Alison

Reptile Walk – Fancy Digs for The San Diego Zoo’s Slithering Residents

San Diego Zoo Reptile Walk Entrance
San Diego Zoo Reptile Walk Entrance

Enter into the world of Reptiles at the San Diego Zoo

The Reptile Walk, San Diego Zoo’s fancy digs for its slithering residents, consists three separate structures housing turtles, amphibians and snakes native to California – including the longest gopher snake you’re likely to have ever seen!

San Diego Gopher Snake - San Diego Zoo Reptile Walk

San Diego Gopher Snake

“That San Diego gopher snake is at least four and a half feet long,” said Zoo herpetologist Ken Morgan, as he watched the wriggling reptile stretching out in its new glass enclosure. “It’s the largest one I’ve ever seen.”

San Diego Zoo herpetologist Ken Morgan

San Diego Zoo herpetologist Ken Morgan

Reptiles live on all continents except Antarctica – and the Zoo’s new exhibit accommodates more than 50 species.

What to See on the Reptile Walk

Visitors can see a pair of critically endangered Chinese alligators meandering around an open-air pool. They’re the smallest of alligator species – only about four feet long. They’re also among the rarest: Only about 100 are left in the wild, Morgan said.

Reptile Walk - Mexican Giant Tree Frog

Mexican Giant Tree Frog

Check out an emerald tree boa from South America, a spiky giant horned lizard from Mexico and a Mexican giant tree frog. Search for mata – mata turtles that masquerade as leaves – and be wowed by others with long snake-like necks.

San Diego has more biodiversity than any other county in North America – so plenty of slithering stars are exhibited in the California Native Species building.

If you like the colorful banded San Diego mountain kingsnake, you’ll love the two-headed California kingsnake. At feeding time, one head gets covered with a hood while the other is fed; it keeps the two heads from fighting and injuring each other.

Visitors won’t find any venomous snakes in the new reptile exhibit. To find rattlers, head to Elephant Odyssey; rattlesnakes are housed there, near the condors.

> Get your tickets now to see the Reptile Walk at the San Diego Zoo

Candice

Trick or Treating in San Diego, the Grown-Up Version

Smashing Pumpkin Martini

As little ghosts and goblins come out to play and traipse from house to house in their sugar-fueled quest on October 31, it’s hard for the grown-ups not to feel just a little bit envious. Just because we’ve grown older doesn’t mean we have outgrown our sweet tooths (well, some of us, anyway)!

If you’re looking for a little sweet indulgence this Halloween, fear not – San Diego offers some diabolically delicious holiday treats sure to delight those too old for trick or treating.

Drink-or-Treat

Smashing Pumpkin Martini

For pumpkin with a punch, try the Smashing Pumpkin Martini at the Grant Grill.

No trick here: Halloween cocktails have seized San Diego. This Halloween, adults can do some drink-or-treating around downtown by hopping between hot spots offering spooktacular cocktails.

At Whisky Girl, ghouls and guests can choose from the Wolfman, a chocolate martini with vanilla vodka, the Frankenstein with Malibu, melon, blue Curacao, pineapple juice and whipped cream, and the Dracula served with a single shot of rumplemintz, a splash of cream and grenadine.

At the Grant Grill in the US Grant Hotel, the Smashing Pumpkin martini is a delicious mix of pumpkin and star anise infused rum, Grand Marnier, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, saffron syrup, cardamom bitters and fresh meyer lemon.

If you’re not too squeamish, try the Femur Shot at Searsucker, a concoction of coconut, lime and vodka served in steer femur bones and designed to be sucked out, bone marrow style.

Crazy for Candy

Truffles

Eclipse Chocolat truffles – a perfect addition to any grown-up trick-or-treat bag. Photo courtesy of Roger Tsen.

If liquid treats just won’t cut it and only the real thing will do, die-hard candy loving adults won’t be disappointed this Halloween.

Chocolate aficionados should head straight to Eclipse Chocolat in North Park. Exotic flavor combinations are offered daily, but seasonal specials include the Pumpkin Muscavado truffle and Spiced Pumpkin cupcake, a decadent chocolate cake filled with pumpkin butter and topped in a dark chocolate ganache and grains of paradise (said to taste like a mix between pepper, ginger and cardamom).

