Jeff Roberto, a sushi expert, brings a plethora of experience to his San Diego sushi oasis. He has catered large events of up to 16,000 guests as well as the sets of such Hollywood films as Titanic, Pearl Harbor, and Elizabethtown. Inside SOAR (Sushi On A Roll) he constructs specialty rolls filled with shrimp tempura, seared tuna, spicy scallops, and sashimi and nigiri rolls featuring fresh water eel and squid.
Roberto also leads group explorations in the art of sushi preparation during interactive sushi-making classes held inside a private sushi bar. Two-hour classes commence with an assessment of how many edamame you can stuff in your cheeks before you begin tucking vegetable fillings in sheets of seaweed with the help of a bamboo mat. Students jot down notes on the proper consistency of sushi rice, when to sprinkle rolls with sesame seeds, and how to repurpose chopsticks as the mast of a ship-in-a-bottle.
A koi mural provides the backdrop for the expansive 30-seat sushi bar, which is outlined in neon to highlight the dramatic curve of the space. The expansive venue, which accommodates up to 100 people, is popular among large groups of friends looking for a fun outing and U.S. senators playing hooky. Free parking is also available.
The tall spires on the top of the castle jiggle slightly, wobbling in time with the jubilant bouncing that takes place within the inflatable castle. Decorated with Disney princesses or watched over by a red-robed wizard, the bounce houses welcome young jumpers to work off energy from birthday cakes or rev up for summertime activities. Premier Party Essentials' services also include water-slide and cotton-candy machine rentals and face painting.
At Heavenly Cupcake, bakers frost fleets of freshly baked cupcakes each day. Cake whisperers fuse such high-quality ingredients as Felchlin Swiss chocolate and signature candy halos to forge 20 flavors, which rotate weekly like out-of-practice ballerinas. Patrons assemble their dozen from the daily offering of 9–13 flavors, adopting orphaned morsels that include lemon coconut, chocolate peppermint, and snickerdoodle. The chosen 12 nestle in a blue or white designer box, cinched with a decorative ribbon for gifting to friends with sweet teeth or enemies with frosting phobias.
Cheese Shop has been spotted on all seven continents, gracing locales along the Great Wall of China, beside the Pasteur Institute in Paris, and amid the crags of Glacier National Park. Franchises or trademarked cheese meteors aren't the worldly cause, however: the deli's Frisbee Challenge sends logo-emblazoned discs with wayfaring customers, whose photo ops earn them a discount and spot on the dining room's wall of honor. Second-generation owners Tom and Sandy Schutz helm the cheese-shop-turned-café within downtown San Diego's historic Horton Grand Hotel, whose Victorian stained glass windows filter soft light onto breakfasts of buckwheat pancakes and hash-brown-flanked omelets, which are served all day. Six varieties of gourmet grilled cheese anointed with spices such as pesto and jalapeños join overstuffed sandwiches piled high with house-cured and house-smoked morsels of sirloin, pork, and chicken. Outside, a brick patio crowns white wrought iron tables with cups of coffee, tea, and hand-shaken bloody marys beneath trees wrapped in twinkling lights. Cheese Shop also delivers meals to downtown homes and offices free of charge.:
Patricio Esquivel draws on more than 20 years of culinary experience to impart gourmet food preparation technique through hands-on instruction. Gastronomic gurus guide up to 12 students through 2.5-hour courses designed to hone a variety of kitchen skills. Hone chopping chops in Essential Knife Skills, which is designed to help pupils become more confident at the cutting board, fine tuning basic knife skills and fundamental cuts for vegetables including mincing, dicing, and swashbuckling. The Grilling Seafood course teaches pupils to create immaculately grilled fish and shellfish, and Easy Chinese at Home classes explore the complex blend of seasonings and lifelike panda calls that create great Chinese cuisine. Patricio Esquivel also offers courses for kids and teens to nurture fledgling food-prepping prowess.
Edible Arrangements' more than 50 fresh, artful fruit baskets combine the aesthetic elements and emotive properties of floral arrangements with the juicy edibility of fruit. The sweetery's designers stud the Delicious Daisy, a bouquet of sliced honeydew, pineapple, and cantaloupe, with strawberries and strings of grapes that can double as a 25th-anniversary gift for a Smucker's jam heiress ($35). Decadent, gluten-free layers of white and semisweet chocolate coat fruit in a 12-piece box of hand-dipped strawberries and bananas ($25). Customers can also put today's Groupon toward a larger centerpiece, such as the Melon Delight, a decorative spray of watermelon wedges, pineapple daisies, cantaloupe, honeydew, grapes, and double-dipped bananas sprouting from a watering can ($76). The preservative-free treats are all handcrafted at the apex of freshness, readying hand-dipped dainties to be hand-shoved into eagerly awaiting mouths.