Category: Food

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Candy Crush

If you believe the Wall Street Journal (and some other news outlets), “No One’s Making Sweethearts This Year, Crushing Lovers of Valentine’s Day Candy“. NECCO (New England Confectionery Company), the manufacturer behind the confection, closed its doors in 2018. Sweethearts’ new brand owner, Spangler Candy Company, hopes to have production lines ramped up for Valentine’s Day 2020, but existing supplies are limited for this year. Hehe, good thing this stuff has long shelf life.

Given the Sweethearts shortages, I was surprised to see a bowl of the candies strategically placed between the cosmetic and jewelry sections inside Macy’s Fashion Valley. Shouldn’t there be a security guard to protect these precious commodities from smash-and-grab robbers rushing the bowl? I imagine a sitcom plot where an attempted jewelry case robbery is merely a distraction for stealing Sweethearts instead. 

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Fido Confections

Among the stereotypes that cling to Californians: Their love of—no obsession with—dogs. Take a peek into this window of a local dog bakery. I could understand meat pie. But cake? Welcome to SoCal, where residents primp tail-waggers and fawn incessantly over them. I am aghast how the fussy folk here let their beasts pee and poop everywhere. Sure, most dog walkers carry baggies to clean up the hard deposits. But the liquid soils sidewalks and anything along them; considering how rarely rain falls, this crap clinging to shoes and dust that becomes airborne can’t be healthy. So why in a state where residents also are lifestyle-profiled as being health-obsessed is there such contradiction?

In County cities Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, San Diego, Santee, and Solana Beach, there are about 162,000 licensed dogs, according to official statistics. Human population for the same locales is about 2.15 million, says the Department of Animal Services. FYI: San Diego Humane Society assumed responsibility for providing county animal services to these communities during second quarter of this year. If you’re local, and interested in domestic or wild beasties, SDH’s annual report is informative reading. 

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The Book of Our Times

It’s catch-up time for things I meant to post but put aside, temporarily. Family drama! Perhaps you will read about it in the future, but likely not. Now to the main course: On Oct. 21, 2018—the day after reading that San Diegans spend more on alcoholic beverages than residents of any other city in the United States—I spotted something surprising on a table outside LeStat’s on Park. Did someone forget the book? Was it purposefully left behind—seemingly appropriate commentary about America’s “booziest city”?

For sure, breweries are commonplace, and most eateries serve alcoholic beverages, which also are sold everywhere—not predominantly in liquor stores but from pharmacies, supermarkets, warehouse stores (e.g. Costco), and more. 

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La Croix Sticker Shock Gives Me Nose Bleeds

What a difference branding makes for sale-pricing. Before La Croix became a posh, bubbly brand for environmentally-minded, organic-obsessed, uncompromising-to-spend-less Whole Foods sundry shoppers, my wife and I regularly purchased the seltzer. We preferred the no-flavor water for its effervescence and low-sodium content. I remember when, going back just five years, the local Ralph’s sold cases of 24 12-oz cans for $4.99 during summer months.

But now that La Croix is the Apple of bubbly waters, those cans cost lots more. Today, in the same Ralph’s the exact quantity deeply discounted is twice as much—and that’s helluva savings when one case of eight typically sells for what I used to pay for 24. 

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How Sweet, Sour Fruit

Fruit trees are among the signature characteristics of San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. You see them—particularly the citrus varieties—on the front lawns of many homes. Too often, ripening trees appear to be neglected, bearing plentiful, but rotting, delights. That said, some people gladly share, by setting out their bounty for the taking—like this line of lemons that I saw late yesterday afternoon along Maryland Ave.

Because I recklessly left Leica Q at home, the Featured Image and its companion were captured using iPhone 7 Plus. Vitals for the first: f/1.8, ISO 25, 1/60 sec, 3.99mm; 5:31 p.m. PDT. The other is same, except for 1/40 sec shutter speed and 5:32 p.m. timestamp.

