California Dreamin’

January 17, 2011

Before we get much further along in the New Year, I wanted to post a few photos of the outstanding places and plates we enjoyed during our nine-day California odyssey. They’ll be sure to stick around long after short-term memory fades and the stresses of the workaday world encroach.

During a hilly walk from our Union Square hotel to North Beach, we ran across Coit Tower. Its base and the surrounding buildings were shrouded in fog, which made for a rather moody shot.

Fog continued once we made our way down to Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square. If you look real closely, you can see a few girders from the Golden Gate Bridge on the left-hand side of the photo in the distance!

Of course, northern California is as well known for its trademark brand of West Coast cuisine as for its glorious views. Here are two fabulous dishes from Grasing’s Coastal Cuisine, a venerable restaurant in Carmel owned by chef Kurt Grasing. Another plus is its Wine Spectator award-winning wine list.

We go to Grasing’s for Christmas Eve or Christmas dinner whenever we are in that magical town. Here’s the Grilled  Artichoke with Blue Crab and Bay Shrimp that’s been on the menu there as long as I can remember. It’s served with a Lemon-Thyme Aïoli sauce, but really doesn’t need it, it’s so fresh and flavorful on its own.

And another dish from Grasing’s–Farm-Raised Monterey Bay Red Abalone done doré style–pan seared after being dusted in egg wash and flour. Divine, and unique to California, as we rarely see abalone offered on Seattle-area menus!

On Christmas day we decided to take an early-morning beach walk, even though the local weathermen kept warning about the high winds and rain that were threatening to hit.

Things looked okay when we left the hotel, but by the time we walked down Ocean Avenue to the beach, things had turned ugly. It was so windy that sand was blowing up onto the path above the beach where we were walking. And the pelting rain obscured our glasses.

Undaunted, we plowed through to the end of the beach. Once we gazed back toward Pebble Beach Golf Club, we were rewarded with this: a rainbow!

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