|A W Shucks Cocktail + Oyster Bar: clam chowder, bloody mary, vegetarian garden burger|
But when we visited the Monterey Peninsula during Anna's Winter Break trip to California, we decided to take the plunge. Much of the seafood served in Monterey-area restaurants is locally sourced from some of the most sustainable fisheries in the world, alleviating our environmental worries. And we decided that occasionally eating seafood (even radioactive seafood) would not be a major drain on our health. So we dipped our toes into aquatic cuisine with a bowl of New England-style clam chowder at AW Shucks Cocktail and Oyster Bar in Carmel. The creamy soup was a nice antidote for the fiery Bloody Mary I enjoyed on the side, although the meal's best portion was actually the veggie burger we split as our other entree.
|Crystal Fish: Sweet Potato Roll and Spider Roll with Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab with Cucumber and Avocado|
After taking the 17-Mile Drive from Carmel to Monterey, Anna and I visited a very popular sushi restaurant called Crystal Fish for dinner. Although the sourcing of sushi is often very suspect, we did manage to find a roll made with softshell crab, which is generally sustainable. And, of course, we couldn't pass down an opportunity to enjoy another variety of our favorite sushi dish — the sweet potato roll. Both rolls were tasty, but we agreed the sweet potato rolls from our old Charlottesville haunt Tokyo Rose were undoubtedly better.
When planning our visit to Monterey, I decided it would also be fun to venture off the beaten path for food experiences. So when I found a B&B in the heart of Monterey called the Jabberwock Inn that offered bay view and complimentary hors d'oeuvres and wine — in addition to breakfast, of course — I knew that we had to stay there.
|Jabberwock Inn breakfast|
Not only did the Jabberwock's "Alice in Wonderland" theme emanate a wonderfully quaint charm, but the food served there was among the best we experienced during our whole trip. It began with sweet bread and brie in the evening when we arrived and continued with after-dinner cookies and a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit, fresh juice (which was almost creamy enough to be a milkshake), and a sumptuous serving of bread pudding. Altogether, it was more than enough calories to prepare us for our subsequent kayaking excursion in the Monterey Bay.
|Jabberwock Inn breakfast|
Before returning inland to Sunnyvale, we decided to enjoy one final seafood experience in Monterey. So we paid a visit to Sandbar & Grill, which is perched on a pier under which we had kayaked only an hour earlier.
|Sandbar & Grill: Eggs Benedict and crab cakes|
|Sandbar & Grill|
Sandbar turned out to be exactly what we wanted from a rare seafood meal. The wild-caught salmon was predictably good, with soft and flaky flesh and a nice variety of seasonings, but the Eggs Benedict with Dungeness crab cakes was the show-stopper. The slightly chewy crab meat was a nice complement for the runny eggs and Hollandaise sauce that were heaped generously upon the crispy English muffins. Although the meal's richness reminded us why it's probably best that we not eat seafood all of the time, it also served as an example of the brilliant culinary experiences that can be had when one ventures just outside the bounds of strict vegetarianism.