Notes from Day Two of the 19th Annual Taste of Gaslamp

June 12, 2012

This year, for the 19th Annual Taste of Gaslamp, the Gaslamp Association decided to hold the event on two days spanning an entire weekend. got the chance to a sample day two's participating establishments, including usual favorites barleymash, Blue Point Coastal Cuisine, and Whiskey Girl.  For those who didn't make it out for the event, and for those that may not remember so well after imbibing at the Sam Adams Sky Lounge at Altitude, here is a recap of what you may have missed.

The sun was shining as we made our way downtown.  Like other attendees, we picked up our passes for the event in front of the Marriott San Diego Gaslamp Quarter.  We immediately found street parking, and being Sunday, it was free!  Our first stop was Red Pearl Kitchen - and a tasty beginning it was: slow cooked chicken wings fell off the bone, and the flavors of cilantro and onion really complimented the tangy sauce.

The Taste of Gaslamp was far busier than other area "Taste of" events, forcing us to skip some tastes due to lengthy lines (trust us, we did make sure to find out what we were missing before choosing to pass by an establishment).  Walking up and down the Gaslamp, there were certainly some highs and lows in what restaurants chose to offer.

Spiced shrimp barley pie
barleymash presented a spread of pizza offerings, including the delicious "Pig Pie" flatbread with pork belly confit, caramelized onions, crumbled bleu cheese, bbq sauce, fried cilantro and Jameson smoked paprika aioli.  Also offered was the citrus vodka ceviche atop a cucumber with cilantro avocado sauce - possibly the best single bite of the day! barleymash also scored some points by offering $1 samples of one of my favorite local brews, Stone's Cali-Belgique.

Offerings from Bolillo Tortas
There were a few other notable offerings.  Whiskey Girl's sweet Thai chili chicken wings were cooked to perfection - crispy on the outside while preserving the juiciness of the meat.  We were surprised by the quaint open air patio in the back of Burger Lounge and satisfied with their tasty beef slider, as well as their veggie quinoa patty slider.  The shepherd's pie and corned beef sandwich at Dublin Square Irish Pub was another successful offering by an establishment we've never previously been.  Although I thought I was at my limit when we got to Bolillo Tortas, the corn on the cob with mayo, spices, and Cotija cheese revived my appetite and proved to be one of the simplest yet tastiest offerings of the day.

Although quite beautiful, Blue Point's Alaskan halibut and wild shrimp ceviche on a sesame crisp was fairly boring, as the flavors really did not come together atop the palate-drying crisp.  We were forced to pass by Bare Back Grill, as with the time constraints already imposed in such a food walk, we couldn't wait the anticipated 5 minutes for their slider offerings to come out. (Faux pas!)  Other disappointments included the cop out offering of chocolate drizzled sides (strawberry bits, marshmallow and mini rice crispy treat) by the franchise jip-joint that is the Melting Pot, as well as Mint Downtown Thai's pad see ew rice noodle dish, which obviously contained some deleterious fish sauce.

Luckily, Heavenly Cupcakes' mini red velvet cupcakes and strawberry lime margarita offerings were each sooooo incredibly moist and delicious, and made a perfect (and tactfully planned) end to our tour.

We really enjoy the "Taste of" events that occur all over San Diego as they provide participants a unique chance to explore different areas of the city and sample food from restaurants they may have otherwise never considered.  Although you usually eat a lot, you get your exercise at the same time and have the chance to meet interesting people from around our great city.