golden road to perfect pretzels!

last week, all my dreams came true. 

if you know me, you probably know that i’m a huge fan of the even huger soft pretzels at golden road pub. each pretzel is about the size of two human heads and i’ve been known to eat 3 or 4 of them during any given week. they come served slightly crispy and extra salty with a pot of tear-gas-strength house mustard, they are pretzel perfection. 

imagine my excitement then, when cambria griffith from golden road invited me and fellow bloggers vegan man cave and manly vegan on a tour of san diego pretzel company, the wondrous factory where these larger than life vegan snacks are made. i felt like i’d won the golden ticket! 

the day started at 10am with a flight at golden road to prepare us for the car ride. we sampled all of GRB’s house beers that were on tap at the time from weakest to strongest: berliner weisse, hefeweizen, point the way ipa, and either side of the hill. if you haven’t tried the berliner weisse (it’s one of the newer beers at GRB), go get it! it’s super tasty and a great session beer at only 2.7%…and it comes with flavored syrup options if you’re feeling playful. beer soda! we also chowed down on some of the pub appetizers including a pretzel (just to get us in the mood for later), some dino kale rolls, and mushroom fritters. 

once we were sufficiently full of food and brews, cambria whisked us south in her volkswagen to our much anticipated tour of the san diego pretzel company. located in an industrial section of downtown san diego, the little building stood out like a pretzel paradise!

we were greeted by owner harris golden and general manager bill joering, who gave us the lowdown on the history of the company…and pretzels in general. we learned about how the company transitioned from using butter in their pretzels to non-GMO canola oil, and eventually olive oil, how they started as a small cart in ocean beach, and that the pretzel is the world’s oldest snack (no wonder i love it, the years don’t lie)—-it was invented by a monk in 610 AD and the shape is supposed to resemble hands praying. 

then we were schooled on the ingredients that go into the traditional pretzels: water, flour, oil, brown sugar, salt and yeast—-that’s it! please note that although the pretzels contain oil, the amount is so small that they’re still a low fat food. score, that means i can eat more of them.

after learning about the ingredients, we got a dough rolling lesson from the pros. it was a fucking blast! after a few tries, i got the hang of it, but it will take me a few years until i get this good:

unfortunately such is the pretzel-making process, we didn’t get to eat the pretzels that we rolled ourselves. you see, after being rolled the pretzels undergo an elaborate dipping/baking/QC process that takes over 24 hours.

we did check out these bad boys on the rack, though. these are JUMBO DOUBLE TWISTED BAVARIAN PRETZELS, twice the size of traditional pretzels. these are the ones available at golden road! i nearly cried.

here’s a photo of the steam chamber the pretzels have to sit in overnight before they are checked for consistency, then aged and staged for packaging! so much goes into making these suckers, no wonder they taste SO DAMN GOOD. after the educational bit we were treated to a full on fresh pretzel feast which included the traditional and multigrain flavors, bread rolls, the newly vegan sugary cinnamon and mexican jalapeno flavors, and a variety of mustard dipping sauces. incredible!!

as if all that wasn’t enough, we were each given a souvenir gift box that contained a jumbo double twisted pretzel, a pot of mustard and a pretzel pencil! these are available for purchase online if you want to get your own (they also make awesome gifts!). here’s a picture of the happy campers…

from left to right that’s manly vegan, bill joering, vegan man cave, harris golden and cambria from golden road.

last but not least, i bought two packages of pretzels—-one traditional and one mexican jalapeno—-to eat at home, and i’ve been enjoying them on the regular ever since. soon you’ll be able to do the same, because san diego pretzels should be hitting the shelves at gelson’s supermarkets sometime in the near future! yipee!

mexican jalapeno pretzel with food for lover’s vegan queso for breakfast every-damn-day. 

what an incredible adventure, i can’t thank the folks at golden road and the san diego pretzel company enough. seriously, get over to the pub at golden road ASAP and eat as many pretzels as possible. everyone i know who has tried them agrees they’re the best. and if you’re ever down south, hit up san diego pretzel company for a tour! a splendid time is guaranteed for all.

PS: part 2 of our adventure soon to come…dinner at stone bistro!

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