Sunday, August 17, 2008

Vacation Wrap Up

Okay, let's finish this vacation story up. Now comes one of the coolest segments. The Oakland segment.

We have a very dear friend (he was our best man,not just my husbands best man, but ours)who lives in Oakland. Since it's such a long drive from Monterey to our home with two kids we decided it would be nice to stop part way and visit Josh. One of the things we have in common with Josh is he loves to eat and cook. He appreciates good food and will try just about anything. He's almost as adventurous as Andrew Zimmerman, which makes going out to dinner with him fun.

I had mentioned to Josh that I'd never had dim sum and would really like to try some. So our first night in Oakland we ate at a little place called Old Place Tea House.

I can't even begin to tell you everything we ate, because we tried so many things. Some sweet some savory, all very good. And this is where we tried jelly fish salad, which was surprisingly good. The texture was like nothing I'd ever had before. Chewy and crunchy at the same time. It was mild and pleasant. The only thing I didn't try, and I'm sorry I didn't, was the chicken feet. I'd really like to say I've eaten them. The one caveat I'll put out about eating dim sum. Don't eat too much of it like we did, or you'll be spending your next day close to the bathroom. It is rich and a bit greasy, so it can cause digestive issues. The food wasn't bad, because our girls ate it too and they were fine, we just ate far too much.

The next day Josh took us to Oakland's Chinatown. This place is nothing like San Francisco's Chinatown. It's not touristy, this is just where people live and work.

We hit up all of the grocery stores and I bought all the dried ingredients I need to make Buddha's Delight, or Jai, a soup that is traditionally made by the Chinese on Chinese New Years Day. I found the recipe in my cookbook The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen by Grace Young. I'll post the recipe and how it turns out after I make it.

After quite a bit of shopping in the various markets. We decided to go eat at a place I had read about on the internet called Restaurant Peony.

Our biggest mistake here was we showed up right at the end of lunch service, and we didn't realize they close between lunch and dinner. They were very gracious and accommodating to the silly white tourists. We did get to try some of their dim sum which was excellent! Even better then what we had had the night before. But, we wanted more then dim sum, but we couldn't figure out how to order more, or even who to order from, since virtually no one spoke English and the menu's were all in Chinese. We finally found one very kind waitress who with broken English and hand gestures suggested we order the special like the Chinese family behind us was eating. We couldn't really see what it was, but said OK. This is what we were served:

Isn't that cool? I couldn't help but wonder if it was the same chicken I saw hanging in a window in one of the markets earlier. It may look creepy to you, but it was some of the best chicken I've ever eaten. Juicy and tender. The sauce was mild, salty and slightly sweet. And very difficult to eat with chopsticks. It was served with steamed rice and a side of Chinese Broccoli, which is nothing like our Western broccoli. All very simple and delicious. It all turned out very good, for showing up at the wrong time and not speaking the language. As I walked out after a very satisfying lunch I snapped one last picture.

Those tanks you see in the background are full of live fish, lobster and crab that you can order up for your dinner. I hope to come back to this place for dinner some day.

The next day we headed home. We decided to venture through San Francisco and get some breakfast. We stopped down by the wharf and ate at this little place.
Beach Street Grill

Everything was homemade, not out of cans or jars. The service was prompt and very friendly. The food was good enough to keep me going until we got home. And now home we are and back into the grind of things. It was a great trip and I can't wait to get back to Monterey and to go see Oakland's Chinatown again, what a blast! But for now, it's back to work, tending the garden, chickens and goats. Time to focus on the harvest.
Bon Appetite!

Back to our vacation

I never thought it would take me so long to blog about our vacation. Here it is over a month since we've been back. Life can sure get in the way of a blog.

So, our second evening in Pacific Grove we decided to eat at a place we had been to before. A place undramatically named International Cuisine. It's nothing fancy, but the food is great and the service outstanding. They claim to have the best clam chowder, and I have to say, it is some of the best I've ever had. Creamy and savory, and the clams are fresh. It's a great place for a family to go, because there are so many choices to cover all different tastes. They also have a kids menu and provide crayons. The serve one to several options in a variety of national cuisines. From California cuisine, to Mexican, Greek, Italian, British, German, Russian, and to top it off, pizza. And their Turkish coffee is fun to order.

