Friday, November 14, 2014

First Time: Oyster Shucking

Tomales Bay Oyster farm is one of the more popular oyster farms in California. They serve fresh farmed oysters, clams, mussels from Tomales Bay.

The morning started out fairly early for me. I thought it would be a good idea to arrive early since this place tends to get packed by early noon. I guess our timing was a bit off. Notice how deserted the place looks upon our arrival, that's how early it was.The benefits of our head-start meant our first pick at the picnic tables.

Our friendly greeter
Looks like I reserved the whole place to myself

Upon arrival, you may park in the free parking lot or outside of the area on the curb. There is also free valet parking for later in the day when it gets more crowded. Greeters will ask you to pay for the entrance fee for $5 per person. Two vehicles allowed per group and usually staffs only permits one table to be used by the group. 

After settling in our nice picnic table, we went off to the counter to purchase our oysters. My group went for the medium-size fresh oysters, a bag of 50 for $60. We decided to also give a try to the 2 pounds of clams and 1 pound of small raw oysters.
Our Menu of the Day
More oysters!
Medium-sized oysters
Time to grill the oysters/clams
While our delicious oysters were grilling, I rented a pair of oyster knife for my first oyster shucking experience. If you're like us, we didn't come prepared at all but everything can be bought at the oyster farm from lime to shucking gloves to Tabasco. The only missing ingredient they were missing is the Siracha sauce which I love with my oysters.  
My first time oyster shucking
My lovely oyster
Juicy!
Some hot dogs and clams
Throw your shells in the black bin for recycle
After eating all the oysters that I can fit in my stomach, I went by the shorelines for a stroll. I highly recommend coming by once to try out their delicious oysters and clams.



Wednesday, November 5, 2014

DIY: Tostada Day

It's been awhile my blogger fans. Today I'm showing you a do-it-yourself food recipe. As always my recipes are relatively easy and it should not be a problem if you decide to give it a try.

Ingredients you need:
  • Tostada shells
  • Ground Beef
    • Tomatoes
    • Onions
  • Pinto Beans/Refried Beans (from can or homemade, I will show you the latter)
    • Garlic
    • Onions
  • Guacamole (Optional) Recipe is from Chipotle, non-sponsored.
    • Lemon
    • Lime
    • Onion
  • Lettuce
  • Cheese (Optional)
Preparation:
  1. Prep for homemade refried beans, skip this step if using refried beans. The night before or 6 hours before serving, pinto beans will need to be soaked in water. Beans will need to be soft before blending.

    2. Chop lettuce and onions. Cut tomatoes into small cubes.
    3. Guacamole making
    4. Place ground beef on pan. Start separating the meat apart because once cooked, it will be harder to separate. Beef will start to brown. Add in the tomatoes and onions. This will make the beef less dry. Add salt if needed and seasoned salt.
    5. Beans will need to be blended or mashed. You can add garlic and onions. Add salt for taste. Fat or lard can be added for flavor.
    6. Starting from the tostada shell, spread beans and guacamole, add meat, pile the lettuce, and sprinkle some cheese. Enjoy!
        

        

      It's a relatively simple recipe that taste amazingly good.





      Friday, September 5, 2014

      Pinnacles National Park

      Destination Camp: Pinnacles National Park

      Activities: Hiking Trails, Camping, Ranger Program, Rock Climbing, Talus Caves, Bird Watching
      Animal Sightings: Bobcats, Coyotes, Black-Tailed Deer, Lizards, Snakes, Tarantulas, Mountain Lion

      The main attraction for this campground is the formation of caves from volcanic rocks.There are two main caves, one is the Bear Gulch Caves and the other is the Balconies Caves. All campsites are located toward the East District, which is closer to the Bear Gulch Caves.

      Campsites had to be reserved within 12 months of advance. Yikes! My group with a total of nine people reserved a group site. The group site costs about $75/night. There is also a required entrance fee of $3/person for national parks. The first vehicle was free but any addition cost another $5/vehicle.

      Our campsite was #131 and a very nice one. We pretty much had the whole area to ourselves with the exception of the one family that were located pretty far out from ours.There were two picnic tables, bear box, and a fire ring. The current conditions at Pinnacles is announced as "extreme fire hazards" and the use of any charcoal or firewood was prohibited. We ended up bringing our own propane gas stove top to grill our meat and fried our eggs.

