Santa Barbara

The BF and I went to Santa Barbara this weekend for some relaxation and wine tasting. We decided to split up for lunch, so he went to go get some vegan food and I went to get seafood off the pier.
I went to Santa Barbara Fishhouse and Shellfish Co. which is literally the furthest restaurant on the pier. There was a wait, but since I was just one person, they let me sit at the bar after a few minute’s wait. I ordered the cioppino above, which is a bread bowl full of mussels, clams, crabs, prawn, and scallop sauteed with some kind of bisque. It was heavenly.
dsc_0151.jpgUnfortunately, most of the places we had meals at had bad lighting, so I couldn’t take that many pictures of food. It’s also hard to be discreet in a small quiet restaurant with my gigantic camera. This appetizer was a walnut pate, which I had on Saturday night at this little restaurant called Spiritland. They serve meat and have a very vegan-friendly menu, so it makes both the BF and me happy.
Sunday night, after an afternoon of driving around to a few wineries for tastings, we stopped at The Ballard Inn. Their menu doesn’t look encouraging to a vegan, but the BF called ahead when he made reservations and asked them if they could prepare him vegan food and they said they could. He had the above appetizer which was pan-fried tofu with greens on top, mushrooms in the middle, and some sort of reduction drizzled over it. He said it was good.
I had the ‘New Style Hamachi and avocado with Ponzu Sauce’ appetizer and it was really good. The hamachi was so smooth and buttery and it paired up perfectly with the rich avocado. The only two bad things I can say about it is that the sauce was so overpowering that I couldn’t taste the fish, and that I think it might have given me a bad stomach ache that night.

As the main course, the BF got some greens (including broccolini, baby bok choy, and something we thought was brussel sprouts, but maybe was bok choy root?) served over cous cous in some kind of zesty tomato sauce. I had a taste and it was good.

I had the filet mignon medium rare and it was so delicious and juicy that it didn’t even need the sauce that was drizzled on it. But my favorite of that dish was the blue cheese mashed potatoes. Blue cheese and mashed potato is BRILLIANT.

The Food of China

Whenever I talk about The Motherland aka China, I almost always have to mention the fantastic food there. The food usually isn’t fancy, but what makes it great is that it’s simple and fresh. Here in the US, we get stuck with several day old, tasteless vegetables, but in Shanghai the markets are stocked full of vegetables fresh picked from nearby farms and trucked in during the wee hours of the morning.
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Game-related pick ups

I’ve been meaning to pick up a hard case for my PSP slim in China, but it was harder than I thought. Since the PSP slim is pretty new, most places only had cases for the old, fat version of the handheld. Thanks to my mediocre Chinese, it was also difficult to describe to them that I wanted a case for the slim PSP and not a slimmer case for the old PSP. One place even tried to sell me a DS case when I told them none of their PSP cases was what I was looking for.

I finally found a PSP PlayGear Pocket knock-off for the PSP slim for 40RMB which equates to about $5-6. Not bad.

Since the PlayGear Pocket knock-off is a bit more heavy and harder than I expected, I also picked up a thinner, flimsier hard case for my PSP. This one doesn’t feel as solid, but it’s easier to hold for casual playing. I might save the Playgear Pocket knock-off for heavy traveling.

I was also looking out to buy a copy of Final Fantasy Tactics for the PSP, but buying legit games is incredibly hard in China. All the stores I went to had about 3 or 4 old PSP games that were genuine and booklets and booklets full of bootleg PSP games. I was tempted to have them mod my PSP so I could play the bootleg games, but I never had my PSP around when I was in the game stores and I was worried about not being able to play legit games anymore.