Gwynne Heiser: What I Did on My Summer Vacation


It certainly still feels like summer, but for many of us the most important part of summer (vacation) is now but a distant memory, as work and school move into high gear. Stay tuned as Chow Bella brings you tales from some of our favorite folks' summer travels.

Gwynne Heiser is a debt collector by day (and sometimes night!) and a foodie 24/7. "At work I always have interesting food at my desk. Recently I shared lychee, tamarind, jamaica, tiny bananas and Chinese pastries with my coworkers," she reports. "They always stop by to see what I have brought for lunch which are mostly leftovers from the creations of my boyfriend Jack. We don't have to eat out much these days since he does Chinese, Puerto Rican, Thai, Filipino, and Italian food...and the list continues." Lucky lady! Let's see where she vacationed this summer -- and what she ate.  

Where I went: Our first weekend away as a couple. My boyfriend Jack and I went to Carlsbad, CA to visit my Dad over a weekend this past July. He had a spare room (free lodging!) about 6 miles from the beach, which we were thankful for. I am into all things free these days.

What I saw: Mostly we spent time at Carlsbad beach (see picture) and Coronado beach. Great frisbee time and got a little too much sun.

What did Gwynne eat in Yuma (of all places)? Find out after the jump.

What I ate: On the way to California, we stopped in Yuma at Daybreakers and I enjoyed their short stack of sweet potato pancakes. I am a big fan of the humble sweet potato so I was happy to see them on the menu. Jack had a standard breakfast with eggs, potatoes and toast but I have to say their breakfast potatoes are really worth the trip. They have peppers and onions in them and are quite chunky.

In Carlsbad, we ate at Norte Mexican Restaurant  where you can sit inside or on their patio. We had their beef flautas and they are delicious. In the spirit of full disclosure, mostly we drank there. They make excellent margaritas, which we had our first day upon arrival. On day 2 we went back for a michelada (for me) and Long Island iced tea (for Jack).

Also in Carlsbad we went to The Armenian Cafe where we dined on the patio. It was a beautiful night and we enjoyed live Armenian music and belly dancing. Their beef and and lamb kabobs were tender delicious. They were served with chicken/lemon/orzo soup and a garlic dip that was very potent. I would coat my arm in it and munch on it if I could. Also the meal came with a fetoosh style salad and pita. We shared sparkling wine with pomegranate juice (with the seeds floating in it).

The best part of coming home: was stopping in Algodones, Mexico for lunch. My boyfriend just received his passport and had only used it once (on a day trip to Nogales) so he was anxious to go. We had lunch at a very unassuming restaurant where natives eat (I'm not sure it had a name) that served birria tacos and I had two that were lamb and Jack had two that were goat. They were $1 apiece and the meat was yummy and juicy/shredded, the way birria should be. Alongside there was cilantro, onion and salsa.

On the way back to enter the United States Jack was questioned about his nationality (where he was born, when was he naturalized, where he works, etc) so we had a bit of a laugh about that. He is Thai but he could pass for Mexican. The nice authorities apparently didn't believe we had just gone to Algodones for lunch, as most folks go for prescriptions and dental work.

Plans for the fall: include a trip (trips!) to Rocky Point. And hopefully back to Carlsbad to see my Dad and for more good eats.

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Amy Silverman is a two-time winner of the Arizona Press Club’s Journalist of the Year award. Her work has appeared on the radio show This American Life and in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Lenny Letter, and Brain, Child. She’s the co-curator of the live reading series Bar Flies, and a commentator for KJZZ, the NPR affiliate in Phoenix. Silverman is the author of the book My Heart Can’t Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love, and Down Syndrome (Woodbine House 2016). Follow her on Instagram (@amysilverman), Twitter (@amysilvermanaz), and at