Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Farewell, Teej: Cucina Urbana and Balboa Park

Whoa... still busy here. Between the applications, the day job, my new gig writing for San Diego CityBeat, and a bunch of other activities, I barely have time to stay caught up on my day job (the thing that pays the bills) and the applications (the thing that I hope will eventually pay the bills). Regardless, I wanted to share a fun afternoon with one of my favorite people at one of my favorite eateries.

I call Cucina Urbana "the friend spot." It's my go-to place when I'm getting together with friends. Whether it's friends visiting from out-of-town, girls' night out, or in this case, saying farewell to a friend, Cucina Urbana's ambiance and food fit the bill perfectly. The decor is gorgeous and the interior bustling so it's easy to talk and laugh (read: be really loud) with friends without worrying about bothering others.

My friend Teej is leaving to spend a year in South Africa and we got together to send him off. Years ago, we were the dynamic duo of resident advisors who welcomed residents to Europe Hall at UCSD's Roosevelt College. From living down the hall to living down the street from each other (in both University City and North Park), he's always been close and I realized too late that I took that for granted. He was a stone's throw away and we didn't see each other much during that time.

He left for grad school and now he's heading to South Africa to do research. Naturally, when he said he was coming down to hang out, I knew where we would do lunch. We started with drinks, me with wine and Teej with a tequila mule with jalapeño-infused tequila, muddled lime, and ginger beer. Monocle optional.

We had their polenta with the day's ragu, which was absolutely amazing. The polenta is creamy with mascarpone and the ragu was rich and hearty. We might have fought over the last spoonful, then over who could lick the board clean.

Since we were meeting for lunch and neither of us wanted to pass out from a food coma, we split a white corn and herbed goat cheese pizza topped with maché, followed by the best. dessert. ever.

(Society might frown upon this, but I'm going to marry this dessert --Teej)

The bittersweet chocolate budino is one of the best desserts I have ever had. Teej aptly referred to it as fancy chocolate pudding. The budino is thick and velvety, heavy and rich. I don't think I have ever finished one on my own. Topped with chocolate chantilly cream and the light fluffiness of the cream is a contrast in texture. There's a crisp salted chocolate cookie that is actually salty, but it's so perfect with the bitter chocolate.

At some point, Teej had to be separated from the dish.

Afterward, we ambled over to Balboa Park and just wandered. Teej has always been one of my favorite people to talk with and one of my favorite things about him is that we can talk for hours about anything, everything, and nothing. Sure, we cover life and the darker parts of it, we discuss the crazy things going on in the world, and we might end up quoting Best in Show to each other.

Hey, we both happen to like soup. And snowpeas. And talking and not talking...

We passed the museums and the History Store, then wandered on to the Spanish Art Village. I love the village with its bright splashes of color and wings of art studios.

We eventually meandered back into the park and stopped at the History Store, where someone humorously arranged loose letters into... shit. No, really, I'm not being figurative at all.

He's in South Africa now, apparently deciphering documents written (as evidenced by the sample he recently sent) by extremely pompous people. Pompous, at least, by today's standards. Maybe it was just mildly irritating back then.

I miss ya, Teej. When you get back, that bittersweet chocolate budino awaits.

Cucina Urbana
505 Laurel Street
San Diego, CA 92101

6 bites:

Teej T said...

Gah! I miss you! I miss this!  I MISS THAT DAMNED PUDDING.

And for the record, that guy's letter is pompous by any century's standards.

Kirbie said...

Congrats on your Citybeat gig! I didn't know until now. You are one busy girl!

Jenny said...

What a beautiful post Marie.  Friendship and Food!  So what life is about.  xo

Mary said...

1. Excellent post & photos, as always. 2. Congrats on your Citybeat gig! 3. I still haven't been to Cucina Urbana. I feel like I say things like this a lot. 4. There is no 4.

Snehal said...

That's a great post, Marie. I want to try this place now!

Lauren@LittleYellowKitchen said...

I've been dyinggg to go Cucina Urbana. For like...a year. I don't get out enough, I've got to get there!

6 bites