There are a lot of things about San Diego that I wouldn’t mind having more of in my life: the gorgeous ocean views; the effortless light rail system; the 75-degree (más o menos) year-round weather. Barring a cataclysmic tectonic or climatic event, SA is unlikely to find itself the beneficiary of seaside property or perfect temperatures. So fall the chips. But a recent visit to San Diego revealed a few potential additions to the Alamo City foodscape that just might lie within realm of reality.
With such a strong German presence cropping up throughout the Hill Country, how is it that the primary representation of my own ethnic heritage (der Patriarch Julius Sitz got to the party in the late 1800s) in the city proper is the Beethoven Maennerchor? Don’t get me wrong—I love me some Beethoven and have long claimed Gartenfest as my favorite Fiesta event. But let’s get more sauerkraut up in here already.
I found raw, organic and probiotic Happy Pantry (happypantrysd.com) brand goods in San Diego. Produced in Carlsbad, the unpasteurized, small-batch krauts, in flavors like “Zing around the Collards” with cabbage, greens, jalapeño, ginger and sea salt, are something I want to eat with almost every meal. (Maybe not breakfast, but I could be swayed.)
Creative avocado dishes
The newly renovated JSix (jsixrestaurant.com), a restaurant and bar located in Hotel Solamar in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, serves organic, sustainable, local, hormone-free food. In addition to some delightfully meatballish “dumplings” in “hen broth” (who knew chicken broth could sound so … cute), the quinoa-crusted avocado demanded my attention.
The dish was crunchy, warm, drizzled in a house-made chimichurri sauce and served on a bed of greens with grilled lime. Beautiful, tasty and deceivingly healthy (potassium, protein, amino acids, for god’s sake!); even though avocados may not grow here, we could be doing so much more than just guacamole.
Farmers market fresh seafood
As previously addressed, I know we’re not on a coast. But with restaurants like Sandbar and Lüke, not to mention suppliers like Groomer Seafood, stationed throughout the city, SA could absolutely pull this off: live oyster shucking at farmers markets.
Poppa’s Fresh Fish Company (poppasfreshfish.com) sets up shop at markets around San Diego every day of the week, and I happened upon the shockingly fresh display at the Little Italy Mercato one Saturday morning. There, you can buy several varieties of fresh oysters, fish and even sea urchin to take with you, or, as many (myself included) choose to do, you can order a plate of ’em to snack on right then and there. Wearing a glove of tiny chainmail, the Poppa’s shucker whipped through dozens of molluscs in rapid succession while an accomplice opened up an urchin. The entire spectacle, equal parts dangerous, mouthwatering and exciting, kept a steady stream of shoppers entertained and shelling out their cash.