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3766 Fifth Ave. (Hillcrest) 619-296-4173

DINING Babycakes

Booze Meets Cupcakes on Fifth Avenue

Get Happy! Dr. Ink

Come On

In a rare hankering I had for cupcakes last weekend, it was unbeknownst to me that Babycakes has a fully stocked liquor bar and a wildly packed Sunday happy hour that it calls “church.” It had been more than a year since I ducked into this patio-fronted establishment to cop a blood-orange cupcake -- a delicious one at that. So when returning for an overdue fi x of confection with a sweet-toothed friend in tow, we ended up glee- fully swallowing down beer and wine priced at $3 per drink. The little box of cupcakes I pur- chased became a bedtime snack. The bar at Babycakes runs long and narrow, though with roomy patios in both the front and back. The weekly “church” scene feels more like a festive Saturday night at Flicks, replete with a DJ. This is the crowd in which to mingle for skirting the

Sunday-night blues. Bingo! One of my favorite

English brown ales, Newcastle, ranked among the discounted bottles. Despite its modern-day mass production, I’ve paid well over $3 for it in swankier es- tablishments. If you’re looking for malt over hops, clarity over cloudiness, this chestnut-hued ale doesn’t disappoint. My friend craved red wine and found it in the form of a decent merlot. Although amid the crush of merrymakers at the bar and the thumping din of house music, we never learned the winemaker. The atmo- sphere was simply too festive for a discussion in viticulture. Well drinks of every stripe

fl y throughout the place. They’re also priced at $3 apiece. Savories such as paninis, salads, burgers and mac-n- cheese are kept at regular prices, costing about $7.50 on average. According to my eavesdropping, the pulled pork sandwich with “sassy slaw” is apparently kick-ass. But given the standing-room-only crowd and a few drinks in our blood,

Happy Hour: 5 to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday; 3 to 8 p.m., Sundays

San Diego Uptown News | Dec. 9–Dec. 22, 2011


Sunday happy hour at Babycakes feels like Saturday night on the town. (Photo by Dr. Ink.)

we weren’t willing to attempt eating anything on foot. We hit the cupcake display upon leaving. It’s a dazzling

Farm-to-table and my gag refl ex

TheSlowLane Brook Larios

I can’t stomach being cutesy.

Yet, we’re a culture of people who love cutesy, we embrace it; we sop it up. To us, it’s like a sundae doused in unicorn laughter- fl avored syrup, like a helping of perfectly al dente macaroni topped with three rich artisan cheeses. Ar- tisan. There’s one of those cutesy words. Like farm-to-table or farm- to-fork or sustainable. I’ll admit it; I’m guilty of using them all. A few years ago at the Hill-

crest Farmers Market, I ran into a local grower who saw the world a little differently than most. He was a corporate guy turned earth worshipper and he didn’t care much for rules. When I introduced myself as a sustainable food writer, he looked at me as though I car- ried the plague. He asked, “What is sustainable food?” Good question. Touting my role in the sustain- able food movement was simple; describing it with a modicum of intellect was not. Fresh, clean food – sure, but that doesn’t explain why we use these words to describe the foods our great-grandparents ate. We use the cutesy nicknames because labels are easy; they allow us to communicate a broad concept without having to de- fi ne it. They roll off the tongue; describing the system with which they’re associated does not. The grower’s point was this: All food is sustainable. You eat it and it keeps you alive. Even the Yellow 5-, Red 10-laden variety.

He had me. I blushed, thanked Courtesy of SDUN

him and walked away. This column began as a Thanksgiving piece. I scrapped it. With millions experiencing food scarcity (read: starving), sometimes the type of food we eat simply seems less impressive than the fact we eat at all. In a recent article published in “The Economist,” writer John Parker posed this question: With an estimated two billion person increase in the world’s population by 2050, will there be enough food to go around?

Being a picky eater, as one might expect, is a luxury. But should it be? Traditional and organic farming, Parker pointed out, could feed Europeans and Americans, but not the world. He did not, however, take into account groups like Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF), which brings solar power to developing communities so children can study when winter light ceases early in the day and

so their parents can grow crops to nourish them when that season’s sun is scarce. Groups like this ac- knowledge the industrial systems we’ve created aren’t working like Monsanto would have you believe. Heavy-hitters like SELF, whose board of directors includes green advocate Ed Begley Jr., are work- ing directly with these communi- ties to enhance the framework already in place –and it’s working. There are two camps of people most closely linked to the world’s food culture, Parker went on to explain: Those who wonder, “what should we have for dinner” and those who ask, “will there be anything for dinner.” Our food system is tiered and, while there’s no quick fi x, localizing it is a key step in breaking those layers, in nourishing our neighbors despite their economic circumstances. In certain parts of our own

county, there are fewer economi- cal barriers to fresh, locally and ethically grown produce. The City Heights, Linda Vista and San Mar- cos farmers markets accept EBT (the semi-newly named food stamp program). In an evolved food sys- tem, more farmers markets would begin this practice. Those of us who can afford to pay for our local growers’ bounties would support them by paying in full, for theirs is a life where nine-to-fi ve means nothing. Weekends aren’t acknowl- edged by those with whom they work (meaning the vegetables, fruits and herbs). Those cutesy words? A thing of the past. The things of our past, like neighborhood markets of fruits and vegetables untouched by pesticide science? Our present.u

lineup of nearly two dozen differ- ent fl avors ($3.50 apiece) that in- cludes guava-mango, tres leches, German chocolate and of course

the super-moist blood orange delight I came back for. Only this time I exited the premises with a little swerve in my step.u

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