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The Food Nomad – goes “California Dreamin”

“Driving down the 101, California here we come”  Yes, we were that cheesy – living out our California dream driving along Highway 101 in a Mustang convertible while listening to the song that made the teen drama series “the OC” synonymous with California living.

A few months ago, the Boy and I were in Laguna Beach for a friend’s wedding, and took the opportunity to drive up along the coast to experience the magnificence of the Westcoast.  Our trip wove through Laguna Beach, LA, Santa Barbara, Cayucos, Monterey, Napa, and finally, San Francisco.  Here are some of the pictures from our food journey (Napa deserved it’s own posting so watch out for that separate entry!).

“The OC breakfast” at the Sand & Surf Hotel – lean turkey sausages, egg white scramble with organic baby spinach and cherry tomatoes, plus a side of wild grains.  Enjoying all this while watching the surf – I feel healthy just thinking about it!

“We finally meet” – my 1st visit to In-N-Out Burger after hearing my American friends’ constant ravings about this.  We got our burgers “animal styled”.  The burgers were good with simple ingredients (mine also had caramelized onions), and I like how they cut the fries right in front of the customers.  

Standing in the organic garden at the Cass House B&B in Cayucos.  A beautifully restored heritage mansion that once belonged to the local shipping tycoon, Captain Cass.  The Cass House also has their own restuarant (headed by owner and chef Jensen Lorenzen), and opens from Thursdays through Mondays.  I would highly recommend a visit as they use only seasonal ingredients (whether from market or from their own garden), and the food is meticulously executed without being pretentious.

Cass House:  Our amuse bouche – deviled quail egg with truffle oil, accompanied by tender asparagus spears and a few thyme flower petals.

Cass House:  Appetizer of an egg confit sitting on a bed of shredded multi-coloured beets, with a generous brushing of well-aged balsamic.

Cass House:  Stone fruit appetizer consisting of fragrant nectarines, peaches and plums from their own garden, sitting on a dollop of light ricotta.

Cass House:  Tender morsels of roasted lamb neck sitting on a pond of creamy polenta, with baby carrots and generous shavings of summer truffle.

Cass House:  Foie gras terrine layered between what I feel was aged parmesan, accompanied by walnuts and wild berries.  The sweetness and fruitiness really complimented the rich saltiness of the terrine.

Cass House:  Mishima Ranch wagyu beef with fried sweetbread, roasted green onions and pearl onions.

Cass House:  Line-caught wild king salmon accompanied by a salmon-filled ravioli and wilted kale.  I love kale so anything with kale makes me happy!

Cass House:  Berry sorbet with soft shortbread (almost felt like a cake) and mascarpone cream.

Cass House:  Decadent chocolate cream cake with basil ice cream.  I love the idea of combining herbs in ice cream.

Our breakfast the following day at Cass House.  Pork sausage (very garlicky, yum!), blueberry scone (super buttery), and kale quiche.  I would highly suggest staying at Cass House, beautifully appointed rooms with attention to detail, plus they use Frette sheets! 

After staying overnight at Cayucos, we headed to the decadent Hearst Castle.

Along Highway 101 towards Monterey – the coastline is just astoundingly beautiful.

Our first dinner at Monterey – my dish of lobster / grilled salmon sitting on a bed of wilted kale, stewed tomatoes, artichoke, and cannellini beans.  

Good morning!  Waking up to huevos rancheros is a true joy!

Farmers market at Santa Cruz – walking through it made me so happy and excited.

I LOVE Artichokes!

Fish taco – very light and tender cuts of fish mingled with fresh vegetables.  Hey, California was once Mexico, they should know a thing or two about Mexican cuisine.  

In San Francisco for 1 night and I had to try Perbacco, which was highly recommended by a foodie friend.  My starter was a burrata / summer squash salad (excuse the lighting, it was a dark restaurant!)

My braised short-rib dish with crushed hazelnut on top – so rich and decadent.

My other half’s healthier option of king salmon (the skin was perfectly seared) and house-cured salmon roe.

One of the best dessert combos I’ve had thus far – burnt caramel ice cream sprinkled with Tahitian vanilla sea salt, accompanied with pine nut cookies.  The contrast between brunt sweetness and the crunchy salt is amazing!!

Bon Appetit!

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