inspo: Coconut Cake with Rum Caramel Sauce, Sugared Macadamia Nuts, Cream Cheese Frosting.

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I used the cake recipe from Beth Cakes Triple Coconut Rum Cake paired with the Homemade Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting from Living Well Spending Less. The whole cake turned out super dense, and I kid you not, probably weighed around 20lbs because I didn’t end up leveling the layers.  The flavor made it taste like a humongous coconut macaroon.

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For decor, I used a big rhinestoned “16” Jen purchased from Amazon and a variety of pink roses. Fresh flowers have been my favorite decor lately. They dress up a cake without requiring a steady or artistic hand for some ingenious floral frosting.

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Haha, the first month of 2017 is already over. And we’re half way into February (kinda…whenever a full moon falls I feel like it marks the halfway point for the month). I was cleaning up my blog a little when I stumbled upon my 2015: Lookin’ Back At It post and forgot I used to do these! It’s funny, I feel like the years just start to blur together. It’s crazy to think we’re quickly progressing through 2017. But when I plan ahead (for work, personal life, etc.) and look into the new year, I start to feel like I’m already there. For example, so much of 2016 was looking ahead to events in 2017, and now…we’re here!

Anyways, looking at my 2016 goals, I feel like even if I didn’t conquer all of these last year, I’ve actually knocked out quite a few in the first month of 2017.

2016 Goals:

  • Have more weekend adventures: Always! I don’t feel right sitting at home doing nothing (unless I’m sick like now). Starting the week after an eventful weekend makes me feel so accomplished and prepared. From Yosemite the first weekend in 2017 to multiple weekends in Big Bear, I’d say this trend has continued.
  • Get outside more than just running: Yes! I’ve broken from my running only mentality and I’ve started doing other outdoor activities, including hiking, snowboarding, softball, etc. I also signed up for a rock climbing membership, and even though that’s indoors, you never know if it might lead to something outside.
  • Do more yoga: I ended up almost replacing running with cross-training, and on February 1 I signed up for unlimited yoga at Yoga Six.
  • Read more books: definitely accomplished this with the high number of “Girl” books I read last year.
  • Qualify for Boston, again (this time with 3:32 or sub marathon): N/A. I actually ran 0 marathons last year.
  • Run more ultras!!! Ran one ultra in 2016, with plans to run more that never came to fruition.

Weekly Workout Recap (12/26-1/1):
Mon – 3 mi Palm Canyon hike
Tues – Bootcamp @ YogaSix + Softball
Wed – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Thurs – Full Body @ Core40 + 6 mi
Fri – 4 mi Mirror Lake hike
Sat – 8 mile Dewey Point snowshoeing
Sun – 7 mile cross-country skiing
Total Weekly Mileage: 6 mi
Number of cross-training workouts: 8
2017 miles: 0 mi

Weekly Workout Recap (1/2-1/8):
Mon – 7 mi cross-country skiing
Tues – Softball
Wed – Full Body @ Core40 + 5 mi
Thurs – Hot Yoga @ YogaSix
Fri – Mixed Level @ The Bar Method
Sat – Climbing
Sun – Climbing
Total Weekly Mileage: 5 mi
Number of cross-training workouts: 7
2017 miles: 5 mi

Weekly Workout Recap (1/9-1/15):
Mon – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Tues – Full Body @ Elevate Training + Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Wed – Power Yoga @ YogaSix
Thurs – Hot Yoga @ YogaSix + Climbing
Fri – Rest
Sat – Snowboarding
Sun – Snowboarding
Total Weekly Mileage: 0 mi
Number of cross-training workouts: 7 mi
2017 miles: 5 mi

Weekly Workout Recap (1/16-1/22):
Mon – Bootcamp @ YogaSix + Climbing
Tues – Full Body @ Elevate Training
Wed – Climbing
Thurs – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Fri – Power Yoga + Climbing
Sat – Rest
Sun – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Total Weekly Mileage: 0 mi
Number of cross-training workouts: 8
2017 miles: 5 mi

Weekly Workout Recap (1/23-1/29):
Mon – Rest
Tues –  Full Body @ Elevate Training + Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Wed – Power Yoga @ YogaSix
Thurs – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Fri – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Sat – Climbing
Sun – Climbing
Total Weekly Mileage: 0 mi
Number of cross-training workouts: 7
2017 miles: 5 mi

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The other night Kevin and I had the opportunity to preview the Valentine’s Dinner Menu at Cafe Coyote down in Old Town. I haven’t spent much time in Old Town, so it was a fun and new experience to check out the area.

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Cafe Coyote has received the CRA (California Restaurant Association) 32nd Annual Gold Medallion Award for the Best Mexican Restaurant 2016. So if you’re looking for an authentic Mexican dining experience in San Diego, this is where you should go!

