Ah San Diego. Home to the Chargers, the Padres, and their most famous mustaschioed ambassador, Ron Burgundy. While we were visiting the city, we never got into antics like the Channel 4 news team like an anchorman street fight or having our beloved pet dog punted off the Coronado bridge, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have a memorable time (I did get a new suit though for the wedding!). Our first day was fun, but Saturday was a non-stop rollercoaster that had plenty of thrills and a couple spills because we did eat and drink our fair share like any good tourists should.
If you didn’t read my first post, you can check it out here because our morning involved Janice’s friend and local fixer Amber who I introduced before. Sadly, Ellie the schnauzer was not there to keep us company. So, she brought us to a local breakfast favorite for both locals and tourists: Doughnut Bar. Now, coming from Chicago which has its fair share of fancy doughnut bakeries, I didn’t know what the big deal was about a company that specialized in creating mind-boggling sweets. The line that stretched down the block that we soon found ourselves in spoke otherwise to my doubts. Amber recommended getting there the earlier the better as in like 8 am or 9 am if you want your choice of doughnuts because once the fried treats are gone, they close the entire store. As we slowly shuffled like a horde of bleary eyed zombies toward our sugary host, something bright and shiny caught my eye. It was just the Doughnut Bar owner’s new Lamborghini Aventor with a custom paint job. I don’t know why other people weren’t as enthused as I was about this beauty of a machine just chilling on the side of the road. It was a sign that it was going to be a great day on west coast. Thankfully, the line moved quickly because we needed to get our sugar fix on before running off to get ready for the wedding ceremony! I was having some second thoughts about rushing in and out after we set foot inside. It was very modern and quirky with plenty of hilarious doughnut themed swag and artwork. The true objets d’art were spread out in front of us like some type of heavenly bounty graced with every color and flavor of the rainbow. According to Amber, they also switch around their menu and offer vegan options, so they know how to cater to people from all walks of life and keep them on their toes at the same time. Janice and I didn’t know where to start because all of the doughnuts were calling our names. There were chocolate ones, ones made in homage to the local MLB All Star Game, cake batter, and even one with a motherloving Pop Tart baked in the middle! I didn’t want to look directly into its frosting for fear it would put the diabetic evil eye on me. Plus, some honorable mentions among many. We eventually made our choices, and they are not the cheapest doughnuts in the world at roughly 2-4 bucks a doughnut. However, most of them are huge as you’ll see later in the post, and they are some of the most unique doughnuts you’ll ever taste. Janice and I got a box of the Homer doughnut (mmmm sprinkles), a bacon infused cinnamon roll, a peanut butter cup doughnut, a Mexican hot chocolate doughnut, a Nutella doughnut, and a red velvet. In addition to our to-go box, we got a French toast doughnut which was a doughnut fried and served up like regular French toast. This was an homage to the origin of doughnuts. According to Wikipedia, some believe the word “doughnuts” came from the Dutch North American settlers who made oliekoek or “oil cake”, but the more compelling origin comes from a mid 19th century tale of an American boy punching holes in his fried dough because the centers were often raw. This allowed for his dough to cook thoroughly and looked like the traditional doughnuts we eat and enjoy today. However, the “nuts” part might have originally referenced the fried bits they poked out from the middle and have been referenced in writing as a uniquely American recipe as early as the early 1800s by none other than Sleepy Hollow author Washington Irving. We enjoyed every bite of this fried piece of Americana as we chilled upstairs surrounded by plenty of interesting paintings and wall art. The French toast doughnut also came with a side of butter, honey, and syrup. I just went with the syrup, but it seemed almost like gilding the lily with how delicate and light the doughnut was. It was an excellent investment and got us amped up for the very long day ahead of us. Highly recommend this option if you have the chance to snag one from the hungry masses. As we were leaving, there was still a plethora of people lining up outside, but I managed to sit in the Lambo which fulfilled one of my lifetime dreams. Could this day get any better? Oh yeah! We got suited and booted and went also with our friend Kathy to the church on Coronado island.
