Best Bites: June 29-July 5

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: Wakame roll at Sushi Heaven (Carmel)

My new favorite at Sushi Heaven: the Wakame roll.

I’ve been on a bit of a sushi kick these last couple weeks, and when I get the craving for sushi, I head right to Sushi Heaven in Carmel.

I recently discovered Sushi Heaven’s wakame roll, with seaweed and cucumber wrapped in rice, then topped with (imitation) crab. The seaweed filling has a nice, crunchy texture, and there’s a little spicy kick to the crab on top. Heaven indeed!

Better Bite: Pork chile colorado tamale from Hermosa Mexican Foods

How have I lived so long with these tamales?!?!

While strolling the Alvarado farmers market last week, I decided to check out Hermosa Mexican Foods’ stand tucked away in the bakery aisle. My friend had been raving about their tamales, and I was itching for something different, so I figured why not give them a shot.

That was one tasty tamale! The masa wasn’t too heavy–a good balance of light texture and rich corn flavor. It was stuffed with flavorful pork. It could have been a little spicier, if you ask me. But luckily, the side of spicy salsa helped give a little kick to my tamale.

I’m already salivating at the memory of this tamale! I can’t wait to go back tomorrow night!

Good Bite: Mac and cheese at Panera (Gilroy)

Seriously one of the best mac and cheeses on the planet! (OK, that might be a *bit* of an exaggeration, but it's damn good!)

I normally abhor chain restaurants, but I have a soft spot for a couple chains because their food is just too tasty to resist. I’ll come clean on one of my favorites–Panera. Their sandwiches, especially the pressed panini are quite good, but my absolute favorite dish on their menu is the mac and cheese.

The large, shell-like pasta is perfect for sopping up the delicious, creamy cheese sauce. That cheese sauce is so decadent and so smooth!

This is one chain I wish had an outlet closer to home. In the meantime, it’s a nice pitstop on the way up to the Bay Area.

Honorable Mention: Shrimp and lobster chimichanga appetizer at Schooner’s (Monterey)

I was pleasantly surprised by the chimichanga appetizer--the saving grace of an otherwise lackluster meal.

Bored with the usual lunchtime offerings around the office, my friend and I decided to take an extended stroll down Cannery Row and found ourselves at Schooner’s. The view–especially out on the patio on a sunny day–was superb, but the food was pretty mediocre, for the most part.

The one highlight? The shrimp and lobster chimichanga. Served as an appetizer with two small chimichangas over a fruit compote in a martini glass, it was a sight to behold. And it was pretty tasty too.

The golden crunch of the fried chimichanga gave way to a bite of savory crustacean meat inside. The sweet fruit, accented with a touch of chili, at first felt unusual, but then it really pulled the flavors together. I doubt I’ll be itching for more lunches at Schooner’s, but when I’m there, I’ll certainly pick up an order of these appetizers!

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