Cafe Bassam San Diego

Cafe Bassam

Café Bassam Bankers Hill

I’m sitting in one of my favorite little funky coffee shops in San Diego. Cafe Bassam is on 5th Ave between Quince and Redwood in the Bankers Hill area of San Diego. The walls are covered in thrift store paintings and there’s a pile of books in the back left corner shelf stacked haphazardly, as if someone was looking for something and forgot to put everything back where it was before. There are player piano rolls next to them. Perhaps the player piano to my right is played from time to time? Is it from the owner’s grandparents? It never has been played while I’ve been here but there’s always hope. The background soundtrack is happy friendship tempered by student doodlers and bloggers like me.

Cafe Bassam boasts floor to ceiling window on both sides of this corner store to let the sunlight in.

There’s also a collection of rifles on the walls. Did a family member kill anyone in a war? I’ve just noticed old gumball or penny candy machines under a saddle. Also a mismatched collection of crystal decanters in a china cabinet. What a sensory feast!

Cafe Bassam is full of glass display cases housing an eclectic mixture of empty silver frames, what looks like a mink stole and several containers of what I thought were old ping pong rackets but are actually old fashioned hand mirrors. There’s an English saddle on a rack near the stacked books. It’s a decorating scheme that is both random and utterly charming. Let’s call it Early American Hodgepodge style.Cafe Bassam

Ceiling fans keep the air moving but I think I can hear an air conditioner rattling away as well. There’s a table full of loose teas for you to choose from. I tried that, but since I’m not a tea drinker the bag and Popsicle stick that holds it suspended over the cup flummoxed me. I have shifted back to coffee. Today it’s café mocha. Just a touch of whipped cream but decadent amounts of chocolate. Delish!

Cafe Bassam Tea

They take your order at the counter but serve you directly and you pay the bill when you leave. Very old school.

Outside there are bright orange market umbrellas so you can enjoy coffee with Fido. A young man in mustardy green camo slacks topped by a blue button down shirt and navy sports coat and boater shoes (with socks!) is waiting to pay. A young woman in a pumpkin sweater and black pants, her brown hair streaked with sassy purple stripes is next in line. Another lady is sitting near me. She looks like an average suburbanite until you see that her necklace is made of multi colored zipper pulls and she paired orange flats with a grey skirt. Her iPhone cover has a handle like a purse. Her friend has a bright yellow top edged in lace and an orange skirt with what looks like a brightly colored Italian village on it. I love it! And there’s me in my bright pink capris and flowered top.

I think it’s understandable why I love Café Bassam.


All photos are original and the property of Susanne Romo. If you would like to use them, please do so, but give yourself the gift of good karma and make a small donation to pretty horses rescue. This charity rehabilitates starving, abandoned horses. Every dollar helps us rescue and rehabilitate starving horses.


MIddle Eastern Food Hillcrest

When does Middle Eastern food taste bad? When it’s store bought, overly sweet and the hummus is runny. I hate posting bad reviews, but I don’t want people to waste their time.

middle eastern

Shawarma House Hillcrest Middle Eastern Food

Shawarma House is a new restaurant in the heart of Hillcrest. It’s about a block from Trader Joes, across from The Body Alchemist, in a busy strip shopping mall on University. Middle Eastern is my favorite kind of food so I went hoping I would find another place to get a quick Middle Eastern meal.

middle eastern

crumbs on every table in this Middle Eastern restaurant

A young man took my order for chicken kabob, a typical Middle Eastern meal.  I sat down in the brightly lit dining area and waited for my food.  Every table had food crumbs on it. Every one.  It wasn’t busy—I was the only person in the restaurant at 5 pm.

The meal came, served with a big smile by a gentleman I am going to assume is the owner.  He had plastic gloves on which is a plus for health. But that’s where it ended. The food was richly colored and promised a delicious meal, but it did not deliver.

classic middle eastern food

chicken kabob middle eastern food

Middle Eastern food is richly flavored with cumin, saffron, turmeric and tahini.  These spices make the food flavorful but not spicy.  Unfortunately that is not what happened here.  The hummus was runny, when it should have a paste-like consistency, and it was bland.  The pita was store-bought and cold. The chicken kabob had a sweet, tangy sauce reminiscent of chicken teriyaki.  The rice was bland, flavorless, and over-cooked.

