California Dreamin'

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Lisa Parsley
Sunday, May 6, 2012

I feel I need to apologize for being so tardy in my blog posts of late. For some reason, I am getting more and more on my plate these days with family and work, and my opportunity to sit down at my computer and compose a post seems increasingly rare. So, I appreciate your patience with me. Thanks for reading!

As much as I whine about my busy life, for the record, it hasn’t been all work and no play. In fact, we recently got back from a trip that my husband arranged as a special birthday present for me. He asked me (last December) to book a few certain days off work in April; however, I had no idea where we were going until we hit the self-check in terminals at O’Hare. Even my protestations that “Hey, I’m a girl, I need to know what to pack” didn’t sway him from ruining the surprise.

I was very pleased to see San Francisco International Airport pop up on the screen. I’m a fairly seasoned traveler, but have never been to California, so this was a special treat. And what a vacation it was—somehow in five days we managed (with PERFECT weather each day) to visit Hearst Castle in San Simeon; drive the Pacific Coast Highway; have dinner in Chinatown; have lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf; hike a redwood forest; cross the Golden Gate Bridge (twice!); take a ferry to Sausalito and taste wine in the Napa Valley. Even though it sounds like we did a lot of running around, we also took the time to sit by the water and absorb the California sunshine. My peeling nose will attest to that.

But I don’t mean to turn this into a travel log; my intent is to share a bit about the food we had on our mini holiday. When we go on vacation, we generally don’t eat out very often—maybe a lunch here or there, but we normally stay with friends or family or book a cottage or some kind of “self-catering” accommodation, so that we can save money for adventures. But on this trip, we stayed in a hotel right on Mission Street, in the heart of the city, so we had no other option than partake of local restaurants. SF is known for seafood and Asian cuisine, so we had our fair share of sushi, Indian, and the aforementioned Chinese, where a crispy duck comes with the head attached!

In the land of $5/gallon gas (no lie), we knew that eating out was going to be a big splurge on this trip. So, the prices really made us focus on the food--made me appreciate a perfectly cooked piece of fish, with a simple side dish of potatoes roasted with rosemary. As we tasted, I kept thinking, I need to try to recreate this at home. Alas, at home, however, we don’t have the sea lions who were swimming or lazily snoozing on the dock below our restaurant’s window. A lot of food is about the atmosphere.

While exploring the coast north of the city we found a restaurant which specialized in oysters, and their house specialty was barbecued oysters. In fact they claim they invented them. (The barbecue part, not the oyster.) I’m not normally a fan of the shelled creatures, but then again, I’ve never had a Pacific coast one that had been in the sea only hours before. Their buttery brininess with a hint of piquant barbecue sauce made me want a boatload, but I settled for a half dozen (without needing to pawn something to buy more.)

We returned home, safe and sound, to an empty refrigerator but full hearts.

What do you do for meals on your vacations? Eat out, eat in? Have you had a vacation food experience that you need to rave about? Let us know!

Last updated: 10:46 am Wednesday, August 28, 2013

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