Pigskin Pursuit

An eight year odyssey across the backroads of America during the ultimate College Football roadtrip.

Tag: Poinsettia Bowl

Poinsettia Bowl: San Diego State vs. Navy

While New Years day used to rule the College Football post season, and arguably represented the best day of sports all year, over the past ten years College Football Bowl Season has changed dramatically. As it stands now, Bowl Season begins on December 18th, and concludes nearly three and a half weeks later on January 10th adding handfuls of new Bowl Games along the way. Not only has the NCAA and BCS failed to remove any controversy in deciding a national champion, but additionally, they have ruined the spectacle that New Years Day once was by spreading the games over such a long window. Add yet another line item to the extensive scroll of BCS incompetence.

The Poinsettia Bowl is one of these newer expansion bowls, tracing its roots back to 2005 as an offshoot from the organizers of the Holiday Bowl. Sponsored by the illustrious San Diego County Credit Union, the Poinsettia Bowl features Navy (when bowl eligible) versus the second place Mountain West Conference finisher, this year being represented by the San Diego State Aztecs. While I would certainly never plan a destination trip around a game like the Poinsettia Bowl, spending Christmas in San Diego with my family would put me in dreary Southern California during bowl season. A quick glance at the calendar revealed I would be flying in the day of the game, and so arose a convenient opportunity to add another college football game to the 2010 Lineup. It also presented a unique occasion to share a game with my sister and measuredly introduce her into the world of College Football.

Fresh off the plane and a belly full of Santana’s burritos, we navigated the disorganized maze of parking at Qualcomm Stadium. Hampered by heavy rains and surprisingly robust tailgaters, my sister and I found our way over to a tailgate hosted by some of her Navy friends. Given the proximity of some rather large Navy bases in the surrounding area, coupled with the home game for the Aztecs, it made for a far larger crowd in the parking lots than I had anticipated. A few adult beverages and handfuls of cookies later, we made our way into the concrete eyesore of Qualcomm Stadium.

Qualcomm, the turf specifically, was in surprisingly good shape considering the torrential rains and floods that had pervaded San Diego the days before the game. Workers had pumped away over 1.5 million gallons of water off the field to make the surface playable, parts of which were nearly 10 inches underwater only the day before. Ordinarily, one would think the dubious footing would be an advantage for Navy and their grinding triple option rushing attack, but that was not to be the case on this day. Though the Middies still managed 235 yards on the ground, they stumbled in the red zone and struggled to put points on the board. Navy quarterback and Lowe’s Senior Class Award winner Ricky Dobbs toiled to keep any momentum on the Navy attack.

San Diego State on the other hand, a team I admittedly knew little about, was stunningly explosive. Led by phenom freshman running back Ronnie Hillman they torpedoed the Navy defense to the tune of 555 yards, nearly evenly split between rushing and passing. Hillman himself racked up 228 yards and three touchdowns. His blistering ability to hit the corner will no doubt draw comparisons to former Aztec great Marshall Faulk, and as a freshman he’s certainly a talent to keep an eye on. In the end San Diego State ran away with a 35-14 win, securing their first bowl victory since the Pasadena Bowl against Boston University (who no longer fields a football team) back in 1969. Clearly, this was a big win for Aztec fans, though perhaps short lived, as yesterday SDSU head coach Brady Hoke was lured away to the University of Michigan.

Although it’s certainly not a marquis Bowl, it was great to be able to work the Poinsettia Bowl into my holiday travel plans, and be on hand to introduce my sister to the world of College Football. While it likely won’t turn into quite the same obsession for her, I’m already laying the foundation for a trip to South Bend next year so she can witness a true College Football atmosphere.

Thank you to my friend Brian for helping us out with a few tickets to the game, and next time perhaps I’ll join you for the Navy pep rally on the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier.

Thank you of course to my sister Rebecca for joining me for the game, and the entire Christmas season in San Diego.

