Monterey was glorious. Capriciously the weather cooperated, morphing a partly cloudy and gloomy forecast by the morning weatherman into a sunny and slightly windy day, jackets not required; a rarity for the Monterey Peninsula.
To add to our luck, we got a center window table at our favorite restaurant, the Fish Hopper. Miguel, our most excellent waiter and undiscovered humorist, served up Paul Bunyan sized spicy bloody Mary’s, which we sipped while perusing the extensive lunch menu. Fish, naturally, was the featured attraction.
Normally, I pass on the bread, saving myself instead for the delicate Parmesan coated sea bass, but it was a mini-vacation, and the crusty sourdough rolls refused to be ignored. In true pre-diabetes Paula Deen spirit I managed to consume two of them piled with creamy butter.
Father’s Day falling the day before we went, and it being a weekday I had hopes the downtown area might be spared the usual crush of humanity present on the weekends. However, it seemed that weekday or weekend Cannery Row is a draw for tourists and locals, so we shared sidewalk with the masses. Patiently, not necessarily a word that adequately describes me by nature, I stood in line to catch a picture of the seals diving and surfacing, waves cresting over jutting rocks, and otters splashing and waving in the water in the cove.
I didn’t sit in the sand this visit for the first time. Didn’t even slip off my shoes to curl my toes in the warm sand. Every beach I’ve visited in the last twenty years I have sculpted a parade of turtles heading towards the sea to acknowledge my presence there, but the day was passing quickly and my parents are getting older and tire more easily so I left no imprint beyond a generous tip for Miguel, who had we still had our restaurant, we would have hired on the spot.
We ate out and cooked less this trip, which was actually a nice break. As much as I enjoy pushing a spoon around in a pan it is nice to have somebody else doing it for a change, and for the most part with excellent results.
When I am visiting my mother is my shadow, and stories that we have gathered through our lifetimes together are taken down from the shelf, dusted off, and revisited. I have heard them a thousand times, but she will laugh as if it was the first time for her, and then I can’t help but laugh with her. My other half inserts his earplugs and smiles and nods at the appropriate intervals.
It is bittersweet to watch as the subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, nuances of age begin to creep up your loved ones. Even their cat, Susie, (yes I know, really) seems to be slowing down a bit as she faces having the eleventh candle added to her birthday cake. Her step livens, I must say, where treats and kibble are involved. Mother is not one to deny anyone anything, so it seems that if the cat meows she is rewarded with a treat. Not a stupid animal, Susie now meows at an alarming rate and her girth has increased accordingly. I’m sure she was glad to see the last of me, as I suggested a bit of toning down and a little less jaw exercise.
Our two furry charges were delighted to find we had not deserted them. Having no choice, as they refuse to get to know another and the heat was oppressive, we had to leave Mouse upstairs in our bedroom. Cat sitters show up once a day in our absence to attend to their needs so they weren’t drinking out of the toilet nor reduced to catching a spare fly for sustinence. Mouse, however, apparently did not appreciate the change in accommodations so in protest flung her food all over our room and threw all the pillows on the floor. When released, she went immediately outside only acknowledging our presence by turning once to cast an ominous look in our direction.
It was good to sleep in our own bed last night. Pillows on the bed at my mothers seem to be stuffed with sacks of damp flour and are hard as rock, making it nearly impossible to punch or break down. It’s like your body is reclined and your head is standing up. Most uncomfortable. Not wanting to complain but curious, I casually commented on this once, and she replied by telling me she’d paid a fortune for those pillows so they must be comfortable. How can one argue with that?
At any rate, we are home. It was a nice break and now back to reality. I’m sharing some pictures and light summery appetizer which is easy to make.
Wrapped Melon Balls
1 ripe cantaloupe, scooped into balls
1 ripe honeydew, scooped into balls
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
8 oz. thinly sliced Black Forest Ham (or your choice of ham)
8 oz. thinly sliced deli turkey
Fresh mint sprigs (about 36-40)
Place the melon balls in a large bowl and toss gently with lime juice.
Slice meat into 1″ strips and wrap a strip around each melon ball, securing with toothpick and a sprig of mint. Skewer 4 to a skewer. Serve with honey mustard sauce. Refrigerate if not going to serve immediately.
Honey Mustard Sauce
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. spicy brown mustard
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 medium sweet pickle, small dice
2 dashes Tabasco
In small mixing bowl combine all ingredients. Serve with wrapped melon balls.