We dragged our very tired children into this place and we still managed to enjoy a good meal. My youngest was too tired to order, so I shared my Greek Combo Plate with her. It was a huge meal and perfect to share. It included gyro meat, chicken kabob, dolmas, hummus, rice, and greek salad and a side of pita bread. It made a great breakfast the next day as well. My oldest daughter ordered up a personal size meat lovers pizza. It must have been good because her eyes rolled up in her head every time she took a bite and all I could hear from her was chewing and "mmmmmmm". She too enjoyed the rest for breakfast. My husband having eaten a bit too much at lunch ordered one of his standbys. Classic Ceaser salad. It was the real deal and looked delicious.

The next day after another beautiful long walk along the coast we drove to Lover's Point and rented a surry.
We loaded our youngest and our dog in the front basket, my oldest, my husband and I loaded up on the little bench seat and we proceeded to peddle our way from Lover's Point to the Aquarium. This was quite the adventure, especially when the dog attempted to jump out and we almost ran off into a ditch. We averted disaster, thanks to my Flinstone maneuvers attempting to stop the surry, since I had not control over the breaks or steering. It was fun and we we created quite a stir with the dog in the front basket. I highly recommend trying one out, just make sure your dog won't jump out of the basket.

After another round at the Aquarium and our exciting ride it was time to think about leaving Monterey. But after all of that we were all hungry. We returned the surry and noticed a little beach burger hut at the Point. They mostly just served hamburgers and hot dogs, but they were top quality hamburgers and hotdogs. They also served cups of clam chowder, which I decided to try. It wasn't as good as the International Cuisine place, but good, and it was awesome that I had it as a choice.

So now, sadly, it was time to leave Monterey and head north. Next stop our friends apartment in Oakland.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sandwich debate revisited

Ok. I was never able to get my husband to redraw his ingenious description of how to fold a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but he did write, in his oh so geologist, scientific way, his description of folding a pb&j, and I attempted to follow his instructions and take pictures. So, here is the end result:
In the words of my Engineering Geologist man:

well you see, the fold along the axis of symmetry attempts to make a perfect peanut-butter seal (PPBS) that is almost impossible to attain without significant materials testing and engineering design that provide lateral set-back recommendations for the wetted jelly perimeter (WJP) based on a probabilistic analysis of a three layer viscosity model and the expected loads applied by the crushing vice-grip (CVG) of a three year old child. Over-designing the lateral seal on the PPBS

in an attempt to provide a margin of safety (MOS) against lateral jelly blowout (LJB) creates a long, dry crusted perimeter (DCP) that is largely unpalatable to children. Making a buffered peanut-butter seal (BPBS) by folding across the axis of symmetry provides a MOS against LJB by taking advantage of the outer PB seal using the existing puff-top crust (PTC) morphology of the bread slice. The seal is thick, but shorter and holds a large pouch of jelly that more than makes up for any DCP. The BPBS is so robust, it can be gripped by the PTC in a CVG and the potential for LJB is well within the MOS.

Now, I know what you're thinking.
"I'm seeing some blowout here."
You must keep in mind, that even though I was born and raised in California, and I'm a self proclaimed Mexicophile, I cannot for the life of me fold a proper burrito, so to expect me to follow these instructions and properly fold my husbands perfect PB&J that can be gripped by a PTC in a CVG is just insane. I hope to get him to demonstrate the fold himself, while I have camera in hand and provide you with pic's on a professionals' ability to properly fold a pb&j. In the mean time, I challenge you to try, and please share your results. I'm anxious to hear.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

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Did you know you can eat jellyfish? Well, that's a story for another day, but aren't these beautiful?

The next day on our vacation in Monterey we spent a majority of our day at Monterey Bay Aquarium. I can never get tired of that place. So many incredible things to see, and did you know they have a gourmet restaurant with spectacular ocean view there? Portola Cafe is run under the direction of Bon Appetit Management Co. and executive chef Dory Ford, along with executive sous chef Jeff Walker and chef de cuisine Estevan Jimenez. They have a full service bar, serve local wines, organic food and sustainable seafood. Never endangered seafood. It's high class and expensive, but the food is worth the price and excellent service and you can't beat the view.

We were lucky enough to eat lunch here while we were in Monterey. We started with a couple of cocktails. John had a mojito and I had a cosmopolitin. The restaurant is quite kid friendly and provides a menu for them. The mac and cheese is yummy. We also ordered up a dozen oysters on the half shell which were fresh and delicious. The people sitting around us were shocked to see our girls slurping down raw oysters. I was very proud. I also had the pleasure of enjoying abalone that is farm raised locally. It was mild and the texture was perfect, not in the least bit rubbery. It was a treat I haven't had the pleasure of enjoying in years.

They're only open 4 hours a day, so if you feel like splurging on a great meal be sure to show up before 3 pm and enjoy a great meal and a spectacular view.
Bon Appetite!