California trip report
Here's a long overdue report on the trip for which I had posted queries for San Jose and Highway 1. We weren't there all that long, but found a couple of interesting places:
In San Jose, 4th St., not far from the aiport, a long bulding called "Supermarket" which was a huge Asian grocery-- they had every- and any-thing for Asian cooking you could possibly want: fresh meats, fish, fruit and veg (including durians), rows of noodles of all types, teas, drinks, sauces-- lots'o'sauces-- etc. It's fun just to walk around if you have an hour to kill.
In San Jose, 4th St. again, on the cross street of "Japantown" is an Italian restaurant called Alonzo's. Had a decent meal there. Copious quantities of fried artichokes (with unnecessary aioli-- a wedge of lemon was better) that the owner thought took too long to get to us, so he comped our sodas. Huge portions of spaghettis amatriciana and carbonara: both tasty and relatively authentic. Waitress had called in sick that day, so the owner was pretty intense, trying to be two people. (Reminded me of Basil Fawltey in that he would try to be personable and make small talk, but never quite register what you said back to him, and in general he had a very careful, overly proper way about him). I don't mean to run him down-- he was earnest, well-intentioned, served generous portions, our meal was good and reasonably priced-- we'd go again.
In Pacific Grove, had a meal at Teddy's Cafe (I think it was Teddy's-- something with a T) right near the post office. It was good but not remarkable, but what impressed me is that, though the place was busy, there were at least 4 tables of singles reading the paper or just eating, very comfortably. Also, my omelette was made with fresh spinach and mushrooms-- don't know about CA, but in NY can't always count on at least one of these two veg not being canned or frozen.
Then we headed north to Point Reyes. We had a cabin with a kitchen, so not much eating out, though we brought in a top-notch loaf of bread from the General Store in Inverness (across from the Grey Whale pizzeria, which has good coffee).
Tried to eat at Seafood Palace, Jim's favorite stop for dim sum (near the airport-- is it Millbrae?), but they close from 2.30 to 5 and we got there at 3. Ate at the Thai Stick--again good, not remarkable.
Next visit we'll have more time and pay more attention to chowhounding. This time we just wanted to relax and we did (I highly recommend the Point Reyes area).
Thanks for the report. A couple of notes:
1) There are now several pan-Asian supermarkets of that sort around the Bay Area. 99 Ranch, a SoCal chain, has one in Daly City; also in Daly City is Pacific Super, which has a recently-opened branch in El Cerrito. I've become very dependent on 99 Ranch.
2) I love the Point Reyes/Tomales Bay area. Next time you're in Inverness, budget time (and money) for Manka's, one of the best restaurants in the Bay Area. The food is sort of California hunting lodge--lots of fresh game and seafood, done in interesting and delicious ways. Had a wonderful dessert of grilled figs with stilton and walnuts, which I've tried to reproduce at home (with varying degrees of success). It's pricey--I've spent $160 for two, including wine and after-dinner port--but it's absolutely worth it.
re: Tom Hilton
We will definitely be back there, so I'm glad to have a reliable recommendation for dinner. We'll stop at Manka's next time.
BTW, last year we had an enjoyable seafood dinner at Barnaby's by the Bay-- we just chose it driving by.
Also, elsewhere, just had to try those barbecued oysters every eating place on the peninsula has signs about, so we stopped at a place on the water that had two _huge_ piles of oyster shells across the road (they were both bigger than the car) to sample some. What a letdown! They were just oysters on the halfshell with some undistinguished barbecue sauce (from a bottle?) slopped over 'em and heated up on the grill for a bit. Not good, not bad, but we still aren't sure what all the fuss is about. Is it another tourist trap? Do the locals really go for these? Or did we just get lackluster preparation? We're really curious.
re: Barb. H.
Sounds like Nick's--it's on Highway 1 north of Pt. Reyes Station about 8 or 9 miles. Was that it?
Nick's has a very nice crab sandwich--I would recommend it if you stop there again. I've had their barbecued oysters, and thought the barbecue sauce was obvious and overwhelming; they'd have been much better without it. Otherwise, Nick's is a pleasant place to sit looking at Tomales Bay while you drink your Sierra Nevada Pale Ale--that's the main attraction for me.
BTW, if you're going back to the Pt. Reyes area, check out two more places in Pt. Reyes station: Bovine Bakery, which has excellent pastries and breads & such; and Taqueria La Quinta (I think that's the name--it's the only taqueria in town), which has very good basic Mexican food.
Also, check out Cowgirl Creamery, which has a little shop in a big barn-like structure a block off the main drag. Wonderful designer cheeses, although they don't come cheap. Buy some bread at Bovine and cheese at Cowgirl and you're halfway to picnic heaven.
Oh, and if Manka's is closed (they're basically weekends only in the winter months) you can get a very nice meal at the Olema Inn in Olema; we ate there recently because Manka's was closed, and if Manka's weren't around, this would be the nicest/best restaurant in the area.
I've gone on at greater length than I intended...but that's only because it's such a great area for food.
re: Tom Hilton
Well, I'm *glad* you went on at such length. I'm so happy to have your recommendations for next time, though, regrettably, it won't be for many months. Even tho it's a somewhat distant date, I will of course post a report. Wish I could hop on a plane right now, tho!