I clicked on Rebecca's (this) blog yesterday and smiled when I read her post on neighborhood love, because the day before I had written, by sheer coincidence, a similar post. This probably has to do with the fact that Rebecca and I vibrate on similar wavelengths, but whatever the reason, it’s fun to accidentally continue the conversation about favorite local haunts. Here’s mine!
I am a huge fan of Encinitas, a town I have lived near my whole life, and where I raised all three of my children. It is one of the best beach towns in San Diego and like a good wine, has gotten better with age.
Even though my house lies a few miles from the town center, in recent years I have spent increasing amounts of my free time there. It is my dream to someday live within walking distance of the village, but in the meantime, I feel lucky to live close by and will continue to take advantage of all that Encinitas has to offer. I go to yoga there, walk on the beach, meditate in the Self Realization Fellowship gardens, eat, frequent the breathtaking library with ocean view (and fabulous coffee cart), and shop (I am a big supporter of the Buy Local movement and try to, whenever possible, shop within a few miles of home.).
SRF, lit up for the holidays
There is something for every budget in Encinitas…several fabulous resale stores, gift shops of all kinds, plus my favorite clothes store, Icons, next to the new Whole Foods. Soon we will have a farmer’s market on Wednesday nights, too. Wonderful cafés abound. One of my favorites is across from my yoga studio, a small Viennese bakery and café with delicious sandwiches and soups (not to mention their to die for pastries). Larry and I often go there for lunch after our weekend walks on the beach. Classical music caresses the air and the food is like home. Their French lentil soup is scrumptious and it inspired me to create my own version at home, so here it is. Make sure you buy the small French green lentils…it makes all the difference (they have them at Whole Foods).
French Lentil Soup
A few tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, white and tender green part only, sliced thinly
2 cloves smashed garlic, chopped
1 large shallot chopped (optional)
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped parsnips
2 cups green, French lentils, washed
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh thyme
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste (optional)
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste
8 cups vegetable broth (or 4 cups broth and 4 cups water)
1 box Pomi or 1 can Muir Glen chopped tomatoes
¼ cup red wine (or to taste)
3 T fresh tarragon, chopped
In a large soup pot, cook vegetables in oil until tender. Rinse lentils and add to veggies with thyme sprigs, bay leaf, broth, water, pepper, salt, cumin and tomatoes.
Bring to boil and turn down to a simmer. Cook until lentils are tender, about 30-45 minutes.Add more broth if too thick. Add wine and tarragon at the end and cook a few more minutes. Serve in bowl, with salad and crusty bread for a complete meal.
For those of you planning on visiting San Diego, you can take the Coaster (train) to Encinitas and walk everywhere from the station. You can also camp next to the beach at San Elijo Campgrounds and walk to the village from there. Here are some of my favorite spots in the village.
Darshan Bakery and Café: A little hole-in-the-wall where everything is made from scratch and is delicious.
Self Realization Gardens: Breathtaking gardens on the cliff overlooking the ocean. Free admission. (Self Realization gift store across the street has fabulous gifts, too.)
Swami’s Beach: at low tide there are tide pools to explore but the beach is spectacular year round.
Swami’s Café: Delicious and casual, “very Southern California” breakfasts and lunches. Try the Acai Bowl for a special treat. I also like the squash mole enchiladas. Outdoor seating, only.
The Lumberyard: great stores and eateries. Try the gelato at Bubby’s and the best chocolate in the west at Chuao Chocolatier. Make your own necklaces at Beads and More. The Third Corner Wine Shop and Bistro has an amazing and reasonable happy hour menu. I love their local mussels.
The Black Sheep: If you like to knit, this is a dream store.
Anahata Yoga: there’s lots of yoga happening in Encinitas, but this is my studio. The teachers are fabulous and I love the atmosphere. Compassionate and healing.
Consignment shops: There are too many to talk about, but my favorites are Sheri’s Designer Resale, Home and Double Take. For Kids there’s The Outgrown Shop.
Honey’s: my favorite breakfast spot. Green omelet and the Acai bowl are my favorites.
Icons Clothing Store: This is my FAVORITE clothing store. They have incredible sales and the clothes are unique and fun.
Queen Eileens: Fun gift store with unique gifts for everyone. Really good prices and lots of beautiful jewelry from Bali. (Bracelets are all $5 and necklaces $10).
Q’ero Restaurant: My favorite splurge restaurant. Fabulous Peruvian food with wonderful atmosphere. I love their Sangria. You need a reservation as it is very small.
Encinitas Library: Gorgeous architecture, breathtaking view, free music, and of course plenty of books. (Great used bookstore adjacent, too.)
A little further north (in Leucadia) you will find:
Lou’s Records: A real Encinitas institution. Used and new CD’s and LP’s.
The Pannikin: Fabulous coffee roasting house in the historic 1888 Encinitas Santa Fe Railroad station building. Great food, too, especially the pastries (their orange rolls are to die for!)
Daisy B: Unbelievably beautiful children’s clothes. High end but her sales are amazing.
(I could go on but I'll stop.)