allo fräuleins! Oktoberfest @JaynesGastropub is rocking

Tracie P, Georgia P, and I stopped in for an early dinner on our way back from Los Angeles yesterday at Jaynes Gastropub in San Diego.

We may have been part of the “early-bird” crowd but that didn’t stop us from getting a taste of the Oktoberfest celebration there.

Schnitzel, spätzl, bratwurst… and of course, Schneider-Weisse beer.

But I still couldn’t resist getting my favorite, the Jaynes Burger (Vermont cheddar, house-pickled onions, and aioli).

Oktoberfest continues this evening at Jaynes… definitely worth checking out…

Di mamme ce n’è una sola…

You only have one mother… One of my favorite expressions in Italian…

Grandson Oscar poured milk into mama Judy’s coffee for an early family breakfast.

There were eleven of us for eggs in all kinds of styles and lox and Bloody Marys at Nine Ten, the restaurant in the hotel where Tracie P and I got married in La Jolla, the Grand Colonial, home of the Parzen family’s official Sunday brunch.

Next came some clothes shopping with mama Judy and Tracie P and a visit to our favorite Chinese restaurant in San Diego, Spicy City in Kearny Mesa (and yes, California Chinese is also better than anywhere else in the U.S. imho). The rice noodles were DELICIOUS!

Happy mother’s day, yall! Buona festa della mamma!

Way to GO brother Micah! Brilliant, simply brilliant… :-)

Lots of reasons for smiles in the Parzen family these days. :-)

I’ve known for a week or so but had to keep a lid on it: brother Micah (right, giving a toast at our wedding) has landed what might just be his dream job, the Executive Directorship of San Diego’s Museum of Man.

Here’s what he had to say on his Facebook:

Micah David Parzen is OVER THE MOON to announce that, beginning August 9, he will be the new Executive Director of the San Diego Museum of Man in Balboa Park! Stay tuned–and jump on board–for great things facebook friends! I can use all the support I can get!

(Check out this link to an article in the San Diego paper of record, The Union-Tribune.)

Above: The brothers Parzen: Tad, me, and Micah. We sure clean up nicely, don’t we? ;-)

You see, brother Micah isn’t just a partner in one of San Diego’s top law firms. He also has a Ph.D. in anthropology. He filed his dissertation “‘Culturally Appropriate’ Mental Health Care: Wilderness Therapy for Navajo Youth” in 2000 at Case Western.

Dude, we are so stoked for you… Congratulations and double mazel! It’s simply brilliant. :-)

Earthquake (!), pre-Prohibition cocktails and the Grapes perform tonight

Above: The pre-Prohibition cocktails at the newly opened Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town, San Diego calmed my nerves after a 5.4 magnitude quake!

The San Diego Kid (that’s me) arrived in San Diego from Austin, Texas yesterday only to be greeted by a magnitude 5.4 earthquake. Having grown up here, I’m relatively accustomed to such natural occurrences but the young man helping me at the rental car desk nearly pooped in his pants. Luckily, pre-Prohibition cocktails awaited me at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town, San Diego (where my friend and colleague @ChezSheila had just launched her newest project).

Above: The San Diego Kid fit right in with the Old Town 19th-century reenactors (no joke!). Note the first appearance of my Nudie boots.

If you happen to find yourself north of the border tonight, come check out the debut performance of The Grapes at one my favorite sushi destinations, Zenbu, tonight at 9. It should be quite a scene…

In other news…

The Do Bianchi Wine Selections Hard-to-Find Friuli Six-Pack is now available, featuring the wines of Scarpetta (Bobby Stuckey’s winery in northeastern Italy). Click here to read about why Tracie P and I like these wines, made by an American in Italy, so much…

Don’t read my wine blog (and great things I ate in San Diego)

Above: Fish tacos at Jaynes Gastropub (served only during happy hour). So good with the Grüner Veltliner by Domäne Wachau by-the-glass.

As my lovely and most definitely better half Tracie P will surely agree: it is a rare occasion that I am left speechless. Today is such an occasion.

I was left entirely FLOORED by Levi Dalton’s piece over at the 32 Days of Natural Wine.

Above: Camaronillas (corn tortillas stuffed with shrimp and then deep-fried) at Bahia Don Bravo in Bird Rock with the crew (SO MUCH fun last night). Bahia Don Bravo 5504 La Jolla Boulevard, La Jolla, CA, (858) 454-8940. (Thanks Salavdor, Roberto, and Dora! YOU’RE THE BEST!)

I highly recommend that you check out and follow the 32 Days and there are so many great posts to come.

Above: And only because Zio Alfonso is so concerned about my cholesterol level, I only ate half of the homemade pork sausage (generously studded with fennel seeds) at Pete’s Quality Meat in Little Italy on my way to the airport. Pete’s Quality Meat, 1742 India Street, San Diego, CA, (619) 234-1684.

I’m so stoked that I got to be part of this epic undertaking and entirely humbled by the caliber and talent of the contributors.

Here’s a useful link to see an overview of all the posts to date.

Buona lettura, as the Italians say!

