On early Saturday morning — still buzzed off the Spiritualized concert Friday night — I awoke at the godawful hour of 8am so that I could drive to San Diego for a birthday celebration. Aside from the early hour of my arising from slumber (which was only godawful in the sense that I knew I’d be driving home tired later that night) it was a relatively calm, serene morning. I headed across town to pick up my traveling partner. We got lattes and I ate a croissant. Then we took the 405 down to Route-73 (something I never new existed, and also a fucking toll road with a $5.75 toll for using said road to traverse eight miles), and eventually joined I-5 maybe 50 miles north of San Diego. Maybe it was 100. I don’t remember. The road signs were the least of my concerns. I was zoning out while listening to Songs: Ohia, Chavez, Ennio Morricone and Townes Van Zandt.
Upon arriving in San Diego the plans were pretty simple, tour the Mission Brewery on L Street and 14th Avenue. They had a really cool tasting room where we awaited the arrival of the other ten or fifteen people who ventured down from LA to celebrate. While we waited, we munched on some free chips and pretzels and consumed a couple pints of beer: Mission IPA with Raspberries (on cask) and “Betty”, a Belgian IPA. When everyone arrived one of the bartenders extricated himself from behind said bar and took us on an informative and fun tour of the brewery — which is housed in a converted Wonder Bread factory. While on tour I sampled Carrack, an Imperial Red Ale. Then we were treated to a tasting of five different beers: Blonde, Hefe (so much banana), El Conquistador, and Dark Seas (the best of the bunch). Wait, is that only four? I think I might be missing one. An Amber Ale or something.
While imbibing, there was a little food stand set up outside called The Drunken Grill, which served some loaded sandwiches perfect for pairing with beer. I skipped the drunken mess (two angus patties, a scoop of angus carne asada, caramelized bacon onions, melted american/swiss cheese) in lieu of the kielbasa grilled cheese (chopped kielbasa, tons of cheese and onions and bacon on sourdough) and a side of jalapeños and avocado. It was a very dense, very heavy, very delicious concoction, but with only about 2 hours in between the brewery tour and dinner I probably shouldn’t have partaken in such a gut-bomb of a sandwich.
Dinner was at Nicky Rotten’s — in the Gaslamp — which received a very favorable review from a trusted burger enthusiast. Little did I know that the half-pound patty would be the centerpiece of such a massive burger I couldn’t even finish it! I’d say it was a decent variation. It was cooked well past my requested medium rare, but I really liked how the bacon and avocado were enveloped in a second layer of cheese beyond the one that sat atop the beef. The beef to bun ratio was pretty far off, but the heaps of toppings threw the whole thing off kilter. The parts were delicious, but the sum was slightly off. Like I said, decent, but by no means perfect. Naturally, the combination of the gut-bomb lunch sandwich and that ridiculously-sized burger left me feeling more full than I’ve felt in a long, long time. Which couldn’t have happened at a worse time because immediately after dinner I had to walk back to my car and drive home to LA alone.
The drive — to put it mildly — sucked. You know that inspection station you have to slow down and pass through on the way north from San Diego? The one where they can pull you over or ask you questions about transporting agriculture? On Saturday night that thing turned into a scene out of…I don’t know, Stephen King’s “The Stand.” About a mile or two before the station two police cars with sirens blaring slowed all four lanes of traffic down to a grinding halt. Once parked at the station, US Marshals with (drug? bomb? who knows!) sniffing dogs approached every single car for who the hell knows how far. I just remember sitting there for ten or fifteen minutes trying not to throw up in my lap because a) it would have sent a really bad signal to the US Marshals with their drug/bomb sniffing dogs, and b) I really didn’t want to have to stop and clean up puke on the side of the highway. I just wanted to go home and go to bed. I had to be at work early Sunday morning. I made it back home from San Diego in record time, even with the stop in the middle. I left at about 10:15pm and was home by 11:45. That’s about thirty minutes quicker than Waze initially predicted and almost an hour faster than the drive down took earlier that morning.
Exhausted, I fell into bed and tried to sleep. The gut full of meat and cheese and bread ensured sleep wouldn’t come easy. But oh, how I tried.
When I woke up, I still felt ten pounds heavier than when I left. I think this morning was the first time I felt human again.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a private food-tasting event to attend.
Rodan – Shiner [MP3]