Sunday, May 17, 2009

Events of the Past Two Weeks

The past two weeks have been packed with so many fun events! To start with, last weekend we headed down to Big Sur with a group of 4 other couples. We had a wonderful weekend relaxing, eating, playing games, and hiking to the beach. It was so nice to get away for a bit and to introduce some of our various friends to each other! 

On our way home from Big Sur we stopped off in Carmel for a quick dessert (which was lovely!) and unfortunately I forgot my purse at the restaurant. (silly me!) The worst part was that I didn't actually realize it was missing until Tuesday afternoon, just as I was about to head out to run a bunch of errands. Instead, I stayed home and cleaned the house and in the evening we make another quick trip to Carmel Tuesday night. As Woodley commented, "That's probably the farthest we've ever driven for dinner." Thankfully we were able to recover my purse without any difficulties. 

Although we did our best to eat up everything we took down to Big Sur, at the end of the weekend, we realized we had way too much cheese left over. In order to solve the problem of too much cheese (if that can actually be a problem), we held a Cheese Eating, Wine Drinking, Game Playing Party last Wednesday evening. It was great fun and we did in fact eat up lots and lots of the 10 or so cheeses that needed to be consumed. 

The next big event of the week commenced on Friday afternoon when we headed back down the coast to Monterey to attend Cooking For Solutions at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (thanks to a very generous gift of tickets from Woodley's Aunt). Since the event lasted until quite late at night, we decided to spend the night in Monterey at The Clement Monterey. While wandering around the lobby with Woodley's cousin on Friday afternoon we discovered a hallway with some amazing lights: 

We had actually seen these very interesting lighting fixtures (featuring lots of fiber optics) at The Plumed Horse, a restaurant in Saratoga, CA. However, Woodley and I both agreed that the effect was much better at The Clement where they seemed to go along with the ocean theme. At The Plumed Horse, they served to cast strange colored hues around the dining room. Actually, it was somewhat disturbing to see your food change color every few minutes as each new wave of color came along the fiber optics. 

Before we knew it, it was time to head over to the Aquarium for the big event! We were very lucky and were able to attend the VIP reception featuring a demonstration by Alton Brown, of The Food Network. It was very interesting seeing him in real life. 

To go along with the theme of sustainable seafood, he showed the audience how to make 2 dishes featuring fish that are on the green list. I was thrilled when I realized he was actually showing us how to make a version of pickled herring. Although not a favorite among most Americans, I actually love pickled herring (perhaps due to my Northern European heritage). It was fantastic to actually see how I could make it in my own kitchen! 

Following the fish pickling demonstration, we headed out explore the rest of the aquarium which had been filled with dozens of booths featuring sustainable foods. Many of the booths featured fabulous chefs who prepared excellent samples of all types of different foods for us to try. Along with the food stations where wine tasting tables hosted by a wide variety of vineyards. There was even one station hosted by a brewery (As I prefer beer to wine, I sampled all of their beers). 

When the crowd got too tight, we headed downstairs in the Outer Bay Wing to explore the newly opened Seahorse Exhibit. I had no idea there were so many different types of seahorses! Woodley had lots of fun capturing pictures of them. :)

Do you see the seahorse in this picture?

There were also some impressive sea slugs!

After a couple of hours we were absolutely stuffed! Of the samples I tried, my favorite main dish was a small tilapia taco made by the chef's of Fishwife Restaurant. My favorite desserts were the amaretto injected strawberries with chocolate ganache and the pot de creme topped with strawberries (unfortunately I can't remember who made the desserts).

There was also an impressively large model if the Eiffel Tower made out of cream puffs. 

At the end of the evening we retreated to the Outer Bay Wing where we relaxed in front of the impressive one-million gallon tank. A collection of comfortable furniture had been set up in front of the tank which made for a perfectly relaxing end to the evening. It was even better when the bubble curtain came on!

Just before 10pm we headed back to the main lobby and discovered the silent auction. Woodley had never seen one before so we spent some time perusing the items. Although there were many interesting options, we were most intrigued by a sofa (one of the ones on display in front of the million-gallon-tank). We thought about it for a moment and then rushed back to the Outer Bay Wing to take another look at the sofa. We tested it briefly and decided we liked it enough to bid on it. 

Following a fast walk back to the lobby (the auction was ending in under 5 minutes at that point), we bid on the sofa and hovered anxiously while the last few minutes of the auction ticked by. At 10pm the auction closed and we found out that we had won the sofa! 

We have been talking about getting a new sofa for about a year now and I am so thrilled that we found one so easily and while supporting such a great cause! Now I'll finally be able to move out the Ikea couch I've had since college! 

Below is a picture of our new couch taken in the dark at the aquarium. It is now happily installed in our living room (although I'm still trying to figure out exactly how to arrange the furniture). I'll post more (better) pictures of it soon!

Now, there's just a couple other exciting events to report on. 

Saturday evening we had the fun of attending the Third Annual Irene Dalis Vocal Competition at The California Theater in San Jose with Woodley's parents. We got to see 10 semifinalists compete, each sang 2 songs (one selected by the singer and one selected by the three judges). During the performance, the audience was encouraged to take notes so that we would be able to remember our thoughts later when we got the opportunity to vote for the audience's choice award winner. There was such a wide range of songs performed and each singer was so different from the next. It was quite hard to pick a favorite, but in the end, we were quite pleased with the judges' picks (Woodley's personal ranking system lined up almost exactly with that of the judges'!) 

To finish off this exciting weekend, this afternoon (Sunday) I headed up to Palo Alto to attend a bridal shower for our friend Beth, whose wedding we will attend next month. It was such a nice party and we had a great time celebrating Beth! (sadly I forgot to bring my camera)

Whew! After all that, I'm looking forward to a quiet week at home (hopefully with lots more cooking than I did last week).


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