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Cessy’s- California Burrito parte dos…

The only thing better than one trip for a California burrito, is a second trip for another. Though I certainly rave about the fare at Santana’s, some of my other San Diego friends insist that there are other options out there. My sister took the liberty of doing some deep market immersion research, and Cessy’s emerged to the top of the yocal recommendations. With limited first hand knowledge and no website to speak of, I cast a discerning older brother eye on Rebecca’s recommendation, but for the sake of a burrito I put any protest aside and sauntered in.

Located a stones throw from the beach in Carlsbad, Cessy’s features the typical lineup of Mexican favorites in a no frills dive décor. After only a token glance at the menu, I ordered up my usual tortilla cylinder and waited impatiently for my number to be called before scurrying anxiously back to the table with my chipmunk like prize. The burrito at Cessy’s obviously features the same lineup of familiar ingredients, but with the key addition of guacamole. Not bad for five bucks. True to form the burrito was meaty, starchy, filling and delicious, and the guacamole added a nice extra touch. Cessy’s certainly delivered on my fix, and any initial reservations I had were quickly wiped away after the first bite. Well done sis!

In the end, like you have heard ad nauseam on this blog, the beauty of the California burrito lies in its simplicity. Elegant, five dollar simplicity. It’s nearly impossible to screw up a combination of steak, French fries and cheese, and you don’t have to be Anthony Bourdain to figure out why the simplest things are often the best.

Special thanks to Rebecca for finding Cessy’s and enduring yet another round of my San Diego burrito obsession.

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Santana’s – A true California Burrito

I’ve been looking forward to this burrito for a year.

If you followed the blog last year, you may recall that I was crestfallen at the confusion that exists in the Golden State over the term “California Burrito”. Evidently, a true California Burrito eludes the entire city of Los Angeles, evidenced by puzzled looks from my L.A. friends and furrowed brows of restaurant waiters. Instead, what I got was a sauce slathered, fork and knife, gut bomb which, although tasty, was hardly what I was looking for.

http://www.pigskinpursuit.com/2010/02/el-tarasco-and-hunt-for-elusive.html

A trip to San Diego for the Poinsettia Bowl and Christmas festivities came with one non negotiable certainty: a trip to Santana’s Mexican Grill for a true California Burrito. Lest you question the driving clarity of my purpose, no sooner had I thrown my bags into my sisters’ station wagon than I quickly barked out orders to head straight to Santana’s from the airport. It was to be my first stop off the plane, and I had shunned breakfast that morning in preparation.

Santana’s is a cheap Mexican staple in San Diego, and they have about 13 locations smattered throughout the less gentrified parts of town. They have recently rebranded themselves FreshMXNFood, perhaps in an attempt to strengthen their appeal among more health conscious consumers, but they aren’t fooling me and I’ll still refer to them as Santana’s for the body of this post.

I was originally turned on to Santana’s by my good friend and San Diego native Larry, who despite his love for the California burrito manages to stay in typical trim Southern California shape. Having lived in San Diego for the better part of 25 years, Larry has eaten his way through more than a fair share of these delights, and accordingly, his opinion draws a lot of water in my book. When I first visited San Diego a couple of years ago, I was immediately hooked on these greasy monsters, and they became a staple of my San Diego diet at all hours of the day. Like all great hand foods, these burritos reach their flavor zenith at about 3AM. I can even attest to the remarkable flight characteristics of a Santana’s Burrito (but you’ll have to email me for that story).

After giddily ordering up my burrito from the menu, I raided the salsa bar during an agonizing two minute wait. Fortunately for readers, my resolve for picture taking slightly overwhelmed my rumbling stomach and I had a few fleeting moments to snap a couple of photos before digging in like a rabid hyena. The final product is hefty enough to give your rolled up Sunday newspaper a run for its money, and it doesn’t take a food critic to point out the enduring combination of steak, cheese and potatoes wrapped into a tortilla. Every bite is a gooey, meaty delight offset with the crispy saltiness of fresh cooked french fries. Add in a few generous dollops of the various salsas for some heat, and my one pound California Burrito was quickly devoured.

http://www.freshmxnfood.com/

http://www.freshmxnfood.com/FRESHMENUMXN.pdf

Thanks to my sister Becca for bringing me here straight off the plane, and I was certainly a proud older brother when she crushed her own Cali Burrito in record time…

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