I had so much grease yesterday from the mince pie then fish and chips that I woke up with a shiny film on my face from it leaking out my pores. But I do look years younger!
We also woke up to rain today. Not wussy San Diego rain but torrential monsoon stuff.
We met at Tess and Laura’s cabin for breakfast.
“You can’t come to Pancake Rocks without eating pancakes!” Said Tess.
“But please start with just one while we finish making more”
“But Kellen can’t count to one in pancakes” I said.
“His pancake number starts at four” added Hubby.
Laura made the most delicious pancakes. They were thin and crispy around the edges. Fresh berries, caramel bananas, yogurt and whip cream to accompany them.
After breakfast the rain let up and we took a short drive to do a hike with “just a nice hill” at the start.
We got to cross an awesome swing bridge. Griffin, ahead of the rest, thought it would be big fun to jump as hard as he could and swing it from side to side. Not everyone in our group was amused. But I was! I was hysterically laughing grabbing the edges but was unable to take a single step forward. We must have been doing this a long time because Laura was waiting tapping her foot. Later I heard her tell Tess that she’s never taken so long crossing a stupid swing bridge with any group before. And something else about being “easily amused”. We are!
We entered the jungle and started going up. And up. We have an extremely fit group and they all fly up the hills. I do not fly. I felt like Nelly the Elephant tramp tramp tramping off to the jungle. Let me guess, there’s no one reading this who gets this reference. It’s such a great song, and one I sang to myself the whole way up the “just a nice hill” here you go:
Laura picked some “Kawa Kawa” off a plant and told us we could all have one but only one. These little guys have medical properties and will get you intoxicated if you have as little as three. I tried to grab more because why have only one when three is the magic number? But I got a finger wag from Laura. My little, sad, singular berry tasted a little sweet and a bit spicy. I would like to see what 10 would taste like.
The rest of the hike had undulating hills and was the best hike I’ve ever done. It took about two hours in total, it was just fabulous.
We haven’t seen too many animals in New Zealand but we see these guys frequently. They’re called “wekas” but we call them “weird chicken things”:
Every single tourist things they are kiwis and it’s so funny to see how excited they get. But the elusive kiwi is nocturnal and we’ve been assured we will never see any. The only kiwis we are guaranteed on this trip are Tess and Laura.
During our picnic lunch Tess gathered us together to tell us some news. “Guys we have a change of plans. There’s been a pretty bad “slip” in the pass and we can’t get through to the west coast that way anymore. We have to take a much longer detour and we won’t be going to Franz Josef Glacier as planned.”
“How much longer do we have to drive now?” someone asked.
“Right” she continued avoiding the question. “The Outdoors Adventure office has already found an alternative route for us with hikes to do along the way. Look at it this way; you will get to see the whole South Island now. Everyone ok with this?” I mean what could we say? Not like any of us had much choice. “As long as we’re together we can handle anything!” I yelled.
So it was back to Ernie for a long ass drive for who knows how long, but we were all completely bonded now and in good spirits. And if you have a long drive to do, there is literally no better place on earth to do it.
After a few hours Ernie stopped and let us out to do a hike around an area the Dalai Lama himself has claimed “The Most Spiritual Place on Earth”.
Then it was another long drive until we arrived in the town of Methvan. Outdoors Adventure has found us all rooms at The Methven Motel for the night. With such a last minute change of plans, they did an awesome job getting us an alternative itinerary for a few days. The change was totally seamless to us.
We had a choice for dinner ’cause Methvan is a two pub kinda town: The Brown Pub or The Blue Pub. We chose Blue and we chose well.
We were “shouted” local beers from our fabulous guides and Rich and Borut have been doing an awesome job keeping us all hydrated on the local wines. For dinner, Kellen went for local pulled lamb.
“Bags To Ernie” tomorrow morning at 7:00am. We have a long drive ahead of us but no one knows how long that is except for Tess.
New words for today:
slip- rock slide
Jumper- a sweatshirt
Plinth- a box-like structure you put a sculpture on ( maybe this is just a regular word that most people know, but I didn’t and and Laura got me an “h” in GHOST.
Glacier is pronounced “glassier”
“Just a nice hill”- a huge hill that totally kicks my ass
They have “Black Boy” peaches here. This shit would just never fly in The States!
* After comparing Iphone steps, we have now deemed the “Health” app a crock. Just know that I’m doing a TON of them!
I am now single finger typing this whole blog for the next few days, downgraded from iPad to iPhone, late at night and tired as hell. Spelling and grammar are about to get ugly. No judgement.
We only had a short time this morning to do what we wanted before it was pick up time. I chose to go for a walk around Steve and Linda’s place while the other two went back out for a short kayak. Here’s my award winning shot:
Our plan was to work out as hard as we could in the short time we had. We needed to sweat as much as possible so we three could hold our own against the stench that was coming ahead from those seven.
Our driver, Aaron, brought us to a well known bakery where we had all of three minutes to pick up lunch and get back on the road. We were meeting up with Ernie in a few hours and couldn’t be late.
