Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Run Across America" Sampler at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company

Today was a really nice day, so we decided to take one of our epic walks down toward the water. The sights, sounds, and smells are always such a treat. They definitely make burning calories and keeping fit a lot more fun! We never quite know where we're going when we start, but we always wind up going somewhere exciting and fun. 

Sometimes there's even food involved like today. Eventually we found ourselves down on historic Cannery Row standing in front of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. Seth had never been here and had been dying to go ever since I first mentioned it to him, so we decided to stop in for a quick bite to eat and possibly a cocktail... something cool and refreshing to suit a warm day spent walking up the coastline.

For those of you who have never been to Bubba Gump's before, it's an awful lot like you're probably thinking. The restaurant, menu, and theme of the restaurant are all patterned after the hit movie Forrest Gump. At one point, there were even a ton of actual props from the movie as part of the decor, although I didn't really see too many of them around this time. It's been a while since I was in the area and had an opportunity to make it a Bubba afternoon.

We didn't feel like weighing ourselves down too heavily, as we did need to be able to walk all the way back home, so we ordered the Run Across America Sampler to share instead of loading up on two separate entrees. In the middle there were some of Bubba's delicious "chilly" shrimp. Also involved were buffalo chicken strips, fried shrimp, and chips with spinach dip. 

My favorite thing on the plate had to be these hush puppy things they included that were totally unlike any other hush puppies I've ever had. They were more than just the fried dough I'm used to. They also had bits of sweet corn, shrimp, and fish in them as well and they were really delicious. I wouldn't mind ordering a whole platter of just those next time! I totally recommend at least trying them as a side if you ever find yourself at a Bubba's yourself.

These were our cocktails. Seth's is a nice, cold beer. Mine was a blueberry lemonade that not only involved blueberry Stoli vodka, but also real blueberries. It was really good and the perfect refreshment for a warm day spent walking a good long way. We also got to take both of the pilsner glasses home with us, which was really nice. We have something to remember our first ever trip to Bubba's together now. Hooray for summer memories!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Recent Adventures in Grilling

It really just wouldn't be summer without  ridiculous amount of grilling going on, would it? I'm pretty sure this goes double for people who live in California. We've definitely been putting out Smokey Joe to good use since we've been here, taking advantage of the wonderful weather, as well as the recent holiday.

Those of you who live in America already realize that this past Sunday was Independence Day. It's pretty much the law that you must barbecue for Independence Day if you are lucky enough to have it within your ability to do so. We followed suit by grilling caramelized onion chicken burgers and apple-gouda chicken sausages. On the side are some homemade oven-roasted potatoes seasoned with fresh rosemary straight from the garden and a helping of maple-bacon baked beans.

The other day, we actually found real live slider buns at the grocery store, so of course I felt the opportunity to grill sliders couldn't be missed. These are made of ground turkey liberally seasoned with garlic herb grill spice and topped with American cheese. They were just wonderful and I can't wait to have them again soon.

The same day we grilled the sliders, we also grilled a couple of turkey legs. This was our first time making these, but it was great fun. These do and probably always will remind me of a day at the Renaissance fair, little medieval history geek that I am!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pesto di Mare Pizza at Gianni's

If I've been away from somewhere I've lived long enough, a lot of details become blurry as the years roll by. I may need to consult my BlackBerry's GPS to jog my memory for exact directions. I might need a little coaching to remember the last names of some of the people I knew. However, I can recall every detail of my favorite restaurant dishes with deadly accuracy. Food has such a huge connection to the memories I have of a particular place. Once I'm away from an area I once loved, I often find myself missing certain restaurants or particular dishes as much as I do the friends or family members who lived there.

I'm sure this is at least part of the reason why one of the most important personal decisions attached to my recent return to the Monterey Bay area was without a doubt where to eat first. Naturally, I wanted to have something familiar that I hadn't eaten in a long while. I also wanted to introduce Seth to something that was a little different for him. Eventually we decided we can't go wrong with a good pizza, so we decided to stop at Gianni's for lunch today. It's a local favorite for a good reason. The atmosphere is cozy while the food is terrific and reasonably priced.

This is the Pesto di Mare special, one of my personal favorites. It features Gianni's signature crust topped with fresh pesto, olive oil, roasted garlic, mozzarella, and shrimp. (It normally also comes with tomatoes, but we ordered ours without.) Years ago, this was one of my first real encounters with pizza that went beyond the standard tomato sauce and pepperoni combination. It also has remained something that I've associated with Monterey over the years long after I moved away. It was certainly a treat to get to have it again right before a pleasant drive by the ocean for the first time in a long while.