The plate was small compared to the amount of food on it, and while trying to dislodge the chicken kabob, onions and bell peppers, the rice sprayed all over the table.  No loss because the rice was atrocious, but I hate making a mess.

middle eastern restaurant

middle eastern restaurant interior

I could have been eating Chinese food in a shopping mall food court. There was not even remotely a Middle Eastern flavor to the chicken kabob.  Maybe I should have ordered the Schwarma or Falafal, but if a classic dish like chicken kabob is tasteless, I don’t want to think about what the other food tastes like.

I think the owner (and his son?) are trying…but they need to get someone who knows how to cook Middle Eastern food in.  At least switch the rice from Rice-a-Roni blah-ness to a simple white Jasmine rice.  I love rice…and left it on my plate. Overall the food was not worth the calories.

Sadly I cannot recommend this restaurant.  Go down the street to Aladdin.  They are a little more expensive (not much!) and the food is fabulous.

Model Trains Fascination

Model Train

Think of the amount of planning, time and money it took to make this model train diorama

I love model trains.  When I was a kid my parents had a model train set up in the attic, and one of my favorite things to do was sit upstairs by myself amidst the dust and clutter that seem to be de riguer for an attic and watch the train travelling on its endless loop.

I am fascinated by the meticulousness that model train afficianados bring to their model train dioramas.  Everyday scenes, down to the little kids playing, the person fishing, the people waiting for the trolley, is carefully laid out to tell a story.  It’s insane to me the amount of effort and time that goes into building these model train dioramas, but as an artist myself I understand the passion that lays beneath the sweat and effort.

Model train

This model train diorama had a photo background. Think of how they had to match the paints!

My father had two different train sets.  He had an HO model train diorama as well as an O sized model train set.  Both ran on the same diorama, which in retrospect is kind of odd, but then my father was an odd person. Check out my other blog for more on that.

I love at Christmastime when store displays have model trains running around the tree. I had a model train set like that that I bought at Toys R Us, but it was battery operated and for whatever reason it didn’t seem ‘right’ to me.

Ernie bought me an HO sized train set from Costco a few years ago.  We set it up on a 4′x4′ square plywood base.  I used my amateurish painting skills (my art is photography and writing) to make a flat diorama of fields of veggies and a lake.  Later when we went to Big Sur on vacation, I gathered up extremely small sized gravel from the beach, and glued that to the outside of the model train tracks to make it seem more realistic.

Model Train Amusement Park

Everyone had a different thing they loved to recreate. This is a small part of the whole amusement park.

Travelling Model train

Here’s the whole amusement park and neighborhood. You can see the roller coaster in the bottom left

We recently went to a train show and bought a few more cars.  Bakers chocolate and a box car that at some point I’m going to glue some people to so I have hobos riding my train.  My brother used to do that in his more down-and-out periods of life.

Model train water effect

I love when they make ponds.

model train pond

here’s the other part of the same pond

The model train show was mind boggling.  There were so many different kinds of train set ups, plus there were used trains and accessories. You could go from the basic inexpensive to trains costing thousands of dollars.  The range was staggering.  I was in heaven.  I bought some material to glue onto my diorama to make the plants have a 3-D effect.

Model train bobbing horses

This is one like I had growing up. The horses heads bob in and out of the stock car as the train moves

If you find yourself in San Diego and you love model trains, you are in luck.  San Diego has an entire museum dedicated to model trains. You can also find a listing of all model train shows at The world’s largest model train diorama can be found in Hamburg, Germany

My model train set brings me much joy.  I will sit inside my retreat reading, and turn the train on.  I love the sound it makes and I dream about rail journeys to exotic places.


All photos are original and the property of Susanne Romo. If you would like to use them, please do so, but give yourself the gift of good karma and make a small donation to pretty horses rescue. This charity rehabilitates starving, abandoned horses. Every dollar helps us rescue and rehabilitate starving horses.

Things to Do in Encinitas

There are so many things to do in Encinitas. Here are some of my favorite Encinitas places.Encinitas is a funky, laid back beach town just south of Orange County.  It is known for the Surfing Madonna, Swami’s beach and the Self Realization Center, but what I love about Encinitas is that it is a feast for the senses

I love signs like this.

