Showing posts with label Seasonal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Seasonal. Show all posts

Vancouver vacation 2013 - summer fun now past


Oh Vancouver...how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways... 

1) Your scenery is always breath-taking but even more so during our August visit as the sun made the water sparkle...yes, like diamonds!  Made our kayaking and biking around Stanley Park just THAT much better. 

2) Eating options were numerous and within a stone's throw of our boutique hotel. Crazy-good ramen, down home Italian and fresh sushi made choosing a chore (but not really.) 

3) Friendly people, easy navigation and that cute little "jaunty man" signal which tells you it's time to cross the street. 

The burrata at La Buca
A mouth-watering menu at La Buca
 
 
Finally, how can I forget the really great boutique hotel on Robson Street?  The Listel features comfortable rooms, helpful staff and great location for walking to most of what we wanted to see/do.  Less driving and parking meant more time to chill and enjoy the city. 

 
We did take the car to North Vancouver with the intent of participating in the Grouse Grind before we left on Thursday.  My friend tells me it's a straight up hike on the normally-wintery ski trail with a convenient tram to bring you down when finished.  An un-named person forgot their hiking shoes so we found solace in The Bakehouse and the many pastries on display.
 
I'm back to my usual routine - work and some play - and my summer fling with Vancouver seems so far away.  But I will be back, with hiking shoes in hand!
 
Places to eat
 
La Buca
4025 MacDonald Street
Vancouver BC  V6L 2N8
604.730.6988
labuca.ca
 
Ramen Santouka (amazing)
1690 Robson St
Vancouver, BC V6G 1C7
Neighborhood: West End
(604) 681-8121

 The Boathouse
1305 Arbutus Street
Vancouver BC  V6J 5N2
604.738.5487
www.boathouserestaurants.ca

Eatery Takeout
3431 W Broadway  
Vancouver, BC V6R 2B4, Canada
604-738-5298

The Bakehouse
1050 W Queens Ave
North Vancouver BC  V7R 1H7
604.980.5554
 
Hotel

The Listel Hotel
1300 Robson Street
Vancouver BC V6E 1C5
604-684-8461
 
The lamb agnolotti - beautiful and delish at La Buca
 

Outstanding in the field 2013 - Everett Family Farm, Soquel

Like many, I love summer.  I loved it as a kid (camping, no school, long days) and I love it now (camping, no school, long days)!  The main difference is that time seems to fly by and before I can blink; June is a far distant memory with August in full view.

Each year the past three years I've attended one event from the roster of Outstanding in the Field events (OITF) to fill my "summer activity passport" and which serves to remind me "what I did last summer".  This year I selected a dinner at the Everett Family Farm in Soquel.

I will say that this was one of my favorites to date for many reasons.   Obviously the farm is chock full of lovingly tended crops but in addition, the structures are beautifully maintained with amazing attention to detail (I noticed the carefully crafted wood doors immediately).  That detail carried over to the dinner table setting - the "baseball field" - and the food itself.

The dinner was cooked by Santos Majano of Soif Restaurant & Wine Bar in Santa Cruz and the lineup included pulled pork mini-sliders, fresh greens with a salty, piquant feta, a delectable duck with potatoes and rock cod with quick pickles and farro.  But the dessert capped it all:  goat cheese panna cotta with berries and a touch of super sweet honey.  I really wanted to snap a picture but the dish was gone before I could even half-heartedly gesture for my camera.

As with many memories, this one is now past and I'm thinking about that Yosemite camping trip in August (I know, sigh..what a life I lead!)  If only I could bottle the season to hold onto before it slips from my tenuous grasp.  Soon enough it will be time for pumpkins and all the fine visions of fall.  Until then...I plan to savor the delights of summer and the feeling of youthful freedom most abundant this time of year.

The honor system;  stop by the farm for just-picked produce and fresh eggs.  You tally the final cost, drop the money in the lockbox and go on your merry way!


Destined for a great salad somewhere.


Yosemite Wildflowers in Bloom Hite Cove Trail


I’m forever looking for weekend getaways which combine my favorites: beautiful images to photograph, outdoor exercise and of course, food.  Along came an article about local spots where you can view the Spring blooms and voila!  We were on our way to El Portal to hike the Hite Cove Trail near Yosemite. 

Turns out the timing was perfect as the crowds were minimal, hotel rates reasonable and the hills truly were alive with a painter’s palette of color.  There’s still time to plan a trip as the flowers will continue to spring alive until sometime in May.   Here are a few notes from our trip:

The highlight

Hiking the Hite Cove Trail! It's about 4 miles one-way so take plenty of water and wear comfortable shoes (that seems obvious but figured I’d say it anyway). The trail winds alongside the river for views of blooms and the pleasant sound of water in the background.



