Tuesday, August 9, 2011

On San Diego, Gelato, and Polar Bears

I had a week off. I wanted to go somewhere. We needed to be able to drive there. John wanted to frolic in the sea. It all seemed like quite a simple thing to figure out, so we planned a little, packed up the car, and went to explore San Diego for three days.
I wasn't really sure what to expect from the town. I didn't know a whole lot about it, but I really liked what I found. It's filled with mountains overlooking lovely beaches and the place doesn't feel too new or too old. We had no shortage of things to do and see and explore and you could really really walk. Downtown and in the Gaslamp District, feet or pedicab was the best way to roam around. I loved it.

We saw a Polar Bear swim at the zoo.

We got a tour of the fantastic Stone Brewery.

We saw a stunning sandcastle and wished we had made it.

And we ate. A lot. We found a few really really lovely dishes that are certainly worth a look if you are in the area.

Lou and Mickey's Seafood and Steak
The view from the patio is lovely, as they are right by the convention center in the Gaslamp quarter. The service was great. This was the priciest meal that we had while we were there and honestly, I think it was worth it.
The Clam Chowder was quite delicious. It was rich and thick and unctuous, and the Sourdough Bread rolls that come with the table were delicious. The chowder was a little heavy on the bacon. They have a Crab Cake that, though I didn't try it, my friends who were with us found quite delightful. It was 98% crab, no mayonnaise.
The Grilled Swordfish with Lemon and Capers was just phenomenal. The swordfish was moist and tender and flaky with just the right amount of chew. The seasoning was balanced and perfect. It was topped with thinly diced tomatoes and it blew my socks off. It was perfect.

Hands down, the best Gelato I've ever had. I had the Dark Chocolate and Orange and it was stunning. Rich, creamy, deep. Their flavor selection was incredibly impressive, and it was a nice little bar too. I would love to have hit this place up again, but sadly we didn't get the chance. Next time though, I'll be there. Try and stop me.

Pacific Beach Alehouse
Pacific Beach is very heavy on the drunk college-age people scale. It's sad, but true. But it is a really pretty place to visit. We hung out at the beach a little, John played in the waves while I declared it too cold and overcast and promised to do so another day. We wandered around to find a likely place to eat and picked Pacific Beach Alehouse so that we could try some of their local fresh beer, which was quite good, and to sit on their roof and eat during sunset with a pretty view.
And oh man, their Lobster Bisque. It was divine. It wasn't too heavy at all, just a thin and tasty brothy soup with tomato and cream and itty bitty chunks of lobster. I'm now a bisque convert. Give me bisque, give me it now! It was fabulous. Really really worth it.

Stone Brewery
Visiting Stone Brewery was probably a highlight of the trip for me. We got to take a tour of the brewery, which is a regional craft brewery, and sample some of their great beers. We also had a fantastic tour guide, who made the experience even more awesome with both his knowledge and his sense of humor. It's a strange place, Stone Brewery. It's tucked out of the way and there are no signs for it, but it is gorgeous. Their restaurant is probably one of the loveliest places I've eaten in. It is light and airy and architecturally interesting and quite brilliant.
John ate the Duck Tacos, which he proclaimed astounding.
I had the Citrocado Salad, which was probably, and sadly, one of the worst salads I've ever had. It was touted as a spinach salad with goats cheese, mandarin and soft boiled eggs with a cilantro and avocado dressing. The first time it came out, it was literally spinach, two hard boiled eggs that had been cooked within an inch of their life, and raw onion on top. When I questioned the waiter, primarily on the eggs, first he told me they were soft boiled, then he tried to say that they were quail eggs. He wasn't terribly polite and I asked to order something else. He stalked off and then came back with a more representational salad that had the items described on it, but by that time I had lost my taste for it, and when I did start to eat it, the raw onion overwhelmed all other sense of flavor, even though I had picked them off. I couldn't find a hint of avocado anywhere. I was sorely disappointed. But, it was still a lovely visit and I really did enjoy the atmosphere. And, again, John's Duck Tacos made him deliriously happy so it worked out.

Pappalecco Cafe
We decided to wander around the harbor area and got a lot of walking in, a lot of sitting and watching yachts go by, and a lot of enjoying just being out in weather that wasn't trying to roast your lungs with every breath. We stopped for Gelato at a little cafe and it was quite nice, but we had been spoiled by Chocolat. It seemed like a really nice little place though, the kind that you would stop in for a cappucino and a dessert on a weekend afternoon when you want everything to feel slow and dreamy.

Todo Sushi
Since eating downtown is so pricey, we decided that we should grab a dinner up in Mira Mesa, where we were staying. We found a random sushi joint and were delighted to find that, even though it was a saturday, most things on the menu were half off. We gorged on four quite good rolls and walked out of there having spent around $50, including drinks. It was a nice little stopover and I was happy to have found it. John and I have a particular weakness for Sushi. I can't believe I didn't eat it until I was in my twenties.

Wired Bistro
One of the happiest accidents of all, was the little bistro we stopped out on our way out of town. We had been aiming for the Italian restaurant next to it, but it was closed so we hopped next door because it looked busy. Oh man. We had accidentally found a French Bistro. It was family run and the waitress introduced herself as Agatha in a thick French accent. I was delighted with my Brie Delice on a crusty baguette, and John's Tomato, Mozzarella and Pesto Panini was delightful. The crepe I ordered to go with it was light and yummy. Just perfect. I wish we had found it sooner. I want to eat at least half their menu. It was so nice to be somewhere that felt European not because it was trying too hard to be, but just because it had easily relaxed into it.

Mexico City
Our final stop was in LA, where we got to see some old friends, ate some really great enchiladas, and a delicious cheese dip type appetizer which I think I heard the beautiful Carolyn order as Fajita Queso but I could be wrong. Great Margaritas, nice vibe, nice area. But lets face it, we were there for the company and I confess to paying little attention to the food other than knowing I liked it.

And so, there we have that adventure. It was a lovely one and I look forward to the next, whenever that may be.

Lou & Mickey's on Urbanspoon
Chocolat on Urbanspoon

Pacific Beach Ale House on Urbanspoon

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens on Urbanspoon

Pappalecco on Urbanspoon

Todo Japanese on Urbanspoon

Wired Cafe Le Bistro on Urbanspoon

Mexico City on Urbanspoon

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