Sunday, August 05, 2007

The trip

Well unfortunately a lack of internet access made it really hard for me to write about my culinary exploits along my trip around California- here is a quick run down of some of the high- and low- lights culinaririly speaking.

ESPN sports lounge- pretty awful. After the Uvas bar this was where we ate on our second night in Disney. It was everything the opposite of Uvas- awful service, dreadful atmosphere and not particuarly good food. IT was also incredibly cold, despite being indoors and made our huge 24 oz beers much less enjoyable as we were all close to shivering.

Yosemite- Well the first stress in Yosemite is the bears, in an attempt to cut down on campsite visits all food must be kept in bear lockers. This includes everything right down to bottled water and lip balm- creating some what of a stress for self catering. However this was not a problem as Curry Village, where we camped, served some of the best pizza I have had in a while, absolute huge with great crusts and generous toppings. We also tried their buffet- very varied and great value. We had planned also on a trip to the Ahwahnee hotel which looks absolutely stunning, but with 10 people in our party prices looked a bit steep. We stuck with cocktails and were not disappointed.
As a side note Yosemite was just amazing, so well visited and yet so incredibly pristine, I was stunned in so many ways- and yes we did get to see 2 bear cubs.

Next stop was Santa Cruz, where we stayed in cabins along the River. This was where we spent my birthday and I had a fab Italian meal at Cafe Mare with- wait for it- real Italian waiters whose English was terrible (very authentic). Between us we had squash stuffed pancakes, endive and gorgonzola salad, wonderful fresh minestrone, and gemelli del fattore ( a great succulent chicken brest with baby spinach pine nuts and a creamy sauce). Being my birthday the waiters brought out a great tiramisu with a candle while others shared hazlenut ice cream and other delicacies. (We then spent the evening in line for Harry Potter and the next several days reading it in the under shade of redwoods and on the sandy beaches of Big Sur.

After passing through Monterey (seeing sea otters and sea lions along the way) we stopped at another camp ground in Big Sur. Here we had my personal culinary highlight of the trip at 'The Village Pub'. We entered the pub looking for food and were handed a small scrawny menu of fairly typical food- burgers, fish and chips and the like. We then asked what beers were available- and thunk! a huge 8 page menu fell on the table detailing a huge variety of beers from around the world, ranging from $3 to $18 per bottle. The bartender/ server was a fantastic character who had the exact glass for every beer he sold, and played along to the seventies music on the guitar round his neck whenever there was a lull at the bar. The food it turned out was also very good, with big fat trips drenched in malt vinegar pleasing the English contingent of my party. The beer and indeed whole pub was so great that we returned the following night. This is not an experienced to be missed if traveling through Big Sur,

Las stop- Santa Barbara. Here we visited a few different places. First stop was the Natural cafe which had hearty and healthy food, both vegetarian and non for great prices (especiallywith this being right on the State street main strip. We also visited Pascucci an Italian restaurant that was fairly good value although had nothing on Santa Barbara's Cafe Mare. Final stop was the Cajun Kitchen, highly recommended for breakfast, but not in my opinion as good as our San Diego staples.

All in all a fantastic trip, makes me realize just how wonderful and varied California is and makes me want to jump right back in the car and complete exploring.

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