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Stories by Barbarella Fokos

It’s like being in France

When I think of France, I think of food: real food, fresh food, quality food. Freshly baked baguettes, perfectly ripened cheeses, savory charcuterie, and of course the Mother sauces: béchamel, espagnole, hollandaise, and allemande. Even ...

What the heck is “linner”?

“Linner” (a relaxed, late-afternoon feast that covers both lunch and dinner) is one of my favorite meals. Since David and I both work from home, our days have little structure. Sometimes we’ll wake early and ...

Maine lobster in North Park

My Boston-bred man loves a good New England style lobster roll. So much so that during our biannual visit to Martha’s Vineyard for the past few years we’ve combed the island to find what David ...

Four sisters + four husbands

Because I have two sisters who live in North County (one in Poway, the other in San Marcos), David and I occasionally trek north for dinner. The Barrel Room in Rancho Bernardo has proven itself ...

Color me ecstatic

All my new materials may have been “professional quality” and “intended for adults,” but when the tip of the pencil touched the page, it was childlike joy that coursed through my veins.

November 18, 2015
Try a different kind of breakfast

In the United States, the word “breakfast” conjures images of pancakes, bacon, and eggs. Because we’re right on the border, San Diegans might also think chilaquiles or huevos rancheros, which are just variations of an ...

I should be happy

I couldn’t get the idea of death out of my mind. It occurred to me that the only way to control the most unsettling aspect of the inevitability of death was to plan the when and where.

November 4, 2015
Stehly Farms Market opens in Kensington

Stehly Farms Market opened its doors to the public on Friday. Kensington-area residents have been eagerly awaiting this day, as it took nearly a year longer than expected for interior construction to be completed in ...

The first 100 to Rakitori get free ramen

David and I have been meaning to stop by the new Rakitori Japanese Pub & Grill on University Avenue since we first saw the sign go up nearly three months ago. When we made it ...

Trolley Dances brings site-specific dance from Waterfront to Balboa

After many years of ogling cool images of dancers performing in unexpected locations, and even spreading the word both in this magazine and on the radio, I finally got the chance to experience the San ...

Detecting hypocrisy in Madonna-bashers

“I think Madonna’s trying too hard to appear young,” said the oldest among us. “Why can’t she just age gracefully? It’s embarrassing, really.”

October 21, 2015
Traveling all the way to PB for sushi

My friend Leslee knows that David and I love Japanese food, so she was shocked to learn that we hadn’t heard of Mister Sushi in Pacific Beach. I explained to her that I just never ...

Green eggs, no ham

Every once in a while, when I have time to kill and crave a change from my standard breakfast of yogurt with almonds, bananas, and blueberries, I seek out a bagel and eggs. Now that ...

Let’s try Soda & Swine sober

I’d tasted the fare at Soda & Swine several times before, but I’d never actually been in the space. I was always next door, enjoying a libation at Polite Provisions while David, ever the giver, ...

Meat hooks, chandeliers, and prosciutto bruschetta

“It makes no sense,” David said as he scowled at the room. “There’s just no point to having those books haphazardly placed around on shelves. And those meat hooks randomly on that one chandelier when ...

The grill is very hot! The pots are very hot! Fully cook your food!

I like a menu that comes with warnings. The menu at Gyu-Kaku has six of them. The grill is very hot! The pots are very hot! Fully cook your food! Use those tongs to prevent ...

Royal pain in the wedding

“Every single conflict can be boiled down into one underlying problem, and that’s one person in the family not being happy with another person’s choices.”

October 7, 2015
Is it worth the wait at Panama 66?

Two women who work from home walk into a bar, find a huge crowd, and suddenly realize it’s Friday. “I usually avoid going out on Friday nights,” I say, as we take in the long ...

The "joy" thing

“The less you have, the easier it is to get dressed and ready. You only keep things you actually like, or as KonMari says, things that bring you joy.”

September 23, 2015
The hardship of finding good help

“You want every person who works for you in any capacity to be able to make the same kind of intuitive decisions you would make, and you’re absolutely unrelenting when they don’t.”

September 9, 2015
When your Airbnb guest won't leave

It's a steamy afternoon in August, and Kristen Lang sits, frazzled and deflated, on the patio at Ponce's, hoping to cool her exasperation with a margarita. When her husband moved out two years ago, leaving ...

September 9, 2015
George’s at the Cove offers a one-two punch

It often seems you can either have great food or an amazing view but not both, especially in a tourist town. But with all the lovely ocean vistas available to us in the San Diego ...

In love with the child-free life

Even the receptionist at work, who was probably around 40 at the time, took to singing at me each time I passed her desk, “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.”

August 26, 2015
Brunch at Café 21

It was a happy coincidence that within a week of enjoying a dinnertime meal at the Georgian restaurant Pomegranate I happened by the similarly exotic menu at Café 21, just to learn that the owners ...

Freak flag

“I think there’s this fear about it,” David said. “I mean, when I decided to shave my head — that took years of building up courage. Which is ridiculous, because it would have grown back in a matter of weeks.”

August 12, 2015
Better than expected at Adam’s Steak ’N Eggs

I was only going for a friend. It was her birthday, and this is where she wanted to brunch. So I was fine with it, even if the place was adjacent to the notoriously kitchy ...

