Thursday, March 26, 2015

SAN DIEGO - Day 2

Pacific Beach blues, baby...

You can’t talk about San Diego—and most of California, for that matter—without mentioning the beach.  I grew up on the East Coast, so I get the lure of the water.  Granted, the lure isn’t quite so strong in February, but someone my age shouldn’t be spending many hours in public in a bathing suit anyway.  Just being near enough to see the Pacific is a sufficient treat.  Which is the perfect excuse for spending our morning in Pacific Beach.

Start with breakfast at:

Broken Yolk
1851 Garnet Ave, 
San Diego, CA 92109
858-270-YOLK (9655)

I don’t know if the “order online” feature will help you cut through the crowds that often frequent this true breakfast eatery, but if you’re inclined to do take-out breakfast on the beach, it might be worth a shot.  I’ve never quite understood the allure of chicken and waffles, but I understand banana Nutella crepes just fine.  If you’re feeling competitive, go for the “Iron Man” or “Iron Woman” special; a dozen-egg omelette filled with mushrooms, cheese, and onions while smothered in chili with home fries and two biscuits.  The thing is served on a pizza pan!  You’ve got one hour to put it all away and earn your spot on the Hall of Fame Plaque…if you dare.

You’re going to need to walk off whatever you ate, so spend the next hour on the walkway that runs the length of Pacific Beach.  Chuckle at the “Office” and “School” labeled posts that line the beach or play “I’d choose that house” with some of the fabulous beachfront properties you pass by.  When the wind and waves have wound you down, head for today’s fiber fix:

Needlecraft Cottage
870 Grand Avenue, 
San Diego, California 92109
858-272-8185

This superbly stocked shop is a fixture in the Pacific Beach community. The shop’s been around for over 50 years, with current owner Liz Walters at the helm for the last 13.  “We want people to be happy,” Liz maintains, and with the depth of fabulous fiber and selection of classes, she’s clearly reaching that goal.  

Liz’s strong partnership with local yarn vendor Mira Cole of Baah Yarn means the store has the best selection of this exquisitely hued fiber anywhere.  The colors!  The kits!  The perfect yarn weights for the San Diego climate!  It’s all here.   And what isn’t here is in the separate building for classes and other events.  You owe it to yourself to check out the full range of classes in designer Marie Fisher’s “Knitting Academy”—there’s some great sessions in there.

There were loads of projects to catch the eye, but here are a few of my favorites:

That's Mira, by the way
Reflection Shawl
Pick a skein each of any two contrasting colors of Baah’s Aspen merino-cashmere-silk blend and Needlecraft Cottage will supply you with this clever pattern.  Basic and yet with a little flair, this would make an excellent first shawl for a novice knitter, or the perfect gift done up in school colors for your favorite co-ed.

LaJolla Shores Scarf
Indulge in the vibrant colors of Baah LaJolla with this versatile pattern by Marie Fisher.  You’ll get different results depending on what fiber you choose—fingering, lace, sport, or DK weight.  Everyone needs a good go-to lace scarf pattern, and this one could quickly become your favorite.

Woolworth Building Tee
A well-designed knit tee is a thing of beauty—something you can dress up or down and always be comfortable.  Eileen Adler’s design uses 2-3 skeins of Baah LaJolla to craft this tailored, textured top.  You can get the pattern either from Needlecraft Cottage or directly from Eileen herself.  I especially love the bottom edge—so elegant and yet you could match it with a pair of jeans just as easily.


Salt and Sand tank
Looking for some warm-weather style?  Consider this basic tank with a snazzy ruffle detail.  You could go neutral, but why would you when you can do this up in some of the spectacular colors Baah’s LaJolla offers?  You know this one’s well designed; it’s from Veera Valimaki—the designer who gave us the Color Affection shawl.

image courtesy of Marie Fisher
Uliuli Wai Shawl
Who could resist this beautiful, lacy shawl done up in Needlecraft Cottage’s exclusive, signature color “Pacific Beach Blue”?  Two skeins of LaJolla handpainted super wash merino in fingering weight is going to make this masterpiece an eye-catcher for sure.  Marie Fisher’s pattern blends a nice basic stockinette top with two panels of distinctive lace. I can hardly wait to cast this on!

Once your shopping bag is full, indulge in a DestiKNITions tradition:  desert for lunch!

Make the short drive to the Hillcrest neighborhood by Balboa Park to arrive at:

Extraordinary Deserts
2929 Fifth Avenue
San Diego, CA 92103
619-294-2132

There is another location in little Italy, but this one is the original, and has a intimate, romantic feeling that just ads to the gastronomic bliss.  Their website hails them as one of San Diego’s finest first date establishments, and it's not hard to see why.  Cakes, cookies, tarts, everything looked exquisite.  The Shangri-La and Passion Fruit Ricotta came highly recommended, but I went straight for the Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” star the Chocolate Dulce de Leche.  This weighs in as the first slice of OMG chocolate cake I couldn’t bring myself to finish in one sitting.  Not cheap, but worth every single dime.  Don’t miss this place!

Spend a little while wandering the fun and funky Hillcrest neighborhood—visiting Bread and Cie if you need even more baked goods, or enjoying Balboa Park (but that may need a day of its own).  When you’re ready head back downtown to

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
San Diego Avenue and Twiggs Street

A variety of small museums, shops, and restaurants make up this unique tourist attraction that has pretty much something for everyone. The site depicts the area’s transformation from Mexican pueblo to American settlement, showcasing how the cultures converged.  Sure, it’s educational, but it's also just plain fun.  I saw the best selection of Dover historic books and paper dolls I’ve seen in ages, some truly lovely sterling silver jewelry, and a tin Christmas tree I would have taken home in a heartbeat if it fit in my luggage (it didn’t).  Where else are you going to find a place like the Old Town House of Jerky and Root Beer?  If you want to grab something more substantial after our sugar-laden midday meal, I suggest a panini from Rust, the general store/eatery.   Don’t eat too much--a fabulous dinner awaits us at:

Miguel’s Cocina
2444 San Diego Ave
San Diego, CA 92110
619-298-9840 

Another joint upholding the “Taco Tuesday” trend, Miguel’s was a recommendation from Liz at Needlecraft Cottage and several other sources.  Offering their own parking is a big plus in Old Town, too.  I went for the fajitas—which were splendid—but all four diners in my party loved their meals.  Sitting outside on the patio beside the fireplace was the perfect atmosphere despite the “this almost never happens” rainstorm.  They let us linger a long while to chat after dinner—an atmosphere you can’t always find in popular tourist spots these days.  Knitting on the patio by the fire with an excellent margarita?  What better way to end a two-day whirlwind taste of SanDiego’s fiber offerings!


Up next, we tackle the Uliuli shawl—will another top down shawl get the best of me?  Only time and stitches will tell…

1 comment:

Liz Walters said...

Thanks for the lovely review!
Next time you're in town, you should visit Mysterious Galaxy in Clairemont - a great independent bookshop.
Looking forward to seeing you again!