Tag Archives: Monterey

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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Benihana Birthday Dinner

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I received a $30 gift certificate for Benihana for my birthday through joining The Chef’s Table (which is free) and had a lovely dinner at the Benihana in Monterey, California. We were seated with another group, which is usually the case at Benihana if it is busy, so it was a little cramped but still enjoyable.  I selected the Samurai Treat entree meal. We started off with a clear mushroom soup, which had a nice light flavor to it, as well as some salad.

Then, since we knew one of the waitresses, she brought over two different plates of sushi: Shrimp tempura with avocado and California roll. The shrimp tempura roll were little bites of yummyness- Slightly crunchy, drizzled with that wonderful brown sauce and great flavor. The California roll was also good, but the shrimp tempura was better.

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After that, our chef, Joshua came out. He was both skilled and personable. He gave quite a show, juggling the utensils and below he is creating the chicken fried rice right in front of our eyes! He shaped the fried rice into a heart and started making it look like it was moving, while flicking the lights on and off. That was pretty awesome. The fried rice was very tasty, with slightly browned chicken, along with onion and other vegetables. There was great flavor and everything combined together wonderfully.

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Then, the chef started on the meal, cooking the zucchini, onion, mushroom and shrimp. He cooked everything with butter and used a couple of different sauces. He served the shrimp first – There were two different types. One was colossal shrimp grilled with lemon and butter and the other was a smaller size shrimp that tasted just as good. The shrimp was juicy, succulent and very flavorful. As for the vegetables, he stacked up the onions to look like a volcano and poured water over it so that it looked like it was erupting. The vegetables tasted fresh with a soft texture.

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The filet mignon, grilled to perfection, completed the meal. It was melt in your mouth tender, rich with flavor and full of deliciousness! I also really liked the teriyaki beef julienne. The teriyaki sauce was divine- The right combination of sweet and salty, and the beef was also incredibly tender. And I loved the sauce so much that I would’ve loved it to coat the filet mignon!

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Our meals came with ice cream, so I chose rainbow sherbet which was a beautiful bright pink and came with a cute little candle. The sherbet was okay, but a little too sweet. I also got to try the green tea ice cream, which was lovely and light. The staff at Benihana did their traditional birthday routine: Singing Happy Birthday in Japanese while drumming. then leading the Happy Birthday song in English.

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This was a wonderful meal…. Quite the visionary and culinary experience!

 

Benihana
136 Olivier St + NYC Midtown location
Monterey, CA
Benihana

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Hotel Abrego Dining

Hotel Abrego

Hotel Abrego

Recently, I had the pleasure of enjoying a beautiful meal at the not-yet officially opened restaurant at Hotel Abrego in Monterey, California. The Hotel Abrego lobby and dining area is warm, inviting and cozy, complete with brown accents, a stone fireplace and lovely lighting.

The chef, Marc Jones, personally came out to introduce himself and present us with the menu. He was personable, knowledgeable about the food he prepares and concerned with keeping everything sustainable. The menu itself didn’t have a ton of choices, but that didn’t bother me as it normally would, because all the choices sounded so delicious! For an appetizer, we had salad which came with grapes, tomato, fresh lettuce, Parmesan and pepper with a light vinaigrette.  It was tasty and I enjoyed the added sweet flavor of the grapes, combined with savory.

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Salad

I also loved the honey bread which came with the meal. It was perfectly crisp, fresh and warm from the oven, a delightful mix of sweet and a tiny bit of salty. It was something different, but delicious. I couldn’t get enough of these little morsels!

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Honey Bread

We tried 2 different main courses. The first being pan fried Alaskan sand dabs, accented with grilled squash on the sides and mashed potato below. The sand dabs were fried in butter and topped with olive oil. I enjoyed the crispy well done texture of the sand dabs, as well as the yummy flavor. The mashed potato was superb, perfectly creamy and smooth, and seasoned well.

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Pan-Fried Sand Dabs

The other dish was bacon-wrapped shrimp with filet mignon with risotto and mushroom sauce. The bacon worked well with the shrimp, and the risotto had a great appetizing flavor to it, but I think my favorite was the filet mignon. The filet was amazing- Tender, like butter and quite juicy, full of deliciousness.

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Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp, Filet Mignon, Risotto

I will have to come back to try the desserts, calamari appetizer and filet of sole, cooked in parchment paper, with a bounty of in season vegetables.

 

Location:  755 Abrego Street in Monterey, CA

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