Granola Bars & Galician Octopus | San Diego
I saw a woman with a cardboard sign that read, “Sleeping in my car with my dog. Anything helps. God Bless.” Having recently decided to keep granola bars in my car for this very circumstance, that is, beggars on the side of the street as I got off the freeway, I rustled through my hot pink weekender bag and pulled out two Cascadian Farms Oats and Honey granola bars. I rolled down my window and peeked out my head to ask, “Would you like a couple of granola bars?” The woman, who had faded pink hair, a pierced nose, and yoga pants on, gently smiled, walked over and said, “Yes. Thank you so much.” She took the granola bars in both hands, thanked me again, and walked back towards the light.
Moments later I would see the friendly face of my friend, Dani, waiting for me at the top of a hill where her apartment complex is nestled in among small, well-maintained homes.
People visit San Diego for a variety of reasons. There are the museums of Balboa Park, the animal parks (Sea World, San Diego Zoo, Wild Animal Park), the gas lamp district, old town, and of course, the beach. There is something about breathing in that salty, damp air of the ocean that makes a five and half hour drive worth it, even if the visit only lasts for a weekend. The reason for my particular visit that weekend was to visit my friend Dani, but we made sure to incorporate seafood and beach time – the two “must dos”.
Our first stop was a local favorite of hers, The Patio in Pacific Beach, which also happened to be walking distance from her place. The Patio sits on the corner of Hornblend (where did they come up with that name?) and Lamont St and is recognizable by its charcoal painted exterior with warm wood and sculptured concrete accents. Plants grow from a concrete planter along one side of the rectangular building, creating an organic fence, and adding some color to the otherwise neutral-toned building. We squeezed past the patrons sitting at diner style seating that faced the street to get to the hostess stand. Instead of saying hello, she immediately asked, “Last name?” In San Diego, the busy time for dinner is 8 o’clock and you are expected to make a reservation. Thankfully, my friend had. Without it, there would have been no room for us – neither on the outdoor patio, with its string lights and living wall or in the dining room, with is light gray walls and wood beam ceiling. Dani later told me that it was “the only place like this in PB.”
Fifteen minutes later we were chatting over Pinot Noir and two octopus tentacles cooked in Galician style. Although I’ve never had Spanish-style octopus in Spain (let alone Galicia where the dish originates from), this dish was the highlight of our dinner. Perfectly seasoned and perfectly cooked, each bite was filled with flavor and a pleasant texture – neither rubbery nor mushy. My only complaint was that more wasn’t on the plate! Having tasted the sweet fresh seafood (I had scallops for dinner), I was ready to explore the beach the next day.
There is a saying I’ve seen a lot lately: “The cure for everything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea.” Originally penned by Isak Denisen, it’s now finding itself superimposed on images of the ocean and made into prints for the home. After a weekend on the coast, I have to agree. The cool moist air of an ocean breeze, the slightly fishy smell, the vastness of sea, it all combines to have a calming effect. Of course, this is not a groundbreaking discovery by any means – it’s just a reminder to visit San Diego if you can, and enjoy its mouth-watering food, distinctly Californian beaches, and anything else you might want to do while on vacation. Whatever it costs you to get to San Diego – five hours of driving, gas, granola bars – San Diego will give you much more back.