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Cafe Coyote is known for their margaritas, so of course we had to check them out! There were 2 special margs on the v-day menu, but I prefer mine not too sweet, so I ordered the Tres Agaves that doesn’t use sweet and sour mix, making it a little more authentic. Kevin ordered the Cadillac Margarita made with Grand Mariner, so it added a little more punch of booze with a hint of sweetness.

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Cafe Coyote amasses a big portion of the block they’re located on. We learned that the restaurant originally started as just the upstairs area, but as businesses went out underneath, they continued to expand and with it, grow their success.

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The restaurant was definitely bustling with life. We sat on the patio and enjoyed the romantic open-air ambiance. We ordered the 2lb 3-course lobster dinner for 2 served Puerto Nuevo Style with Mexican style rice, refried beans, handmade tortillas, drawn butter and fresh salsa. Plus we each got one starter (tortilla soup and pozole) and one dessert (fried ice cream and chocolate Chile pot de creme).

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I much rather prefer a Puerto Nuevo style lobster dinner than a traditional super fancy lobster dinner. It’s fun and filling, and it definitely brought back memories of our summer trips down to Baja!

Our meal was so delicious, and such a great deal! The lobster dinner for 2 is only $49.95 total, almost equivalent to how little you’d pay if you went down to Puerto Nuevo.

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We were shown so much hospitality with little details like chocolate roses, a “candle lit” dinner and an extra special white chocolate fudge heart from the candy store next door.

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For an affordable, fun, and romantic Valentine’s Day experience, I’d highly recommend checking out Cafe Coyote. Plus V-day also falls on Taco Tuesday 😉

Cafe Coyote 2461 San Diego Ave
San Diego, CA 92110

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Thank you to Cafe Coyote for hosting me! As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

For Noelle’s “Stay Wild Moon Child” themed 30th birthday, I promised her an out-of-this world cake. When I realized I committed to making a fondant covered, sponge painted creation (both of which I have no experience with) I found myself searching for a solution. “Galaxy” donuts have been a thing lately, so I decided to use donut glace icing for the cake frosting. With a little bit of pixie dust, this cake turned out sparkling and better than I could have imagined!

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Galaxy Cake
INGREDIENTS:
Cake
2 boxes Devil’s Food cake mix
2-1/2 cups water
1 cup vegetable oil
6 eggs
Star sprinkles
Black food coloring
Topping
2 containers of store-bought buttercream frosting

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DIRECTIONS:
Cake

  1. Heat oven to 350°F
  2. Make cake according to the directions.
  3. Pour cake batter of first 2 layers into 2 9” pans that have been greased.  Sprinkle with star sprinkles.
  4. Bake approximately 30 minutes at 350°F or until you can put a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean.
  5. Repeat with remaining 2 layers.
  6. Cool all layers completely at room temperature (~12 hours).
  7. Level with cake leveler and discard one layer (or reserve, but you do not need it. I always bake 4 layers and pick the best 3).

Topping

  1. When ready to serve, spread frosting between each layer. Top with glacé icing (below).

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Glacé Icing
From Whisk and Wander
INGREDIENTS:
2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, no need to sift
1/4-3/4 cup water, room temp
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Blue, red and black food coloring
Silver pixie dust (optional)
DIRECTIONS:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment add confectioners’ sugar.
  2. With mixer on low speed slowly add water to sugar a little at a time until icing is spreadable but not too thin.
  3. Mix until all sugar is dissolved and icing looks smooth. About 4 minutes. Scraping sides as necessary.
  4. Slowly add food coloring and swirl with fork.  I started with a couple drops of blue, a few red (to create purple) and a tiny hint of black.  Swirly gently to create the galaxy effect.
  5. When desired color has been achieved, pour slowly pour over cake to ensure maximum coverage.
  6. Spread around sides to completely cover cake. Top with silver pixie dust for additional shimmer

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Recently, Kevin and I have realized we’ve gotten our hiking lunches down to a science.  These 3 ingredients pack so easily and do not require a cooler or refrigeration.  They’re easy to stuff into a sack and prepare on the trail.  This has led to some of our most epic lunches.

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What you need:

  • Stick of Hard Salami (or package of salami)
  • Package of Babybel Cheese
  • Bread (ciabatta or Sprouts sometimes has these sliced half-loaves)

Other tools:

    • Swiss Army Knife
    • Summit beers (definitely necessary!) 😉

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’Tis the season for birthdays and cakes! I promised Noelle an out of this world galaxy cake for her “stay wild moon child” themed birthday party. However, I didn’t realize how intensive the cake was that I originally agreed to bake (like fondant with metallic sponge painted on it). So I completely improvised and ended up with quite a creation (recipe to come)!

