ComicCon Food Truck Food Court — A Quick Look

One of the new things this year at the ComicCon in San Diego is a food court made up of local gourmet food trucks. There are seven trucks all in a circle at the corner of First and Island avenues, just across from the Convention Center and the First Avenue trolley station.

I’ve been able to sample two of the trucks: the Two For the Road, “Classic American Comfort Food With a Twist”; and Pierogi-Truck, with Polish and eastern European cuisine.

Two For the Road offers burgers, mac and cheese and my selection, a good New York style corned beef sandwich, with coleslaw and mustard on grilled rye. The corned beef was good with a bit of fat but sliced a bit thicker than I’d like, but still piled reasonably high. A good sandwich. Co-owner Lisa Orchow said there are about 25 gourmet food trucks in San Diego County.

Pierogi-Truck has Polish and eastern European cuisine, with a great aroma wafting across the street into the open windows of my condo. I had to try the homemade meat pierogi, with homemade sausage inside a light dough. It’s a stuffed dumpling Polish style and is served with bacon bits and a light cole slaw. Good stuff.

Both dishes were about $8, a bit high but apparently the food-truck-court organizers charged quite a bit for the spots. Crowds were moderate; I hope the truck operators and promoters hang with it and do this again next year.

Out of Town: Hearst’s Hacienda is Perfect Base for Central Coast Adventure

Hacienda Guest Lodge

Here’s the most popular destination on my website, Hearst’s Hacienda, the Hacienda Guest Lodge on Ft. Hunter Liggett near King City, along California’s Central Coast.

Built in 1929 by William Randolph Hearst, of Hearst’s Castle fame, it was a guest house and ranch headquarters for what was the northern half of the newspaper magnate’s ranch. Hearst sold the property to the U.S. Government in 1940 and it eventually became Ft. Hunter Liggett, an Army training center.

The “ranch house” reportedly cost $200,000 to build and looks more like a rambling mission (Mission San Antonio de Padua is nearby) than the Pondreosa. Today, it’s open to the public for overnight stays. It’s rather basic, but the prices are great as well. From there, roads twist around the mountains and over the peaks to Big Sur and the spectacular California coast.

It’s a real throwback in terms of the location and amenities. Enjoy Hearst’s Hacienda»

Trip For This Weekend: Summer Strand Is a Great Beach Drive

A secret beach in Coronado? With parking? Away from the tourists? It doesn't exist, except in this photo.

Here’s one of my all-time favorites… in fact a friend and I just cruised down the Strand from Coronado to Imperial Beach on Friday night. Want to take a beach drive in Southern California with no traffic? Well, this is the place for you.

The Silver Strand is about eight miles of sand that separate San Diego Bay from the Pacific Ocean. The highway runs right down the middle, with spots where the bay laps one side of the road and the ocean waves pound the other. There are city views, with the bridge and downtown San Diego, plus the South Bay cities of Chula Vista and National City.

Stop off for a bite to eat on the end of the Imperial Beach Pier and loop around the Tijuana River Estuary parks. Something not to be missed. Enjoy Summer on the Strand.

Hyundai Genesis Coupe a Blast

I really had mixed feelings about the Hyundai Genesis Coupe.

Car ReviewHere’s a beautifully and very distinctively styled car, equipped with an eager 3.8 liter V-6 engine that puts out a V-8-like growl, six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters pushing power to the rear wheels, big brakes and sticky tires that keep the car on the road. Inside is a beautiful leather interior, comfortable seats and all kinds of creature comforts expected in higher-priced cars but included here.

My problems were most likely because I’m 6-1. The tested version of this low-slung coupe had a sunroof and was the Track edition. I like sunroofs, but they generally lower the ceiling by an inch or more. The Track trim level, available only with the 3.8 liter engine, has a suspension tuned for cornering and handling with stiffer springs and shocks plus extra goodies. Brakes are by Brembo and feature rotors almost an inch in diameter bigger than stock, as well as larger calipers.

Hyundai GenesisThe tight suspension meant every bump was felt. Around town, the cracks and potholes weren’t that big a deal, as I generally had time to react and I know where most of the crummy spots are on roads I regularly travel.

But the freeway was another story. Most of our freeways around San Diego are in pretty good shape. It was the dips on and off of bridges that nailed me every time. Dip, bridge, clunk… I hit the roof. I lowered the power drivers’ seat all the way, leaned reclined the backrest a bit more (not quite to the Italian Driving Position), but no good. It did make me a more alert driver to make sure I ducked before going on or off a bridge or change in the pavement.

This car’s been out for a couple of years and, in checking other reviews, I saw discussions of the small back-seat accommodations, but nothing on my front seat headroom issue. So maybe I’m the weird one.

So would I buy a Genesis Coupe? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean I can’t recommend it. The Track edition was really a treat to drive. All that stiff suspension and the 3.6 liter V-6 makes for a lot of fun on twisty, curving roads. I drove this car over Santiago and Trabuco canyon roads in Orange County for my Weekend Driver column, and it was a blast. The car sticks to the road, pick up your foot and you’ll get engine braking in the manual mode and the quick, responsive steering lets the driver keep the car pointed in the right direction.

Hyundai does have other versions of the Genesis Coupe. The Grand Touring edition has a softer suspension but reportedly still offers great handling that will probably get you through canyon roads just fine. There’s also the tuner-ready R-Spec, which also comes with the base four-cylinder 2.0 liter turbo, as well as Base and Premium versions with the four. Prices run from $22-32k, plus options.

Exterior styling is aggressive and serious, with all the contemporary curves and folds. Rear visibility is compromised as in most cars in its class, so keep those side mirrors adjusted. The 19-inch alloy wheels have a gunmetal finish that show off the Brembo brakes. The Track model comes with Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tires with “summer compound,” which means they’re extra sticky. The aggressive stance is emphasized by the larger 245/50YR19 tires on the rear, with 225/40YR19 on the front.

There is a family resemblance to the last-generation Tiburon, Hyundai’s subcompact-based sport coupe that was a very different car. I happened to pull up next to one of the last generation (production ended in 2008) and they are very different cars. The Genesis puts some sport back in Hyundai’s lineup but at a different price and target buyer.

It’s been compared to the Infiniti G37, as the size and packaging are very similar. With the somewhat serviceable back seat, it’s also been compared to the US musclecars, Camaro and Mustang. But the Genesis is lighter and trimmer than its American cousins and has a different feel; although Camaro and Mustang are great handlers, it’s just different. One thing the Hyundai engineers have done is given the V-6 a great exhaust note; step on the gas and it growls almost like a V-8. What car is right for you depends on what you define as cool and your available funds.

Then there’s the value. My tested car, loaded with GPS, satellite radio and almost everything in the Hyundai parts bin, came to about $37,000, comparable with the Camaro and Mustang. The G37 would be in the mid-40s.

Good package at a good price, if that’s what you’re looking for. And if you do opt for the sunroof, make sure you check for headroom.


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