I couldn’t let the subject rest without sharing these really dramatic views from Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. You’ll recall my post from July 8, 2014. I returned to experience the scene one more time and capture some of the drama created by the trees, cliffs, and lighting over the ocean. The “God rays” as I call them can be seen descending from the clouds toward the ocean in the last shot. The effect in real life was much more breathtaking than could be captured by my little Canon Elph, but you can get an idea of the beauty at every turn.
My Rating: 3 Stars
In my July 8th post, “Of Pelicans, Seals, and Ghosts,” I blogged about the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach, California, and mentioned the Moss Beach Distillery, a historic restaurant with a special story. Apart from having been a speakeasy in the late 1920s, it boasts a ghost, who purportedly appears occasionally to visitors, and sometimes makes strange, inexplicable things happen. I had the opportunity to dine there last night, and I emerge from the experience with mixed reviews.
The ever-changing view of the Pacific Ocean, dotted with fishing boats and changing light and cloud patterns, is gorgeous. The large windows on the upper floor are positioned to take full advantage of nature’s grandeur, as is the outdoor patio below. Dogs are welcome here (outside) and they even offer a doggy menu.
The decor is interesting: the stained-glass front windows seem to be original, while the bar sports a mixture of various tiffany-style lamps. The stamped-metal ceiling in the upstairs dining room gives an Old Spanish feeling. The large windows dominate, however, drawing your attention to the view.
The ambience is relaxing and the bartenders and waitstaff are jovial and attentive. The food quality is somewhat spotty, and the menu selection a bit unusual. For example, I ordered oyster shooters with vodka as an appetizer. You can only buy them by the piece (a lot of seafood places will also offer a six-pack). The oysters themselves were rather miniscule, and for $5 a piece ($7 with vodka), one would expect something a bit more substantial. The glasses in which they were served seemed too big for the oysters, and there was definitely too much tomatoey booze for my taste. Also, you can’t get a traditional crab cocktail or a crab louie here.
They served delicious, fresh, hot sourdough rolls with butter, and refilled our basket three times. Three people in our party of four ordered salads with their dinner. They were substantial in size and could easily serve two, each. I was able to sample two of them. The Caesar Salad had crisp, fresh lettuce and an irresistible creamy dressing. The Beet and Mandarin Salad was delightful, with fresh “designer” lettuce, freshly cooked beets, tasty mandarin slices, and delicious candied walnuts.
The meal unraveled, however, when it came to the entrées. One person in my party ordered the Crab Quesadillas, which were “good.” Another ordered the Pesto Salmon ($32) which she reported was way overcooked. Two of us ordered “Coquille de Mare” (also $32), which was described as a casserole of rock crab, prawns, and crimini mushrooms baked in jack, swiss, and parmesan cheese. I expected to find pieces of seafood in the casserole portion, but all I could find were mushrooms, and while it was flavorful, it was also quite heavy and greasy. The brown rice and vegetables that it was served with, however, were excellent.
Upon returning home, I researched the story of the ghost (the “Blue Lady”). She apparently had been the lover of the piano player at the Distillery, which she frequented in the 1920s. Unfortunately, her husband discovered her affair, and murdered her on the beach below the speakeasy, attempting to kill her lover as well. Her ghost is said to enjoy the company of the living, and she is reportedly seen from time to time at the bar.
Wikipedia reveals that some of the “sightings” of the Blue Lady were deliberate hoaxes by restaurant personnel, who admitted to placing images of the Blue Lady in the mirror of the women’s restroom (I did notice that the mirror seemed like one-way glass), piping in the sound of a woman’s laughter, and making lamps sway in the bar. The establishment is proud of its ghost, displaying her glowing head and bust in its entryway, and including her story as an insert in their menu. I also overheard our waitress telling another guest about some unexplained incidents that she had experienced in the restaurant: things being moved, and unexplained messages on the intercom.
This place has a lot of charm, history, and cachet, not to mention location. As some reviewers on Yelp pointed out, the restaurant can get by on these things alone, and tourists will continue to come here. If you want to get a drink and some appetizers, enjoy the view, and maybe catch a Giants’ game on TV, this is a very acceptable place. If you come here for fine dining, however, as the pricing on the dinner menu would lead you to expect, you will probably be less than satisfied. Not enough attention is paid to the finer points of food preparation, especially of the dinner entrées. I give Moss Beach Distilley three stars out of five.
The opportunities are always out there, but how many of us reach out to them? I’m talking about things you’ve always dreamed of doing. It’s different for everyone, but for me the list includes a few things that I’ve been wanting to do since childhood. Here are my top four:
1. Scuba diving (ever since I saw my first Jacques Cousteau program).
2. Fying an airplane. I did get an opportunity to do that as a late teen, in a Cessna with dual controls. My cousin was getting her A&P license at the time, and her instructor took me up. It was great. I’d still like to get a pilot’s license and fly wherever I want to.
3. Owning a yacht and sailing around the world. (I’d really better get started on this one)
4. Publishing a book (or several).
I think the main thing that has been holding me back is my inability to see these things as not only possible, but as real. There is a sense that these dreams are extravagant, self-indulgent, and superfluous. The idea that life should be about doing “serious” things and “making money.” Also, I (as I assume is true for many others) look around for approval/permission from others. That is a big mistake. I’m not sure why I haven’t done these things yet, but, as the second half of my life begins, I figure I’d better get off the observation deck and into the water. Literally.
