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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Monterey Bay Trip - day 2

On day two, we first went to mass at the San Carlos Cathedral in Monterey. This is a historical monument (over 200 years old) that is being restored by the state of California. The church is not very large but was considered a cathedral since the Bishop of the Monterey Archdiocese celebrates mass here. The structure is filled with artifacts and stained glass inside.

After mass, we drove to Monterey's famous Cannery Row. This used to be a street filled with sardine canneries but has since been converted to a whole block of shops and restaurants. There is a very carnival-like vibe since there are street performers, face painters and live music all around. At the end of the block is the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. We decided not to go For starters there was a huge line in front. And since I've been there before with friends from Berkeley, and Jojo wasn't too keen on standing in line all morning, we decided to pass.

We picked a place called Louie Linguini's for lunch. It's a nice family place that serves Italian-inspired seafood. We were lucky to be seated on the patio that overlooked this view of the bay.

For lunch, we decided we would order a soup and a main course then share both dishes. I got to pick the soup and chose the clam chowder on a sourdough breadbowl. It was a good choice since the soup was creamy and savory. It had lots of clams (others that I've tried skimp on the clams and load up on potatoes instead). This is one of the better ones we've tried.

For our main course, Jojo picked the seafood sampler. This had crispy calamari rings, fried clams and popcorn shrimp. The seafood was fresh (not fishy tasting) and the breading was light. Really good ... but then again meals are always heightened when you eat by the water.

After lunch Jojo went to get a Harley Davidson shirt. I collect refrigerator magnets from our travels while he collects Harley shirts from places we visit.

Our next stop was the famed 17-mile drive in Pebble Beach. We were told this is one of the most scenic drives in the U.S. We wanted to see for ourselves. Basically this is a self-guided tour. You pay $9.25 per car to enter and are given a tour map that highlights 21 scenic spots. You follow a broken red line painted on the road and drive. Once you get to each of the stops, there are signs that tell you about each one. You can choose to get out of your car at each of the stops or just drive on.

If I included all the stops, this would be a very long post so I'm just showing my favorites. First, the Poppy Hills Golf Course. I don't play golf but would love to if all courses had ocean views and scenery like this. I don't know if you can see the gorgeous houses beyond the course. They were equally as beautiful as the views.

Bird Rock where hundreds of birds flock. It's also a home to sea lions, otters and harbor seals. When we first got out of the car, there is a very strong stench that hit us. I am guessing it is the bird poop.

Here is my husband doing his imitation of a seagull nesting.

The Lone Cypress. This is the most popular stop in the entire tour. It is one of California's most enduring landmark and the eternal symbol of Pebble Beach. I found it fascinating (to be growing on its own, on a rock, for over 250 years). You can not see much of the ocean beyond it because by this time the fog was rolling in.

Eerie looking ghost trees. I am a little creeped out by how "ghostly" these trees look. Of course, this is just me, a lot of people (Jojo included) find them interesting. The trunks are actually bleached white because of the wind and the sea spray.

The end of the 17-mile drive.

Later in the afternoon, we drove to the Old Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey. It is very similar to the wharves in Santa Barbara and San Francisco. Or the piers in Seattle and Redondo Beach.

Strolling along the wharf, there are lots of things to see. Of course it had its share of kitschy shops and food booths. I saw a frozen-banana-dipped-in-chocolate stall and thought of my sister, Joy, who is opening up a store like that in Manila!

While walking along the wharf, we noticed that each restaurant had a table set up for sampling. They showed their dinner specials and served little plastic cups of soup for passers-by to try. We had about 6 different "samples" - we could not pass them up! I loved sipping hot soup while walking in the cold weather. This was our last stop and this guy was telling us they had the best clam chowder in the wharf - we tried it and I don't know if it was the best but it was pretty good!

Our restaurant choice was a place called Cafe Fina. I had seen an episode of Racheal Ray's show on Food Network that featured this place as having the best seafood and as a romantic place perfect for couples. We were seated in a nice candle-lit table overlooking the bay. I could not take pictures because the glass kept reflecting my flash. So let me describe the "show" that came with our dinner. Right outside, the sun was setting, and we could see waves crashing the beach. We were also entertained by a couple of playful sea otters that were splashing the surf, a sea lion catching the last rays of sun on a buoy, and a pair of pelicans trying to catch their dinner.

We started our meal with oysters on a half shell. Jojo has never had them raw and was brave enough to eat two. He actually liked it. I think oysters are the kind of food that you either really love or really hate. It's hard to be on the fence with this one. As for me, I love oysters and could have finished the whole plate plus a lot more. The oysters were so fresh (our server said they are harvested and served on the same day). They are basically shucked, served raw on a bed of ice with your choice of rice wine vinegar and/or cocktail sauce with fresh horseradish on the side. You just squeeze some lemon, put a dab of sauce, pour some vinegar, close your eyes, and slurp! It is, hands down, one of the best things I have ever eaten.

For our second course, Jojo and I shared a crab and lobster bisque. We both loved it. It was very creamy and had lots of seafood.

We also shared a smoked salmon and goat cheese pizza. I really liked the pizza crust. It's similar to the crust at Mozza (Mario Batali's restaurant in LA) where the thin crust is chewy and crispy at the same time. The toppings were good too - but as we ate more of it the smoked salmon (which is salty) and the goat cheese (which is salty too) started to become too salty. We started getting "umay" (what's the English translation for that?). We had to take the last two slices to go.

This concludes day two of our three day vacation.

4 comments:

mom said...

You weave such a fascinating narration of the places you have visited and food tasted. It makes me, and I am sure most of your readers as well, yearn to experience such an adventure as you have recently had. Am still eagerly awaiting to read your third installment. Hopefully on our next trip to the U.S. we can also discover and experience another delightful nook in California or elsewhere. Am challenging you to research on such a place and plan the "adventure".

Marc said...

Glad you guys went to the 17 mile drive! How did you find out about all these places that you went to? (Especially the restaurants)

As always, I find real enjoyment in reading your blog!

Hope all is well.

Joanne said...

Hi Mom, yup, will definitely plan more family vacations for everyone to enjoy. I am planning with Unc right now a South/North Carolina vacation for Spring 2010. I am sure that will be so much fun too.

Hi Marc, thanks for reading my blog. Glad you are enjoying it. Most of the places we visit or eat in I just research online or see on tv. Once in a while they are recommended by people I get to talk to as well. =)

Btw, are you still coming here this weekend?

joyeee said...

hey dets,
I can just imagine being there in your trip while reading your blog. Its so detailed and concise..with matching pictures!:) Hopefully we can plan a trip like that too..I'm so sure mom would love it! See you soon joey! waiting for your next blog.