Eating my way down the coast

Hi, friends!

We had a great time on vacation!  As soon as I learn how to post pictures here, I will share them with you.  I know you are all wondering about the food along the way, so here is a brief rundown:

Day One:  We didn’t leave until early Tuesday evening.  After several hours of driving, we had a quick dinner at a truck stop.  It was interesting to browse the items in their store.  Did you know you can get a coffee maker that plugs into your cigarette lighter?  Crazy!  Many miles later we arrived at our hotel and called it a night!

Day Two:  The Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield, CA.  The factory tour was fun.  I learned how Jelly Beans and other candies are made.  You get a sugar high just walking through the factory!  Powdered sugar coats all the upper pipes and plexi windows….  Interesting to see, that’s for sure.  After we left the factory Mapquest took us on the road less traveled through Sonoma and Napa. We saw acres and acres of grapevines and tiny little towns along Hwy 12. It was gorgeous!  After a few hours, we arrived at the original Johnny Garlic’s in Santa Rosa!  We made reservations weeks in advance, but didn’t need them.  There wasn’t much of a line.  There were three strange people from Southern California who took pictures of everything though…  silly food tourists!  (HA!)  The place was smaller than I expected, but just like Guy, it was BIG on personality.  They bring warm parmesan bread to the table to munch while you read the menu. They even have plates of olive oil and Balsamic Vinegar to dip it in!  The bread, not the menus!  Speaking of the menu, they had sandwiches, burgers, pasta, pizza and salads.  The “Hunters Choice” is a weekly exotic meat selection.  When we were there it was an Elk Chop. Kinda cool!!  On the appetizer menu was the onion tortilla tart that I tried (and failed miserably) to make a few months ago.  We didn’t order it, but did get the Parmesan Garlic fries as an appetizer.  For dinner we ordered three different items – Shrimp Scampi, Garlic Chicken and Hot and Spicy Pizza. Everything was great! I have to say, the Shrimp Scampi was my favorite.  A perfect blend of lemony-garlic goodness!  Our waitress Jen was fun too!  She let us draw all over the paper tablecloth and had great stories to share.  I’d go back again.  It has the feel of a small town local place.  Good food.  Great people and fairly reasonable prices.

Day Three:  After breakfast from Starbucks and the muffins and bagels in the back of the car, we headed out for San Francisco.  Lunch was on Fisherman’s Warf.  We ate at Boudin’s Bakery.  We all had clam chowder in a sourdough bowl.  The chowder was “ok” but the bread was fabulous.  You can’t go to San Francisco without having Sourdough from Boudins!  We bought several loaves to bring home.  So far we’ve made garlic croutons and had several sandwiches with the bread.  Mmm-Mmm!  After playing tourist for a few hours, we headed down to San Jose for dinner at “The Counter.:  We’ve never been there before. It was fun!  Our nephew and his new bride showed us the basics: build your own burgers with different sizes (and types) of meat patty, cheeses, buns, toppings and goodies!  Wow! We also ordered two different 50/50 fries (garlic, regular, sweet potato and curly)  I really enjoyed the sweet potato fries!  The verdict on  Garlic Fries from The Counter? Better than Johnny Garlic’s.  Sorry Guy!

Day Four:  Breakfast from the car again!  Leaving San Jose, we drove down the coast enjoying the sights and stopping to take pictures!  We stopped in Monterey to walk the pier.  We didn’t eat, but did go through a fish market at the end of the pier.  Talk about fresh fish!  There were pelicans everywhere too.  Those birds are HUGE and not afraid of people or cars!  We took pictures of Sea Lions napping on buoys out in the bay. So cute!  More driving and lunch from the car at Pfieffer Big Sur State Park. Great place to run around and explore while we shared some sandwiches with the local Blue Jays and squirrels.  We stopped for the night in Morro Bay.  We were craving chips and salsa so dinner was recommended by the nice man at our hotel.  “Lolo’s” fit the bill nicely.   Lolo’s is a tiny little place.  It probably seats 30 people and there was a line to get in (always a good sign!)  I had Chile Rellenos with an enchilada. It was ok.  I like my version of Chile Rellenos better. I should put that on the list to cook this week….   Anyway, I didn’t like the rice but the chips were homemade so they get points for that.

Day Five:  Breakfast from the hotel!  Horray for Continental Breakfasts!  Sadly, they had a horrible selection. We should have had breakfast from the car.  Oh well!  It was free and so was the coffee!  Hitting the road again, we made it to Solvang, CA for lunch.  We considered Anderson’s for split pea soup, but it’s not my favorite, so we decided to pass.  We had fun walking the streets and wandering into little shops.  We found a little courtyard with a place called “Euro Panini’s.” Their hot italian Panini really hit the spot!  We also bought cheese and crackers from the VinHaus.  It’s a great little shop for cheese, crackers, little bottles of wine and spirits and other assorted snacks.  We left Solvang and headed to Santa Barbara!  I love Santa Barbara. We stopped at Starbucks and I had my first cup of Jamaican Blue Coffee made on the Clover machine.  It was pretty good!  If we had been there for breakfast we would have gone to Sambo’s.  It’s the original and the only one left. It’s kitchy, but fun.  We waved longingly at “Madison’s” on State Street.  That’s our favorite sports bar/pub.  They have TV’s everywhere! Their huge glasses of iced tea are great to sip while you watch your favorite team.  They have great selection of sandwiches and beer on tap.  If you ever go to Santa Barbara, stop in for lunch.  Tell them we sent you!  They won’t know who we are, but you could tell them anyway.  🙂

We came home after that.  Dinner was at our favorite local steak house: Spunky Steer in Chino, CA.  I didn’t want to cook after being on the road for five days and besides, there was nothing in the fridge!  When we go to Spunky Steer, we don’t even look at the menu.  We have our standard favorites (Bacon wrapped filet for me, Stockyard Porterhouse for my DH and chicken-fried steak for the kid.) The best part of coming home a day early? We didn’t have to sleep on a hotel bed!

That was our trip!  I am glad to be home and ready to start cooking again.  I’ve got to make Chile Rellenos and figure out our own amazing version of parmesan garlic fries.

Happy Eating!

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