Sign outside an Encinitas beauty shop.

Day of the Dead Coast Hwy Traders Encinitas

Coast Hwy Traders Encinitas has the best DOTD

You can spend the day at the beach, go to a funky seaside art bazaar, eat at fun restaurants or browse the many art co-op stores along Highway 101. If you are a night owl and love The Rocky Horror Picture Show, that’s available too.

One of my favorite things to do in Encinitas is window shop. Coast Highway Traders has the best collection of Day of the Dead ephemera in San Diego.  From small altars and Day of the Dead figurines to iPhone cases, stickers and larger-than-life-sized Katarinas, this store is a color-fest. Coast Highway Traders is run by a group of vendors, so in addition to the Day of the Dead merchandise, there are mermaids, seashells and seashell-covered gifts, other Mexican art, purses and handmade jewelry.Day of the Dead Day of the Dead IMG_5240

The canary Frog

Maybe because he’s an Encinitas Frog he whistles like a canary instead of croaks


Plum is an Encinitas art co-op

Plum is another artist co-op store filled with photography, hand painted silk fish ornaments, Christmas merchandise and handmade jewelry. Plum is definitely more upscale than Coast Highway Traders but both are equally fun to browse.  The prices for a resort/tourist area are reasonable, and the artist/owners are very friendly. George the frog tweeted like a canary every time we walked in or out of the store.

IMG_5262I was drawn into _____ after looking at the statue on the sidewalk and glimpsing the salt crystal lamps, sari patchwork throws, and luscious stone and mineral jewelry. I loved the small dark-purple amethyst pieces they had. Really spectacular.IMG_5258IMG_5255

Queen Eileen’s reminds me of Babette Schwartz in Hillcrest.  Fun, somewhat tacky gag gifts crowded the walls next to Anne Taintor magnets and cocktail napkins. More jewelry and unique clothes.

Lots of gag gifts at Queen Eileens

Lots of gag gifts at Queen Eileens


Encinitas Seaside Bazaar artist


Encinitas Seaside Bazaar sign. Love it!

We browsed through the Seaside Market. I had a chance to talk to artist Cecilia Gabriel. She and her husband Roger sell mini-pieces of art.  Mini as in 2×2 inch squares at the smallest.  She explained that they like to create collages of smaller pieces of art work so in a limited space they can enjoy many different types of art instead of focusing on one piece only.  The 2×2 mini paintings start at $25 and go up to $65 for a 10×10 canvas.  I asked her if they made the canvasses themselves and she said no, you can actually buy them online.  Fascinating. We talked about chakras and she told me about chakra-size, which are exercises for your chakras. I love her infectious happiness and her jewelry is beautiful and reasonably priced for hand-made works of art.

I picked up a few gently used paperbacks from Patricia McFarland at Book Tales. Patricia said she has owned the store for 15 years but it has been at this location for over 30! It is so nice to see a used bookstore flourishing; they are a dying breed of retail.


Book Tales used book store in Encinitas

Another great shop was Earth’s Elements.  They have a great selection of eco-friendly soaps and cleansers, solar phone chargers, clothing, art and handicrafts…and a fun bumper sticker covered wall.  How do you decide which one you want to buy? They are all awesome!


Koi pond at SRF in Encinitas

I ended the day at the Self Realization Fellowship’s meditation gardens.  After a small climb up some stairs, you can either sit and view the Pacific Ocean and watch the surfers down below, or you can relax watching the flashing ballet of the enormous koi.  The grounds are immaculate and well-kept and though there were quite a few people at the large koi pond, it didn’t seem crowded.

Encinitas is a visual feast.  It is one of my favorite San Diego towns.  I hope you get a chance to visit.

Unless noted otherwise, all photos are the original work of Susanne Romo.  If you wish to use them, please add photo courtesy of to the photo. Thank you.