      Bathrooms were mainly used by my group. It was pretty clean and the only dislike I had about it was there were no lights at night. You will have to bring your own flashlight to the bathroom, which spooked me a few times going there. Drinking water area were labeled on the map next to the restrooms but every time we tried running the water, there is a discoloration of a light yellow coming out of the faucet. To be safe, we didn't use the water to cook our food. The last thing we need is food poisoning.

      Day 1 
      Headed out around 9am and arrived around 1pm with one pit-stop break. Setting up our tents became one of the hardest thing to do with the scorching heat at the peak of the afternoon. It was probably near 90F degree weather with humidity. My body was dehydrated after that. We decided to drive out to the visitors center where the empty swimming pool awaits us. Note that it was a Friday so many families did not visit yet.

      First glimpse of the Campground
      Visitor Center
      Bear Box...but I think it's meant for racoons
      Stairway to our home for the next few days
      Ta-da --- Group site #131
      Setting up our tents
      Day 2
      Had our breakfast---ate egg, bacon, and croissant, maybe even a hot link. After that, we headed out for the hike.
      No firewood or charcoal so
      resorted to propane gas stove
      My group ended up driving to the edge of the location (see map) to start the hike for the Bear Gulch caves and ended up at our stop point at Chaparral ranger station. It was around a 2 hour hike. Bringing at least 3+ bottles of fluids will save your dear body from crying out for thirst. Be sure to pack on sunblock and bring hats and sunglasses to prevent sun radiation.

      Start Point at Purple Dot
      End Point at Yellow Dot

      The caves and reservoir was definitely the highlight of the hike. Although we never made it to the Balconies Cave Trail or the Chalone Creek, it was worthwhile to go again another time. Unfortunately, there were no bats during this time and some of the cave areas were closed. We returned for another swim at the pool but this time around, there were way more people and children to begin with.

      First sign of Bear Gulch Cave
      Entering the caves
      Nice and cool but no bats
      Climbing up
      More climbing
      Look how far up we gotten
      A really cool stone bridge
      Bear Gulch Reservoir
      Volcanic Formation mountains
      More mountains

      Lovely view
      Day 3
      Ate breakfast, packed, and headed out.

      Pinnacles has been a memorable experience despite the hot weather. The animals that I have seen such as racoons, fox, deers, blue jays, woodpeckers, wild squirrels, lizards, etc has capture the essence of wildlife for this national park. Did I mention the miraculous night sky that were covered in stars? It is truly an awing experience to see. It was a shame that I couldn't capture it on camera. And how fortunate for me, I was the only person to spot a meteor shower, in fact I saw two.

      Woodpeckers
      Mohawk bird
      Blue Jay
      Desert Flower
      Cute
      Goodbye!

      Thursday, September 4, 2014

      Ramen Madness

      This is a follow-up to the Ramen Fest that I talked about a two months ago. Check it out if you have not already.

      To sum it up in a few words about this event: Chaotic Madness for a Bowl of Ramen.
      More extreme ratings of the festival: Yelp reviews
      If you're not sure what I'm talking about, here's a few pictures.

      Jpop Summit Festival
      You know you're at Japan Town
      when you see that tower
      Volunteers helping out at the festival
      Chef flipping those ramen burger
      The banner that started it all...
      And the chaos begins
      Way too many people
      Had to grab a snack before waiting in line
      More people
      I made it after 3 hours of wait!!
      I'm a little skeptic about how I feel about the ramen. My taste buds are saying the ramen was really good, especially the broth. The thing about a good bowl of ramen is essentially how good the stock is and this was really good. On the other hand, my stomach is telling me that I was just deprived of food for 3 hours and I was just hungry at that moment.

      Tonkotsu Ramen
      The seats
      For the experience, it was probably only good for a one-timer. I will definitely not try this again. I have heard a lot of backers, meaning backing out of the line after seeing it, complained and decided to eat at a decent restaurant. This may have boosted the amount of customers entering nearby ramen or even other types of restaurants. And not to mentioned that every popular ramen restaurants in San Francisco/San Mateo had loads of lines and waiting. I guess people really wanted that ramen.

      If you still feel the need to venture out and experience this firsthand for the next festival, one important tip is to arrive early (really early, I cannot stress this enough). You will be able to avoid the afternoon crowd and long lines. You will also be able to avoid all the crazy commute, speaking for both taking bart and driving.

      Next Ramen Fest Event Schedule:
      October 3 - 5 --------- San Jose
      October 10 -12 ------- San Jose
      October 17 -19 ------- Las Angeles Ponoma

      Not a ramen fan, there are plenty of vendors that set-up their booths to sell merchandises.





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