Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cafe Dore, Comic Con...a glance at an SD afternoon

I finally arrived into San Diego around 4pm, WAY late, to pick up Bro for the Comic Con (which was closing at 7pm). Starving and craving Bánh Mì (a Vietnamese sandwich), we detoured to Cafe Dore before hitting downtown. Cafe Dore, with a good rep for Bánh Mì, is an old school Vietnamese cafe and restaurant, located next door to a coin laundry and Saigon Deli in a strip mall in City Heights. The parking lot was packed full of ethnics. 
When we walked inside it was ALL Vietnamese men - tattooed guys were slurping soup with Vietnamese movies on laptops and old men, who were smoking, were heavily engaged in Chinese Chess and video gambling machines. The room was dark with flatscreens showing sports.
CAFE DORE, 4135 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92105, 619-563-3525
I was VERY aware that I was the only female in the room. Not in the mood to be gawked at, but loving the attention and opportunity for Vietnamese small-talk, we placed our to-go order with the friendly staff and toured the strip mall until our food was ready.

Ah... nothing like getting a real fix of authentic ice cold Vietnamese Coffee, extra strong, from a slow French drip filter and served in styrofoam cups! Heaven!
Slumming our grub in the car... terrific toasty tasty "Vietnamese breakfast hoagie," Bánh Mì...
Vietnamese baguettes are made with rice and wheat flour and are the ideal bread for sandwiches. The crust is extra crispy and the inside is soft and airy, versus hard crust and dense-chewy inside like most French and Italian baguettes. 

Traditionally, Bánh Mì is stuffed with the bare essentials of homemade liver pâté, homemade mayo-butter, sliced chili, cilantro, cucumber, pickled daikon and carrot, and dashes of soy sauce or Maggi, and then added with a variety of protein choices like Vietnamese cold cuts, roasted chicken, grilled pork, crunchy pork skin (!!!) or even tofu.
Above and below pics are my Cafe Dore's "Vietnamese breakfast hoagie" version of  Bánh Mì stuffed with griddle-seared meats and coldcuts, two sunny-side up eggs, chunks of jalapeno, cilantro, thick cut cucumber and housemade pâté. The cucumber was still cold and the cilantro not wilted from the hot sandwich. I would have preferred more veggies but, nevertheless, TO DIE FOR. Now with appetites satisfied, we tackle the Con!
Downtown. Coinciding with the Comic Con is the The San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art show, "Viva la Revolución: A Dialogue with the Urban Landscape," (going on till January 2, 2011) which is showcasing 20 of the most influential street and graffiti artists in the world. Just some of the big names participating are Shepard Fairey, Banksy, Blu, Moris and Mark Bradford. Commissioned on-site installations can be found on buildings and street walls all over downtown San Diego and Hillcrest. 
Here is a piece on Horton Plaza's parking garage side where we parked and walked to the Convention Center for the Con. Check it. Sick detail...
Originally, Comic Con was a niche gathering for geeky collectors and die-hard fans of comics, sci-fi and fantasy books, film and televison. It has evolved into a pop culture MECCA for lovers of of toys, gaming, graphic novels, anime, manga, horror, action movies, collectible card games, underground culture and anything relating to art and design. The packed streets surrounding Gaslamp are efficiently controlled by the SD Police directing vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

Tons of swag giveaways too this year. SO MUCH SWAG!
As more and more participate in the Masquerade costume contest each year, it gets surreally Halloweeny with so many awesome posers walking around. 
Some V for Vendetta (yeah!)...

Above, Slave Labor Graphics (ah, memories...). Autographs, sketches, book signings and so much swag at nearly every exhibitor booth. Art galore.

Jhonen recommends Amulet by Kazu for my kids. Raina Telgemeier signs SMILE for Miriam :)

Playstation, Nintendo, DSi XL, Xbox had elaborate booths everywhere with gaming previews. I felt SO guilty my kids were not here to demo all the new cool gadgets and games. Here's Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies. 
It was PACKED. See? (Overwhelming as the experience requires 2-3 Advils straight-up.) Collectible toy exhibitors, TOYS!!!, movie previews, Japanese animation, artists portfolio review sessions, drawing workshops, seminars, sculpting stations... too much, too much, way too much to discuss (and I have WAY too many pics to post... so here are some quick totally random ones). Amazing line-up of artists, celebrities and studios hosted discussion panels with appearances by Natalie Portman, Danny Elfman, Big Bang Theory and Salt with Angelina Jolie and so so SO MUCH MORE!

Interesting how my kids' interests dictate what I seek out nowadays. There were more kids than ever before, as so much as changed in just a few years (i.e., less anime porn, more cutesy family themes). A year ago, I never would have thought to snap a picture of the Pokemon exhibitor booth.
Couldn't leave without a picture with Pikachu EITHER!  :)  After all, within just a year, I've invested quite a bit of $$$ into Pokemon cards...
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