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The following week it was my faux-little sister’s 16th birthday. Her favorite cake is the coconut cake at Solace and the Moonlight Lounge in Encinitas, so I tried to re-create it. I ended up with 4 layers of incredibly dense coconut cake (I think the cake probably weighed around 20lbs in general) that tasted like a coconut macaroon (another cake recipe to come).

The week after was my brother’s birthday, but instead of baking him a cake, we met up for dinner at the new Star Wars movie. Little did I know, this would mark the first of VERY MANY movies for the week. Monday kicked it off with Star Wars, followed by Office Christmas Party on Tuesday, Manchester by the Sea on Saturday, Jackie on Sunday, and Passengers on Monday.

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My dad and I spent Christmas in Palm Desert visiting my grandparents and I managed to sneak off for a repeat of last year’s Christmas Day trail run (probably one of my most favorite trails). The day after Christmas, on my way home, I stopped by the Indian Canyons and ended up doing 3 miles on the Palm Canyon Trail. Originally I thought I might just head out half a mile and come back, but I just kept walking about a mile out. I also wanted to avoid the crowds coming back, so I opted for the Victor Trail, a higher route (that ended up being a mile longer than the way out) but it gave me both different views and a different perspective of the hike. This was a nice loop and it spit me out essentially right where I started (even though I wasn’t 100% certain where it might lead me).

Weekly Workout Recap (12/5-12/11):
Mon – Rest
Tues – Sculpt @ BodyROK + Restorative Yoga @ Fortis and & YOGALUX
Wed – Rest
Thurs – Rest
Fri – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Sat – 6 mi
Sun – 6 mi
Total Weekly Mileage: 12 mi
Number of cross-training workouts: 3
2016 miles: 798 mi

Weekly Workout Recap (12/12-12/18):
Mon – Mixed Level @ The Bar Method + Hot Yoga @ YogaSix + Deep Stretch @ YogaSix
Tues – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Wed – Rest
Thurs – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Fri – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Sat – Rest
Sun – 4.2 mi
Total Weekly Mileage: 4.2 mi
Number of cross-training workouts: 6
2016 miles: 802.2 mi

Weekly Workout Recap (12/19-12/25):
Mon – Rest
Tues – Full Body @ Core40 + Bootcamp @ Yoga Six + Softball
Wed – Rest
Thurs – Bootcamp @ Yoga Six
Fri – Bootcamp @ Yoga Six
Sat – Rest
Sun – 6 mi Garstin Trail run
Total Weekly Mileage: 6 mi
Number of cross-training workouts: 5
2016 miles: 802.2 mi

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San Diego Restaurant is happening, now through Sunday, January 22nd!

Tuesday night, Kevin and I stepped out of our North County bubble and traveled down to The Smoking Goat in North Park for San Diego Restaurant Week. North Park has such a wide array of good restaurants, I just never seem to make the trek. For example, I’m pretty sure The Smoking Goat has been on my “to-try” restaurant list for the past 6-7 years, so I’m glad San Diego Restaurant Week gave me the chance.

The Smoking Goat is a French bistro with a rustic farmhouse vibe that definitely fits the San Diego food scene. The restaurant week menu provides a good representation of what The Smoking Goat normally serves, while only priced at $40 for 3-courses.

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To start, we ordered the French Onion Soup with oxtail broth, crouton and Swiss gruyere and the Foie Gras Torchon with fig preserve and toast. The French Onion Soup had a flavor that was reminiscent of Thanksgiving (perhaps the flavor from the bay leaf?). And the Foie Gras did not disappoint since it’s one of my favorite things (and I don’t think I’ve had it since I studied abroad in Paris basically 7 years go!).

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Our waiter was very knowledgeable and helped me select a Cotes du Rhone to pair with my entree, the Duck Confit. If you haven’t noticed a trend, duck is my absolute favorite! The Duck Confit was accompanied by a sweet potato-oyster mushroom hash, rapini and black truffle jus. And for Kev’s second course, he ordered the Compart Farms Duroc Pork Chop with potato-bacon gratin and braised kale. Both of our dishes were very moist and flavorful, and we completely devoured them.

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This season, San Diego Restaurant Week partnered up with the Girl Scouts of America to celebrate 100 years of Girl Scout Cookies, so chef’s created dishes that incorporated this treat. We found this collaboration in the Chocolate Pot de Creme dessert that came with Girl Scout trefoils shortbread cookies and espresso cream. Of course we had to try one of each dessert, so we also ordered the Apple Cobbler with stone fruit and coconut-oat streusel.

Everything was absolutely top notch! One of my favorite things about San Diego Restaurant Week is that it makes me try new places. And through this format, we’ve always been able to sample a selection of dishes that leave us wanting to come back another time to try more.

The Smoking Goat 

3408 30th St
San Diego, CA 92104

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Thank you to The Smoking Goat for hosting me! As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

 
 
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