Thursday, January 17, 2008

California Trip

Well, my family were very sweet and allowed me to indulge myself by trying out lots of amazing restaurants.

In return, I drove Mum and Grandma up to San Francisco via Santa Barbara, Morro Bay and Monterey. They loved every minute!

We started off with a night in Carpinteria and dinner at Zookers Cafe, which hit the spot.

Next day we did the drive up to Morro Bay and enjoyed a great old fashioned fish supper at Dorn's. It was a really big dinner though, too much for Grandma. We realized we'd have to share in future, that worked very well and helped our budget along too!

We enjoyed a wonderfully fresh Mexican meal at Chapala. It was completely empty, but I was so glad we took the advice of the chowhounders and NY times.

It was then time to drive up the coast through the Big Sur to Monterey. We had a wonderful lunch at the Big Sur Bakery. I enjoyed a delicious mushroom soup and mum and grandma had a toasted ham and cheese sandwich. Perfect for the drizzly weather we had come across.

We continued north to Pacific Grove and were lucky enough to find a wonderful little restaurant, the Red House Cafe. They had delicious food, were very accommodating, my only gripe was that I didnt try the delicious looking pecan squares.

The highlight of the following day was the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We were glad that we'd put our names down early for lunch as there was quite a wait, with good reason, look at that beautiful view!! The food was really great too. I was greedy with a big plate of fish and chips, grandma was adventurous with abalone, sorbet and salad, as was mum with some calamari.

The next day was new years eve. We booked passionfish in advance and were not disappointed. It was really nice to be able to walk there. The food was excellent and it was a wonderful evening. Grandma had been looking at the sturgeon at great length earlier in the aquarium and had decided it was quite similar to an aircraft with its little white dots. She then decided to eat some for dinner! Mum went with the short ribs which were wonderful, enough for lunch the next day. I loved the lobster ravioli with avocado tempura. If only all restaurants could be a little more discerning in choosing what to serve.

We started up the coast to San Francisco the next day. Not all the restaurants were open, but the hotel recommended Betelnut, which was excellent. The decor was beautiful, the waiters were dressed up really cute, and the food was very good. I was happy with some scallops and a papaya salad. Mum and grandma went for the lettuce leaves with chicken and some duck dish.

The following day was a big foodie day for us. We ate lunch at Cafe Cacao at the Scharffen Berger factory, enjoying a delicious panini and enormous plate of sweet potato fries between the three of us. We then had a tour, which was lots of fun, and free, then enjoyed a beautiful decadent brownie and earl grey tea.

Our evening meal was booked at Sens, it was a wonderful experience, great food, incredible view, lovely atmosphere. The downsides were that the place was really hard to find, and that the food seemed to be a bit over salted. The wonderful desserts from Shauna more than made up for it, the chocolate one in particular was just incredible, layer upon layer of wonderful flavors and textures. I still dream about it now. Mmmm.

The following night we went to Millennium. I haven't eaten meat in 16 years and it is a real pleasure to go somewhere where meat eaters and veggies alike can have a wonderful indulgent meal without feeling they are missing out. It was just as good as I remembered, delicious flavors, wonderful service, nice wine.

We got back on the road down south the next day, worst day possible to travel, sideways rain, high winds, but we made it as far as Paso Robles, which was good, as there are great restaurants and wineries. We ate at Villa Creek and it was fantastic. We had short ribs and a delicious butternut squash enchilada. Mmmm. I'd bought dessert earlier, some delicious cakes from Miette at the Ferry Building in San Francisco.

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