Friday, January 02, 2009

Sun Diego

For the holidays, my family and I went down to socal to bring in the new year amid great weather, roses galore, and of course lots and lots of eating.

I got to sneak away for a day and went to SD to have brunch with Wendy in Hillcrest. We went to Hash House, which was packed with post-Holiday Bowl Oregon people. We both ordered hashes, because, well, it was the Hash House! They give you a lot, served in cute skillets, with gargantuan biscuits. This isn't a great picture of the food, but you can see the huge stalk (too big to call a sprig!) of rosemary and Wendy's adorable self.

Later on, I met up with Mike and he showed me around Chula Vista/Bonita, where he grew up. Awhile back, I wrote a post about El Farolito and how Mike is completely elitist when it comes to Mexican food, so he took me to get some of the "real stuff" he grew up on.

First up was Lolita's, supposedly the best carne asada fries in town. I had only had carne asada fries once before in college at Cotixan, but from what I remember it was just fries, carne asada, and some kind of white cheese or cheddar. The fries at Lolita's are totally different - with just the addition of queso blanco (more powdery/melty), guac, and some good salsa, it was a meal all on its own. Actually, while we were waiting for the order, Mike went to get the salsa ready and I was like "Are you supposed to put salsa on carne asada fries?" He just shook his head and rolled his eyes.

After eating about a fourth of our ginormous order, we headed to Tacos El Gordo for some TJ street-style tacos. We shared one carne asada and one adobada, which is this marinated pork. The adobada was definitely the winner with its creamy avocado sauce, fat drippings and all. It was an interesting setup - the shop was like an old school fast food joint (for some reason Wienershnitzel comes to mind) but the counter was divided by stations so you ordered from the section you wanted. Tortillas were fresh and one lady was just banging them out every 3 seconds.

We were about to get some flautas and tamales at Cuatro Milpas, but luckily for us (and our stomachs) it was closed. Instead, we went back to Hillcrest, where a friend of a friend recommended Mille Feuille, a newish dessert bar/tea salon/bakery/patisserie. We just bought some pastries to go - the classic of which they are named after, and their "paradox," an almond/hazelnut/chocolate confection. I only tried the latter, and the prailine had a very nice crunch... the glaze, however... well, let's just say that I didn't know it was supposed to be a glaze. It was strangely rubbery, as if they put wayyyy too much gelatin in it. The shop in general was kind of disappointing, but then again, we didn't actually experience the whole "afternoon tea" or "chocolate buffet" concepts they advertised, so I can't really say I know what they're about apart from what I tasted.

A bit underwhlemed, we drove down the street to our old faithful Extraordinary Desserts. When my interests in the pastry world were just beginning to develop, I was completely enamored by this romantic dessert cafe (referring to the original). No trip to SD would be complete without a visit to one of their two locations. It is still what it was, but I think my tastes have changed. It's been consistent throughout the years, but I guess actually working in the industry has exposed me to so much, and XD just isn't as exciting to me anymore. Don't get me wrong - it's still a nice place to go to. But... yeah.

So yes, all in all it was a great day (despite the hours and hours of driving to and from LA). I made it back in time to drive around Pasadena for 30 minutes trying to figure out how to get back to my sister's place with all the roads closed and drunken crowds holding up traffic. Yay 2009!

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