Saturday, September 21, 2013

Linda Mar beach in Pacifica, homemade ketchup and Concord grapes

Pacifica beach

As a final hurrah for our summer vacation we wanted one more visit to a beach.  The initial plan was to  go to Stinson, since we had failed to make it there earlier in the summer.  But we failed again and ended up at Linda Mar in Pacifica instead.  

This is a great place for surfers-we watched a surf class for about an hour.

As a bonus, this is the home of the World's Best Taco Bell as declared by Lucky Peach.  We had seen this last year but had just eaten so passed it by.  You can't even tell that that it is a Taco Bell since it is built in driftwood style (that is it in the photo below).  It truly is the best-there are floor to ceiling windows looking onto the ocean and outdoor seating.  There is a walk-up window for those with sandy feet....

It started as quite a misty morning but cleared up for a few minutes at a time.  But meanwhile the ocean sounded delightful the entire time.

 All the photos stitched together into a panorama...the wave looks funny!

As a bonus we stopped in Half Moon Bay and got our Halloween pumpkins

Homemade ketchup, roasted veg, Concord Grape season

The little guy (whose doesn't like vegetables) looked at the gardens in the tomatoes in the garden and declared them done.  I asked if he wanted to try them and he said, no, he doesn't like tomatoes, but he loves ketchup.  So we made ketchup!

First you drop the tomatoes into boiling water for a minute.  Then drop them into ice water before peeling off the skin.

After deseeding and draining we blended and then boiled up the tomatoes with salt and sugar.

When it is all boiled down, ketchup!

The other day I made roasted root vegetable soup with fennel root, onions, rutabagas, yams, turnips, parsnips and carrots!  It took all afternoon to cook down but it is feeding us for days.

And it is Concord grape season!  

Splurt the insides out of the skins before cooking.

After boiling for 5 minutes I used the hand blender to loosen the seeds.  Then put them through the sieve to separate out the seeds.  
Remix the skins with the insides and freeze up to make into grape pie for Thanksgiving!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Atlantic City

In our quest of things we have never done-Atlantic City! August 2013

Possibly the best thing we did was go to White House subs and get their special.  This is the 'half' and is a foot long.  It was $8, what a bargain.  I saw folks picking up 6 wholes, what a great way to feed a party.  The roasted peppers and onions really bring the perfect flavor.

Even though it was lightly raining we ate outside in the park across the street, though if you wait in line you can sit inside in a booth.  I had just read about it in Lucky Peach, the Travel issue, but you can easily find it on Yelp etc.

My original idea was that we would sit on the beach....

I picked the Tropicana because reviews said it had the best shopping/mall hang out.  Good thing. With the rain we walked the mall, people-watched from a bar and went to an IMAX movie. 

They have gone with a Cuban theme decor.

And it was nice and all, but if you have been to Vegas....this is a very mini version.  We walked into a couple other hotels and yup, the Tropicana was the biggest indoor space.  And we didn't gamble, but the tables seemed reasonably busy.  

We did get comped some drinks.  We went to the sushi bar for dinner and ordered saki.  Turns out they don't have saki cups.  And they pour everything out of the large 750ml bottles.  I'm not sure if the waitress doesn't know that saki is much stronger than wine, or was feeling generous...basically we got 3X the expected amount in wine glasses.  Heh.

Luckily it cleared up enough to at least walk on the beach.

It is a little weird to have casinos and beach since I don't associate them together, but I can see if you grew up with it, not weird at all.  There were a lot of families walking through the casino pulling coolers and carrying beach umbrellas.

Atlantic City is home to Miss America, so they have a sand castle...

And as we are getting ready to leave it looks like a great beach day...

Friday, September 6, 2013

Chippewa Falls WI

Had a chance to visit my hometown and do a nostalgia tour.

So not a big part of my growing up except for driving past the factory, but they have turned into a big deal (4th largest craft brewer says the tour guide).  I have to admire the marketing guys who figured out to make it a destination.  The site is gorgeous (right by the river), you can take a tour and buy merchandise.

Before our 11:30 tour we had tasting beer and pretzels.  The pretzels are hand made by local ladies and are FANTASTIC (thanks to Kathy for the tip to buy them, at the end of our tour they were almost sold out).  

Our tour guide showing us the ingredients.  All local sourced except the hops which can't be grown in Wisconsin in commercial amounts.

I won the quiz at the end of the tour and got a keychain (5 gallons of honey go into one fermentation batch of honey weiss)!

My fridge back in California.  They have gone big enough that my local grocery store and Target sell the Summer Shandy.  So I am helping a local economy, right?

 Olsen's Ice Cream
This cone has been here pretty much forever.  We usually just bought the galleon at the grocery store, but sometimes we went to the downtown store.  Either way it is delicious.

Casa Mexicana
Okay, this is new to me.  Authentic Mexican food in downtown Chippewa!  Apparently it is a small family owned local chain.  The portions are huge and the drink specials are good.
The decor is all hand made and like nothing I have seen before.  

As you can tell it was fantastic, we went two nights in a row-unheard of for us.  The food is good enough that it would fit in here in Northern California. 

Irvine Park
Chippewa Falls has one of the nicest parks ever (IMHO)-Irvine Park has tons of playgrounds and picnic spots.  It even has a small zoo.  Growing up there were even three black bears.  Next to the bears was the spooky cave.  Only the really brave went to the back wall.
 The entrance looks fine

 But then you get to the end of the concrete path and have to step on the stones

But once you make it you can look out the front

Or up to see where the water is dripping out of a spooky pipe.

 Much less spooky settings for the animals
 Albino peacock?  The peacocks can actually fly over the fences, but they tend to hang out inside during the day.

 Sleeping hyena

 And you have to have bison.

Maybe best of all is Glen Loch dam.  We used to come here to picnic or just hang out.  Just a short hike from the road within the park.
Thanks for the memories!

Walker Art Center mini golf

August 2013

I had heard that the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis had a neat exhibit-mini golf designed by artists.  Well, we had to try that!  We were able to go as a family and it was good fun though the playability of some of the holes was questionable.

Here are some highlights.
Move Your Hole!  There are a bunch of holes you can putt into, all but one are covered.  Instead of putting, you can take your turn to change which hole is open, making it easier for you or harder for others.

Earth Avenues.  Your ball runs through an ant farm-looks super cool, but it was hard to putt up to the top and we had a ball get stuck in the tunnel.

Tilt-A-Putt.  The most fun with the least golf.  Once you putt onto the maze, you use handles to tilt the maze.  The closer to the center you get the ball, the fewer strokes you get-cousin got a Hole in One!

Mega Golf.  A miniature model of the Walker Art Center has been placed inside a giant golf ball.

18 Holes in One.  They overlaid all 18 holes of the Augusta courses onto one tree like shape.  Very playable and a fun idea.

Garden Gnome Foosball lets everyone help or hinder the ball along to the hole.  This might have been the best hole.

Be a Sculpture!  Those not currently putting get to stand on the course as obstacles.

We also spent time in the sculpture garden.  Since we are on a Richard Turrell kick we went to the Sky Pecher installation, a serene cave with a nice 'sky light'.

 In the conservatory Frank Gehry's Standing Glass Fish which I think would lose something if not in a glass building.

And of course the famous Spoonbridge and Cherry which everyone loves so is good people watching.

And I really liked this installation which is native plants set up like a garden.

A great visit all around-maybe in the winter we will make it inside...