I have a love-hate relationship with San Diego. Maybe “hate” is too strong a word. I love the weather and natural beauty; I “regret” the lack of culture and good food. I have discussed this dilemma with many San Diegans—why is San Diego, the eighth largest city in the country, bigger than foodie playgrounds San Francisco and Seattle, so devoid of intellectual curiosity and an ambitious restaurant scene? The two go hand in hand, if you ask me. If you’re not curious about the outside world, and, let’s say, never travel to places other than Las Vegas (Disneyland for adults) or Hawaii (San Diego on steroids), how do you expect to compete as a cosmopolitan city if you don’t know what other cities have to offer? Hone your taste buds by eating a shrimp po’ boy on toasted buttery bread in New Orleans; or paper-thin egg pasta with Brussels sprouts and pancetta in North Beach, San Francisco; or Szechuan soup spiked with chili oil and scallions in Flushing, Queens; then tell me you don’t demand more from your chefs back home. I don’t blame it on the chefs either. Try making an inventive meal and having someone who thinks “Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade” is tops push it around on her plate.
Truth be told, I avoid Los Angeles like the plague, and I only live 90 minutes away. First reason: the oppressive traffic (Seriously? Only two lanes on the I-5 with construction that hasn’t budged since the last time I passed through two years ago?) Second: There’s only one topic of conversation: “The Industry.” Third: The type of car you drive automatically dictates your social position. (Ten years ago I was openly mocked at a valet station for having a station wagon.) Nonetheless, a family get-together had me planning a weekend in L.A. and, naturally, I intended to eat my way through it!
It happens to all of us. You’ve been running around all day and suddenly you’re starved. So starved that you could take down a bag of potato chips, eat a frozen pizza, or—say it ain’t so—find yourself rationalizing a fast food drive-thru. There’s no time to cook—you’d eat a dish towel before the food is ready. Drop that towel. Here, 10 of my favorite snacks that can be made in minutes. (Remember: these are best achieved by always keeping certain products on hand in the pantry and refrigerator.)
Oh, glorious pizza. Since San Diego’s restaurants are in some kind of purgatory of mediocrity, with pizza options just a step above Domino’s, I tend to seek out good pizza when I travel. Declaring the best “New York slice” engenders as much arguing and regional posturing as Mideast peace negotiations, so I’ve limited my research to the Neapolitan-style pizza served at relative newcomers Motorino and Kesté.