Grandma’s 92nd Birthday

We celebrated grandma’s 92nd birthday at Firebirds last night. It was also a late birthday dinner for Brian and late Father’s Day celebration. We didn’t have time to figure out what to do for gifts for everyone so we just decided to buy everyone dinner. It was a little lazy on our part, I know; but what can you do when you’ve just gotten back from traveling and you have to get on with everyday life real quick? I was back to my day job and teaching my Zumba classes right off the bat.

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Without further ado, here are some of the pictures from last night.

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Mom and dad were able to join us so that was great.

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Brian got a card that makes noise and some cash for his birthday from his mom and dad. He is so easily amused.

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Mom really thought this was a half portion.

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Brian got ribs. He said they were very good.

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Grandma got pasta.

Dad got a wood grilled salmon.

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Kevin got a cheeseburger.

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I had a Fireside BLT with grilled salmon.

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Donna got meatloaf.

David got a steak filet and fries.

We all shared a couple of slices of the banana cream pie.

Close up!

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Grandma got a nice card from the Firebirds staff.

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We had to take a selfie!

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Here’s a photo of the Brubakers outside the restaurant after dinner.

Picture from last night.

Firebirds Wood Fired Grill on Urbanspoon

Food at the restaurant was actually better than I remembered. I have always liked their bread because it reminds me of pan de sal. The servers brought us several loaves well before we could even finish one.

I’m not sure about the others but my food was pretty good. The last time I had salmon at Firebirds it was a little overdone. It seemed that way anyhow. I thought I would give them another chance and get salmon again. This time to just add to my salad. The salmon was done absolutely perfectly. It didn’t dry up so that was great.

Our server recommended their seasonal dessert, a banana cream pie on steroids. We shared two slices of the pie. It was delicious. I hope Brian learns how to make it because I would love to have some again. LOL.

Dinner Photos

Here are some photos from our dinners at the resort.

La Brisa

Out of all the restaurants, La Brisa was our favorite. I think it was the only restaurant that we went to with a full bar. The other restaurants offered only regular drinks and wine. The location was perfect. The restaurant had spectacular views and the breeze felt great against your skin.

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La Comedie

La Comedie is one of two French restaurants. This one isn’t included in the regular all inclusive package but it’s free to club premium guests. Naturally, we had to give it a try.

Brian was not too fond of this place because he said it smelled very fishy. I couldn’t smell anything because I caught a cold while we were there and I was at the peak of my illness at this point. The creepy puppets didn’t help matters any either.

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This is how they served water out of water bottles.

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My shrimp cocktail starter was served out of a pineapple cup.

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I got the lobster thermidor entree. I’m sure it was very good but I didn’t have much of an appetite that night.

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Brian had chicken cordon bleu.

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I did eat all of my crepe suzette despite my lack of appetite.

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Brian had chocolate ice cream.

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Kyoto Teppanyaki

The following night we had dinner at a Japanese hibachi place. Like La Comedie this restaurant is also located on the family side, Barceló Bávaro Palace Deluxe.

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This is their version of miso soup. I thought it was good but Brian didn’t like it because it had a lot of crap in it. He’s used to the clear miso soup that they serve at the teppanyaki restaurants here in Wichita.

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I didn’t get a picture of my plate but it looks exactly the same as this with shrimp instead of chicken. I ate a lot of shrimp while we were down there.

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I had coconut encrusted flan. Brian had some kind of chocolate cake roll/log.

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La Dolce Vita

La Dolce Vita is an Italian restaurant at Barceló Bávaro Palace Deluxe. It was Brian’s pick and his least favorite of all the restaurants that we tried.

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They gave us bread that reminds me of lavosh.

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The minestrone was not very good. It was very watery.

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The chicken cacciatore was just okay.

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Brian fared worse. His spinach and four cheese ravioli was overcooked.

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The only thing good, besides the cheesy flatbread, was the tiramisu.

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Chez Gourmet

We ate at Chez Gourmet on our final night at Barceló. This French restaurant is included in the regular all inclusive package and the best part is that it’s located in the adults only side so we didn’t have to take the train over to Palace Deluxe. Even though my lobster wasn’t cooked all the way, I actually liked this place better than La Comedie.

