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!

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