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Amazon Across America

My first reaction to Amazon buying Whole Foods is “Huh?” Few brands could be any more different. The online retailer is all about giving customers the most for the least amount spent, while the grocer is the pricey purview of the alt-organic lifestyle elite. No moment is better metaphor for Whole Foods’ clientele than the exchange I heard between a thirtysomething couple standing at the deli holding chicken luncheon meat. “Is it free range?” the women asked her husband. It had to be, or she wouldn’t buy. They argued. I silently chuckled: luncheon meat—not a bird! It’s all pressed meat, Honey. You do know that?

But from another perspective, and one transcending retail store presence, are other considerations, like brand affinity and buyer demographics. For the first, Amazon may be all about value, but in an increasingly middle-class and well-to-do demographic kind of way, particularly among city dwellers. Despite sharing similar cut-throat margin, expansive business philosophies with Walmart, Amazon doesn’t carry the same stigma among the socially conscious “better-thans”. For the second, who do you think plunks down 99 bucks a year for Prime membership or can’t wait for two-day free delivery or is too busy to go to the store to buy groceries? Without hard numbers to back the supposition, I’d bet there is lots of existing and potential regular shopper overlap among these customers and those who walk Whole Foods’ aisles. 

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This is Me Then and Now V

My past personal photo comparisons focused on a decade’s separation. Two years can make a difference, too, in terms of weight, health, and appearance. Both pics are self-portraits—the left from Jan. 11, 2015 and the other Jan. 7, 2017, shot using iPhone 6 and iPhone 7 Plus, respectively. In the older photo, I weighed 63.4 kilos (139.8 pounds). The newer: 15 kilos (10 pounds) less, or about the same as 40 years ago, during my senior year of high school.

Occasionally, someone locally who hasn’t seen me for awhile will with concern ask if I’m ill, for being so skinny. Not at all. I tightened up my diet, cutting carb consumption by 80 percent-plus—and sugar by even more, when aware of its presence. The sweetener is in everything, and it is not so easy to expunge from the diet. Before changing my eating habits, and weight-loss was a byproduct not the purpose, I tipped the scale to 82.6 kilos (182 pounds). 

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On This Day

Nine years ago today, my family relocated from the Washington, D.C. suburb of Kensington, Md to San Diego, Calif. Whoa! There is no record in my website archive. Looks like I did little posting in late 2007, which isn’t surprising with the move and trying to continue working. At the time, I operated the Apple Watch and Microsoft Watch blogs. Unbelievably, Ziff Davis enterprise closed down both after laying me off in April 2009. That’s why I warned two years ago: “Writers, Own Your Content!

I don’t feel like the same human being, after predominately cutting carbs from my diet starting three years ago. Wearing pajamas, I weighed about 91 kilograms (200 pounds) on Oct. 15, 2007; 57 kg (125 lbs) today. My physical build is more like age 20—as is my remarkable energy. Granted, I look every bit of my 57 years and don’t pretend to be otherwise or cling to some misbegotten attempt at reclaiming youth. I’m merely a happy, healthier middle-ager. 

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A Taste of Maine in San Diego

My wife and I walk around Liberty Station, in San Diego’s Point Loma neighborhood during some weekends, because the open pavilion with dirt paths around grassy center reminds us of the National Mall, Washington, D.C. The arts, entertainment, and shopping facility feels oddly constructed, for it is. The destination was once the Naval Training Center San Diego, and the architecture and vastness between buildings is homage to the heritage.

The military base closed with many others, as part of vast downsizing two decades ago, during Bill Clinton’s presidency (I wonder if his wife won’t wield the closure hatchet yet again, should she be elected later this year). The complex shuttered in 1997, and like many others underwent redevelopment. Something similar happened to Loring Air Force Base, located about 16 km (10 miles) from my hometown in Northern Maine. Loring’s redevelopment was nowhere nearly as successful as the San Diego training center. Location. Location. Location.