Tag Archives: Urban Oasis

Hipster Gustatorial Guilt

So, it’s January 2017, been a while since I posted here. Sorry about that. Life. School. Work. Times, they are a-changing. I have some guilt about that…but on that topic of guilt–baked goods. January is supposed to be the time of the year of New year’s resolutions, getting out that gym card membership and putting it to use, buying some new yoga pants with the Christmas or Hanukkah Geld. Not.hitting.up.the.bakery. Oh, but yes, this one, Yes!!!

Blackmarket Bakery, this one, don’t worry about the guilt. We are living in stressful times and sometimes we need a little guilty pleasure, a little indulgence. And if we are going to blow the bank calorie wise, it had better be worth it, right? And this place is. The morning I came here after a rough work shift, I had the homemade biscuits, egg and cheese sandwich with sausage gravy. Mmmm, mmm, mmmh! For my other half, I chose the dark chocolate croissant and the espresso–en pointe, my friends, en pointe!

The space is also a feast for the senses, especially if you are of a hipster nature. We have the fixie bike all decked out with maker gear, the back patio that looks like a theme park playground almost and all kinds of other delicacies and hipster t-shirts and coffee mugs for sale with just the right saucy phrase to sport around North Park.

And as for the cherry on the top, dedicated parking in North Park, just south of the building. It really doesn’t get much better than that. So, for a stealth mission for some contraband this dieting season, it is all laid up for you here.

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Summer is Swinging–Balboa Park After Dark

A chance encounter of the Balboa Park after Dark event last Friday had that jazz standard going in my head:

Balboa Park was alive with food trucks lined up all along the promenade, jugglers and plenty of live music–a DJ, a jazz group at Panama 66 and other bands playing throughout the park. The museums were all open late and a new sculpture exhibition scattered throughout the main plaza.

It was nice to see young and old enjoying the park. Taking in the ambience, eating a churro or fish n’ chips or looking at the duck family parading around the pond.

This is a great event to bring a date, bring your family or friends and dance a little, eat something and check out a little cult-chah…this Balboa Park after Dark event will run every Friday up until September 2nd.

Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala

Many San Diegans such as myself have driven by this sight for years and had no idea how truly beautiful the mission and the surrounding property is right in the heart of central San Diego. It is located in Mission Valley adjacent to Qualcomm stadium, home to the San Diego Super Chargers, amidst a sea of condominiums and lifestyle apartments and strip malls and franchises. Not the most graceful location for this storied facade of California’s earliest history of settlement.

Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala is heralded as the first mission in the western United States. According to the information I read at the museum, the Spanish King had sent Franciscan missionaries to the area to establish missions and convert the natives to Christianity under the guise of establishing a presence amidst territory encroachments by the Russians and other foreign powers. Father Junipero Serra was to lead the Franciscan missionaries in establishing these missions. And it is telling that the purpose of these missions is in the name as Alcala means ‘Citadel’ in Arabic/Spanish.

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Can you imagine if Father Junipero Serra had not undertaken this mission impossible to convert the resistant natives to Christianity? We would be eating goulash and blintzes at happy hour instead of Taco Tuesdays and Corona–so unAmerican!

I am grateful that Father Serra settled and established a missionary colony of 21 missions across Alta California as far north as San Francisco with the San Francisco Solano mission built in 1823. The Mission San Diego is quite different than when it was first constructed in 1774. It has withstood Indian attacks, abandonment, conversion to a citadel and fire.

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I believe this is an important and often over-looked part of San Diego history and amidst the chaos that is Mission Valley, this site is a peaceful oasis and a serendipitous discovery.

For $5 you can spend an hour meandering through the mission and exhibits, look at finds from archaeological digs on the site such as military buttons and 19th century spectacles and delight in the beautiful native landscaping.

A San Diego treasure!

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San Diego’s Public Market Soaring to New Heights

The new Liberty Station Public Market opened last weekend, termed a ‘soft opening’, but a media rep happened to alert me and I went down to sniff around. Most of the shops have opened, there are a few still under development, but it has already launched as a roaring success judging by the crowds down there today when I returned for another brief sniffing around.

The new public market is aiming to match the scale and success of other public markets in large cities–Pike’s Place in Seattle, San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market and Essex Public Market in the big apple, New York City.

An earlier attempt was made a couple of years ago in Barrio Logan on a smaller scale yet no less heroic effort, but sadly it was never able to garner enough support to make it off the ground before closing less than a year from when it opened. The location, while up and coming, was maybe too much of a deterrence for many, so that was a big reason for its failure to thrive.

