Any friend of mine is well aware that I’m an ardent fan of San Diego’s Mission Hills district. So naturally, I grabbed my friend Karen recently and headed to the hills for some Christmas cheer. This is how such a celebration works best:
1. Find a couple of seats at the wickedly cool bar at the The Patio On Goldfinch for a encounter with a “Geisha”. This delightfully fruity blend of blueberry infused vodka, pear puree and cherries will surely incite memories of Christmases past and those holiday tins filled with … fruitcakes … NOT! “乾杯!” (That’s “Cheers” in Japanese.)
2. Order a “Chop Chop” to accompany your “Geisha”. Flavors of shaved romaine lettuce, smoked bacon, avocado, tomatoes, Russian dressing, and a crown of tabasco-infused onions marry splendidly with the berry-infused cocktail. “Salute!” (Sidebar: if you’re not too tipsy and it’s not too late, it might be a good idea to stop in around the corner at the Patio’s new gourmet market, The Front Porch, for some holiday gift shopping. You know, it’s always good to multi-task whenever possible.)
3. Now don your winter parka (strike that … this is San Diego … no parkas, just sweaters) and mosey across the street to Brooklyn Girl Eatery. Scan the drink menu, then decide on a “C U Next Fall”. When the handsome waiter delivers your vodka, sorel, cranberry purée, honey and orange peel beverage, try not to gulp. As tempting as that will be, the flavors are much more enjoyable if you … sip. “Cheers!”
4. Order a quartet of fried squash blossoms stuffed with crabmeat, garlic, scallions goat cheese, mascarpone and cream cheese to dip in the balsamic reduction while perusing BG’s incredible menu. Request a glass of Incognito from Michael David Wines. This blend of Vigonier, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc is fully robust and will pair up to most of BG’s enticing menu items. Then settle on the brined Duroc pork chop accompanied by apple-pear chutney, or the wood-roasted half duck served with miso, Chinese sausage and ancho-mango hoisin sauce. “Santé!”
5. When sufficiently stuffed, waddle out of Brooklyn Girl and stroll a few blocks to The Red Door. Snag a comfy window seat in the corner of the charming bar where you can take in some great “people-watching.” When the remarkably friendly waiter arrives at your table and asks what he can bring you, tell him you’d love an order of Brandi’s Bread Pudding (think drunken cognac raisins, cinnamon custard and a butter rum sauce), and a glass of Late Harvest Riesling from Cline Cellars. Yup! “Skål!”
Now that is how you DECK THE HILLS!!
Author’s note: Mission Hills Alive is a fantastic source for events and “goings-on” in this charming, historic neighborhood. Check them out on Twitter: @MissionHillsLive.