Chicharrones at Super Cocina in City Heights (San Diego) knocked my socks off, amazing

Brother Tad’s office is out in City Heights on the east side of San Diego. I went out there this morning to meet him for lunch at Super Cocina. Man, I’m here to tell you, this place ROCKS… well worth the drive and then some… I can’t remember the name of this beef stew with potatoes, a dish the owner said was from Mexico City. Anyone know?

But the chicharrones… o my goodness… the chicharrones… slowly stewed melt-in-your-mouth pork rind and tomatillos… I also had the green mole (on the right of the dish).

One of the crazy things about this family-friendly, more-than-reasonably-priced restaurant is that the owner gives you little tasting cups of any and all of the dishes in the food line. The owner knows that he’s got the good stuff and that you’re going to like it.

Highly, highly recommended… and definitely worth the drive. Thanks Brother Tad for hipping me to this awesome place!

Super Cocina
3627 University Avenue
San Diego, CA 92104-2316
(619) 584-6244

Mamma mia! Here I go again (my new gig)…

Today finds me on my way to Chicago, city of my birth. I’m headed to the Windy City for the launch of a new gig, the Boutari Social Media Project 2010. For the next year I’ll be traveling around the country, tasting wines from 6 estates in the Boutari family of wineries, and talking to folks who pour and pair Greek wines with their favorite foods.

What better place to start than Greektown Chicago?

I’ll also be in San Diego over Mother’s Day weekend pouring Greek wines on Sunday May 9 at Jaynes Gastropub (5-7 pm). More details to follow…

Back in November 2009 when I was first approached and asked to write a proposal for this project, I never thought it would come to fruition. And now here I am about to board a plane… I’m truly honored that my proposal was chosen and that I’m about to embark on what I believe will be a ground-breaking adventure. Trips are also planned for New York, Miami, and Houston.

Mamma mia! Here I go again!

Stay tuned…

The last day of Passover and a time to begin again

Above (literally “above”): I took this picture of the full moon over San Diego on the first night of the Passover, the night before the first day, during my family’s Passover seder.

The Passover is over. Yesterday was the last day. For the Jews living in Israel, there are seven days of Passover. For Jews living in the Diaspora, there are eight. Yesterday was the last day.

The Passover, Easter, and the Garden of Adonis… All of these rituals have their roots in an ancient (ancient before the time of the written word) cult of death, rebirth, and renewal. Doing some sleuthing this morning, I found this wonderful passage in The Golden Bough (33):

    At the approach of Easter, Sicilian women sow wheat, lentils, and canaryseed in plates, which they keep in the dark and water every two days. The plants soon shoot up; the stalks are tied together with red ribbons, and the plates containing them are placed on the sepulchres which, with the effigies of the dead Christ, are made up in Catholic and Greek churches on Good Friday, just as the gardens of Adonis were placed on the grave of the dead Adonis. The practice is not confined to Sicily, for it is observed also at Cosenza in Calabria, and perhaps in other places. The whole custom—sepulchres as well as plates of sprouting grain—may be nothing but a continuation, under a different name, of the worship of Adonis.

Indeed, the Passover and Easter “may be nothing but a continuation, under a different name, of the worship of Adonis.”

One of the interesting traces of this cult in the Passover is the “burning of the bread” in the Jewish tradition — the banishment of yeast from the home and the dinner table. Once the Passover is over, yeast is allowed again.

Tracie P and I have spent a lot of time thinking about yeast and how it relates to wine — natural yeast, native yeast, ambient yeast, cultured yeast, selected yeast, “killer” yeast — over the last year. One of the things that struck me about the Passover this year (something I’d never thought about before) is how the Passover ritual requires that we remove all yeast from our lives while requiring us to talk and think about yeast at the same time.

And so it is a time to begin again and watch the yeast do its work. In the words of one of my Italian colleagues, ricominciamo…

You just gotta love Italian T.V., right? And man, you gotta love a name like Pappalardo, literally lard soup. Leavened bread, anyone?

Someday Tracie B will be is now Tracie P!

tracie parzen

Photo by Alfonso.

An earthquake struck San Diego early Monday morning but Tracie P and me didn’t have anything to do with that… ;-)

bahia don bravo

How could our wedding be complete without ceviche at Bahia in Bird Rock? That’s where we had our rehearsal dinner.

bahia don bravo

Only one of the Texans present had ever had a camaronilla. Guess which one! ;-)

italian wine guy

We were geeked to share the Bahia experience with best man Alfonso and SO Kim.

tad parzen

Brother Tad gave a toast, welcoming the Branch/Johnson family to La Jolla.


Uncle Terry “preached” to the choir and welcomed me to the Texas family.

We love Bahia for the view, we love Bahia for the “ambiance,” and the food is always good. But when Dora is in the kitchen, it’s our favorite.


“De parte de tu restaurante favorito,” wrote my friend Roberto who works there, “les deseamos mucha felicidad y realmente todos estamos muy contentos por ustedes. Felicidades.”

I wrote this post on the plane. We’re in NYC on our way to Italy! Stay tuned…