If waiting for Halloween to roll around each year is simply too long to wait to get your candy fix, at Alchemy of the Hearth in San Marcos, candy lovers can learn to make sweet treats at home with classes that teach the secrets to creating toffees, caramels, lollipops and even candy apples.

How will you indulge your sweet tooth this Halloween?

Brent Bernasconi

America’s Cup World Series is Coming to San Diego

America's Cup World Series in San DiegoThe America’s Cup World Series is coming to San Diego this November. For eight days between November 12-20, AC 45 catamarans will be up close and personal as they race around San Diego’s Big Bay in four exciting events: San Diego America’s Cup Open, America’s Cup 500 Speed Trial, America’s Cup Match Racing Championship and America’s Cup World Series San Diego Championship. Make sure to check SanDiego.org for event information and to find great hotel deals.

Brent Bernasconi

San Diego’s Weather Ranked Number 1 by Travel+Leisure

San Diego's Weather - Perfect All Year Round!

In San Diego, all you need to do is walk outside on most days to notice our phenomenal weather. With over 280 days of pure sunshine, you can see why travelers ranked America’s Finest City number 1 for weather in Travel+Leisure’s America’s Favorite Cities 2011 survey. San Diego was also voted number 1 as the Spring Break destination and number 2 as Summer Family Vacation and 4th of July destinations! With great weather comes great opportunities for travel! Check out a Video San Diego’s Number 1 Weather Ranking from the Today Show

Aki

12th Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival

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My recommendation for the upcoming San Diego Asian Film Festival, October 20-28, 2011, has nothing to do with my Japanese heritage, my love for movies or being an ardent festival-goer. Sure, I was the obvious pick to cover this festival, but I am here to tell you that even if I was of Irish descent, watched only 80’s Rom Coms, and was agoraphobic, I would still be recommending this film festival.

Whether you’re an Asian film buff, a foreign film guru or just your run-of-the-mill movie goer, there is something for everyone. Now in its twelfth year, the festival is one of the largest showcases of Pan-Asian cinema in North America, screening over 160 films (feature-length and shorts) from 21 countries in the span of 8 days. From feature to indie films, shorts, animation and documentaries, you’ll be hard pressed not to find something that peaks your interest.

Read more and leave a comment on this post to win tickets to the 2011 SDAFF…

Aki

Art Safari: Experience Southern California’s LIGHT & SPACE

Southern California’s expansive vistas and ethereal light have an unspoken power. If it were a sound, I would imagine it to be a deep cleansing exhale, like a cool breeze blowing off the ocean on a warm sunny day. If it were to be conveyed as an image or object, it is undoubtedly captured in the body of work created by a group of artists from the region in the 1960’s, who were part of an art movement known as Light and Space.

The transcendental experience of being in Southern California – the deep blue Pacific Ocean and the glowing light that pervades every corner of the unsuppressed landscape – inspired regional artists to create art objects that depict this beauty. Now, through an unprecedented initiative that examines this and other influential art movements spawned in Southern California from 1945-1980, the Getty Institute in Los Angeles, along with 68 other institutions, has mounted a collaborative region-wide exhibition series called Pacific Standard Time.

Two of San Diego’s museums are taking part in this initiative:

Step into light and space. Don't miss 'Phenomenal' at MCASD.

The Museum of Contemporary Art has organized their largest exhibition to-date, Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface, which encompasses both the downtown and La Jolla locations. The exhibition features exemplary works by vanguard artists that shaped the Light and Space movement, as well as site-specific installations that predominantly use the medium of light. In addition to the unique atmosphere of Southern California, the emergence of the iconic car and surf culture in the 1960’s gave way for artists to experiment with new materials – acrylic polymers, resins, enamels and new plastics – to create immaculately slick surfaces that  gave the movement its alternative name, Finish Fetish. The exhibition at both locations will be on view through January 22, 2012, so you’ll have plenty of time to plan your trip to San Diego to take in this awe-inspiring exhibition.

 

See the whimsical creations of San Diego's foremost artist craftsmen at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park.

The Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park presents San Diego’s Craft Revolution – From Post-War Modern to California Design, which opens October 16, showcasing important contributions of San Diego craftsmen from the 1940’s through the 1970’s. The exhibition traces the progression from sleek modernism to unconventional handcrafted functional objects, showcasing whimsical presentations of furniture, doors, jewelry and ceramics. This exhibition will be up through April 15, 2012, so be sure to include this exhibition in your next San Diego vacation itinerary.

Plan your Southern California Art Safari by visiting the official Pacific Standard Time website for more information, and a full schedule of participating exhibitions.

Aki

Restaurant Week Picks: Explore North County’s California Cuisine

The birthplace of California Cuisine may be attributed to Berkeley, but San Diego chefs are pushing the envelope of culinary innovation, fusing the freshest local ingredients with unexpected influences, and creating dishes that are as unique as the destination itself. Restaurant Week is the perfect opportunity to take in some of the freshest and most inventive flavors that San Diego has to offer.

Take in sweeping views of La Jolla Cove at George's California Modern.

George’s California Modern

If you look up “California” or “seasonal” cuisine, there should be a photo of Trey Foshee. For over a decade, the award-winning chef of George’s California Modern has been reinventing California Cuisine season after season, creating dishes that you just can’t find anywhere else. Using ingredients that are only at the peak of season, the menu changes as offerings at local markets do.

From the Restaurant Week menu, I would recommend starting with the Chino Farms Tomato Salad. What is likely the highest honor for a tomato, perfectly vine ripe picks from Chino Farms are presented with fresh basil and artfully prepared eggplant romanesco. For the main course, go with the Local White Seabass served with artichokes, baby leeks, fennel, pan con tomato, all finished in black olive oil and preserved lemon, this dish will have you savoring the last bit of San Diego’s summer. End with the Souffle Cheesecake that’ll make you want to lick the plate (but please don’t). The combination of rich cream cheese ice cream with the deep flavor of matcha streusel, all balanced with the sprite fragrance of yuzu curd and sweet Chino Farms strawberries, this fresh take on the classic soufflé will make your taste buds soar.

Nestled atop Del Mar Plaza, the views from FLAVOR perfectly compliment their inspired cuisine.

Nestled atop Del Mar Plaza, FLAVOR offers enchanting views that match their inspired cuisine.

FLAVOR Del Mar

This is the perfect occasion to try Del Mar’s hottest new restaurant. Nestled atop Del Mar Plaza with a pitch perfect ocean view, dining at FLAVOR is a full sensory experience. Acclaimed chef Jason Maitland offers a youthful and inspired approach to California Cuisine, creating a simple, yet unique blend of flavors and fragrances that are as fresh as the Pacific breeze.

Kick off your meal with the Tiger Prawn Ceviche, done up FLAVOR style with a confetti of cherry tomatoes, capers, cucumber, feta cheese. For the main course, try the Slow Cooked Scottish King Salmon, served with an immaculate ginger-soy sauce that perfectly complements the sweet and tender salmon. For dessert, go for the sweet and creamy Corn Panna Cotta, served with crème Anglaise, macadamia nut brittle, and white peach sorbet.

333 Pacific's Surf-n-Turf offerings come with a classic California sunset.

333 Pacific

Before acquiring my deep knowledge of California Cuisine (last week when I got this assignment), my impression of it was the classic Surf-n-Turf: succulent seafood and savory steaks, complemented with the finest California wines, enjoyed over sweeping ocean views in a pair of flip-flops. It turns out I wasn’t too far off. If you’re looking for the best Surf-n-Turf experience, seek no further than Cohn Restaurant Group’s inspired pier-front establishment in Oceanside, 333 Pacific.

After a walk on the Oceanside pier, warm up with the Sweet Potato Bisque with peppar vodka cream that’ll have you glowing like the sunset view from their patio. For the main course, go for 12-ounce Boneless Ribeye, an immaculate cut grilled to perfection, served with fried leeks and horseradish mashed potatoes. If you’re in the mood for a fresh catch from the surf, try the Pecan Encrusted Sea Bass with edamame bean succotash and roasted fingerling potatoes. And for dessert, what could be more classic than a Cinnamon Apple Tart, à la mode?

San Diego Restaurant Week ends Friday, September 23, so get out there treat your senses to San Diego’s best California Cuisine!