Nov. 28 2011 08:43 PM

'Tis the season to eat what you want

azucarsandiego
Photo by Amy T. Granite

It's officially that joyous time of year for succumbing to the pressures of awkward holiday potlucks at work, finding the perfect gift for Boo and those comfortable stretchy-pants calling from your closet. 'Tis the season to hit your vices hard, abandon dietary restraint and simply devour whatever it takes to soothe.

Vivian hernandez-Jackson has just the fix to boost your holiday cheer at Azucar (4820 Newport Ave.), Ocean Beach's sweet spot featuring the flavors she grew up with in Miami. Spanish for “sugar,” Azucar's a tribute to her Cuban heritage and classic French pastry training from Le Cordon Bleu in London.

Sound fancy? I'm here to report not one raised-pinky sighting; true to its O.B. locale, the shop is casual and lively, packed each morning with locals fueling up on coffee drinks and fresh-baked goods. The Café con Leche ($2.75) is my liquid pick, with strong and smoky Old Havana-roast espresso, sweetened as it's brewed and combined with steamed milk for a drink that'll prepare you for mall madness—or reinvigorate after a night of too much eggnog.

Among funky, seasonal confections, like the best-selling Pumpkin Flan topped with pumpkin-seed brittle ($6), are munchies galore that make perfect party favors. The variety of goodies all share hernandez-Jackson's distinctive, complex flavor-texture combinations that are anything but the one-dimensional sugary experiences some bakeries evoke.

I can't get enough of the gingerbread chocolate-chunk cookies ($1.25). A crisp outer layer dusted in white sugar surprisingly reveals a chewy, moist, spicy ginger cookie center with chunks of chocolate that, when baked, crackle throughout the treat like fault lines. 

But my favorite of all—whose miniscule price is but a bonus—are the chocolate sea-salt caramels for just 50 cents each. Pillowy soft, chewy squares are chocolately at first, followed by burnt-sugar notes; coarse salt-pebbles sprinkled atop each throws off the super-sweet chews with a bright burst that accentuates all the flavors. I like to get a bag of 'em to go, as they've replaced chewing gum in my grubby purse.

Ocean Beach provides shelter from normalcy, and this time of year, that means the holiday hustle. Slow down and take a break from it all at Azucar, where sugary solace awaits. 


Amy blogs at saysgranite.com and you can follow her on Twitter @saysgranite.

Calendar

  • Visit one of the 70 participating restaurants, bars, coffeehouses and nightclubs in town on this night and 25 to 50 percent of sales will go to local HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs. 
  • Anthony Bernal and Chris Ward, who are vying to replace Todd Gloria on the San Diego City Council, will discuss urban issues, such as parking, homelessness and new developments
  • The new exhibition designed by Dave Ghilarducci is made from hundreds of rolls of packing tape and bound together by layers of plastic shrink-wrap. Visitors can navigate their way through cocoon-like passageways...
  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Presented by Pacific Arts Movement, the sixth annual mini film fest features 14 film programs from 10 countries that includes everything from docs to romantic tearjerkers. See website for full lineup and...
  • The San Diego County Bike Coalition hosts this monthly bike-in happy hour event to get biking residents involved in their communities and discuss bike projects planned for that specific community
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • So Say We All's monthly storytelling night features stories about those jobs we took because we had to take a job. Featured readers include Allison Gauss, Annmarie Houghtailing, Cecile Estelle, and more
  • Artists from the all-abstracts group show will talk about their work and techniques. Artists include Edwin Nutting, Danielle Nelisse, Leah Pantea, Lenore Simon, and more
See all events on Thursday, Apr 28