Archive for April, 2010
It’s spring break and the kids are out of school for a whole week. We’d really like to get away and find a place that satisfies all our needs.
The kids would like access to a pool, beach, and some sights.
The parents want a place where they can chill out and taste some good food and wine.
Our usual eating experience on family vacations is ending up at kid friendly places that offer the typical kids meal items: pizza, chicken fingers, and macaroni & cheese.
We’re trying to eat healthy nowadays right? So being someone that loves to cook we looked for a place that has great local ingredients and a hotel that provides a kitchen.
We found the perfect location at the Dolphin Bay Resort in Pismo Beach, California. It’s on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It has access to a great little beach that has tide pools. It has a great infinity pool. And most importantly each room comes with a fully equipped kitchen to cook some great meals. They even have 3 gas grills by the pool. How cool is that?
How many times have you gone on vacation and went strolling through some cool farmers markets specialty gourmet shops that has some great local cheeses and charcuterie? Then you realize that your hotel only offers a small bar fridge in your room that is usually packed with honor bar items like $5.00 candy bars and bags of peanuts. Now you can shop to your hearts content because you have the appropriate place to store and prepare your fresh items.
Since Pismo Beach is located in Central California on the coast we had access to fresh seafood, grass fed beef, excellent wineries, and fresh local produce. Now all we had to do was explore and find some great local ingredients to make some memorable meals as a family.
Cooking on the Road Tip…
Remember you’re not cooking in your own personal kitchen. Take it easy on what to buy and what to cook. At home I have almost every spice and condiment. On the road we needed to limit ourselves to salt, pepper, oregano, basil, olive oil, and vinegar. You can easily break the bank by buying spices and condiments. Plus if you’re cooking with really fresh ingredients you should be good shape with just salt and pepper.
So here is what I bought and cooked for the week:
The first night I found a great gourmet shop called De Palo & Sons Provisions that has wonderful imported Italian Pasta. So I made a basic tomato sauce with crushed plum tomatoes, onion, garlic, oregano, salt & black pepper. Boiled up some pasta al dente. Added the pasta to the sauce for a couple of more minutes to allow the pasta to absorb some of the sauce and served it with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese. On the side I made a salad of fresh lettuces, tomatoes, red onion, celery, cucumber and simple vinaigrette.
The second night I found a great pork shoulder, fresh tomatillos, and cilantro. So in an ovenproof stockpot I seared the pork shoulder on all sides and removed it to a plate to rest. Sauteed some onions and garlic. Added the tomatillos and placed the seared pork shoulder on top. Added some chicken broth and brought everything to a boil. I then placed it in a 350-degree oven to braise for 3 hours. I served it with some simple Yukon gold roasted potatoes.
The third night was Surf and Turf. A little ways up the coast is Avila Beach and they have a quaint little pier that has some great little fresh seafood markets. The important thing to ask is what’s local? Many fish markets are trying to be full service so they will fly in flash frozen seafood from around the world. There’s nothing wrong with that but it’s always great to get something freshly caught to add to the memory of a memorable meal. So we went with some giant oysters from Morro Bay and with some great local Swordfish that was freshly filleted. For the turf we went with local Santa Maria Tri Tip.
I seasoned up the swordfish and tri tip with salt, pepper, oregano, lemon juice, and olive oil. Sparked up the grill and started with the tri tip over a medium flame for 45 minutes. Then added the swordfish and oysters for 10 to 12 minutes. When the oysters were done the shells opened up to show the beautiful oyster bathing in its own nectar.
This was a great way to keep the family involved, active, and engaged. Everyone had a role in preparing and serving the meal.
So for your next trip consider staying at a place with a kitchen and sourcing local ingredients. You’ll be surprised but you’ll be talking about vacation meals for years.