Thursday, 31 July 2014

California Road Trip - Day 8 Monterey and Carmel

We arrived at Monterey just before noon.   
It took us a while to look for a parking as it was a Saturday.  

We went to Bubba Gump for lunch.  
The waitress was giving us a quick test on Forest Gump to check how big a fan we are ..
(I am not one at all .. I ended up rewatching Forest Gump afterwards)

Food was alright.  We have ordered deep fried seafood platter and Caesar salad. 

We then went to the aquarium :-) 

I get to see real life sea otters for the first time in my life :p 
Love how they rub their little cheek.  

I also love their Jellyfish section

Giant Octopus

We then went to Carmel. 
Such a cute little town - like a real life disney town lol 

We walked around and went into a random restaurant for dinner - La Bicyclette.  
Love the decor but the food was rather average...

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

California Road Trip - Day 7 Around Napa Valley: Napa, Youthviille, Jellybean factory Fairfield

We stayed at Napa for a night.  Napa was a lot quieter than I expected.  
Read some great reviews about Carpe Diem wine bar on Yelp so we have decided to drop by.
We were led to the bar
We have ordered a few small plates to share and a  sparkling wine flight, where we have 3 small glasses of sparkling wine to try out.

Crab stuffed squash blossom - This was my favourite out of all.  

Home made burrata - it was very creamy.  The bread provided was chargrilled. 

Braised short rib tamales - I remember there wasn't much filling inside.  The wrapping was thick

Katsu - very average

Sparkling wine tasting

(One said news about this wine bar is there was a 6.0 earthquake a few weeks later and that the building collapsed :(  They are now rebuilding the restaurant and they now open a counter at the Oxbow market) 

On the next day, we went to Model Bakery at Oxbow market for breakfast.  

We have ordered a breakfast sandwich. 

The English muffin was sooooo butter and soft.
This is the best I have ever had.

We then drove to Mumm Napa for a tour

First we were shown the different grapes they use for their sparkling wine. 
He talked through the process involved and have shown us all the big machines they use. 
Of course, the tour wouldn't be completed with a little taste of their sparkling wine.

I find it rather interesting that they actually have live yeast inside to make the bubbles.  
They then tilt the bottle so that all the yeast deposits at the  neck of the bottle
They then freeze it and just chop the end off to remove them.

The complete range they offer. 
You should definitely buy a few bottles while you are there as it is a lot cheaper. 
(They also offer military discount)

We then drove to Youtville and wanted to see if we could get a table at French Laundry :p 
but don't think they open in the afternoon ..
booooooo ... 

It was a lovely area to walk around anayway

We got a table at Bouchon instead - which is opened by Thomas Keller too. 
A more casual bistro. 

Beignets de Brandade de Morue
cod brandade with tomato confît & fried sage

Gnudi aux Truffes ricotta-parmesan dumplings with black winter truffles 

One of those specials - Chicken salad 

The bread they served on the side was really good too! 
Freshly baked.  
After the meal, we stopped by the bakery next door and bought some macaroons :)

On the way back, we stopped by the Jellybean factory at Fairfield :p 
It was packed with kids!!!! There was a long queue for the tour but we have wanted for it anyway. 
I guess we queued for roughly 30min? 

Around the factory, they have a few paintings done using jelly beans :p

The tour was alright :p  It was free and you get a free bag of jelly bean at the end of the tour. 
However, if time is tight then I wouldn't bother unless you are a huge fans.  

No photo can be taken during the tour.  
I love watching the program - how it's made.  
I don't think I had a good overview of the process from the tour though.... 
but it's free, what do you expect :p

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

California Road Trip - Day 6 Sausalito and Muir Wood National Park

We were going to go to Yosemite park after San Francisco but there was a forest fire earlier in the week - so serious that it has to close a few main roads.  Also,  from the webcam on the website, it was still very smokey.  
We have decided to change our plan and visit Napa Valley instead.  We felt there is no point driving 5 hours to get to Yosemite if we know it is not going to be in its best state.  

On the way to Napa, we dropped by Sausalito and Muir Wood National Park.  
It is free when going North via Golden gate bridge.  If you are driving South, make sure you pay the fee online beforehand!  Otherwise you will be fined.  

It was a very foggy day.  

However, as soon as we've crossed the bridge- it's like a different world!!! Lovely and clear. 
I felt like I'm in Italy actually :p with the coast and blue sky.  

You can see that Golden gate bridge and San francisco covered in a huge cloud from where we were

For lunch, we went to Scoma's,  a lovely restaurant!

We got a table by the window.  
The food was amazing and the service was impeccable.  
We just had a main dish each and stole from each other as they all look so good.
Claim Spaghetti

Scallops risotto

Sole stuffed with crab and shrimps with Lobster sauce

We had a walk around the town after the meal - lots of nice little shops.  
Wish we had more time there but we hae to set off pretty soon as we want to go to Muir Wood National Park to see giant redwood trees before heading to Napa.  
The parking there was very limited.. we had to park qutie far away from the entrance by the road.  

The park is designed such that even people with wheel chair can get around quite easily.  
It was nice to have a walk after a heavy lunch.  
It was a little cool in the shades ..

It was the first time I saw an owl in "wild life" 

Demonstrating how we can tell the age of the tree by the diameter of the trunk.