Archive | October, 2011

BCFerries – British Columbia, Canada

24 Oct


You have got to go here…BCFerries – British Columbia, Canada.

Now this blog may throw you off a little bit as I want to encourage you to do something as opposed to just going somewhere.  You must ride on the BCFerries system!

I know a lot of people who have taken a ferry from Seattle to Victoria, B.C., but not a lot who have experienced the spectacular ride from Victoria to Vancouver ,or to other Southern Gulf Islands in Canada – I am here to tell you it is a must do!

On a two-week road trip I was lucky enough to take a relaxing 90 minute ferry ride to Vancouver from Victoria, and boy was I impressed.  First, the ferry itself was amazing!  It was like a mini cruise ship.  There was a nail salon, gift store, restaurant, guided tours by naturalists, and a kid zone!  I was not prepared for all the amenities as the ferry ride from Seattle (Port Angeles, WA) to Victoria was much smaller and less impressive, but still fun!

The BCFerries allow pedestrians and car passage.  After parking our car on the lower level, we walked up to explore the ship.  I immediately looked for seats inside, but as soon as I looked out on the deck I knew that I wanted to be there!

I was just amazed at how beautiful it was.  On our initial ferry ride to get to the island the only scenery was the vast open ocean.  I assumed that I would encounter the same thing on this ferry ride, but I was wrong.  We passed several islands with picturesque landscape, beautiful homes and wildlife. I daydreamed about exploring the lush greenery.   My one regret on this trip is that I didn’t visit any of the other islands…maybe you can do that for me!

Although we brought games to pass the time…we ended up spending every moment of the trip on the deck enjoying nature together.  We did nothing but view the wonder in front of us and feel the wind blowing through our hair…it may have been the best part of our two-week trip.

Before we knew it we had to go back to our car and prepare to disembark…I was so sad…our mini cruise was over and I couldn’t wait to do it again!

OK, so now that I told you the fun stuff…here are some formalities.  I would highly recommend a reservation, especially if you have a car.  Also, there are different fares depending on where you are going, so make sure you take a close look.

I hope you realize that the journey is also just as important as the destination, and a ride on the BCFerries system is a true testament to this.

Happy Ferrying!

Crystal

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Citizen Cake – San Francisco, Calif.

18 Oct


You have got to go here…Citizen Cake – San Francisco, Calif.

OK, so a small tidbit about me…I LOVE sweets!  If you do as well, Citizen Cake will be your new favorite place!  It is located at 2125 Fillmore St. in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco – side note…FABULOUS shopping here too!

Ever since I saw Chef Elizabeth Falkner on Top Chef Just Desserts, I knew that one day I had to experience her sweet creations…I was lucky enough to achieve that goal!

Citizen Cake is not only a dessert establishment, but a restaurant as well.  Fair warning, I did not eat savory food…I went straight for the good stuff!

Giddy with excitement I entered the dessert mecca…look at the view:

Every thing was beautiful and there was much to choose from…meringues, cookies, candy, mousse, cupcakes, pie…OH MY!  It was hard to decide, but we finally selected a lemon meringue tart and sea salted caramels – and milk of course!

It was like heaven, the desserts were fresh and tasty.  The meringue was light and fluffy and the lemon custard not to sweet and not to lemony – it was a gorgeous shade of yellow!  The caramels…OMG (excuse the slang), but really…they were creamy and the salt chaser completed the perfect taste.  I really wish I could have reviewed more of the goodies, but that is going to be your job!

In addition to the wonderful desserts, the ambiance is cool.  It is chic, upscale and romantic.  The decor is whimsical…it wasn’t only a meal, but an experience too!




I was really sad to leave, as places like this make me happy!  My suggestion is to go with a group so you can try several different things and go hungry!  This is a must stop in San Francisco and I can’t wait to go back…

On a side note, the staff was great…they were really nice and helped answer all our sweet questions.

Happy Desserting,

Crystal

The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove – Newport Beach, Calif.

12 Oct



You have got to go here…The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove – Newport Beach, Calif.

So much to tell…oh where do I start?  OK…how do you get there???  The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove is located within the Historic District at Crystal Cove State Park in Newport Beach, Calif.  It is an adventure just to get there!

You must park in the Los Trancos lot off Pacific Coast Highway (your parking will be validated by The Beachcomber if you spend more than $15.00.)  From there you can either ride the shuttle down ($1.00 each way) or take a short walk, downhill, through the historic tunnel that is filled with amazing art work by local children- totally my suggestion!



