Tuesday, December 1, 2009

At Cannery Row in Monterey - C restaurant + bar

Ah! The California coast! With the state in dire financial crisis, we Californians atleast have these breath-taking places to retreat to and hide. We do not have to spend too much of our heavily-taxed hard-earned dollars on vacation travel, as these exotic locations are right here in our backyard! With our annual family visit coming up soon, V and I decided on a quiet Thanksgiving this year with just the two of us. Monterey on the Pacific coast, known for its famous aquarium, is less than 2 hours from us. We were rewarded with glorious views on our drive. We stopped on the way at Moss Landing beach to have a picnic lunch and saw an amazing variety of coastal birds, all of whom we later identified in our bird book.

When we got to Monterey, we spent a couple of hours walking around and window-shopping in Cannery Row. We were later reminded by a friend that we missed the obligatory photo-op next to the bust of John Steinbeck, famous for his novels set in Monterey. (Apparently the water-front street was named after Steinbeck's novel, and not the other way around!)

We had reservations for dinner at the "C restaurant" in the Intercontinental hotel located right next to the aquarium. We dressed up for a change - V looked quite spiffy in a gray suit! We were seated with a view of the water and even though the ocean was a deep dark inky abyss by dinner time, we could hear the waves crashing and see the occassional one breaking against the walls. V and I rarely drink (alcoholic beverages, that is), but again, for a change, we ordered the "New World Flight" sparkling wine sampler from the special Thanksgiving menu to kick off a fabulous dinner.

We were pleased that the special 4-course Thanksgiving menu had quite a few choices for vegetarians. Dinner started with "Deviled Glaum Ranch Farm Egg" - the green filling where the yolk had been was flavorful, but we couldn't figure out what went in it.

From the appetizer course, V ordered the "Sweet Potato and Arugula Salad" and I ordered the "Potato Gnocchi". We both unanimously agreed that the gnocchi was the best we had ever had. I am not a gnocchi person but the description sounded so good with roasted butternut squash, brown butter, and sage leaves that I had to try it. The salad with fresh arugula and roasted sweet potato had an delicate "vanilla bean vinagarette" dressing, which neither of us had tasted before. We were off to a good start.

The main course was "Wild Mushroom Risotto" prepared with chanterelles and porcini mushrooms that I could individually taste, i.e. it was not a mushy mess. It also had a lot of sweet caramelized onions and a mushroom sauce on top.

Dessert was a delicious finale to an excellent meal. V got the "Ginger Spice Cake" and I got the "Pecan Tartlet with Vanilla Gelato". V gobbled up the chocolate toffee that came on top of the Spiced Cake. The cake was very light and had a lot of ginger flavor to it, and was not overly sweet. It made a good counterfoil to the sweet Vanilla gelato on top of the pecan tartlet. The tartlet itself made a great sweet, crunchy and nutty ending to our dessert and our overall meal!

Dinner was nice relaxing event, and service was impeccable. We gave thanks for our great friends and family, all the wonderful getaways we were able to enjoy this year and most of all, our health. The C restaurant + bar, is a bit pricey, but a great place to sit and have a drink or a bite to eat in Monterey.

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