Best Bites: July 20-26

Yikes–it’s been too long since I’ve posted my weekly Best Bites. So to make up for it, how about a lightning round of posts? Here’s a whole month’s worth of tasty meals!

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: Mu shu chicken at The Orient (Seaside)

I was craving Chinese food last week, but didn’t feel like going to any of the usual suspects. A tip from a fellow foodie took me to The Orient. This little shop doesn’t look like much from the outside, but they served up a mighty tasty meal.

The mu shu chicken at The Orient was the tastiest I've had in a long time in these parts.

The highlight was the mu shu chicken, packed with big strips of veggies, a generous portion of chicken and lots of fluffy egg. The Orient’s mu shu easily bested other local Chinese restaurants.

This little shop reminded me how many hidden gems await foodies in Seaside — if you know where to look.

Better Bite: Pasta with tomatoes and basil at Pastries and Petals (Carmel)

Sometimes simple is better, like this classic pasta with tomatoes, basil and Parmesan.

There’s really nothing better than Italian food made by honest-to-goodness Italians freshly arrived from Italy. So needless to say, I didn’t skip a beat when I heard Salvatore Panzutto—part of the duo behind Pastries and Petals’ Saturday night dinner series—was cooking up pasta for lunch, I couldn’t resist.

The pasta was perfectly al dente—light and tender. The flavors were simple, but executed perfectly: tomatoes, basil and fresh Parmesan. It was such a classic Italian combination that was a refreshing lunch amidst the bustle of tourists in Carmel.

Good Bite: Turkey meatloaf at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Restaurant (Monterey)

Summertime has brought new menu items to celebrity chef Cindy Pawlcyn’s menu at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s restaurant. One of the new items that piqued my curiosity was the turkey meatloaf. I love turkey meatloaf, but it’s so rare to find this comfort food on menus–much less summertime menus. Sure, it might have been a little out of season, if you ask me, but I figured it was a gloomy, foggy day and summertime in these parts is more like winter, so why not.

The meatloaf wasn't really anything special, but that stone fruit barbecue sauce on top was delicious!

What wowed me wasn’t so much the meatloaf–and certainly not the accompanying summer bean salad–but the barbecue sauce. The sauce was made with summer stone fruits and the sweet peaches and other fruits made for a delicious sweet and smoky hint of barbecue on top of the turkey. I wish I could buy a bottle of that sauce!

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