September 30th, 2011


West Coast Roadtrip, Jul-13-2011

Our last meal in San Francisco was at Plow, a cozy restaurant just down the block from Eric and Patricia's. Our meal was extraordinary.

I hesitated about ordering the biscuits and gravy, thinking that perhaps I should order something more local - but I'm glad I ordered them, because they were among the best biscuits and gravy I've ever had. The biscuits were splendidly light and fluffy, and the gravy was rich and savory - and the crispy potatoes were also superb.

Lori chose the french toast with mascarpone and roasted peaches. These too were great, but I think I got the better dish; it was a bit too sweet a combination for me.

The drive across the peninsula was foggy enough to mist the scenery without interfering with driving.

From Half Moon Bay down to Pescadero, we were able to see beach and ocean from the road.

In Pescadero, we stopped at Duarte's Tavern, a hundred-year old family restaurant and bar.

We were still mostly full from Plow, so I just ordered a bowl of the oyster stew, because I hadn't made an opportunity for oyster stew in the Northwest. This included artichokes, carrots, celery, cream, and sherry, so it was like a rich chowder with large, whole oysters. The oysters were very oystery, strong enough to take the edge off my enjoyment.

Lori ordered the cream of artichoke soup, which was splendid; she said "it tastes like artichokes and sunshine." But the photo demonstrates that this is just not a very photogenic dish - it's better in the eating than the looking.

Our waiter was a hoot, and definitely a booster for the place. Our notes record that when he brought a basket of bread, he said "Here's another willpower tester." His recommendation for dessert was the lemon meringue pie; he said that every time they serve a drink at the bar with a twist of lemon, they save the lemon scraps and use them to intensify the flavor of the pie. But when he learned that we had never had olallieberry pie, he agreed that that was the dessert we had to have. As he served us the pie, he said, "this changes everything."
For us, though, it did not actually change everything. The filling was good, and I'm glad to have tried olallieberries, but the crust was not a wonderful pie crust.

From there, we drove on down to Monterey.

We'd made haste to Monterey to try to arrive in time to see them feed the otters at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It turned out that our hurry was irrelevant, because they had different otters in the tank than usual. An injured otter kit had been found and brought to the Aquarium, and it had been decided that he wouldn't be able to return to the wild. So currently the tank held the nameless otter kit and the otter Joy who was foster-mothering the kit, and the other four otters were off out of public view. The feeding schedule was thrown off to better serve the kit's needs, but we subscribed to a free service to get text messages notifying us of feedings and other aquarium events, so we did get to see the otters being fed. (I highly recommend this service to other visitors.) We took eighty-four pictures of otters playing and eating, but most of them came out badly through a combination of water on the glass or otters moving as we took the picture. But hey, I don't have to show y'all the bad ones.

The volunteer describing the otters mentioned how important it was to maintain their skills of extracting food from rocky crevices. This made me wonder: how do the treats get into the crevices in the tank? I found out: every morning, the otters are taken out briefly while divers go in to clean the tank and plant treats in the crannies.

The seahorse feeding was not nearly as cute, but still nifty.

I'm particularly fascinated by sea dragons, which look so much like drift seaweed.

The view of Monterey Bay from the Aquarium

One of Lori's great dreams for this trip was to spend the night in a hotel room with a view of the Pacific Ocean. In the interests of cost management, I persuaded her to do this in a place where we were spending only one night. So in Monterey, we stayed at the Martine Inn bed and breakfast. (And she didn't quibble about the fact that our view was of the bay, not the ocean.)

The evening appetizers included brie in pastry and other sumptuous treats, and a splendid view of the bay.

The view from our window:

We walked down a couple blocks to Archie's American Diner, where we'd had a lovely meal on a previous trip.

We quite enjoyed the batter-fried artichokes.

I enjoyed my California Salad (greens, turkey, avocado, blueberries, and feta).

Lori was not so charmed by her turkey rollups (salad rolled in turkey slices).

More photos of the walk back to the Martine Inn, because I don't get many Pacific sunsets: