Memorial Weekend 2010

We decided to splurge and stay at the Intercontinental in Monterey, California for Memorial weekend. Aquariums, beaches, and, hopefully, good food were on our list! It was a beautiful day when we left Saturday morning. We drove from the city down along the coast taking hwy 1.

Our first stop was Santa Cruz. After some circling around looking for a lunch place, we decided to check out Hula Island Grill and Tiki Room. We were a bit skeptical since we have yet to find good Hawaiian food on the mainland but decided to check it out. I ordered the Trader Vic’s Fish Sandwich with Sweet Potato Fries and Anna got the Jungle Tofu Hula Bowl. Surprisingly both were pretty good and hit the spot.

After lunch we were on our way to our final destination! Once we got to the hotel, we checked in and got settled. We didn’t really have plans on where to eat dinner. We wanted to avoid the tourist traps if at all possible but also didn’t want to deal with taking our car out of valet parking. Plus it was getting late.

In the end, we  hit up The Fish Hopper (a touristy place. So much for avoiding them!) which was less than a block away from the hotel. The place was absolutely packed and we had to wait a bit but the wait was worth it as we got a ocean view table. We ordered fresh sardines and a cup of clam chowder to start.

Our mains were sanddabs with mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach in a light basil sauce and Seafood Pasta Monterey.

I was pleasantly surprised with my sanddabs dish and Anna liked her pasta dish.

We both liked the sardines but the clam chowder was too thick and not enough “stuff”.

That night I was looking for a decent breakfast place before we hit the aquarium. The pickings were slim but one that kept coming up was First Awakenings in Pacific Grove. It was a leisurely 10 minute walk from our hotel.

The place was relatively empty so we were seated right away. I was trying to be healthy so ordered the Cornucopia under the “Healthy Department” section.

What the hell was I thinking!

The veggie scramble lacked any taste, the veggies were still raw, and the fruit had no flavor.

I couldn’t go totally healthy so countered my egg dish with a Bluegerm (blueberry and wheat germ) pancake. I wanted to try it because a lot of the reviews raved about how good it was and the size of it.

They got the size right – it was huge. Taste wise not so good. The only good thing about this place was the waitress who was very friendly and helpful. But I think next time I come down here I’ll find another breakfast place.

After the aquarium I wanted to try Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing. I had found this place while researching places to eat. Their claim to fame was being on Throwdown with Bobby Flay where they competed on cioppino. We ordered the cioppino, cup of clam chowder, lobster roll, and a kid’s portion linguini with red sauce. Cioppino was a bit different than others that I’ve had. It was more tomatoey. I still liked it. Not sure if I’d get it again though. It came with a green salad (choice of salad dressing – I chose oil and vinegar) and garlic bread. I didn’t really think much of either one of those.

The cup of clam chowder was good – much better than the one the night before. The lobster roll was difficult to pick up (too much garlic butter) and, after having experienced lobster rolls in PEI (Water Prince Corner Shop for example), was only ok.

The next day we started our trek home to San Francisco. On the way, we stopped at Swanton Berry Farm to go strawberry picking. There are actually two spots to pick. We stopped at the Farm Stand location but there was a sign that said “Slim Pickings due to Memorial Weekend. Better Picking at Swanton’s Coastways Ranch”. It was a good thing to because this location was overcast and freezing.

The Ranch was a bit more inland so it was really hot there. We got a wagon and headed for the fields! While we were in the middle of the strawberry patch, this Chinese woman and her son started taking pictures near the wagon. They picked up handled, posed with the wagon and snapped away. No big deal I thought. They are just taking some pictures.

The next thing I know the wagon is gone! They took it! Good thing we didn’t have any strawberries on it. We went back to picking and after a short time taste testing and filling a basket we headed back to pay. The parking lot when we got there was empty. Now? It was packed with mini-vans and SUVs. Good timing on our part.

We left and headed further north towards the city. By this time, the weather was getting pretty cold and overcast along the coast.

One last stop was in order before we hit the city. Gorilla BBQ has been on my list for awhile after I saw it while driving south on hwy 1 to Half Moon Bay few months back.

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