After you pass through the tunnel you will enter a historic district filled with cottages from the 1930’s and 40’s.  They were originally built as a seaside community, but now can be rented  through the state park system.  The rumor is that it is extremely difficult to get a reservation, but once you see them you will know why.  They are so quaint and cute…it really feels like you are going back in time.  You can poke around the outside and even use the restrooms in some of them…investigate – you will be glad you did!

Aren’t you hungry from all of the sight-seeing?  Well have no fear…the path you are on will lead you right to the beach and food…The Beachcomber straight ahead!

OK, so there are several cool things about this restaurant… one being the history – it is inside one of the cottages and the decor is so awesome and kitschy!

No matter where you choose to sit…the ambiance is awesome!  You can also sit at the bar, but they have a limited menu.  If you are more interested in cocktails, that is the place to go…the beignets are amazing!

Before we talk about the food…I highly suggest you make a reservation as on beautiful days the wait can be long – or you could put your name in, go for a swim and come back for some grub when your pager goes off.

So I know what you may be thinking…beach food – gross!  Well this place will change your mind.  Their menu is extensive, gourmet and changes so that they may use fresh, local and seasonal ingredients.  Look below at what we had: watermelon/arugula salad, chicken, tomato soup and pork chops!

I suggest sharing so that you can try a few things!

While the gourmet food is certainly a reason to go to The Beachcomber, don’t forget the other things that make it a hidden gem: a walk through an artsy tunnel and strolling through the historic district…but that is not all!

Every day at 5 p.m. the cocktail flag is raised and saluted to – just like back in the old days!

Also, you never know who may join you for your meal…we had a hawk who had just scooped up a fish partake in eating with us!

The final thing that makes The Beachcomber a must visit is the scenary…how could you not love eating by the beach???

My work is done here…go enjoy a nice meal!

Happy Eating,

Crystal

Tanaka Farms – Irvine, Calif.

6 Oct


You have got to go here…Tanaka Farms – Irvine, Calif.

Isn’t this picture enough to make you want to visit Tanaka Farms?  Look at all those awesome pumpkins that you can pick yourself!!!

Tanaka Farms is located in Irvine, Calif., not far off the 405 freeway.  If you live in the Southern California area or are visiting, it is worth a trip.  Since we don’t really have seasons here in California, going to the Tanka Farms to pick pumpkins makes me feel like it is fall outside – even if it is 80 degrees.  Did you catch what I said?  PICK PUMPKINS!  That is right, you can pick them right off the vine.  While some have been picked for those who may not be as adventurous, there are plenty available for you to get your hands dirty…my favorite part!  There are orange ones, white ones, green ones…OH MY!

After many trips up and down the rows (and longer than I wish to admit), I finally found my perfect pumpkins.  Take your time, have fun! I promise there is nothing like picking your own pumpkins.  I was so giddy and excited…it made me feel like a kid again!






So you think the fun is over right?  NO WAY…Have you ever seen a pumpkin cannon?  Well now is your chance.  I know it sounds silly, but it was totally rad (yah I said it!).  Seeing a pumpkin shoot into the sky and smash into pieces on the hillside was so much fun.  I mean come one, you don’t see that everyday!  The only thing that would have made it better was if I got to push the button, but sadly that didn’t happen…hahaha!


My suggestion: stay for at least two pumpkins…you won’t be sorry

Now you think all the fun is over right?  NOT EVEN CLOSE!  Have you ever picked your own veggies?  Well, Tanaka Farms lets you do that too!  They have radishes, green onions, green beans and carrots (all organic).  I actually got to pick my side dishes – truly farm to table.  The U-PICK veggies are $2.99 a pound and well worth it.  You can’t get any fresher than that.

Are you ready for more?  There is also a corn maze, BBQ, produce stand (with farm fresh fruits, veggies, and more) and a petting zoo.  Interested in getting a box of fresh fruits and veggies once a week?  Sign-up for the “Community Supported Agriculture” program and your wish is Tanaka Farms command.

As you can probably see pumpkin season is my favorite, but Tanka Farms offers year round U-Pick opportunities: strawberries in the spring,watermelons in the summer and Christmas Trees in the winter.

OK, well I am going to leave you with one more pictures to temp you into visiting Tanka Farms this season…look at my loot!


Happy Pumpkin Picking,

Crystal