December 12th, 2009

Traveler

Of Culinary Surprises...

When I travel, I enjoy sampling the local food. So, when Wendy and I drove through Santa Maria on the way North yesterday, we stopped at Pappy's Diner. From the outside, Pappy's looked like it might have really, really good food or really bad food. The sheer number of cars in the parking lot was reassuring.

My BBQ Tri-Tip sandwich from locally grown beef was great.

The place was packed with Air Force from Vandenberg, cowboys, and construction workers. They also featured "poquitos" as an optional side. These Santa Maria area-grown beans, much smaller than pinto beans, were baked into a thick yumminess.

our car parked
in the BBQ grill's spot...
last sip of coffee

Back on the road, the rain picked up between San Luis Obispo and Salinas. It was steady but light as we pulled into Pacific Grove's Deer Haven Inn. By the time we made it downtown for the Friday Night Lights Party where all the stores were open late, offered discounts, and musicians played Christmas music on every corner, it had stopped raining.

There's a little Italian restaurant in Pacific Grove, where last year we had the most amazing cioppino. We talked about it on the entire drive, even when ordering at Pappy's Diner. So, of course, we ended up there again, enjoying a grilled artichoke from nearby Castroville as an appetizer.

Then, they served the cioppino, but instead the large bowls of fish-based broth brimming with clams, prawns, calamari, scallops, and fresh fish we remembered, they served us long plates, suitable for an ear and a half of corn, with sampler pieces of seafood lined up in a thick marinara sauce. They gave us a large spoon and a seafood fork as eating utensils, the spoon almost wider than the plate.

surprise shopping
we exclaim over the mustache
tea cup