Eff your diet, life is short

These days, there are few things more counterculture than a blatant disregard for “healthy” food. If hipsters were still a thing (which they’re not, but if), then Streetcar Merchants would be their headquarters. While everyone ...

A Georgian-cuisine gem called Pomegranate

Tucked into a row of nondescript storefronts along the industrial main drag of El Cajon Boulevard is a Georgian-cuisine gem called Pomegranate, but you wouldn’t know that from standing outside. The sign outside simply reads, ...

Is that a skunk in your pocket?

“Holding a baby skunk is on my bucket list,” I said. Bob shot David an Is she for real? look, and David assured him of my sincerity.

Agewise

I learned that Frank was the first reporter at the scene of that horrific PSA plane crash in 1978, the one I grew up hearing about. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting. How had I not known that?

July 15, 2015
The Diva’s rye humor

In my 20s, whiskey sounded like an old-person’s drink — a sophisticated liquid imbibed mostly by men in suits who took it in the form of a two-finger pour in a short and wide glass ...

July 15, 2015
Iron Chef Vietnam comes to San Diego

I’ve tasted my way around gỏi cuốn (salad rolls), phở (rice noodle soup), and lemongrass chicken; I’ve sampled “classic dishes” such as ca kho to (fish in a clay pot), and several versions of bánh ...

Mr. Monster Truck

“It’s just — who does that? What kind of person smashes up someone’s parked car and then leaves without making any attempt to find out who owns it?”

July 1, 2015
Love and falconry

Gary held out his arm and called, “Habibi!” Gasps traveled like a stadium wave as the falcon, rings affixed to its ankle, swooped low down the aisle and then landed on Gary’s glove.

June 17, 2015
San Diego Reader 2015 Fun issue

Urban Adventures Beach Town Suburban Ocean & Bay Backcountry Mexico

June 10, 2015
The Mole Grail

Each time I am seated right away upon arriving at Ortega’s (which is every time), I’m amazed I didn’t have to make my way through a crush of people waiting to get in. I can ...

Natural flavors

“Did you know that some vanilla flavoring is made from beaver anal secretions?” The word “secretion” is inherently gross to me. Add in excrement, and you have a recipe for scrunch-face.

June 3, 2015
Do Not Allow

“I find it funny that all the solutions popping up to address tech stress are technological ones...here are more apps to help you combat the effect of dealing with too many apps.”

May 20, 2015
Firecrackers and fresh masa

Cantina Mayahuel For taco lovers, Cantina Mayahuel is happy-hour heaven — six whole hours every day devoted to taco-and-tequila deals. I recommend taking advantage of the tequila discounts but skipping the street tacos (three little ...

May 13, 2015
Garden party potentate

“How do you plan to police this? Is this all honor system?” Bill nodded. “Those are my two favorite words,” I said. Bill smirked at me. “Because to you, ‘honor system’ means the same as ‘sucker system’?”

May 6, 2015
Resurrected

“Obviously, as kids we didn’t know the story, and if you don’t know the story, you don’t know how extraordinary, how incredible, how...horrible it is.”

April 22, 2015
With prices like these, you need not decide. Get one of everything.

Village Vino Forget about a couple o’ bucks off drinks, this quaint café and retail wine shop goes all out for happy hour. From 4 to 6pm Tuesday through Saturday and 3 to 8pm on ...

April 15, 2015
Dumpling Inn is bigger and better

Dumpling Inn has long been one of my top recommendations for Chinese food, but I have always urged people to get their food to go. “It’s impossible to get a seat unless you don’t mind ...

April 10, 2015
Brunch at Searsucker in the Gaslamp

When someone invites me to dine downtown, my initial reaction is usually one of dread. I can’t consider meeting up with friends or attending an event in the Gaslamp without first suffering through images of ...

It's not about the rug

I was brushing my teeth and weeping. “Great, now you’re crying,” David said sharply. And that was when it happened. The lava-like angst that had been roiling within me all day finally erupted.

April 8, 2015
Revolving Sushi Bar opens on Convoy

The first thing you’ll need to do after finding a seat at KULA Revolving Sushi Bar is to listen carefully to the instructions you’ll be given. For example, “Do not touch Mr. Fresh.” This anthropomorphized ...

Whatever, Gladys

“You like to know everything that’s going on,” he said. I was about to balk when he added, “You’re always trying to find patterns in everything, and that gives you a sense of comfort.”

March 25, 2015
The nice side of naughty

I lost count of how many friends, aware of my proclivity for kink, told me I just had to go to S&M Sausage & Meat. I don’t think being a dominatrix gives anyone authority to ...

Anything but ramen

Aside from the brilliant and fleeting cherry blossom season, the one thing that makes a Japanophile’s heart warble is an awesome izakaya (the Japanese gastropub). Izakaya Masa in Mission Hills is our favorite izakaya in ...

Mid-City mash-up

Our friend Mike recently brought David and me to Romeo and Julieta Wine Cafe, a little restaurant tucked away in Talmadge that I assumed, from its name, specialized in Italian food. The cozy interior has ...

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