La Miche Kabobgee San Diego

I had some time before my tap dance class and needed to eat, so I headed over to  Lebanese restaurant La Miche Kabobgee. Middle Eastern cuisine is one of my absolute favorites, so I decided to give it a try.La Miche Kabobgee interior

La Miche Kabobgee is in a strip mall at Ruffin Rd and Kearny Mesa.  It is brightly-lit with a sleek modern décor. I was eating relatively early so the restaurant was mostly empty, but next to me was a group of men chatting in Lebanese. I always take it as a good sign when people who can cook the kind of food they are eating are in the restaurant. So MIddle Eastern food with Middle Eastern patrons = good sign.La Miche Kabobgee  hummus

I decided on chicken kabob, which came with hummus served first.  The hummus was not as thick as most I have had but was still good. Not the best hummus (see my blog about Aladdin restaurant’s hummus) but still good. The pita bread is freshly baked and arrives warm at the table.La Miche Kabobgee Labneh

I ordered Lebna Khiar one of my all-time favorite side dishes. This is made from strained, thick plain yogurt, slices of small Persian cucumbers and mint.  It is served cold and makes a nice contrast against the warm, freshly made pita bread.  This one was thicker than most masotchiars I have tasted, with thick slices of cucumber  There is a distinct fresh mint aftertaste and it was delicious.La Miche Kabobgee chicken kabob

I don’t know if it’s because I was taking notes as I eat, but the La Miche Kabobgee chef was unusually attentive, telling me how each recipe is based on something his mother created, and how he may use 7 spices as opposed to another chef using 5 spices. Everyone has the same flavors and spices. None are inherently better than the other,  it’s just different..La Miche Kabobgee  kabob chicken

The chicken kabob arrives, and it is flavorful but a little on the dry side.  There are grilled tomatoes, onios and bell peppers, plus jasmine rice to finish the dish.

Maybe because I am jotting notes and taking iPhone photos, the chef thinks I’m some important food critic (LOL)…but he is hovering. He brings over a complimentary dish of Baba Ghanoush for me to try.  Baba Ghanoush—now this is a starter that can be mangled with too much smoky flavor from over-roasting and burning the eggplant.

Baba Ghanoush means in Arabic “father of seduction” hence is often credited to a slave girl in a sheik’s harem. Hmmm.  Whatever the translation, when it’s made well it’s heavenly.  La Miche Kababgee’s Baba Ghanoush is the bomb-dot-com.  Hands down the absolute best Baba Ghanoush I have ever tasted.  What sends it into the stratosphere is the sprinkling of pomegranate seeds on top. Yum.  The pop of the tangy pomegranate seeds contrasts nicely with the savory eggplant.  This is a keeper.La Miche Kabobgee Baba Ghanoush

I did not have time to stay for coffee or dessert, which disappointed the chef.  He requested I return with friends and more time next time.  I agree.  This is the kind of meal best shared family style, where you can order a myriad of items and sample everything.

La Miche Kabobgee is located at 9350 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92123


Swoon Dessert Bar Hillcrest

There’s a dessert revolution happening in North Park at the corner of University and Iowa.

You can watch Chef Ian create here

You can watch Chef Ian create here

Adjacent to Art Produce GallerySwoon Dessert Bar owner David and his business partner and chef Ian Smith (formerly of Wine Vault and Bistro) hope to change the way San Diego does dessert. Their goal? To provide a place where you can try desserts that are anything but ordinary, without having to commit to an entire meal.  David and Ian want you to enjoy your favorite restaurant and then finish off the evening with one of their unique desserts.

swoon dessert















My first taste was their Carrot cake….Unique is hardly enough of a word to describe the ingredients they use. Do you like carrot cake but find that it can be cloyingly sweet and cloaked by the thick cream cheese frosting? How about a carrot cake with less frosting so you can taste the carrot cake? Another surprise —-they season their carrot cake with cardamom to give it a spicy, citrusy flavor. They then finish with a thin cream cheese/panna cotta ganache.  This is not your grandmother’s carrot cake!

This is not your grandmother's carrot cake!

This is not your grandmother’s carrot cake!

