In-N-Out replay

In-N-Out replay

The next morning, we were back at the stores at opening time. Right on the dot. There’s no time to waste now! Needless to say, we spent the entire morning doing what we do best.

Just for the heck of it, we decided to have lunch at the same outlet where we had our first taste of In-N-Out. From experience, we know this (and many other) In-N-Out’s are perpetually swarming with people, practically any time of day. There was just no way we could get a table inside, and even if we could get a table outside, we wouldn’t have wanted to sit in the sun.

So we took the drive-thru which if you’re thinking is much faster, it’s not. The line is like miles long but at least we get to karaoke and dance to k-pop in a/c comfort. On the way out of the drive-thru, we noticed a family having an In-and-Out picnic under their SUV hood out back.

So you see In-N-Out lovers can get pretty creative. We ate ours in the car too right there in the parking lot the first time we were here. Except this time, the parking lot was full, and so with our cheeseburgers, fries and free water…

In-N-Out replay

… we drove straight back to the stores, parked in the only spot we could find which happened to be in the semi-shade of a very skinny tree, wound down the windows (the sun may be blazing outside but the air is still pretty cool at 11:00am) and had a picnic in the car.

In-N-Out replay

Mmm mmm mmm! Tell me, how can a $2.35 cheeseburger taste this good? Oh man! I may not eat burgers very often but when I do, this is it! The only burger I’ll eat, no matter which side of the planet I’m on. ’nuff said.

In-N-Out replay

Vietnamese-Thai noodles x 3

Vietnamese-Thai noodles x 3

In the early evening, we took a break from an afternoon’s ‘hard work’ and headed out for dinner at Saigon 2 Siam, an Indochinese restaurant we’d discovered on our previous trip to Gilroy. Back then, we’d gone back there two nights in a row to savor their tasty fare, and this time, we’d been so looking forward to eating there again.

What we hadn’t anticipated though was how popular this place had become. It was the only restaurant on the strip with a crowd waiting outside. Bah humbug! and we thought WE were early! Man, it wasn’t even officially dinner time yet!

We asked the staff how long the wait time would be (because we needed to get back to ‘work” and didn’t want to waste any time lol) but he couldn’t tell us because there was no actual line. At any rate, we left our name and phone number for him to call us when a table became available.

Which obviously wasn’t gonna to happen since the staff were all so ultra busy no one was keeping track of who got there first. Usually people would be honest and not cut the line but since the crowd looked hungry and touristy, well, who knows?!!

A half hour later, we went back to check. Thankfully a family was slowly, ve-ry ve-r-ry slowly gathering up their reluctant kids to leave. And when they finally did leave, they left a table strewn with mountains of tissues and the floor littered with rice! And we had to wait some more for the staff to clean up their mess.

Outside the crowd was growing. The poor staff were trying hard to stay calm and serve while we were trying hard to tell our tummies to keep the noise down with tiny sips of the cucumber-infused water they’d served us. Yes, water is free and free flow, and it being cucumber-infused is a definite bonus.

We fell in love with their Drunken Noodles on our last visit. It was crazy delicious. So naturally we had to order it again. Sadly though, it didn’t taste quite the same. I’m guessing they’ve tuned it down. It’s now milder, much sweeter, and not fiery enough for us (should’ve asked them to up the fire index, darn!).

Vietnamese-Thai noodles x 3

Speaking of sweet, the Pad Thai was way sweet and not quite the expected tangy, savory taste. The color too was somewhat unexpected. We were fairly stuffed by the time we got to this plate and had to box the leftovers and find a way to finish it later.

Vietnamese-Thai noodles x 3

Now after our recent Vermicelli Bowl discovery back at Hipville, we were thrilled to see it here on their menu and ordered it immediately. So glad we did. It was simply delicious. Love the presentation too.

Vietnamese-Thai noodles x 3

So with dinner out of the way, we sped back to the stores to continue our good work. Yes!

Lunch in Carmel

Lunch in Carmel

Over the long Labor Day weekend (was that really 2 weekends ago? wow), we snuck out of town early one morning just after sunrise on our little road trip to Gilroy, CA. Our mission: to catch the Labor Day sales… what else? But before that, we decided to make a quick turnoff to Carmel-by-the-Sea for lunch.

Lunch in Carmel

If the thought of lunch in Carmel, dinner in Gilroy somehow conjures up images of lunch in Paris, dinner in New York, well, this would be the poor man’s version. Gilroy and Carmel are less than an hour’s drive from each other, so we’re not exactly talking jetset here lol. Nevertheless, good try!

I’ve been to Carmel many times since college. You know, there’re places where no matter how many times you’ve been there, it’s still that same old sleepy town of beautiful houses, quaint stores, narrow streets, gnarled trees and uneven sidewalks. It seems nothing ever changes there. And it’s nice, seeing everything as you remember ’em from the first time.

Carmel sits on the California coast with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. On the drive in, I’m eagerly anticipating glimpses of houses and picket fences partially hidden from the main road by leafy vegetation and angled driveways. I admit I’m a diehard romantic and everything about this little town could’ve come straight out of a romance novel.

Soon the residential road gives way to artsy-craftsy stores with lattice display windows and painted doors lining the narrow cross streets. The next thing that hits you is that everyone is out walking their dogs. Yes, everyone! Okay, maybe not the people milling around outside the little hip restaurants patiently waiting for a table.

Lunch in Carmel

It’d be nice if I could remember the name of the restaurant where we had clam chowder, and fish and chips when Hip2bDaughter1 was three years old. I don’t even know if it’s still there. Probably not. But the Italian owner was so nice he gave Hip2bDaughter1 extra packets of those little saltine crackers he saw her reaching into my packet with her chubby little fingers, and there was none left.

On our last trip here 3 years ago, we discovered Flaherty’s. Quite by accident. They served the best lobster linguine carbonara we’ve ever tasted. In fact, we started with one serving and just had to order another because it was tha-aat good! And the owner, an older bearded man, promised us free ice cream on our next visit when we couldn’t stop raving about his food.

And this is what we’ve come back for this time. Sadly though, they seem to have changed owners because, heck, that one-in-a-million lobster linguine ain’t on the menu no more *bawls loudly and stomps feet*! There’s just no way! Devastated, we resorted to ordering their crab carbonara instead which tasted weird because of those, those pesky green onions in it!!!

Lunch in Carmel

I mean, who would put green onions into pasta and WHY?!! You know what, I associate green onions with Asian food and I would rarely, if ever, use it in Western cooking simply because the pungent flavor of the green onions would overpower the subtle aroma of the Italian herbs. So what kind of pasta would that be then?

The million dollar question is, what are those chopped green onions doing in that pasta? Well, we think we may have figured out the answer. We could be wrong but it’s probably to appeal to the palates of Chinese tourists so that when they see those familiar old green onions, they’d think, hey, there’s green onions in this so it probably tastes like Chinese food!

Aargh, I don’t get it! The very premise of spending so much money traveling to far-flung lands is to experience the different cuisines and cultures and everything else that’s new and unfamiliar. Take in a breath of fresh air, know what I mean?? It completely defeats the purpose of going all that distance only to snap a few photos and eat the same old stuff you’ve been eating every single day of your life! Am I making any sense here? Lol!

Anyways, back to my story. I had to have my clam chowder, of course and I honestly wasn’t prepared to be as disappointed as I was. This was clearly a case of too much potato, too little soup.

Lunch in Carmel

As for the fish and chips, the fish was fresh and flaky. Very nice. I would’ve loved to have eaten more but between the three of us, there wasn’t quite enough to go around. I guess we hadn’t taken into account the fact that Carmel being a touristy place, the portions might be a little smaller than what we’re used to.

