Jelly, jelly so fine

Monday, June 8, 2009

Fallbrook Gastronomes

Yesterday Leslie and I along with our fellow members of the loosely titled Fallbrook Gastronomic Society, had another one of our great culinary/cultural excursions. It was a classic Southern California June day, warm but not hot, with gentle breezes. Gorgeous. Never had to put on my coat when I got outside.

Many of us met at the Amtrak in Oceanside and had a pleasant train ride to San Diego. Jerri and Frank brought everyone fresh cupcakes from the Sweet Sicilian Bakery in Fallbrook and Perrier to wash it all down. Morning sugar rush. Our final destination was the beautiful old Santa Fe Rail Station, newly desecrated by the snobs at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

We walked a few blocks through downtown, then took a bus up to Balboa Park and first visited the lovely rose gardens. Along with the Santa Barbara Mission, this is my favorite rose garden. Everyone found their favorites, both for fragrant scents and for color. Mine was probably Chihuly, a yellow orange red flower with variegated petal and unnatural brilliance. Leslie liked one called Wild Blue Yonder.

I like having a bunch of friends that can take the time to smell the flowers. I didn't bring my camera, but Jim Swan did, and he took all of these pictures including the cool Donal Hord sculpture.

We sauntered over to the koi and lily pond, then to the shady and lush botanical lath house, first built in 1915, where we met our fellow denizens who had elected to drive their cars down. A quick jaunt to the delphinium beds at the Alcazar Garden and then a short scoot to the Timken to check out St. Bartholomew, San Diego's own Rembrandt, a great Heade painting of Magnolias and a wonderful Van Dyke. My favorite painting in the collection, a Sorolla, was nowhere to be found this trip. The park had visitors, but wasn't exceedingly crowded. The most beautiful city park in the country, if you ask me.

Our 15 member group had lunch at the Prado, a classic restaurant in the park and a San Diego institution. Kobe steak sushi rolls were a highlight as were the latin themed drinks - Pisco Sours, Caipirinhas, Mojitos and Sangria. I had lemonade, since I have been pretty much on the wagon. Leslie had a nice pear and then a ginger martini. The calamari fries were a disappointment, over sweet, and my skirt steak panini was a little too spicy with the horseradish for me but most diners enjoyed their fare. One of my fellow diners also confided that they couldn't eat their entree because of it being overspiced. My wife has a more macho palette than I have and teases me at times for not being able to handle the heat but it has to be enjoyable for me or it's just no fun!

We ended the meal with a nice chocolate souffle that made it around the large table twice, incredibly! Here is the description from the menu: warm belgian chocolate souffle cake, triple espresso gelato, cappuccino with bruleed italian meringue peaks, raspberry coulis & tuille cookie spoon. Pretty yummy.

The problem for me with eating at restaurants like the Prado and just about anywhere in the Gaslamp Quarter is that they have such a steady stream of clientele that they don't have to excel. They will always be packed courtesy of their location. Food often very good, rarely great. Leslie and I once had a great meal there on my birthday, went back three weeks later, ordered the exact same thing, and it was terrible. Different cook that night, was unfortunately infatuated with onions. But the Prado is a beautiful setting and very ambient, although the modern glass seemed to be an incongruent mix with the Spanish Colonial decor. And the food is fun. And good.

Post lunch we headed off to the Mingei Museum and then to the Reuben H. Fleet Space Center where we caught an Imax Film, Beneath the Sea. We broke up and left the park, my group going to Anthony's at the waterfront where I did have a drink and then we took the train back up to Oceanside. San Diego native, I had never ridden the train. Gives you a great view of backyards and locales you can never see from the road.

We finished the night at Vince's place on the beach with great red wine and appetizers and a beautiful sunset and then totally worn out all we all headed for home. A thoroughly satisfying day. Can't wait for an encore. Good food and good conversation with good friends, as the song says, that's what it's all about.


NYSTAN said...

I liked it better when you were bitchin and moanin about not having any money....now you sound like another overly entitled asshole with too much money and time on your hands, that is, BORING!
Jeeshhhhh....join habitat for humanity or sumptin....and good luck hunting for beaver. that ever elusive creature. Man's destiny is deeply entwined with the pursuit of it. Beaver, that is.

Blue Heron said...

I'm still broke, Stan - it doesn't mean I can't enjoy a decent meal.

JudgeRoyBean said...

June 16, 2009

I thought a lot about this due to our friendship, but it simply has to be said.

As Abbie Hoffman, during the "Trial of the 'Chicago Seven'" shouted out
at Judge Julius ("Julie") Hoffman when
he (Judge Julius) was going on about his newly obtained membership in "The Standard Club" (pre-1965, a "resticted" haunt of the "Waspocracy"):



Blue Heron said...

Hey Judge,

A shaynem dank dir im pupik. I remember Hoffman well, duct taping up Seale and Dellinger if my memory serves...

Abbie preached about the dangers of getting co-opted. I'll sell out if I can get a decent price. This club however is full of my friends.

JudgeRoyBean said...

Yes, many of which "friends" are of the carefully selected and "new" variety, and none of whom could qualify to make a Minyan.


Once again: SHANDA!


Blue Heron said...

I choose my friends with two criteria, are they nice people and do they have a brain - ethnicity is not apart of my equation.