Vibrant orange poppies everywhere!
Where we stayed
Yosemite View Lodge. Comfortable and reasonably priced. The best part? The back door opened to a view of the Merced River creating the perfect ambiance for our evening wine/cheese fest. 


Yosemite View Lodge - a view from the balcony
Places we dined
Savoury’s in Mariposa. About 45 minutes from the hotel and worth the drive.  I ordered off the menu and a) they were not annoyed and b) it was delicious (a shrimp linguine – perfectly cooked.)


Ahwahnee Hotel for brunch. A little pricier than your standard buffet ($45) but this isn’t really your standard buffet.  What you get is an amazing array of delectable items served up in a grand setting creating an experience well-worth the price of entry.
 
Ahwahnee Hotel brunch (ok, so this was my third - and last - plate!)

Yosemite View Lodge
El Portal (off Highway 140)
209.379.2681
www.yosemiteresorts.net 

Savoury's
5034 Hwy 140
Mariposa CA 95338
savouryrestaurant.com 

Ahwahnee Hotel

A view from Monterey, Big Sur

It was a nice way to cap the year: a quick trip to Monterey and Big Sur complete with a sprinkling of sun to set off the scenery and provide a backdrop for last-minute resolutions.  Mine definitely included getting away more often given the proximity to such beautiful natural eye-candy!
 
Speaking of eye-candy the Portola Inn, located on Monterey Bay, boasts a fair amount of well-appointed decor put together by someone with an eye for fabulous spaces.  The reason I mention this is that all the details come together to create a sophisticated yet welcoming atmosphere where you instantly want to kick back and relax.  "Why go out all night when we can hang out in such a room?"  was the question I asked immediately.
 
Of course we did manage to get motivated to leave when our appetites beckoned.  We ambled down the street to Montrio recommended by the hotel staff and found a small table in the very crowded restaurant. We sampled the luscious lobster mac n cheese, a bistro steak (with truffle fries - wow!) and a sweet creamy bread pudding served alongside passionfruit ice cream.  A nice find indeed.
 
The next day we saw the line for breakfast at Rosine's snaked out the door requiring us to keep our patience in check and go with the crowd.  The food was good, with large generous portions that could have fed 3-4 per plate (I am serious about this.)  When reading about the history of Rosine's this seems to be part of their "claim to fame" (in Monterey at least!) and it seems like something that resonates with customers.  For me personally I always feel guilty leaving so much food on the plate and eating it all was definitely out of the question.
 
Our last stop of the day was Nepenthe (Big Sur) where we sipped hot spiced cider against the backdrop of the Pacific.  The chill in the air was tempered by the welcome winter sun and I couldn't help but make a mental note to visit again during summer (although the crowds would probably be more visible.)
 
Overall, rather than looking forward to the new year I took a moment to catch my breath and count my blessings which are beyond measure.  And with that, we were on the road home again to get ready to ring in the new year.
 
Holiday decor in Monterey Bay

Bixby Bridge, Big Sur

In season: sand dabs, green beans and fruit galore!

My mantra this season for traversing the local farmer's market is "try something new" when I can.  By "new" I might buy something I'm used to but try a new cooking method or way of preparation.  This is how I discovered that young fava beans make for great grillin' - and you can eat the pod AND beans inside.  Or that sometimes the overlooked fish at the meat counter looks much better under a cornmeal crust and served alongside garlicky aoli.

Right now, one such fish in season is the sand dab.  These are small white fish with really big bones in the center which require a lot of patience and care.  Once the bones have been removed we soak the fillets in milk and then batter them in a cornmeal, paprika, salt, pepper combo.  We then give them a quick deep fry.  There, I said it.  Deep fry.

Tasty, crunchy sand dabs















It's something I rarely do, but every once in a while I pull out my vintage "fry daddy" when the occasion calls for it.  I was only slightly concerned when my significant other asked if I had a fire extinguisher nearby (I don't) and if I was concerned about whether this contraption would work (I wasn't).  This one came to me by way of eBay - I also have the smaller version...the "fry baby" (how ridiculous!)

Vintage Fry Daddy - it's the best!
 Other things popping up at the local Bay Area farmer's markets include:  loads of raspberries, some decently tart blueberries, lots of apricots and peaches (these seem a tad under-ripe, may be due to the weather) and green beans.  Perhaps because of the extended and rainy weather this year all fresh fruit and veggies seem that much more welcome on my dinner table so I say...let's get this garden pah-tay started!