November 28, 2010

Eater's Getaway: Santa Cruz

I was joking with Mira about a month ago about heading up to Santa Cruz for the weekend and attend Pim of's holiday baking class on Sunday. It turned out Mira and her husband already had plans to be in the area on Thursday and Friday. We agreed we'd try again later.

But then over my birthday dinner in mid November, Mira told me they changed their schedule to be up in the area from Friday-Saturday instead and that she wanted me to join them. I looked at Brandon and he nodded.

The next day, I secured my spot on Pim's couch, got a day off from work, and booked the same flight as Mira and her husband to San Jose.

I knew we would be doing a lot of eating. But I didn't quite expect the level of eating we did.

It started on the plane with Mira's home made tuna sandwich for brunch. We were the envy of that Southwest flight, I tell you.

Not long after we landed, we dropped Mira's hubby off in Palo Alto and headed straight for Santa Cruz. We gathered Pim and Aaron and headed to Phil's Fish Market and Eatery in Moss Landing, half way between Santa Cruz and Monterey.

The people behind us kept looking over as the waitress kept bringing out plate after plate to our table. NEVER underestimate the damage three Asian girls and a dude can do, yo.

Before. And after.

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A dozen fresh clams (fresh, sweet, best I've ever had), clam chowder (delicious), crab salad (we picked the sweet fresh crab meat cleaned, the veggie was questionable that day), fried artichoke hearts, fried sardines (crispy, tender, delicious), fish and chips (light-as-cloud batter), and double order of garlic bread. And for the records, the fried calamari was one of those magical self-replenishing plate: we kept at it but it didn't look like we ate anything at all. (Aaron also wrote about the experience here.)

It was the best seafood meal I had in the U.S. so far.

A few hours after this meal, we were in Pim's kitchen for a home cooked dinner that would be enough to feed 6. Much later that night, a cake was baked. We were too tired to eat by then.

The next morning, Pim and I went into Downtown Santa Cruz for lattes and scones at Cafe Delmarette. This is the first time I had a Verve coffee. Starbucks who? Seriously! That was delicious! The pear and goat cheese scone was truly addictive as well, crumbly on the outside and fluffy on the inside.


A few hours after that, Mira returned to collect me and to get lunch. Pim took us to Restaurante Los Pinos. A hole in the wall produces the best damn ethnic foods, I tell ya!

Tacos Al Pastor were killers, flavorful and juicy pieces of pork. Machete taco was more like a tender marinated skirt steak with pile of grilled onion and avocado on top tortillas. Shrimp burrito was stuffed full and was bigger than Mira's arm. And the soppa came in a bowl big enough for Pim to wash her hair in, as Mira said. And they were all great food.


And of course, despite tight schedule and even tighter waistbands, we made our final stop at The Penny Ice Creamery. Pim brought me here the last time I visited a few months ago and I couldn't get their chocolate Devout Stout ice cream out of my head since. Because all the ice cream is made fresh daily, the flavors are never the same. This trip I got a scoop of the black tea orange with fresh jujubees in their homemade sugar cones. Refreshing and absolutely divine. We tried our best but none of us could finish our scoop that day.

What a sweet conclusion to a Santa Cruz escape! We are quite sure this won't be the last trip. ;-)


(And yes, that's bacon on my shirt.)

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