Brian said the place didn’t smell fishy and there were no creepy puppets. I still couldn’t smell so I can neither confirm nor deny the existence or lack of fishy odor, but I was definitely glad there were no creepy puppets watching us eat our meal. Jokes aside, the restaurant was furnished nicely and well-decorated. The ambiance of this restaurant is also more romantic than stuffy.

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This is the stuffed squid starter offered to everyone at the restaurant. Brian didn’t touch his. I ate mine. It wasn’t bad.

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The seafood soup was watery just like the minestrone from the previous night.

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This is the martini shrimp. The fried shrimp outside was yummy. The shrimp ceviche under the martini glass was just okay. Cool presentation, though.

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I had the seafood trio of shrimp, crab, and lobster. The shrimp was good but the crab was overcooked and the lobster was not done all the way.

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Brian had the chateaubriand. He said it was just okay.

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I had the crepe suzette again for dessert.

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I don’t get to eat crepes very often so I took advantage of it while we were at Barceló. I ate crepes everyday. If not at dinner, at breakfast. I didn’t know there was a crepe station at Caribe Buffet until our second or third day at the resort but after I found out, I got it every time.

As far as resort dining goes, La Brisa and Caribe are your best bets. They’re on the adults only side so you don’t have to ride the train to Palace Deluxe. Lots of options at Caribe (and guys can wear shorts because there’s no dress code) and they have a full bar at La Brisa so you can enjoy cocktails with your meal.

Seafood was abundant at the resort and you have lot of choices. I took full advantage and ate a lot of seafood, specially shrimp. Brian is not a seafood lover so he ate a lot of pasta. LOL. I hope you enjoyed all the food photos and you found the comments helpful. Until next time.

XOXO,
Ching

Caribe Buffet

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Brian and I ate at the Caribe Buffet on our first night at the resort. The buffet is nice because you can wear pretty much anything you like. Actually, that’s true for women anywhere you go. However, guys are required to wear pants at the restaurants except for the buffet. They don’t care if you wear shorts at the buffet. As long as you’re not in your swimsuit and have shoes on, they pretty much don’t care.

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They always have various fresh fruits.

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There are several food stations.

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This is the create-your-own-pasta section. It’s was Brian’s favorite station.

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This is the crepe station.

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They always have all sorts of fish dishes. That first night I was surprised to see these two whole fish, complete with the head and everything.

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This is one of the dessert stations.

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There are always so many choices.

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There’s so much food. If you go hungry, it’s your fault.

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This is the view from the restaurant. It’s pretty nice, but there’s actually an even better one. I will show you guys next time.

My strategy at the buffet was to try a little bit of everything first and then once I figured out what I liked that’s all I got for the most part. Brian really liked the pasta and the pizza. I leaned more towards rice, beans, shrimp, and pork.

The buffet has some slightly different options at breakfast and lunch than at dinner. During breakfast there is a mimosa station and a smoothie station. The mimosa station is self-explanatory. They have bottles of wine and orange juice. You make your own mimosa. The smoothie station is really cool. They have a wide selection of fruits and you just tell them which ones you want in your smoothie. It’s really cool.

They also have an omelet station where you can create your own omelet. What I like best about their omelet station is that they don’t assume that you want cheese so they don’t put cheese in your omelet unless specifically requested so I never have to say “no cheese” every time. LOL.

The breakfast buffet is actually much better than getting room service. Even though room service was included for us and, despite the convenience, the wide array of food options makes it worth going to the buffet for breakfast. The room service menu is quite limited. Plus, I don’t think you can get smoothies via room service (but I don’t know for sure since I didn’t try).

The Caribe is a really good option for casual dining. If you don’t really care about trying the restaurants, just plan on eating at Caribe buffet every time and you don’t even have to pack any pants.

