San Diego

On our way out of LA to San Diego we had to make three very important stops. The first, Huy Fong Foods, where world renowned hot sauce Sriracha is produced. I quite like the sauce, squirting a modest amount on things like stir fries and dim sum. Anita on the other hand LOVES the stuff, squirting litres on pretty much anything that falls under the category of food.

When we arrived we were greeted by security and asked for our names to confirm our tour reservation. As he disappeared Anita looked at me with sheer joy, exclaiming that she was so excited to be touring the factory of the sauce that she loved so much. When the guard returned and told us our names weren’t on the list, Anita’s face dropped. I frantically searched my email looking for the booking confirmation which showed that I booked the following week by accident. Shit.

I explained our situation to the guard who told us that the tour for the day was full but if two people weren’t to show, the spots were ours. We were led to a room and left to wait anxiously, with our anxiety only building as each arrival walked through the door. Finally the start time had arrived, and with only about 90% in attendance we were handed our hair (and beard) nets and led to the tour buggy. Woohoo! After an overwhelming amount of information and a walk through the immaculately kept factory we were led to the gift shop where Anita proceeded to spend excessively.

After our tour we headed to our second stop, Roscoe’s House of Chicken & Waffles, for some typically southern-style fair served up by a restaurant that’s typically LA. Although a good idea at first, we left feeling exactly how you’d expect after eating two huge pieces of fried chicken and two even bigger waffles smothered in butter and maple syrup. Our third and last stop was the famous Huntington Beach, where we took a stroll in and around the area before jumping back into Fuego and punching it down the highway to San Diego.

We pulled up at Liz and Todd’s house just as day turned to night. Liz is an old friend of mine from Subaru and Todd is Liz’s now fiancé. We spent a little time catching up then hit the sack early, as we’d planned to pack the next few days with more action than a Steven Segal flick.

Our first day saw us driving to the trailhead of Potato Chip Rock, a steep and steady climb up to a shard of rock that hangs over a small drop below. We had every intention to get there early but a stop for petrol and another for coffee meant we pulled up just as the clock hit 9:30am. The hike itself wasn’t overly hard, but as the day went on the heat grew stronger. By the time we’d reached the peak the temperature had cracked the 30s, so we took the opportunity to cool down in some shade. Once we’d finally cooled down and took our photos we returned back the way we came, taking breaks in the little shade available and making sure to throw back plenty of water along the way.

It was about 15 minutes back down that Anita who was leading the way jumped back, gasping as an unmistakable rattle came from an arched snake in the middle of the track. I calmed Anita and slowly pulled her back, being careful not to make any sudden movements. The snake then continued on it’s way, sliding along the ground and dissapearing into some nearby shrub. After that Anita requested that I take the lead until we reached the bottom. I’m still waiting for my medal of bravery.

After our hike we continued on to La Jolla Cove, a small beach where dozens of seals congrigate and the public are free to swim. It’s incredible how close some people get, especially considering how protective mother seals can be. After some time by the water we returned back to Liz and Todd’s where we all went out for a stellar dinner of duck pancakes and dumplings.

The following morning we met Liz at the farmer’s market in town where she was serving coffees. After grabbing a complimentary cup (thanks Liz), we proceeded to walk around the market, testing a miriad of samples along the way. After a few appetisers we drove across to La Cuatro Milpas which would have to be San Diego’s most popular Mexican restaurant. To explain just how popular this place is, we arrived at 10.30am to try and beat the lunch time crowds and already there was a line down the street. Once finally seated we promptly polished off our very affordable and delicious meals, took a short stroll around the surrounding area, then decided to head back to Liz’s where she showed me how to make one of my favourite deserts – pumpkin pie.

On our last day Liz had an RDO so joined us on a hike through the beautiful Torrey Pines State Reserve. We wound up and down tracks, out along cliffs, and back along the beach, walking all the way back to the car where we continued on. The next of our stops was Mission Beach for a short walk along the promenade before driving to meet Todd, who as an accomplished Executive Chef was competing in a ceviché competition in town. Tickets were a little expensive but we somehow managed to sneak our way in, awarding ourselves a smorgasbord of “complimentary” ceviché. After a few hundred tasters and a drink we headed on to our next stop – the almighty Mr Frostie.

Mr Frostie is a San Diego institution, serving up tall soft serves, loaded sundaes and creamy thick shakes since 1949. We devoured our ice creams before they dissapeared down our hands then continued on to a quick stop at picturesque Sunset Cliffs. Next we visited the Liberty Public Market to check out all the artisanal goodies that were on offer, amongst a vast collection of other things. And just when we thought our day was over we grabbed a drink each and shot up to Mount Helix, just in time to catch the sunset.

No visit to San Diego would be complete without some authentic Tex Mex, so we picked up our first California burritos, carne asada fries, and life-changing horchata, a sweet Mexican drink made from rice and cinnamon. Needless to say Anita found her new favourite sweet fix. We chowed down on our burritos then crashed out in front of the TV, watching none other than our mate Crocodile Dundee.

An absolute massive thank you to Todd and Liz for taking us in, taking us out, and showing us the very best of San Diego. Your generosity, including our little takeaway hamper, is beyond appreciated. We look forward to returning the favour when you come visit us in Sydney!

– Dek

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