Yesterday I saw a movie on Netflix called “Maidentrip” about a 14-year-old girl from the Netherlands named Laura Dekker who literally sailed around the world by herself, in a 40-foot ketch named Guppy. It was inspiring, to say the least. Once she decided to undertake the voyage, Dutch child welfare services tried to stop her, and she had to go through harrowing legal battles before getting clearance. She finally won and achieved her ambition, documenting the voyage on video.
I’ve signed up for a scuba diving certification class! It starts in about three weeks. I’m excited about it, and also a little apprehensive. I’m not apprehensive about the diving part, or being underwater, or any of that. I’m concerned about passing the prerequisite, which includes swimming 3/4 of the length of the pool underwater on one breath. I can swim the whole length underwater with fins on. But I’m pretty sure it will be fins off for the test. The other two qualifying tests are to surface swim 5 lengths of the pool (piece of cake) and tread water for 10 minutes (could do it in my sleep). But why is it so hard to swim underwater? I have been practicing. So far, all I can do is a little over half a length. The harder I try, the harder it is. Today, I talked with some fellow swimmers, who gave me pointers. Look down, not up. Keep your body horizontal. Stay relaxed. Find the “zone” in which you continuously glide forward with minimal effort from your limbs. It’s tricky, because you have to stay rigid enough to keep the forward momentum, but relaxed enough to conserve energy and oxygen. One of my fellow swimmers even demonstrated for me. He made it look effortless.
Finally, they suggested I look on YouTube for instructional videos on free diving. I’m about to check into those. I know that most of getting past this is psychological, and that persistence will eventually pay off. I’ll keep you posted on my progress. Wish me luck!!
Not too far south of San Francisco on the Coast Highway, you come to Pacifica. A sleepy little town of 38,000 (well, it seems sleepy to big-city dwellers), it has three main beaches along its 2-1/4 mile coastline. If you start at the Pacifica Pier, you can walk south along Sharp Park Beach (bordering Sharp Park golf course), to the site of Mori Point Inn, built by Stefano Mori, an Italian immigrant farmer in the 1870s. The roadhouse was taken over by his son Jack, who turned it into a speakeasy during Prohibition of the ’20s, smuggling in boot-legged Canadian whiskey from offshore. The feds caught up with Jack in 1923, confiscating 24,000 cases of liquor and closing down the establishment.
A steep flight of wooden stairs (now known as Bootlegger’s Steps) leads directly up to a high bluff overlooking the ocean, where you can walk along the coast toward Half Moon Bay. The uninterrupted view of the Pacific is breathtaking.
If you don’t climb the steps, and instead turn left at Mori Point, you can walk along a restored wetland area at the end of the lake (Laguna Salada) that is the habitiat of the endangered California red-legged frog. I had ventured here a few times, but never saw a frog until I met some locals, who told me exactly where to look. The walk also encounters crows, gulls, unabashed squirrels, lizards, and lots of other wildlife.
Sometimes you get tired of the same, old same-old when cooking—especially when cooking chicken. I found a fantastic recipe for chicken cacciatore in the May 2014 issue of Food and Wine Magazine. It is offered by celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis, and calls for Peppadew peppers, Castelvetrano olives (new to me and very tasty), baby bell peppers, and fresh fennel bulb, along with fresh herbs, cherry tomatoes & pearl onions. The whole chicken is stuffed with thyme sprigs and set in the refrigerator overnight before you even begin the main preparation. Then you make a red wine reduction sauce with tomato paste and butter, and layer it under the skin before roasting (with fresh garlic and herbs inside) and the veggies.
I had never made or tasted anything quite like this. The peppers and specialty olives made for a zesty accent, yet all of the ingredients together created a mellow and rich flavor, at once comforting and sophisticated. The chicken itself was tender, and offered itself up for seconds. The platter was clean at the end of our family dinner–down to the last pearl onion.
(I made one substitution: since Peppadew pepers are hard to find, I substituted Mezzetta’s sweet cherry peppers. I’m sure the real thing would make this dish even more fantastic.)
Emotional interview with Navy sailor suffering after Fukushima exposure: Others with same symptoms “told to be quiet… nobody’s heard from them” — Health is worsening, worried I’m going to die — Can’t really use legs or arms, hands ‘barely functional’ — Rashes all over body, spasms, shaking — Doctors tell us “it’s all psychological” (AUDIO) http://enenews.com/emotional-interview-navy-sailor-suffering-serious-illness-after-fukushima-exposure-others-same-symptoms-told-be-quiet-nobodys-heard-worry-about-dying-health-keeps-worsening-really-legs-arms-h?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29
Interview with Navy Lt. Steve Simmons who served on the USS Ronald Reagan for 3/11 relief mission, Nuclear Hotseat hosted by Libbe HaLevy, July 8, 2014 (emphasis added):
- 21:30 in — November 2011 I noticed something was wrong… The black-out was the first thing… I started dealing with gastrointestinal issues, at first I thought I was coming down with a stomach bug… Fevers as high as 102.9°F… January 2012 was the first time I was hospitalized… [They] sent me home with a sinus infection. Three days later I was readmitted to…
View original post 539 more words