Club Premium Perks at Barcelo

Since Brian and I figured we would probably pay for internet anyway, we went ahead and paid extra for the club premium perks. Club premium guests get the best rooms at the resort. I think we got the best room at the resort without upgrading to a suite because it’s ocean front and it’s on the most quiet, peaceful side of the property. And, we have easy access to outdoor showers.

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The one thing that I didn’t care too much for is having to wear wristbands. I guess that’s the thing here in DR. We didn’t have to wear wristbands when we stayed at Couples. Here, I’ve yet to see anyone without some sort of wristband. Even the folks we met who were staying at other resorts had wristbands on. I guess that’s how they identify you and what perks you get. You wear it everyday, every where you go.

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Anyway, if you’re going to have to wear a wristband, you might as well wear a cool, wooden one that says “CLUB premium” on it instead of a cheesy plastic one. LOL.

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You also get robes and house shoes. I kept trying to wear mine outside the room because I’d forget to switch my shoes out.

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Room service isn’t included in the regular all-inclusive package. You can get room service, but it costs. For club premium guests, it’s free. Brian and I took advantage of this perk on our first couple of days. They give you so much food that they’re practically bringing the breakfast buffet to you.

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This is just regular breakfast and they gave us a ton of food. The food could barely fit on our patio table. Seriously.

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The next day we asked for the Desayuno Romantico (Romantic Breakfast) with champagne so we could make some mimosas. It was an enormous breakfast. It required two tables. No wonder you have to schedule it a day in advance.

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Some of the perks on the list were stretching it (they’re not really that much of a perk), but room service was a real perk. We really enjoyed being able to have breakfast on our private patio.

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Other perks we found valuable were access to the hydrotherapy section of spa, access to the club premium lounge, priority dinner reservations, the free bottle of Rob Barcelo imperial rum, etc. One perk that we didn’t really take advantage of and weren’t really interested in is the access to the VIP section of the disco. Their disco club doesn’t open until 11 pm and we’re usually in bed by then.

Tanya’s Soup Kitchen

It had been a while since we’ve been to Tanya’s Soup Kitchen and I’d almost forgotten how much I love their food. I was reminded when we ate there for lunch on Thursday. It was Brian’s pick.

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Tanya's Soup Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Brian got the Junie, which is what he always gets there. It’s like a Cuban sandwich, his favorite sandwich to get anywhere. He also always gets the tomato bisque. I don’t normally like tomato bisque because it’s too tomato-ey for me most of the time; however, Tanya’s is really good. I love the flavor and consistency of it.

I got the City Chicken with the cheesy potato soup. I like the City Chicken because it’s a lot like the Garbo at Caffe Moderne except without artichokes. I actually can’t decide which I like better between the City Chicken and the Garbo. They are both very good.

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Here’s a picture of my lunch. It was so delicious. This picture does not do it justice. If you are ever in the Wichita area or if you live in Wichita, you must go to Tanya’s!

Eating Out

We really have to get our eating out under control when we return home. Here are some pictures from dining out over the last few days leading up to our vacation.

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These are from Old Mill Tasty Shop. We had to get a turtle!

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The next day Cari roped us into Bang Wednesday at Bonefish.

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We had to get dessert of course. It’s not everyday that they offer strawberry shortcake. I just can’t resist dessert.

We have to buckle down once we’re back in Wichita, though. I look terrible in my clothes and my thighs are so much bigger than they have been in the last couple of years. I know it’s all the eating out and all the desserts I’ve eaten catching up to me. It’s time to get serious!

Filipino Food Feast

We hosted a dinner party at our house on Saturday so that I could introduce my new friend Kristine to Brian and mom and dad. I met her at Wichita Business Journal’s BizWomen Mentoring Monday event several weeks ago. She emigrated from the Philippines also so we instantly connected. We met up for lunch once day and decided that we should get together on a weekend so that our families could meet. She is married and has two beautiful daughters.

My friend Jan was able to join us also so that was a real treat. I hadn’t seen Jan in months. It was nice to be able to catch up.

Of course, I got pictures of all the food but forgot to take pictures of people. Oh, well. Maybe next time. I’ve already decided that I want to have another one of these parties and I want to bring all of the Filipino people I know together so they can all meet. I think that would be fantastic. We could have Zumba party in the driveway and really drive our neighbors crazy.

