When I was growing up, my mom had a quirky little needlepoint sign in the kitchen that read, Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first. It wasnt meant to be taken literally—this, after all, was a woman who used only whole-wheat flour for baking and wouldnt buy breakfast cereal if sugar was one of the first three ingredients. No, it was simply a quaint carpe diem reminder, and when my mom passed away in 1996, we put the little sign on display at her service.
If my days were numbered, what would I do? I guess Id, indeed, eat dessert first.
Its been awhile since Ive been to The Big Kitchen in South Park (3003 Grape St.), and thats solely because if I go, Im compelled to order the coffee cake. With its thick, crumbly topping and moist cake with a layer of cinnamon and sugar baked into the middle, its the best damn coffee cake on the planet but probably exceeds my breakfast calorie limit by a factor of three. Unlike previous visits, I wont remove the big dollop of butter and instead let it melt over the top.
Next up, an outdoor activity. Its been years since Ive been snorkeling, which is a shame because its such a beautiful, foreign experience that reminds you theres a whole other world besides the one you know. Ive always wanted to try snorkeling in the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park, which stretches from La Jolla Cove up to Scripps Pier and includes a marine-life refuge and ecological reserve where you can see bright-orange Garibaldi, rockfish and maybe a (harmless) Leopard shark. Since its fall, the water will be a bit less crowded (and colder) than in the summertime. But Ill skip the wetsuit; hell, maybe Ill skip the bathing suit, too.
Nothing soothes an impending sense of doom like waterfront dining. At lunchtime, Ill head to The Fish Market (750 N. Harbor Drive, Downtown) for a Fish Market Bloody Mary enjoyed on the outside patio (one of San Diegos best-kept secrets), with views of the bay, Coronado, Point Loma and the Midway. Made with Absolut Peppar vodka and a house-made Bloody Mary mix and garnished with a chilled prawn, olives, celery and pickled green beans, the drinks practically a meal in itself. To accompany it, Ill order the sushi sampler with Japanese hamachi, ahi and two pieces each of the straightforward-yet-tasty California and spicy tuna rolls.
After lunch, Ill jump in my car and head east to El Cajon to pick up my custom-made guitar from the Taylor Guitars factory. I designed it online using their SolidBody Configurator—a nifty feature that allows you to select a body shape, color, pick-guard material, pick-ups and bridge style. Mine is the classic-body guitar with a single cutaway in sage green. To that Ive added a tremolo, aged-white pearl pick-guard and two vintage Alnico humbucker pick-ups. Its almost too pretty to play, but Ill take it home, plug in for a while and jam with my husband on drums. Screw the neighbors.
Dinners tough. Im all about non-fussy dining, and my two fave spots are Cantina Mayahuel and Amarin Thai. In a feat never before accomplished, Ill hit up both. First up, Cantina Mayahuel in Normal Heights (2934 Adams Ave.) for the grilled-chicken taco with its magical topping of salsa, crema and spicy aioli. With an order of chips and salsa, you get a small bowl of chopped-up Serrano chilies, allowing you to customize the salsas spice level. They also make great house margaritas.
To work up an appetite for my second dinner, Ill bike to Amarin Thai in Hillcrest (3843 Richmond St.) on the Amsterdam Classic from Vista-based Electra Bikes. Fortunately, Cal Coast Bicycles (3020 Adams Ave.) is an authorized Electra dealer. At Amarin, Id order my three go-to dishes: the yellow curry with chicken, basil eggplant and the Amarin Crater—jasmine rice stir-fried with egg, shrimp, pineapple, chicken, raisins and cashews and served in a hollowed-out pineapple.
Next, Ill hit up Voz Alta Project. In 2007, the gallery was kicked out of its East Village location —conveniently located next to Landlord Jims—when San Diego City College demolished the block to build new classrooms. Fortunately, Voz Alta found a small, charming space in Barrio Logan, at 1754 National Ave., and, since then, has consistently featured dynamic shows of works by upcoming and established urban artists. Though its a modest space, theres something about it thats always familiar and welcoming. Theres often a live-band or DJ, and you can grab a can of Tecate (for a small donation) while you hang out.
After Voz Alta, Ill head Downtown to The Propagandist (835 Fifth Ave.), the underground bar that serves the Mango en Fuego—fresh-pressed mango and lime juices, Titos vodka and muddled habanero peppers and basil. Sure, there are lots of great places in town to get a cocktail, but theres something I love about this cocktail in particular, with its balance of sweetness and bite.
Since the worlds ending and I dont have to worry about the consequences of my actions, Id wrap up my day by hopping the fence at the San Diego Zoo to visit my pals, the fishing cats. Yes. Fishing cats. Cats that fish. Webbed paws and fondness for water aside, they look like domestic spotted tabbies. Theyre also coy little critters that tend to spend daytime hours sleeping out of public view. As anyone whos been to the summer Nighttime Zoo knows, its prime for fishing-cat viewing.
On my bucket list: give the cats a good scratching under their chins.