Lunch in Carmel

Still we had a pretty good lunch. The weather was so nice – around mid-60F which meant we could walk around in light, long-sleeved tops – that we decided to stroll around town for a bit before we left for Gilroy.

Have you ever been to Carmel, CA? Did you find any good restaurants you’d love to visit again?

Bowled over

Bowled over

We had to make a trip to the k-mart to stock up on kimchi, gojuchang and some other supplies. The k-mart is kinda out of the way for us and it doesn’t open till 12:00pm on Sundays. So we decided to slip in lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant nearby.

We’ve been to this eatery a couple of times but somehow couldn’t really remember how their food tasted. There were probably things we liked and some we didn’t but we couldn’t recall which was which. So we did what any other seasoned foodie would do. We eeny meeny miny moed our way across the menu, then sat back and crossed our fingers hoping we’d made the right choices.

Well, we’ll see…

I’ll have to say the beef ball noodle soup wasn’t what I’d expected. There was wa-ay too much bean sprouts. More than flat rice noodles, in fact. To a diehard carb freak like me, that’s a bitter bitter disappointment. I WANT my noodles and I want them NOW! I thought the homemade beef balls would lift me out of my misery but nope, they were hard as rocks.

Bowled over

When Hip2bDaughter’s grilled pork and shrimp vermicelli bowl arrived, I eyed it cautiously. I didn’t know how they would taste but that bowl sure looked better than mine! The minute I tasted it, I about fell off my chair. Huh?!

Bowled over

These noodles were so-oo good and they weren’t even served hot. You know how I feel about noodles that aren’t hot. You’ve heard my gripe about cold noodles and my compromise with room temperature noodles.

Well, let’s just say this may well have sealed the deal for me. I will admit now that I’m totally sold on room temp noodles. Seriously! Well, I may go back on my word later if we find something better but for now, just give them this vermicelli bowl…

… bursting with shrimp, grilled pork (that tasted like char siew, or Asian style barbecued pork), veggies and there was even an egg roll thrown in for good measure. Oh man, that egg roll!! It’s making me drool right now thinking of it.

Although there are items on the menu we’re not crazy about, this place is going into our Pearl (aka Picky Eater Approved Restaurant List) if only for their tasty vermicelli bowl. We were sharing these two orders here. But the next time, I’m going to order my very own vermicelli bowl and I’d like to see anyone try to stop me *rubs hands together greedily*!

A very fruitful week

A very fruitful week

You’re no doubt wondering how far along we are with all those fruits we mindlessly bought last weekend. How much have we eaten? Are we almost done? Or is there still a big heap sitting there waiting to turn nasty? Well, it’s Saturday afternoon, exactly a week to the day we carted home more fruits than I thought we could possibly consume in this space of time. Let’s see…

The world’s best of the best grapes are all gone. You knew that. There’s no way we could’ve resisted chomping on them non-stop. In fact, someone was suggesting another trip back to that farm market this weekend!!!

We’re done with the other half of the first watermelon which means it effectively took the three of us 3 days to nibble through a whole watermelon. Hmm, not bad at all. The second one seems comfortable sitting in the fridge so I think I’ll let it sit there for a bit longer, partly to test how long it can actually last.

As for the blueberries, well, what can I say? The Oregon blueberries are enjoying an extended winter stay in the freezer. As for those from Canada, we’re halfway through. Yeah, slow-going, I know! *sigh* Why are they so freakin’ sour? *shudders*. Every morning, I dump a whole truckload into my overnight oats. See, there’s more blueberries than oats but there’s still so much left. Tsk!

A very fruitful week

How else can I finish them up quick? Brainwave! Blueberry pancakes!!! We made the batter and threw in a few blueberries hoping they’ll stain the batter blue. Wouldn’t that be an Instagram moment cool? Taking a quick peek at my babies at 5:00 in the morning here. Houston, do we have blue batter? Not a chance. Oh well! Sour and stubborn, that’s what!