Speaking of, the house next to us just sold. I think it went on the market on Thursday and it’s already sold so it wasn’t even for sale for a week. I hope the new neighbors are nice or, at the very least, tolerant. Brian and I can be kind of odd.

But I digress, here’s the food pictures with brief descriptions.

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Kristine made Filipino spaghetti. You can always tell Filipino spaghetti from regular spaghetti because we add red hotdogs. The sauce we use is also very sweet compared to regular spaghetti sauce.

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She also made chicken tinola. I hadn’t had chicken tinola in years. It was very good.

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We had some chicken tenders mostly for Kristine’s six year old or anyone else who might have wanted some American food. I think we meant to get chicken nuggets at the store for the kids, but somehow ended up with chicken tenders because that’s what we had in the fridge but we kept referring to it as chicken nuggets all night. LOL.

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Mom made kinilaw with salmon. I couldn’t tell you what it’s like because I don’t eat that stuff. It’s probably very good, but it’s just one of those dishes that I grew up avoiding. I’m convinced that I don’t like it through, to be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t really know because I’ve never tried it.

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Mom made lumpia. We didn’t end up with any of it left here at home. When we took some food to grandma she was really disappointed that we didn’t have any leftover lumpia for her. It’s her favorite Filipino food.

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Brian made apricot pork roast in the crockpot. I felt really bad because I didn’t know (or if I knew, I forgot) that Paul couldn’t have pork or beef. Beef wasn’t really an issue because we don’t eat much beef in our household but we eat a lot of pork.

We had Reby, Aaron, Jay, and Becca over for dinner a few weeks ago and we served our creamy chicken dish that we eat with rice. After the party Brian and I agreed that had we known about the pork situation we could have served the pork to Reby, Aaron, Jay, and Becca, and then made the chicken dish on Saturday night. I guess we’ll know to plan better for next time.

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I made fruit salad with coconut. It’s one of my most favorite desserts. I’d eat a gallon of it in one sitting if I could. Of course, I wouldn’t because that would be very bad. Even though the dessert is made with fruit, it’s not the healthiest choice. It’s got heavy cream, cream cheese, and sweetened condensed milk so it’s got a lot of sugar.

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Kristine made buko pandan, which I’d never had before. It consists of coconut and gelatin cubes. She said you would normally use green gelatin but the store ran out of green so she used red. I wouldn’t have known the difference.

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This dish is great by itself but I had the brilliant idea to mix it with my fruit salad and it was amazing. The red gelatin turned the fruit salad pink and added an interesting texture. I think it made it ten times better. I’m thinking next time I make the fruit salad I’m going to add gelatin cubes.

That’s pretty much it for the pictures. I hope someone reminds me to take pictures of the guests next time. Pictures of food are great but they get old after a while.

The Cheesecake Factory

Brian and I took advantage of the three-day weekend to do an up-and-back to Kansas City. We were looking for some shoes to take on our upcoming trip. Not much success on the shoe shopping, but at least we got to eat at the Cheesecake Factory. It was a nice day for dining outside.

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Here are some pictures of our food.

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We shared crab cakes as our starter.

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I had the miso salmon. It was delicious!

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The Cheesecake Factory on Urbanspoon

Brian had the breaded chicken sliders. Had I known he would get three sliders, we probably could have just split his meal. I was glad I got the salmon though, because it was very good. Anyway, we intended to get dessert also but got too full. We may need to remember to skip the appetizer and just share a meal next time. Or maybe just have an appetizer as our meal. The Cheesecake Factory menu is so vast that you just can’t help but order several things. I could eat there everyday for a month and not have to eat the same thing twice. Not that I would because it’s bad for the diet and bad for the wallet, but just saying. Everything I’ve ever had there has been delicious.

I wish we had a location here in Wichita. Perhaps it’s for the best that the closest one is three hours away. Then it won’t be so tempting.