and afterward I found myself once again face to face with another beautiful automobile. This time around it was a classic Rolls Royce that the bride and groom were riding off in, but I wouldn’t have minded if they gave Janice and me a ride just around the block. Instead, we wished them well and needed to find something to eat before the reception. Walking around the beautiful isthmus of Coronado, we eventually found Fire and Fly Pizzeria. It was bright and airy inside with outdoor seating in the front and rear of the establishment. They seemed to specialize in brick oven fired, Neopolitan style pizzas. They offer both premade and make your own pizza options in addition to a few sides. We got an order of two broccoli and tomato pizzas and one chicken pesto pizza ($9 each). I also got a local brewed Coronado beer ($6). They were promptly cooked and served as we made our way to the back patio to enjoy the beautiful day and engaging food. The pizza that Janice and I shared, the broccoli and tomato sans tomato, was good but too bland for my taste. I’m a man of fiery foods, so the mix of mozzarella, ricotta, and herb garlic olive oil was a bit too safe for my palate. Don’t get me wrong, it was a quality pizza, but I’d get a different pizza the next time around. I preferred the chicken pesto pizza that our friend Kathy got because it was coated with a healthy, almost excessive top layer of arugula which gave way to pieces of chicken that were intermixed with mozzarella, pesto, and roasted peppers. As for my California Amber, I realized that I wasn’t a fan from the first sip. It had a slight pine/resin aftertaste which turned me off instantly, but it seemed like a trend in California to serve mainly lighter beers like lagers and IPAs. What does a guy got to do to get a good stout/porter? Still, Fire and Fly was an excellent place to grab a bite to eat before the wedding reception. We finished our lunch and walked around the isthmus toward the Del Coronado hotel and decided to get some gelato at Nado Gelato. It was a non-descript cafe that we strolled into and managed to beat the local crowd from the beach. A clear sign we made a good decision. After looking over their numerous, mouth-watering flavors, Janice and I got a small cup of the giandua (chocolate hazelnut) and salted caramel. It was reasonably priced and extremely high quality. After learning so much from local Chicago ice cream shop owners in another post, we could tell from the rich, nutty flavor complimented by the salt in the caramel that we found the jewel in the crown of Coronado’s dessert scene. Highly recommend this tiny spot if you’re looking for something sweet to cool you off. Eventually, we reached the historical Hotel Del Coronado. It was originally built in 1888 and didn’t look a year over 100. Seriously though, it was a reception location that was without equal that I’ve been to in a wedding and hotels I’ve stayed in for my entire life. We walked through the dark wood lobby under antique crystal chandeliers and past the wrought iron elevator up to the penthouse suite for pre-cocktail hour drinks. Long story short, the views were terrible, and it was a mainly forgettable time. If the written word doesn’t convey my sarcasm, I’ll let the view do the talking.
Before we made our way to the cocktail hour, we managed to witness a special part of Sabrina and Thompson’s wedding: the Chinese tea ceremony. I thought it was going to be a traditional Chinese ceremony to compliment the Catholic ceremony before, but it was more of a symbolic uniting of families through Sabrina and Thompson serving tea to the new members of their expanded familial network. In return, they received lucky red envelopes containing many monies I assumed. However, the real show stopper were the gifts for the bride and groom. Thompson got a spiffy new watch, but Sabrina managed to wear half of Fort Knox’s gold in the form of two giant bracelets and a gold chest plate. Once the ceremony concluded, we made our way through the hotel like some sort of entourage. Jokingly, the girls said I looked like a secret service agent escorting some gold covered celebrity and her squad through to the afterparty. Little did they know, I was trained by Burt Macklin from Parks and Recreation. Luckily, we made it safely to to the very bright back lawn that was right next to the Pacific Ocean. No big deal. The setting was picturesque, the drinks were flowing, and the seagulls were out for burgers, mini-sliders to be exact. They swooped down on us to steal food, but luckily we were looking stylish and freaked out in our sweet sunglasses party favors. Their family dog, Bebe, however, was non-plussed looking so stylish in a bowtie. Eventually, the clock struck the reception hour, and we were led to the back ballroom that was enormous and overlooking the same rear lawn where we were enjoying some classic wild animal attacks. I won’t get bogged down in every minute detail of the reception in this post because it’s long enough. In a nutshell, minus the odd band music, we made some new friends and got down with old ones even when the dancefloor was dead sometimes. The food was par excellence (a dessert bar and a macaroni bar? yeah, that happened), and our one bartender we always went to made sure that everyone was having a great time. By the time the band’s encore finished, Janice and I made our way past our fellow partygoers outside the hotel entrance who, like us, needed a comfortable bed. However, our night didn’t end there. Back at the Air BnB we tried some of the doughnuts from the first part of the post. I loved the Homer doughnut because it was simple, iconic, and fitting for someone with a big appetite like me. The Mexican hot chocolate one wasn’t that memorable even with the toasted marshmallows, but the Nutella doughnut was delectable as well as the red velvet one. By that time, our friend Kathy had made it back as well, and we passed out after an incredibly long day with heads filled with memories and bellies stuffed with amazing eats.