Best Bites: June 1 to 7, 2011

For those of you who missed my column in Thursday’s Go! section of the Monterey Herald, I’m reposting the stories here on my blog. But wait–there’s more! That’s right, you’ve read about the best thing I ate all week, but what about some of the best bites that didn’t make the cut? Thank god for the internets–now you can see the top three foods I ate this week, complete with mouth-watering photos! Check back each weekend for a recap of the week’s tastiest treats!

Best Bite: Arancini at Carmel Food Company

Absolutely outstanding arancini at Carmel Food Company!

About five years ago, my sister introduced me to the golden gems known to Italians as arancini. It’s rare to find arancini on menus around town these days, so needless to say I was thrilled to see them as one of the evening’s specials at Carmel Food Company.

Stuffed with mushrooms and pimentos, these arancini were easily one of the best things I ate all week. The breading was delicate and not too greasy; the arancini were fried just enough so the risotto didn’t turn soggy.

And I loved the gooey Gruyere on top — can you really go wrong with melted cheese? The accompanying tomato sauce hit the right mix of sweet and savory to complement the arancini. Delizioso!


Better Bite: Mint chocolate chip ice cream from Mission Hill Creamery (via Monterey Bay Aquarium restaurant)

No better way to welcome the weekend than a scoop of ice cream, amiright?

I’ve been lamenting the day Mission Hill Creamery closed up shop in downtown Santa Cruz. But hope isn’t lost–while they closed their retail shop on Front Street, they’re looking for accommodations elsewhere and they’re continuing their wholesale business. Lucky for us here on the Monterey Peninsula, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s restaurant is one of Mission Hill Creamery’s wholesale clients and now carries their ice cream, including vanilla, chocolate and a handful of seasonal flavors. The seasonal flavors in stock right now include peach, strawberry, Turkish coffee and mint chocolate chip.

Wow–that mint chocolate chip ice cream is delicious. The texture is so rich and smooth, but without feeling heavy. And the mint flavor is so rich–why? well it’s made with fresh mint leaves! You can even *see* the tiny shreds of mint leaves in each spoonful!

If you’re visiting the aquarium or you’ve got a membership with free entry or if you’re *that much* of an ice cream fan that you’ll shell out the aquarium’s $30 admission fee just for ice cream, don’t miss Mission Hill Creamery’s ice cream!

Good Bite: Lucy! Lucy! sandwich from the Babaloo truck

Lucy! Lucy!

It’s true–absence makes the heart grow fonder! After spending a week in Houston, I came back to the Monterey Peninsula craving one of the Babaloo truck’s Cuban sandwiches. Alas, Gladys and the truck were on vacation for the week. So Monday rolled around and I wanted nothing more than a Cuban. I’d gone two weeks without my Babaloo fix and I had literally been thinking of Cuban sandwiches *all* day, practically nonstop.

When I arrived at the PG farmers market, I made a bee-line to the truck to pick up a sandwich, choosing my favorite, the Lucy! Lucy! pressed Cuban sandwich with grilled chicken, mango-avocado salsa and Monterey Jack cheese.

Needless to say, I devoured my sandwich in about three seconds flat. (OK, maybe a little more than three seconds.) Each bite was packed with flavor–a tango of sweet and savory from the mango and the chicken. Paired with a (virgin) strawberry mojito, this was just what I needed to unwind after a busy Monday.

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