Candelas on the Bay

When in San Diego be sure to take the ferry across the bay to Coronado. There’s a great restaurant there called Candelas on the Bay. There’s an excellent view of San Diego across the bay whether you are dining inside or sitting outside on the patio.

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Here are some pictures of food for your enjoyment.

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This next one should be no surprise. Everyone knows that I always order crab cakes if they’re available on the menu. LOL.

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Candelas on the Bay on Urbanspoon

I really liked Candelas. I’m so glad that Divina and Mike recommended it. The food was pretty good and the view of San Diego is excellent. I could sit out on their patio for hours and just watch the bay while enjoying the beautiful San Diego weather.

I’m adding Candelas on the Bay to the list of places that I’m going to take Brian to when I take him to San Diego next year. I’m thinking I might take him for either Valentine’s Day or his birthday. I haven’t decided yet. He has expressed interest in going and I can’t wait to show him around. Just added one more item to the to-do list. Oowa! Oowa!

San Diego Seafood

My friends Divina and Mike made reservations at the Oceanaire in Gaslamp District on Tuesday night. I remember the Oceanaire when Brian and I were in Orlando last year. The concierge recommended it but we never found the time to go over there. I’m so glad I finally got to try it. Divina says that the restaurant serves the best seafood in San Diego. Not being from around there, I wouldn’t really know. However, I will tell you that the foods I tried were beyond delicious. They were leaps and bounds better than any seafood I’d ever had in Wichita.

Here are some pictures of our dinner.

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I got crab cakes because that is the yardstick that I typically use to compare restaurants. If a restaurant serves crab cakes, that is more than likely what I’ll order. I have to say, the crab cakes I had at Oceanaire that night were phenomenal.

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Divina got the seafood mixed grill, which offers a little bit of everything. I highly recommend this entrée if you still want your beef with your seafood.

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Mike got a red snapper. Not just any red snapper, though. It was a whole one. Fried. And it was bigger than his head. It looked amazing and I bet it tasted just as good.

The three of us shared a creme brulee for dessert. I didn’t get a picture of it though because it was annihilated as soon as it was delivered to the table. Brian would have liked it. It’s a lot like the creme brulee served at Bonefish.

I really liked Oceanaire a lot so I recommended it to my boss for our final dinner in San Diego. She wanted to have some good seafood. Supposedly, the Oceanaire is as good as it gets in San Diego. Oh, and I had read on FourSquare that if you tell them it’s your birthday when you make your reservation they print your name on the menu. My curiosity got the best of me and so I wanted to put this to the test. Ginger didn’t want it to be her birthday so it ended up being mine. LOL.

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They did not disappoint! Here’s a closer look.

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I asked if I could take my menu with me but they actually gave me a rolled up one that was tied with ribbon. It made me wish that we had an Oceanaire here in town. I’d totally go there every year for my birthday. I wouldn’t go anywhere else. LOL.

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If your server asks if you’d ever dined at the Oceanaire before always say no because first-timers get a treat from the chef. Our treat was pan-seared salmon belly. It was delicious! I wish it was on the menu because that’s what I would have ordered.

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Here are some pictures of our dinner entrées.

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I think Ginger had halibut. I had rockfish topped with the sweetest, freshest, most delicious chunks of crab meat I’d ever tasted.

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Mashed potatoes.

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Giant asparagus. That’s not really what they’re called on the menu, but these stems were gigantic. I’d never seen asparagus this large before.

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The baked Alaska was a birthday perk that I didn’t read about ahead of time. That was an awesome surprise! (Mike really messed up, Divina! In addition to getting your name printed on the menu, you could have gotten free dessert too. LOL.)

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This dessert could feed four people easy. The two of us couldn’t finish it.

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Another tip is to go during happy hour if you are a fan of oysters.

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The Oceanaire Seafood Room on Urbanspoon

I feel so lucky and blessed to have had the opportunity to dine at the Oceanaire not once but twice on this San Diego trip. The Oceanaire is so good that I can’t wait to take Brian to their Orlando location when we are there for the 2014 Zumba Instructor Convention in August.

Now we both have something to look forward to!

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