My second taster was the 70% dark chocolate gelato with tangerines, granola…and Scorpion Pepper.  Chef Ian advised that Scorpion pepper is six times more potent than Habanero peppers, so I was a bit concerned on this as I’m not a huge hot-spicy kind of gal, but I had to have my chocolate! Even in an unique-ingredient restaurant, I must have my chocolate.  It was definitely spicy hot, but it didn’t burn my tongue and the mixture of dark chocolate and tangerines with the hot kick was quite tasty.swoon chocolate dessert

I finished with the dessert that brought me here in the first place, their brown butter gelato/radish with hazelnut crunch with a ramp gremolata.  Yes, I said radishes.  I had an opportunity to talk to David about this unique dessert, and he said that he and chef Ian want San Diegans to explore alternative ingredients. Just the idea of radishes in dessert is tantalizing. It is definitely not your traditional dessert.  I wouldn’t call it sweet or savory; I’d call it more a salad flavor.

Very lovely presentation

Very lovely presentation

It was interesting and I’m glad I tried it, but it’s not something I would order when I’m in the mood for sweet. I think my palate is not sophisticated enough, or just too soaked in dark chocolate. But I can say I’ve eaten radishes for dessert! Does that count as a bucket list item?

Swoon is also an excellent place to have your networking coffee without the chatter normally running through the background in the (franchise) coffee houses.  Swoon Dessert Bar is open for coffee at 10 am, but dessert is not available until 3 pm. David explained to me that since the ingredients are prepped fresh every day it takes until that time to have everything prepared.  Then each dessert is hand-made at the time of ordering.  These desserts are not languishing inside a pastry case. To have the full experience you need to sit at the bar and watch Ian prepare your dessert.  Not sure if you want to commit to any one dessert? Try their Chef’s Choice 3 course sampler platter for $18.00Dessert menu prix-fixed















The portion sizes are a bit on the tiny side. Think tapas.  For me, since I’m frugal, this is a bit high price-wise for dessert. But I’m not a foodie and my taste needs are pretty basic. In the end…I’m glad I tried them and had the experience.

If you are looking for the traditional dessert in the North Park / Hillcrest area, your better bet would be to go to Eclipse, Extraordinay Desserts or Heavent Sent Desserts.  But if you are a foodie or in the mood for an adventurous, alternative dessert experience, Swoon is the place for you.

Shine on Baja 2013

I love serendipitous experiences.  I stumbled across Shine on Baja from a Facebook friend’s posting and decided it sounded like an opportunity to create some adult-childhood magic. I loved the idea of participating in a ‘Community Mob Art’ event. Baja artist Debbie Shine created the event to both bring business and awareness to the local community, but also ‘just for art’s sake.’ Gotta meet this woman!Shine on Baja map
















Ernie's face reflection

Shine on Baja Wish Lanterns

All along the Baja coast, from TJ to Ensenada, as the sun sank in the sky and stars emerged, at restaurants along the beach, adults lit brightly-colored paper lanterns and watched them float away. shine on bajaThey helped each other hold them until the hot air inside propelled them skyward.  Happy laughter and clapping sounded as each wish lantern floated skyward.  In their laughter and clapping I glimpsed the children they once were… their faces were filled with wonder as their lanterns floated skyward and joined with the others.

Lighting the wish lantern

We tried launching the lantern from the ground…it was easier at Poco Cielo on top of the cliff


The sunset as we set our wish lanterns aloft

I wrote my wishes on my lantern and helped hold it as my friend Carolyn lit the tiny wax square that would create the flame and heat to set it flying.  I watched my husband’s face glowing in the reflected firelight and watched with delight as our wishes floated skyward.  We watched our lantern join with all the other wishes floating skyward until it finally burned up in the starlight.

All around us adults were helping each other set the lanterns aloft.  Magic was in the air and for a time the worries of life faded away in the wonderous view of all those tiny points of yellow, orange, green and blue light. This is the kind of thing I always wanted to do as a child but my father would not let me do, so by me attending this and allowing myself to fully enjoy it,  I got to reclaim yet another piece of my childhood and rewrite the story of my life.

Final thoughts — the wishes that I put on my wish lantern that day in  September—-several of them have already come true.  I can’t wait, we have a few lanterns left over, and my husband suggested we go back to Poco Cielo on New Years eve, have a lovely sunset dinner, and then light  a few more wish lanterns.                                    DSCN6330

Susanna’s Restaurant Rosarito Beach

Susanna's Courtyard

The courtyard outside Susanna’s Restaurant in Rosarito

Ernie and I won a $50 gift certificate to Susanna’s Restaurant in Rosarito at All the Pretty Horses chili cook off event’s silent auction,  so we decided to visit for for my birthday. We were warmly greeted by owner Susanne Stehr and her staff and told to sit wherever we liked. The outside patio looked inviting but late December weather dictated otherwise, so we opted for a table inside.

