birds-eye bay view

IMG_2047It’s been an enjoyable (if terse) time in and around the Monterey peninsula. (Though passing the wreckage of the Air Asiana as I arrived into SFO this morning was a doubly disturbing sight.) I can’t say I’m looking forward to trading in the cool Pacific breeze for an East Coast heat wave, yet as George Harrison is currently crooning on my iPod, “all things must pass away….”

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diet delight (in-n-out-style)

IMG_1890The secret’s in the bun…or rather the lack thereof. Animal fries are not an option.

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chowder time

IMG_1896Unlike the tourist trap of the same name in San Francisco, the old Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey retains a flavor of its commercial past. Sure it’s pockmarked with t-shirts shops and all manner of snow globe sellers, but dayboats still head out in the early morning hours to troll for the seasonal catch of the day – making it an arresting setting for a big bowl of seafood chowder.

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a toe in the water

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seafood, eat food

IMG_1971It’s a curious sensation sitting down to eat seafood at an aquarium. Yet when the setting is Monterey Bay Aquarium, the research center behind Seafood Watch, a consumer’s guide to responsible eating, and the chef is Cindy Pawlcyn, creative force behind Napa Valley institution Mustard’s Grill, you breathe a bit easier, knowing that everything on the menu will not only be locally sourced, but also sustainable. And delicious I might add. From house-cured olives, which arrive as a gift from the kitchen, to grilled artichoke grown in neighboring Castroville – artichoke capital of the world – the fresh flavor of the produce coming out of the Salinas Valley really shines through. Bodega Bay coon shrimp are a rare and tasty treat, perfectly suited to an old-fashioned get-your-hands-dirty shrimp boil. So, too, is wild-caught King Salmon, simply grilled and tasting like the sea. Dessert is an equal opportunity offender: olallieberries are a California curiosity; a hybrid, they taste like the liaison between a blackberry and a raspberry – and make for a delicious, warm tart. The tables at Cindy’s Waterfront each come with a pair of binoculars for the curious, as well as a guide to the wildlife on ample display in the bay. But don’t be fooled by the distraction, sea otters and cormorants are no match for what’s sitting on the plate in front of you.

castroville artichoke
coon shrimpwild king salmon
olallisberry tart

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the best best western

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somewhere near salinas

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wish list: 17-mile drive

17-mile drive

 

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