A very fruitful week

The mushy black plums are long gone, slurped up in a flash in all its gooey sweetness. So good! And those bananas that were sitting tight on my counter top this whole week and which I thought were never gonna ripen are all gone now. .

We did good *burp*. Loved it. We devoured all the fruits we bought last weekend except for one whole watermelon and one box of blueberries.

Let the fruit overdose begin

Let the fruit overdose begin

If ever there was a weekend when we overdid the fruit buying bit, this would’ve been it. I guess seeing so many fruits in season and so inexpensive, we just kept hoarding mindlessly and no one even noticed. This is seriously a case of too many fruits, too little time… to eat in one week?

First into our grocery cart were the bananas. Six of them, thankfully all still very green so they can wait. Then came the black plums. Six of them. They ripened on our way home, no thanks to 98 degrees. Well, to me, plums are best when they’re overripe, soft and mushy, and these were insanely sweet with a fragrance too, so I guess I’m not gonna complain.

On our way home, we passed by the farm market where we get our supply of grapes every year. And I’m not kiddin’ when I say these are the best grapes in the whole wide world. Go California! Incredibly sweet with skin so crispy they pop when you bite into them.

Let the fruit overdose begin

At our regular grocery store, we saw those watermelons waving at us and we went craa-azy and picked out 2 big ones! Goodness knows we really need this many watermelons to cool ourselves down, right? Yeah, right!

Well, this morning, I cut one in half and here’s the other half sitting in the fridge, and the other whole one waiting in the wings. Omg lol! Apparently whole watermelons can last a week on the counter top and 2-3 weeks in the fridge. Let’s hope this works out for us.

Let the fruit overdose begin

Next came the blueberries. I swear I have no idea how we ended up with 2 whole boxes – one box Canadian grown, and another from Oregon which I thought it best to freeze while we work our way through the other fruits. Blueberries will stay fresh longer if you don’t wash them till you’re ready to eat them. Between the two, the Canadian blueberries (left) are small and sour while the Oregon ones are bigger and pretty sweet!

Let the fruit overdose begin

And with that, we’re set to OD on fruits this week. Breakfast. brunch, lunch and dinner. Let’s go!

First things first

First things first

Just a hop, skip and jump, and we’re back in Hipville! The first thing I noticed when I stepped off the plane was how cool it was in LA. I think the temps must’ve been in the 70’s with a cool breeze blowing in from the Pacific. For a moment, it felt more like spring than smack in the middle of summer.

My first cup of coffee came out of desperation a Keurig coffee maker. Wide awake at 4 o’clock in the morning due to the 15-hour time difference, I could either try to go back to sleep except I’ve been lying there for an hour and clearly nothing’s happening. Or I could down a cup of freshly dripped coffee to shock the jetlag out of my system.

First things first

Along with lack of sleep always comes pangs of hunger. I swear a great deal of energy is expended by the body in trying to deal with the confusion of the internal clock. This, by the way, is a great time to catch up with all that food I’ve been missing.

First stop, Baja. I tell ya there’s much more to that grilled shrimp salad than meets the eye. Each mouthful is like music to my tastebuds. That’s how much I’ve missed Mexican food. Sorry about the glare in the photo. We were seated by the glass wall and the mid-morning sun was pouring in.

First things first

Next stop, Round Table. Notice how the toppings go all the way to the very edge of the pizza instead of stopping short, leaving a 1-inch outer ring of plain pizza dough with zero topping.

First things first

And it’s open season for fruits again. I really needed to take a break from Korean pears (inside joke lol) but ended up buying a 6-pack of apple pears (not in picture). Talk about old habits.

I also bought a huge watermelon which was so juicy and sweet we devoured half of it in just one day. Strawberries and blueberries are in season too, so plump, sweet and inexpensive. Happy days!

First things first

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