114 North El Camino Real, Encinitas
Christmas pie at Elizabethan Desserts
Who wants a holiday season without towering slices of pie? Apple pie. Pumpkin pie. The elusive mincemeat pie. Pie is like Country Mac from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the more awesome cousin of all baked goods who comes to town and makes everybody jealous with bad-ass flaky crusts and gooey fillings, or something like that. Elizabethan Desserts, along with its much-anticipated spinoff, Betty’s Pie Whole Saloon, makes it worth a trip to North County for the sake of holiday pie. Reportedly, the Pie Whole Saloon will even carry the rarer forms of pie, such as pork and mincemeat.
2804 Adams Avenue, University Heights
Fruitcake at Twigg’s Bakery
If pie is the awesome bad-ass cousin of the bakery family, fruitcake and yule logs are the beloved grandma who knits everyone custom Christmas stockings and unironically insists on family portraits with matching ugly sweaters. Twigg’s on Adams provides these classic holiday pastries, which are great alternatives for those who quail at the thought of slicing into a steamed Christmas pudding. The bakery’s stollen — a classic German fruitcake — is particularly tremendous sliced, warmed, and spread with soft butter. Wash it down with a little mulled wine to spread a little extra cheer around.
3871 Fourth Avenue, Hillcrest
New Year’s Eve takeout from Hong Kong Restaurant
Nobody really knows how or why the tradition of Chinese food for New Year’s Eve started. Some people think it had to do with Chinese restaurants being the only things open on December 31st, because old-school Chinese restaurateurs would celebrate Lunar New Year a month later and not care overmuch about December 31st. Hong Kong is perfect to keep the tradition alive because it’s primarily a takeout spot, and a good one at that. One thing’s for sure about this peculiar New Year’s tradition: it has to be takeout, eaten at home with family and friends.
7080 Miramar Road, Miramar
Holiday bubbly from San Diego Wine Co.
Can’t ring in the New Year without popping the cork on a bottle (or two, or three) of bubbly! Sparkling wine’s chief problem is the good stuff’s expensive, the bad stuff offensive. Heed this: Lucien Albrecht Non-vintage Brut Sparkling Rose is around $15/bottle and exceptional at that price. Lots of people find it equals a $40 bottle of Veuve-Cliquot. Wine Co. may be the least charming retail outlet around, but it sells this gem at a fair price. It’s easy to pay 30 percent more at a trendier wine shop. If driving to scenic Miramar seems like a pain, order online.
1964 54th Street, Oak Park
Bonnie Jean’s Soul Food
Southerners are enthusiastic, albeit unhealthy, about their eating. So a bevy of superstitions have sprung up over the years to justify New Year soul-food consumption. Eating collards around New Year’s Day is supposed to bring wealth in the new year, because they look like money. Eating cornbread is also supposed to bring wealth, because it looks like golden money. Eating black-eyed peas and hoppin’ john is supposed to bring wealth and prosperity because…well, you get the picture. As if we need an excuse to gorge ourselves on fried chicken and bacon-flavored vegetables.
3485 Del Mar Heights Road, Del Mar
“Special” hot chocolate from Chuao Chocolatier
Boxes of fancy chocolates make great gifts, and Chuao goes whole-hog for holidays. Chocopods, gift sets, those addictive little chocolate honeycombs that have the wild crystalline structure so that they melt in such a pleasing fashion — all good. But the thing that most evokes holiday cheer is “special” hot chocolate. Get some of Chuao’s fancy-pants drinking chocolate and lace a tall mug of the stuff with one ounce each of Bailey’s Irish Cream and peppermint schnapps, plus at least half an ounce of brandy, more if you feel spunky.