When you’re working more than full-time for an erratic cafe owner with a weak grasp of the English language, standing on a concrete floor for such long hours that your hips start to burn, getting yelled at for turning away customers at 11:55 p.m. because you and the other overworked girl were ready to close up for the night, then San Diego isn’t quite the vacation that it had seemed on previous visits. It becomes real life.
I’m sorry that I’ve been missing from this space. I’ve jotted down many blog post ideas over the past weeks–months, actually–that I’ve been living out here. I’ve eaten lots and lots of good food, both at home and at restaurants, gotten sunburnt and bought bags full of blood oranges and avocados at markets.
Within a week of unpacking my car here, I got a job at a neighborhood cafe that seemed like a dream come true, but quickly became more stressful than anticipated. I learned how to make a proper foamy cappuccino and a tuna salad full of spices and pomegranate molasses; how to wash lots and lots of dishes and how to make the most of a dwindling milk supply; and how not to behave as a business owner should I ever open that cafe-bakery that floats in and out of my dreams. Then, Tom and my family and friends congratulated me for giving two weeks notice. Once I’m done, serious job-searching will commence, but for awhile, I’m looking forward to San Diego feeling both like home, and a vacation.
Tom and I have had lazy days and jam-packed ones. We’re working on getting used to being together all the time now–and learning when we need a break from each other (and the dog)–rather than just a few weeks of the year. Together, we picked out bedroom furniture and a kitchen table. The old futon mattress still leans up on the wall in the leaving room, our makeshift couch-slash-oversized dog bed; an IKEA day is approaching.
And though we may have little artwork on the wall and our lettuce plants aren’t doing as well as we’d hoped, if all else fails, we’ve eaten well. Lots of vegetable-heavy meals, picnics with sunset views and plenty of baked goods. Familiar banana bread and homemade snickerdoodles the first few weeks helped me settle in, as I was struggling to sleep and enjoy the new place. (No thanks to Rachel barking at the new sounds of the city and my own 19 days of work, straight.) Salads made with fennel and avocado, or broccoli and pepitas, soba noodles and tofu, or just greens with local fruit and goat cheese, have at least kept our bodies happy. A whole wheat sandwich bread has also been a mainstay, and it makes our sparse apartment smell like home. (Ali also shared the recipe last week, along with some fabulous photos and other tips for a perfect sandwich.)
And, Tom and I have squeezed, shaken and sipped on plenty of blood orange margaritas. (After living in Virginia, where avocados and lemons could only be found at the grocery, here, they’re abundant at the farmers’ vendors’ tables: those sought-after Meyer lemons, juicy blood oranges, creamy Haas avocados, tart kumquats, and more. My parents even carried a $5 bag of blood oranges back home on the plane in April. Their season is about over, I believe, but, they’ll be back, and so will these cocktails.) With just a few ingredients, these simple margaritas, from Smitten Kitchen, helped us survive the first few months together.
Cheers for sunnier, summer, relaxing days ahead.
Blood Orange Margaritas
From Smitten Kitchen
1/2 cup blood orange juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
3 tablespoons triple sec (the budget friendly choice) or cointreau, or more to taste
7 tablespoons white or “silver” tequila
Lime or blood orange slices for garnish
Mix all ingredients together. You can shake over ice or stir in a pitcher. Salt the rim of your glass if you’d like, or not, serve over ice or not, top with soda water or not. They’re hard to mess up. Enjoy.