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Holidays in Monterey

I spent the holidays in Monterey, California visiting with family and friends. It felt wonderful to be home for a couple weeks and enjoyed the home cooking, baking, trying new restaurants, watching movies, shopping, going to the aquarium/downtown/Fisherman’s Wharf, catching up with friends and getting into the Christmas spirit of joy, love and wonder.

Here are from scenes from around the town of Monterey.

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Seasons Greetings from Fisherman’s Wharf

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Boats at Fisherman’s Wharf

Christmas Tree at Del Monte Shopping Center

I also enjoyed home cooking. One of the first meals I had back home was pork chops with onion, fried rice (made with purple rice), salad and a medley of colorful vegetables: Carrots, mushroom, celery. Everything tasted fresh, flavorful and wonderful.

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Another one of my favorite meals was made at a family friend’s place. We had Filipino style noodles with chicken, shrimp, carrots and lettuce. Then we made some fish with onions and shrimp with celery. For dessert, an assortment of cookies (some of them made by me!)

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I loved the homemade lamb chop dish that I helped make. The lamb was seasoned perfectly and tasted tender and delicious. We also added onion and potato, which paired beautifully with the lamb.

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On Christmas day, some family friends came over and we made Chinese steamed dumplings. We created the filling of sticky rice, mushrooms, meat and green onion from scratch and wrapped it in the dumpling skins. After that, they were steamed and they came out a bit soft but still very tasty, especially with some spicy soy sauce.

 

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I made some baked goods as well… The classic chocolate chip cookies and also Christmas cookies with nuts and raisin filling, which we make every holiday season.

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We had fun getting into the holiday spirit by decorating the house with stockings over the fireplace, poinsettias and other flowers, mini Christmas tree…

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Since we didn’t have an actual Christmas tree, we visited family friends who did.

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On Christmas Eve, I had a chance to go to Candy Cane Lane (yes, that is an actual street name) and each house has to decorate on the outside so there is are tons of beautiful lights, displays and a center area with sleigh, reindeer, life size gingerbread house and more. It’s like a magical Christmas Winter Wonderland!

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Below was one of my favorite decorated houses. I just loved the sparkling lights, the bits of blue and red in between the white and the reindeer going up to the chimney! I thought it was both sophisticated and adorable at the same time.

Monterey2014_lightsChristmas morning I made French toast then we opened presents.

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We had dinner at Benihana, where I had a $30 gift certificate for my birthday. We had a great time and great meal there, as usual. It is always fun to watch the chef prepare our meals with finesse and skill. I ordered a passion fruit smoothie with strawberry swirls which was sweet, refreshing and delightful. I would have liked a bit more strawberry flavor though. For my meal, I had Filet Mignon and shrimp, which came with a multitude of sides and appetizers including soup, salad, chicken fried rice, shrimp and vegetables: Mushroom, zucchini and onion. Everything was well made and delicious. I also had chocolate ice cream which came with a lit candle in it and one of the servers played the drums and sang Happy Birthday!

Monterey2014_benihanaSoon after Christmas (2 days), it was my birthday! A friend of mine took me to Carmel for exploring, shopping and lunch at Cypress Inn, a super cute place owned by Doris Day, where they allow dogs. I had the fish and chips, which came with garlic french fries and it tasted amazing. The fish was fried to perfection with great flavor and the french fries were crispy and well seasoned.

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Afterwards, I came home to a lovely surprise party! It was filled with amazing friends, great food, wonderful gifts and a delectable ice cream cake.

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Below are some presents that I received: Clothes, money, scarves, accessories, chocolate and more. Some of my favorite gifts: A gorgeous gold heart necklace with diamonds and a scrapbook of Memories/my life that was made with love and care.

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I had a wonderful holiday back home in California and hope that all your holidays were also beautiful and filled with love, family, friends, spectacular food and fun!

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Brooklyn Night Bazaar

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It’s not often that I venture into Brooklyn, but when I heard about the Brooklyn Night Bazaar “A night market and concert space that brings together independent vendors, musicians, chefs and artists,” I knew I had to experience it for myself. The Bazaar is located in a warehouse in Greenpoint, open on Friday and Saturday nights from 6pm to midnight. Admission is free, but it’s a good idea to get there a little early because there will be a line and they stagger entry. There was still quite a decent sized line when I left around 9pm.

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Upon entering the Brooklyn Night Bazaar, you’re hit with an array of lights, color, hip and cool clothes, jewelry and other merchandise. We headed in toward the back where we were met with a barrage of food vendors, such as The Morris Truck (grilled cheese), The Lobster Joint, Oaxaca Taqueria, and Arancini Bros (rice balls). The first thing I had to try was the only $5 lobster slider from The Lobster Joint and it was delicious. I’m usually not a huge fan of lobster rolls because I dislike cold lobster, but this slider was not super chilled. The lobster was fresh and tasted full of flavor, with the perfect amount of mayo and accompanying coleslaw.

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I also had to get myself a bubble tea drink from Tea n’ Milk. I chose the iced Chai House Special with tapioca pearls. The tea was brewed fresh and tasted wonderful. I enjoyed it with the thick, sweet condensed milk and the sprinkling of cinnamon.

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Then I got to try some mac and cheese with truffle that was pan fried and then breaded & fried on top of that! This was a heaping dish of pure yummyness, along with the sauce they added to it. It was perfectly crispy, juicy, cheesy and completely fattening and indulgent.

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I couldn’t resist trying the lamb bun after seeing the lamb roasting slowly in front of my eyes. It came with sweet dark brown sauce, pomegranate seeds, parsley. It unfortunately did not taste as wonderfully as I had expected and ended up liking the pork bun quite a bit more.

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I was able to taste a few other items: Thin crust sausage pizza (tasty), risotto rice ball (decent), truffle grilled cheese sandwich (divine), and much later, some ice cream. I chose two flavors: Vanilla caramel and tres leches. Both turned out to be delightful, smooth, sweet, rich and complimented one another. The tres leches even had pieces of tres leches cake swirled in, which took it to the next level of deliciousness.

I spent some time checking out the vendors, which were all wonderful and unique in their own way. Some of my favorites were BlissfulCASE (pale pink glitter for your cell phone, anyone?), Milly & Earl (nautical-themed and other gorgeously designed jewelry), Strumpet (sassy retro-style apparel) and more.

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There was one vendor that had cool books that were transformed into clocks.

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Besides all the food and shopping, there was an area for live performances. Several different bands performed throughout the evening, adding an awesome element to the whole experience. Also, there’s a section for mini golf, complete with neon lights, disco balls, a huge cut out of Glinda the Good Witch, a zebra, and more!  There’s even table tennis!

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The Brooklyn Night Bazaar is something new, creative, full of life with trendy vendors, art, food, music and more! It’s great to go with a group of friends or just your bestie and can be an adventure that doesn’t break the bank, as it is easy to share the small bites, mini golf is only $5 and you’re able to choose how much you spend.  Well worth the trip!

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Brooklyn Night Bazaar
165 Banker St
Brooklyn, NY
Brooklyn Night Bazaar

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