Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Mail Order Bride

Yesterday was our first day at home and we were quite busy. No more vacation! There was an early morning appointment, grocery shopping, other errands, mowing, 2 weeks of mail to open/read... Time to remember the sun & fun of vacation...

Like our trip to the zoo. The San Diego Zoo is huge! It's a very nice zoo, employees are very, very friendly & helpful. We took the bus tour of the zoo and then walked around on our own. While we ran out of energy before seeing the entire zoo, we did see most of it, especially the animals we most enjoy, like elephants and polar bears and pandas.
We were lucky enough to be in the elephant exhibit during the special keeper-animal interaction time

We also were lucky enough to be right in front of the glass window when a polar bear lumbered over

The pandas were sleeping

I can't remember what this animal is, but our bus tour guide said they looked like overgrown guinea pigs. They were so cute!
 We ate lunch at the zoo, and it wasn't horribly expensive. We ate at the Sabertooth Grill.
Yummy fried onion rings. Tasty & not too greasy.

A Club Wrap, also tasty. Whole wheat tortilla. 
After a quick rest at the hotel, we set off for Belmont Park. I had promised SP that we would would go so that he could ride a new-to-him roller coaster. It's a small boardwalk park, with free admission, along Mission Beach. The roller coaster is the Giant Dipper, originally built in 1925, and it's one of two original oceanfront coasters still operating on the west coast. This was roller coaster #520 for SP, so he has now ridden 520 different coasters. He rode it three times while I enjoyed the sunshine and people watching.

Of course we took a walk along the beach. I love the beach. I don't like being in the ocean, I don't always like being on the ocean (occasional seasickness). The wheelchair cannot go on the sand. But I love walking along the coast, watching the waves, and watching the surfers and paddle surfers.
Mission Beach

Yes, I took a photo directly into the setting sun
Belmont Park has park food, and we wanted more than park food for dinner, so once we tried of walking along the beach, we returned to the Gaslamp Quarter and walked around to find a place to eat. We ended up at Madame Cora's Marble Room.

Before we go on vacations, we both do restaurant research. We like to eat at places with good food, and sadly, it seems that a lot of the time, tourist areas have expensive and not that tasty food. So I researched almost every restaurant in the Gaslamp. I was a wee bit worried because it's a tourist area and also big nightlife area (perhaps more emphasis on alcohol on not as much on food?). All the research is not as time consuming as it sounds. Just go to Yelp and search San Diego, Gaslamp, and scroll through, paying attention to those places with 4+ stars, maybe a few 3.5 stars. Scan a few reviews, look at the website and menu, and if it sounds good, bookmark it. There's a lot more San Diego info on Yelp than on Urbanspoon, so I created a Yelp account, SP put the app on both of our smartphones, and we were set!

Marble Room stuck in my mind, but I couldn't remember why until we entered. At first, I thought I'd really confused things in my mind because I sort of felt like we had entered a strip club.
Art like the above on the walls. Servers in bustiers. Saloon doors as you enter. But then I opened the menu, saw the history, and remembered. Marble Room, in a former life, was a bordello. The Gaslamp used to be the red light district. Madame Cora ran the Golden Poppy Saloon & Hotel on the site of the current Marble Room. Madame Cora supposedly had the prettiest girls and hers was one of the most popular brothels. Each room (and girl) was color coded to match the color of a marble which, upon payment, the customer received. This way, during the police raids, Madame Cora could claim that the customer had simply purchased a marble, not sex.

The Signature Cocktails have names like 'Pimm-p's Cup' and 'Moulin Rouge.' I ordered a 'Kentucky Tramp' (bourbon, mint, lemon, peach schnapps) and SP ordered a 'Mail Order Bride' (vodka, ginger ale, lemon, bitters).
Mail Order Bride on left, Kentucky Tramp on right
My cocktail was very tasty. SP's tasted a little weak. More ginger ale than vodka, which was a bit disappointing.

Checking in on Yelp revealed that we could get a free appetizer. Our server told us what our options were, and we chose the Prosciutto Mac & Cheese:
As it turned out, I couldn't eat any of this appetizer because it smelled and tasted strongly of garlic. Boo. SP said it was delicious, and whether he was just hungry or it really was super delicious, he quickly ate it all. I thought that there could have been a bit more prosciutto - there were just a few tiny pieces right under that sprinkling of bread crumbs on top.

For his meal SP chose Sea Bass with sauteed leeks, cranberry Cabernet reduction, and mashed Yukon gold potato:
He said it was very good and he ate it all.

I chose Better Than Mom's Meatloaf - fresh ground pork tenderloin & Angus beef meatloaf wrapped in bacon, sliced & grilled, served with mashed potatoes, green beans, fried onion straws, and mushroom gravy: 
Oh my gosh. This was so good! And huge. There were two huge slices of grilled meatloaf. It was moist. Flavorful. Bacony! The gravy tasted like bacon, too. I ate all the onion straws and green beans and tomatoes, a few bites of potato, and about 3/4 of the meatloaf. It was too big a portion for me! If we had been in Pittsburgh, I would have eaten one slice of meatloaf and taken the other home. Since we were on vacation, I ate the bacon covered 'outside' of the second slice and left the 'interior.' If we are ever back in San Diego, I would come here for the meatloaf.

We were way too full for dessert. Marble Room was tasty. Our server was great. The guy who I think was the manager was great. It's a fun atmosphere, and I teased SP that on the eve of our wedding anniversary, I took him to a bordello and let him buy a mail order bride.

We suggested Marble Room to my parents, who drove to San Diego on Tuesday. They dined at MR Tuesday night and said they had a tasty meal and enjoyed the bordello atmosphere. I forget what dad had, but mom had the meatloaf and really liked it. They, too, had a friendly and fun server.

We walked off dinner a bit and then went to Chocolat Cremerie for some evening tea. We ordered some Ginger Peach tea and it came with a small plate of cookie treats.
Republic of Tea Ginger Peach tea brewing. Yes, I know you can see my reflection in the silver teapot!

Tasty cookie treats to dunk in the tea.
A lovely end to another great vacation day.

Marble Room on Urbanspoon

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