The Public Market’s opening in Liberty Station is in tandem with the new ‘Arts district’ that is opening many new galleries, museums and shops alongside the market. Also, the second Stone Brewery restaurant is adjacent to the market so I am sure that doesn’t hurt to draw visitors.

In addition, you really can’t beat the location as a block down from the market is the harbor and the walking path that starts and goes all the way down to Spanish Landing. Families can spend the whole day  here and it is a popular site for events–runs, festivals, family fairs.

I am looking forward to seeing the rest of the shops when they open. What I haven’t seen yet is actual produce, but there is supposed to be a spot with local farms represented like Suzie’s Farms, Be Wise Ranch and others.

Today, I opted to try the Empanada shop–Parana. They have about ten different types of empanadas and three different sauces, chimichurri, a pepper chimichurri and a celery cream sauce. I was not blown away, but there aren’t too many places where you can get empanadas to go, so I won’t be too complainy.

We also tried Crafted Baked Goods for some sweets and got a couple of gorgeous looking cupcakes which tasted better than they looked, but again, just glad it is there and I am sure it will appeal to the masses.

For more information on the other shops and restaurants in the new Public Market, check out this link:http://libertypublicmarket.com/

 

 

 

 

Urban Adventuring in South Park

Can be found in Switzer Canyon in South Park. I recently took a friend on this hike and she was in awe of how many different trails and landscapes we came across on this short hike. The route to this trail begins in the midst of an eclectic neighborhood with old Airstream trailers, refurbished  homes with an assortment of architectural creativity. You then come across the entrance to the trail which drops down into the base of a canyon and then leads back to the bridge which houses the Switzer canyon sign. To get to the rest of the trail here is where your adventuring comes in. You might want to bring a flashlight as you will need to hunch down and pass under the bridge through a small tunnel. Don’t think about whether there are mouse droppings or meth needles on the ground, just use your iPhone app’s flashlight and venture forth! On the other side is some interesting graffiti and a rock-covered trail through the rest of the canyon. This deposits after a quarter of a mile along the perimeter of Balboa Park’s golf course and the backyard of some homes.

All in all, you will enjoy the challenge of this hike and it is a peaceful walk through parts of San Diego I am sure many have never frequented–some of the best parts about San Diego coming together.

Down on the Left Bank

Cafe’ Madeleine is a little private cafe’ tucked away off of the main village in South Park. I am loving this neighborhood more and more as I explore it further. This sweet spot is where you pull out your beret and best French slinky dress and petit chien (little dog) and enjoy a rich Espresso or latte (in my case Mexican Mocha, ftw) and a crepe or pastry.

It is peaceful here and laid out are a good assortment of local fashion rags and lifestyle magazines along with some books for a longer visit.

The decor is very vintage and stylish in a homey way and you could go here and maybe strike up a chat with a local or not be bothered the entire time you are here. This place has good energy and a nice vibe. It is like the antithesis of a sports bar, so I expect you won’t run into any meatheads here, not there is anything wrong with that. It is just that this is not the place.

For our first visit, I tried a savory crepe of ham, swiss cheese, Bechamel and tomato with spinach and a salad on top. My other half had a sweet crepe with banana, chocolate and powdered sugar dusted on top. The portions were huge and worked out as enough for an extra meal for later. These crepes are of a thicker consistency than the buckwheat ones I have had in France, but still good.

Afterwards, it is nice to take a stroll around the village and window shop in some of the boutiques located within the village of South Park.

Chollas Lake in Oak Park is Chula

This park flies under the radar of most people in San Diego, even people like us who have been living in San Diego over half of our lives and had no idea this place was literally under our noses in the neighboring community of Oak Park. Depending on which way you drive to get here you aren’t expecting much, but the proud residents of this recreational park and lake are keeping a good thing secret. I think….

The park has a fitness course, a cactus garden, walking trails and paths, fishing lessons for youth, picnic tables, a dock and lake, several different species of birds and a protected area for breeding and events such as the free summer lunches put on by San Diego Unified. A smart way to make sure neighborhood kids get to eat while school is out and also expose them to a nice setting out in nature.

I am glad there are places like this out there in such an urban, densely populated area, so that local residents don’t have to drive for miles to take a break out in nature. There has been some controversy lately in the local news because of the water source for replenishing the lake. Chollas Lake does not produce its own water so it has to be pumped in, but the community benefits of having this preserve make it a worthwhile sacrifice. Otherwise, there is nothing else like it out here for city dwellers other than Balboa Park which is for some people that live in this community and don’t have regular transportation, still a stretch to get to.

This is a place that helps bring the community together and offers urban youth fishing lessons at a low cost along with other activities such as summer camps, an annual egg hunt and reading with the Ranger.

Here are some links to learn more:

Chollas Lake Map

Programs at Chollas Lake