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Santa Cruz weekend report

Nina | Feb 27, 200512:52 AM

Hubby and I enjoyed a glorious, sunny weekend (actually just a bit more than 24 hours) in Santa Cruz to celebrate the 20th anniversary of our engagement. Here's a report of our meals:

Lunch: Pizza My Heart on Pacific Avenue. The slices were big and loaded. We both got thin crust. Hubby got a combo slice (lots of veggies, with some sausage and pepperoni), and the pesto slice. I would have liked the pesto to have more garlic, but then I tend to like things more garlicky than most. My super-veggie slice was great. Loaded with veggies just the way I like it.

Snack: Cookies from Pacific Cookie Company. Always a winner. The chocolate chip ones were warm when we went, so we dcevoured one of those immediately. My favorite for 20 years has been the Lemon Drop; just as good as always. Hubby got a snickerdoodle and an oatmeal raisin. Loved every crumb.

Dinner: Casablanca...where we had our first date 20 years ago. Lovely, understated atmosphere. Nice music; friendly service. We were the first people there, and only one other couple came in while we were there. They said Feb. is a slow month. The food was pretty good...not superlative, but really enjoyable. Hubby started with the calamari, which was a very large serving of fried calamari rings and tentacles. The seasoning in the batter was really tasty, and it wasn't greasy at all. Far too large a portion for an appetize for one, though. I had the fried brie with jalapeno jelly which was not as good as it had been in the past. The jelly had no kick to it at all. I wound up using the spicy dipping sauce from the calamari instead, and that worked. The brie was gooey enough, but I didn't like the coating. They have changed the formula to be a thinner shell of something instead of a breading, and it was overcooked and not as good.
Salads -- house salad with a dried cherry vinaigrette was scrumptious...but after a few bites, the sweetness of the dressing overtook the dish. I ate every molecule anyway, but commented that it really needed some blue cheese or goat cheese to counterbalance the sweetness. Dried cherries are my latest addiction, though, so I still loved it. :) Mains -- hubby had salmon with smashed potatoes and spinach...simple and delicious. I had the grilled scallops with wild rice pilaf...the scallops were fabulous; large and meaty, cooked just right. Lightly dusted with a seasoned flour, so had a crispy-crunch to each bite, but not enough to take away from the scallops. My only complaint was that for $21.95, I would have liked more than 3 of those scallops. But they were really good. The pilaf was fine, nothing special. A few baby asparagus spears added color and vegetation to the plate. They were cooked just right, not mushy, not undercooked.
Dessert was a Grand Marnier creme brulee that we split. I would have liked a more pronounced Grand Marnier flavor, but hubby thought it was perfect. I like stronger flavors than he does, so this did not surprise me. Texture was sublime. The coffee was EXCELLENT...hubby is a coffee snob, so when he likes the coffee, you know it's good. All-in-all, I'm glad I went. They were offering a black-pepper crusted Ahi special, with lentils and pomegranate reduction that sounded really tempting. Give the place a try. And since it was so empty, we each had our own server, so they brought our plates out and set them down in front of us at the same time. A nice touch. Maybe they do that as a matter of course now, not sure.

Breakfast -- included at the Bayview Hotel. Nice little cheese omelet. Little pancakes were light and crispy on the edges. The bacon they served was pancetta, which was different. Not sure I liked it with breakfast food. The OJ was awful...from a can or something, watered down and undrinkable.

Lunch -- the infamous Crepe Place! Sorry detractors, but I loved it, loved it. The OJ was Odwalla and deliciously made up for the swill at breakfast. :) We ate outside in the garden next to the babbling water feature and flowers. Sunny, warm, slight breeze...and the spinach supreme crepe to die for. Buttery, loaded with cheese, fresh spinach, secret is to ask for a 2nd piece of lemon, and then I squeeze one lemon over the crepe first, then spread with the sour cream, them squeeze the second lemon over. Then dig in. All the flavors burst in the mouth and I was in heaven. Hubby did his shrimp create-a-crepe and seemed happy enough to eat and not talk much.:) I was so enthralled with the crepe that I totally forgot about ordering bread. Next time.

Dessert: A quick stop at Marianne's ice cream before heading out of town. I had a junior scoop each of the lemon custard and the fudge brownie. The consistency of the ice creams was to die for. The flavors could have used some work. The lemon custard was too nutmegy and not lemony enough. The fudge brownie was fine, but I would have liked a more pronounced chocolate flavor. And a bit more brownie. Not that I didn't eat every last drop!

So that's all the Santa Cruz news I have to report. It was a magical time of reminiscing and the meals were a treat in the midst of the romance! :)


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