The courtyard was pretty but too cold in December for al fresco dining

The courtyard was pretty but too cold in December for al fresco dining

Susanna's Restaurant

Holiday décor inside Susanna’s Restaurant in Rosarito

The interior is dimly lit and the walls are covered with photos of Susanne Stehr and her restaurant’s guests. The sense I got was the photos were of friends and happy patrons. It was like looking at a family photo gallery. Susanna’s Restaurant has a great vibe the minute you walk inside. I felt like I was a guest in her home.

my Iphone doesn't do the colors justice

my Iphone doesn’t do the colors justice

The walls are painted a medium dark green and the ceilings are covered in dark wood timbers. A fountain provides a great background ambiance.

What stories can these bottles tell us?
What stories can these bottles tell us?

Long vertical metal ladders contained empty wine bottles (there must be stories behind them!) that created a sense of secluded space between the dining areas, and a Christmas tree twinkled merrily. There was a very cool ceramic Santa Claus on every table and smooth jazz standards mixed with 1950′s Christmas songs created a nice background ambiance. Think Frank Sinatra and Diana Krall sharing the airwaves with Louis Armstrong and Norah Jones.

Our waitress Guillermina was attentive and pleasant. She and I communicated in Spanish-English as she was kind enough to let me practice my limited Spanish. She had a big smile and you could tell she enjoyed her job. I felt like she was my friend and glad to have us there.

We started with Susanna’s garden salad, which was a mixture of field greens,  thick slices of button mushrooms, halved red grape tomatoes and shredded cheese. The dressing was light and allowed the flavors of the salad to come through. We had toasted bread with sides of either a tapenade or a scallion garlic cheese butter spread. I tried both and liked the butter spread more than the tapenade. To be fair I’m not a huge fan of olive tapenades so I’m sure for the right person it is delicious!

My beloved husband and best friend Ernie
My beloved husband and best friend Ernie

Ernie had the lamb with grapes, apple slices and strawberries. He said it was flavorful and cooked exactly right; that it was moist and tender.  I had the balsamic mustard chicken with roasted tomatoes and onions. Yum. It had a flavor reminiscent of teriyaki sauce but without the cloying sweetness,  and the roasted vegetables combined well with the chicken and rice. The chicken was moist and flavorful. We both enjoyed a house chardonnay with our meal.

Yum, yum, yum!
Yum, yum, yum!
Roasted apple slices, pretty unique

Roasted apple slices, pretty unique

Now the one thing you must know is Susanna’s Restaurant prices are in line with a Southern California restaurant. This is not cheap roadside food. This is gourmet,  sophisticated food served in a warm, inviting atmosphere. Ernie and I usually eat at the little roadside stands where you can get a couple tacos and a beer each for about $8 including tip. Eating at Susanna’s is an experience.  Susanna’s is a treat and would be great for special occasions and for people who want to have a great meal in a beautiful setting. This meal, with two salads, three glasses of chardonnay and two entrées cost about $70 including tip. Don’t go expecting roadside taco stand / birreria pricing. This is a classy restaurant with a comfortable ambiance and no snooty wait staff rushing you to finish your mean so they can turn the tables over.  I felt we could stay as long as we wanted as a welcome guest in her home..

The bill was delivered with Hershey's kisses in this box
The bill was delivered with Hershey’s kisses in this box
Susanna's menu

Definitely not a roadside birriria!


I commented to Guillermina about the fun ceramic Santa Claus and asked her if she could find out where Susanne bought it. Guillermina came back and said it was a gift to me. Is that cool or what? That goes back to what I wrote earlier, that Susanne Stehr really cares about her clients. Now whenever I look at this Santa Claus figurine I am going to think about the great birthday lunch I had at Susanna’s Restaurant in Rosarito.

Here's the fun Santa Susanne Stehr gave me
Here’s the fun Santa Susanne Stehr gave me

Susanna’s has been serving California cuisine for nine years. You can tell she and her staff take great pride in the restaurant and service and I will definitely go back again. It was great to find such a wonderful restaurant in the heart of Rosarito.

