So its that time where the stress level zooms to the top and actually sets off the red light and rings the bell. Time to get away, time to smell the ocean breeze, time to dig the toes into some sand, time to go to … LaJolla!

Yes, a few years back I was a casual visitor to watch the seals in the Cove and have since longed to return for some beach time and yes, to dig deeper into its good eats. I knew the eats must be good after a visit to the Carl Strauss Brewery during my first visit. Oh how right I was!

Let me start by saying that yes, you need to sift through some mediocre dining experiences to get to the real jewel, right? And even some bad ones…case in point — Caroline’s Cafe. We thought we found the perfect spot…right on the beach serving breakfast and lunch only. Even though the outdoor seating was limited and we couldn’t get a table we were still OK with eating inside, as expansive windows still let us enjoy the ocean while we sipped our coffee. I woke up craving something chocolate (I’m only human) and only saw raisin scones in the case. I asked, do you by chance have chocolate scones? The response was just what I hoped for, yes we have both. Perfect, I’ll have a chocolate, please! Only thing was when I got to my seat and broke the scone open it, it revealed nothing but…raisins! Ugh, back to the counter to get it fixed. After a short wait I was up and politely said, I asked for the chocolate chip scone and got the raisin. She looked me square in the eye and in a British accent shot back, I’m certain you ordered the raisin! My normal MO would be to back off, apologize for what must have been my mistake and make the best of eating a raisin scone. But hey…we’re talking food here and I REALLY wanted something chocolate. I stared at her for a few seconds in disbelief and then scowled back, I’m certain I ordered the chocolate chip! Another few seconds of a stare-off and then she dumped the raisin scone into the trash, plopped a chocolate chip one on the plate and tossed it on the counter. Wow…I thought the customer was always right — especially when the customer is me and I know I was right. So that was it for me…no matter if that scone was the most lucious one in the world, I will never return to Caroline’s Cafe again.

Our day ended after a mediocre dining experience at our Hotel Restaurant, La Jolla Shores, which by the way offer the most gorgeous ocean views, and we vowed to find that jewel we’re always look for the following day — and what a jewel it was.

After having our fill of endless beach walks we decided to take it into town the next day and check out The Cove for some window-shopping and sight-seeing. We Olive caught my eye as we strolled along Prospect Street since it reminded me of a local olive oil tasting shop we have here in Scottsdale. What appeared to be just a tiny boutique from the outside opened up into a very well rounded specialty store and wine bar which included olive oils, vinegars, jams, wines and a wine-tasting bar. OK, now we’re talking!

ja lolla restaurantsBeyond the bar is a table area for ordering wine and small plates with a lovely view of the coastline. This is the kind of place my mind wanders to when I dream up my perfect eating experience. Wine, cheese and dried meat specialties, an ocean view — what more could a traveler ask for!

We quickly decided to return for dinner to find that things only got better. Our waiter’s manner was friendly and well-versed in their products and the menu revealed they sell wines by the taste (1.5 oz), the glass (6 oz) and the bottle. We worked our way through several ‘tastes’, a cheese and dried meat platter, and a smoked tuna spread. All of their dishes are accompanied by veggie dippers and bread to dip into their olive oil and balsamic vinegar. All delectable and so good we found ourselves purchasing practically everything we had from the retail store! Too bad I couldn’t take their view back home with me.