‘Tis the Season to Go Shopping: Grand Re-Opening of Westfield UTC Mall

(Photo Credit: westfield.com/utc)

Last week was a very busy and exciting time for me, culminating with the grand re-opening of the University Town Center (UTC) mall in my neighborhood. UTC is the hub for families, friends, students, and of course shopaholics to congregate and enjoy good food and some retail therapy. This remodeling project has been going on for quite a while, over a year in the making, and it certainly shows with the level of attention to detail. From the new store facades, to the sleek and stylish light fixtures and cabanas, to the ultra-modern food court, Westfield UTC has it ALL. Originally, the key stores to visit were Nordstrom, Forever 21, Macy’s, and Sears. Now included on the list are other popular names like Oakley, Tiffany & Co., Tesla (car store), and my favorite addition, ArcLight Cinemas (only one in San Diego) – the ultimate movie experience!  To read more about the new additions, visit this link: www.westfield.com/utc/the-new-utc/shop

This past Thursday, friends and I attended the grand opening of the mall. The event featured celebrity host Giuliana Rancic, a performance by singer Natasha Bedingfield, and a fashion show highlighting the latest fall fashions one could find at the mall. Best of all, the event was FREE to the public! Altogether, it only lasted a couple hours but it was fun to watch the models strut down the runway and see Natasha perform some of my favorite songs live. Friday was part 2 of the grand re-opening that featured American Idol star, Jessica Sanchez, dance numbers, a choir, and a tree lighting ceremony . Photos from that day can be seen on the Westfield UTC Facebook page.

I love social networking… as you can tell, and to my surprise, the mall had an interesting contest running on Pinterest. A pop-up is currently set up in front of the new Forever 21 and each day reveals a new set of prizes to be won on the popular social network. Some of the prizes in the back were still hidden when I took this pic last week but it’s changed since then. I definitely suggest checking this mall out during your holiday shopping – enter a contest or two, watch a movie, grab a bite to eat, or simply enjoy the scenery!
Have a Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

Man vs. (Sea)Food!

So the time came for me to finally try the live sea urchin offered at the Poppas Fresh Fish Company booth at Brian’s Farmers Market (UTC La Jolla).  It was a VERY interesting experience.  The sea urchin cost $8 which included the labor to open, gut, and wash the dish.  For those of you who want to buy it and open it on your own, it costs $5.  I’d advise anyone who has never opened sea urchin to have the pros do it or at least watch a tutorial online before attempting this task.  The pros have the right tools such as gloves, knives, and the know-how in going about cleaning it.

For my first time eating live sea urchin, I enjoyed the experience. People walking by had mixed reactions to me eating it, which was very entertaining to watch.  Some expressed feelings of disgust while others were curious and eager to try it too.  The sea urchin had a subtle seawater smell but wasn’t overpowering.  To my surprise it tasted sweet and not salty at all with a creamy texture resembling that of gelato.


Stay tuned to see what I try next! 😀
~AJ 

Fresh from the Farm…

….Brian’s Farmers’ Market that is!  I recently discovered this wonderful event held every Thursday  at UTC (University Town Center mall) in La Jolla, CA.  It’s a farmers’ market set up in the mall parking lot just next to the Macy’s.  If you drive by it, you can see it along Genesse Rd.  Brian’s Farmers’ Market is all about bringing the freshest ingredients to the customers, whether it be vegetables, fruits, dishes, and even homemade candy!  They accept cash and credit cards making it convenient for YOU.

I visited the Papa’s Fresh Fish company booth during happy hr (3-4pm) and got half a dozen oysters for only $7.50!  They serve other delicious seafood like salmon burgers and shrimp skewers.  They even have an exotic dish… live sea urchin with ceviche.  Next time I visit, I think I’ll be adventurous and try it! 🙂