The official address of Susanna’s restaurant is

Pueblo Plaza

4356 Benito Juarez Blvd

Playas de Rosarito, Baja California

MX 661-613-1187 Stehr

Note: All photos were taken by and are the property and copyright of the author, Susanne Romo

Knitting and Learning Left Handed in a Right Handed World 2

This post was inspired by my attempts to learn a new cast-on stitch for knitting called the “Disappearing Loop Cast On” or “Emily Ocker’s Magic Casst On” for a project in the round that I am working on. There are a ton of videos out there, some better than others.  Two that are the best for me are by Miriam Felton using knitting needles, and by Liat Gat using crochet hooks.

So what’s the challenge? Well, I’m left-handed, and it is seemingly impossible to find video tutorials done by Lefties. So I’m stuck with first learning as a right handed person, getting the skill locked in my synaptic pathways…and then figuring out how to do the same thing as a left-handed person.

This has been a challenge my entire life.  When I was in grade school, I was given left-handed scissors…which had rounted edges, not nice sharp edges.  When I complained, the teacher said I had to use those as they were safer. Already a smart-ass in the 1st grade, I retorted “I’m left handed, not stupid.” Needless to say, that was the last time I used left-handed scissors.  For those of you who follow my my serious blog you understand my terror of not fitting in and being noticed. That was


Street Side Thai North Park

Thai food is one of my favorite meals.  The flavors are savory but not spicy-hot (normally) and the portions are not gargantuan. I normally like to go to Amarin Thai in Hillcrest, or Bangkok Spices Thai restaurant near my office in Terra Santa.

Street Side Thai North Park

Delicious menu at Street Side Thai North Park

I had the good fortune to go to Street Side Thai restaurant in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego last night. My normal MO in Thai restaurants is the Pad Thai Pork and Chicken Satay, and this Thai restaurant had all the normal Thai dishes on the menu. However, my friend said the Pumpkin-Salmon curry was amazing, and as part of my newer motto of trying different things, I decided to take the plunge.

I had my hesitations about this.  I love salmon, but I have always felt it to have a strong, distinct flavor, and I wasn’t sure how it would meld with pumpkin.  My thoughts were to have the pumpkin curry with chicken, but our waiter Alex chimed in with my friend and told me the only way to have the pumpkin curry at Street Side Thai was with salmon.

Pumpkin Salmon curry

The curry was delicious! I would never have thought to pair pumpkin and salmon

I thought, why not? Worst case scenario, I’ll just eat the rice and ladle the curry sauce over it.  Well, I was impressed.  The portion of salmon was generous — thick, moist chunks that crumbled under your fork.  The curry was sweet, filled with peas, green peppers, carrots and zucchini.  The flavors melded together and the salmon was not as strong as I normally taste.  It was softened by the pumpkin and melded together deliciously.

Our waiter Alex was a hoot.  Funny, playful, but always professional. My friend was cold as our table was too close to the door, and we moved two tables further inside.  Sometimes when you do that at a restaurant it’s like you’ve committed a cardinal sin, but Alex just joked about it.  He had a great attitude, a ready smile, and a good sense of humor. You could tell he really enjoyed his work, and we chatted to him about that. He said he loves working in the restaurant industry as he loves to serve.

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I don’t know if StreetSide Thai keeps the lights on all the time or this was just holiday decor

The restaurant was relatively quiet this Saturday before Christmas.  White icicle lights danced in the front window; I don’t know if they are always there or just for the holidays.  I hope always as they add a fun, festive touch.  The restaurant is orange and muted black, there is a good amount of space between the tables, and a few more secluded booths.  There is a TV at the bar but it was muted and I appreciate that.  I like TVs in sports bars, but not when I’m trying to have a conversation.thai two

Street Side Thai is on University, almost at the corner of Ray Street.  Wangs is nearby, as is Heaven Sent DessertsNorth Park used to be a more seedy part of San Diego, a place you drove through quickly on your way to Hillcrest. But it has become gentrified and you can now stroll safely through the streets at night.  The hipsters and fashionistas have discovered it, and it has been cleaned and gussied up, but it’s still got an edge that I hope does not disappear.

Mange Mange! Enjoy!