I’ll start by saying that the only reasonably affordable thing about California was the plane ticket. I travelled in April just after the Easter and Spring Break period and spent $540 USD on a return ticket (from Port of Spain to San Francisco). Believe it or not, that is is less than I’ve paid for many tickets to Jamaica.
I visited Northern California – stayed in Los Gatos and went to Oakland, Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Francisco. Fortunately I have family in California who really went above and beyond to ensure I had an eventful and enjoyable trip.
I did quite a bit while there from indoor sky diving and a visit to Alcatraz (old prison), to visiting Chinatown, Stanford University and spontaneously getting a tattoo, but I’ve decided to let food be the focus of this post because…it’s September and I’m still fantasizing about most of the things I ate.
Lah hay with me and my tummy in Northern California 🙂
Clam Chowder in a freakin bread bowl
So I was really hesitant about this – okay actually I’m not hesitant about anything creamy BUT I was a bit concerned that the clam chowder was going to make the bread all soggy and soggy bread is never really a good thing. BUT this gem which I got on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk didn’t only not get soggy but was extremely scrumptious. The chowder was well seasoned, creamy but not overbearingly so and the bread was crunchy, fresh and beautiful.
This was my first time having Korean. I unfortunately did not get the name of the restaurant but let.me.tell.you. I hate eggplant with a passion and yet, I ate a whole bowl of eggplant not knowing it was eggplant because it was THAT good. I wish I got a better picture but curiousity and hunger took over. On the left is a mixture of goodness( vegetables, beef, eggs, spicy sauces) which you mix together and you can also add the individual sides (on the right). My favourite was the kimchi (well seasoned fermented vegetables) especially the tofu and eggplant.
Ropa Viejo Arepa (Cuban)
This is the second best thing I have ever eaten in my life. I was hunting for some Cuban food and was able to get some at Caña a Cuban parlour and cafe in Oakland. Ropa Viejo which translates to ‘old clothes’ was shredded well seasoned beef, an arepa, a soft boiled egg, crunchy sweet and irish potatoes with vegetables and bread and a slice of God. I would recommend it one hundred and one times. Really good!
Seafood on Fisherman’s Wharf
Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco was one of my favourite places – it was filled with tourists, restaurants and shopping. It was a great place to people watch and lime and there was so much to do all around. There were many street-side restaurants serving seafood and we stopped for a quick bite at one of them. We had curly fries, fried shrimp and squid. It wasn’t out of this world amazing. I’d say that eating it while taking in the surroundings was the real experience.
Ever eat something and had to stop after the first bite because your body went into shock? I’m not even exaggerating here. My best friend and I have been dreaming about visiting New Orleans for years and after having this, it has moved to the tippy top of my travel bucket list. I had this chicken, sausage and shrimp gumbo from the Cheesecake Factory. I hadn’t had food there before this, but I expected it to be halfway decent. Because the menu is so extensive, I figured they were kind of serving everything and specialising in nothing. But I stand and sit corrected because from the well seasoned rice, to the creamy sauce and succulent meats literally everything about the gumbo was amazing. It was my favourite meal in California.
Avocado Egg Roll with Tamarind Sauce
Another Cheesecake Factory plate of goodness. I don’t think I have to explain how good this crunchy eggroll filled with fresh avocado dipped in sweet and spicy tamarind sauce was.
Wine tasting at Testarossa Winery
One of my favourite things was a wine tasting I did with my Auntie at the Testarossa Vineyard in Los Gatos. Most were amazing, as you can see above, we got a taste of wine from different vineyards in California. I wish I could remember the name of my favourite. It was such a different thing to do and the place itself was lovely – you could go with a group of friends and have a picnic or make the wine tasting an event in itself. While we were there, a group of women came with their dogs on a wine tasting date!
So this Boba Tea business is made from brewed, loose tea leaves which is fine and honey boba (dark objects at the bottom of the drink). The boba is chewy, the tea is alright the drink on a whole I didn’t really like. Not a fan of cold tea and the boba…not sure how I feel about things popping randomly into my mouth.
Medicated Cannabis Salted Caramel Blondie AKA Edibles
So it’s difficult for me to tell this story without feeling nauseous but here goes. Marijuana is legal in California but I had no plans of having weed while there. I swore off weed after a particularly ridiculous batch of brownies at University and had very little desire to try it again. But then California happened. I had a full meal and then I had a small bit of the blondie. It wasn’t my first time so I knew it would take a while to hit and well, I didn’t really have a plan of action because I’ve never had a horrible experience with weed. One hour after I was THE HOTTEST MESS. I was lying on the couch watching ‘Sister Sister’ and having these vivid flashbacks from my childhood. I felt myself exit my body and watch my younger self watching television in my childhood living room. I began remembering things, feeling things I have NO sober recollection of and then it turned into paranoia – I didn’t want to be alone, I began to think I would start seeing and hearing things…I thought I was never going to be okay in life again and then I literally passed out on the couch. Embarrassing, nauseating (literally), never.ever.again.
So real foodies probably know this but did you know real Mexican tacos dont have sour cream and cheese? I was confused for a minute or two but they were yummy and filling. We had them at a hole in the wall Mexican restaurant outside of Los Gatos.
California was probably the best trip I’ve been on food wise and there’s still so much I didn’t have. I didn’t venture to Southern California and there was still so much of Northern California I didn’t see. Overall an amazing trip, really eye opening, belly filling and life changing. Hope to visit again really soon and we can continue this lah hay thereafter 🙂