An Epic Birthday Week – Episode VIII

On Day 8 of my epic west coast adventure, I slept in and woke up to an empty house because Lily and CS had stepped out. I wandered into the kitchen and microwaved two of those awesome Lucy’s Tamales and doused them liberally with La Vic’s legendary orange sauce. I’m sure I must have reeked of garlic afterwards but it was worth it; that sauce is excellent. Surprisingly, I found that I preferred Lucy’s chicken tamale to the pork. But frankly, anything that is a carrier for orange sauce is pretty damn good!

Later on, Lily and CS returned and CS had an old friend stop by with his girlfriend because they were on their way to the San Jose airport. We had time to grab a quick lunch together at a cool little Irish pub called CB Hannegan’s. I wasn’t hungry after having downed two tamales, so I just ordered a Caesar’s salad. Nothing too remarkable except for the fact that it contained avocado slices which I’ve never seen on a Caesar before. Maybe it’s a California thing.

After CS dropped the friends off at the airport we had the afternoon free and decided to make the drive down to Moss Landing to check out this famous place for Cioppino:

Phil's Fish Market

Phil’s Cioppino was featured on an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay. You know, the show where Bobby challenges chefs around the country in a cook-off of their specialty dish, and where Bobby usually loses. Yes he lost to Phil at this Cioppino throwdown too, and I wanted to taste the winning dish. I knew it had to be good as soon as we got there because there is literally nothing else around the area that people would actually have reason to visit, yet there were plenty of cars in the parking lot. Inside, in addition to the tables for dining, there’s an actual fish market and a bar. You place your order at the counter and they give you a number which you take with you to a table and then they run your food out to you when it’s ready. You can buy a bottle of wine at the bar to bring to your table as well. Here’s a look at Phil’s famous Cioppino:

Phil's Cioppino

It was chock full of super fresh pieces of seafood, but for me, the pleasure was all about the broth. Tomato based and a little sweet, it had a depth of flavor that could only come from being cooked with lots and lots of fresh seafood, particularly shellfish. Great for sopping up with the pieces of garlic bread which would otherwise have been a failure because they were so soft (I like my garlic bread toasty!). We also had some nice steamed clams and grilled artichokes. Food-wise it wasn’t nearly as good as the meal I had at The Boiling Crab earlier in the week, but there is something tremendously enjoyable about sitting at an open air table on a beautiful afternoon, getting messy with seafood and drinking a couple bottles of crisp sauvignon blanc. That’s the way to spend an afternoon.

After making our way back to San Jose, Mat met up with us for dinner. We wanted to go back to The Boiling Crab since Nancy and Lily didn’t get a chance to try it yet, but this time the wait really was two hours long so we opted for plan B- more Vietnamese. This time a place called Anh Hong which featured a set menu of “7 Courses of Beef”. It was a good meal with interesting flavors and sauces, but Mat put it best when he said four of the courses were pretty much the same. Some pieces were meant to be wrapped in rice paper sheets, others came wrapped in seaweed, etc. A pretty good meal, and as it was with all of these Vietnamese places, the price was very reasonable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.