I wanted to try local grub so followed Aaron’s lead and got a “Minced Pie”. (Sorry for not knowing what it is folks. I skipped all the hand pies when I was in England and stuck to Indian Food). I was told it’s beef and cheese. When I asked what kind of cheese ( I don’t eat Blue, Gorgonzola, Brie, and other stinky stuff so it was a valid question) I was told both by Aaron and the woman clerk, “Just regular cheese”. Well that clears it right up! “Sorry, I don’t know what regular cheese is here” I said.” Just the regular ole plain kind!” said Aaron a bit annoyed with me. “The usual, everyday cheese!” the woman told me confused by my confusion . I ordered the pie and we had to go.
Everyone really loved these pies and Borut said they kicked the pies in London to hell. Tasty, yes, but too heavy and greasy for me. I figured minced meat would be minced into small pieces. This was more like creamed beef with no texture . I don’t need another one for at least 10 years. By then I’ll have worked this one off and I’ll try the Curried Chicken one they were out of here.
The drive up to meet our crew was so picturesque. We left the sounds and traveled into the wine country then to the forest. We arrived at a lake and waited for them there. We got eaten by sand flies who apparently LOVE Deet. If we kept moving we were ok but couldn’t stop for anything. I got my steps in just fine today because we had to wait an hour for them.
And there was Ernie driving up! It felt so much longer than three days since we saw them. And man were they grungy! Hubby chased me around and around Ernie for a kiss hello but no way was I getting close to that without a shower! Uh uh! Love has limits.
The Hikers have lots of great stories but I’m going to let Hubby write the blog to describe it all. The only problem is that we are constantly on the move so making the time to write is difficult. He’s not the die hard blogger that I am grabbing time to write on my phone in short segments here and there.
We had a long drive to get to our next destination called Pancake Rocks. The beauty here is overwhelming.
We drove most of the day with stops for short hikes, then checked into our cabins. These were actually very nice on the inside with incredible views.
Dinner was traditional fish and chips. When I tell you that every single plate was licked clean, I mean it.
We walked across the street to do a nice walk through Pancake Rocks at sunset and to see the incredible blow holes.
We thought this sign was funny telling people not to climb over the fence.
What idiots would do that??
The pancake rocks were interesting, flat rocks piled mysteriously high like a plate of pancakes. And the blow holes were incredible !
These were one of the most spectacular things I’ve ever seen. The violence of the water being smashed back and forth across the rocks was terrifying even from the safe viewpoint above.
“No matter how far humans come they will never compete with nature” said Kellen. And he’s right.
Dessert back at the cafe was fresh fruit. “Fresh fruit” sounds so much healthier than fruit piled with ice cream, whip cream and chocolate sauce.
Borut found the best shirt at the gift shop: Silence of the Lambs. (By the way, Borut is pronounced baa (sheep) and root (carrot)
We got to see glow worms in a little cave-like gazebo below our cabin. They were so pretty! Like little stars all around us.
We all slept hard and were told to prepare for rain tomorrow.
Lolly- any sweet
Boob Goiter– see late paragraph entry “From Plan A to Plan B to Plan C”. I marked the late addition with ***, sorry to make you go back but I think it’s worth it. You can get a chuckle at my expense.
We started our day with a breakfast buffet at our hotel in Christchurch. If you have never seen BP vs. a buffet, you are missing quite a show. After only a few minutes of gorging, he was up and back at the buffet again. “Where did IT go?” inquired Hubby. “Kellen saw a white area on his plate and totally panicked.” I told him. He came quickly back to the table with a pile of pancakes to fill the void. Phew!
We Ubered over to the meeting spot for our trip. Rich’s two volleyball players ended up being Baroot: a young dad from London taking a little family break, Marleen: a woman with grown kids out of the house, leaving her sedentary husband at home, and Laura: a ridiculously smart young lady from DC who has traveled to 42 countries and can tell you everything about them. Our group is led by Tess, who had to repeat her name five times because none of us could make it out with her thick Kiwi accent. ” Is her name Tears?” I asked Hubby who shrugged. She finally spelled it out for us. The other guide is (another) Laura, who says she has graduated from University but looks like she can’t be much older than Kellen. And then there is intrepid bus Ernest or “Ernie” now “E-dog” (thanks Griffin) who is hauling our carcasses around South Island and “Kermit” or “Kermie” lagging greenly behind with all of our luggage and packs.
Today was a driving day. We needed to get to the Northern part of NZ to start our Active Adventure. We learned about the earthquake that happened in Christchurch in 2016 killing almost 200 people and injuring thousands more. The main problem was that Christchurch was built on a hidden fault line and the buildings didn’t have the infrastructure in place to withstand a 6.2 shaker. The whole town just crumbled. We saw all of the construction trying to fix the broken roads as we crossed the Southern Alps on the east side of the island. The road was narrow and a bit harry at times with a steep cliff hanging off one side. More than once I would glance up at Laura and panic: wonder why on God’s green earth wasn’t she looking at the road ahead and having two hands on the wheel at 10 and 2 o’clock!
Before realizing that Tess, our actual driver, was doing just fine on the right side of the vehicle. This happened at least 10 times.
With all of the road construction, there were many places where the two lanes went to one lane for a while and we would have to stop for 5-6 minutes to let oncoming traffic use the single lane before it was our turn to go. Every single construction worker we passed smiled and waved at each driver. It was amazing. But no one, and I mean NO ONE was a happier bloke enjoying his day than this guy.
He smiled so genuinely at every single driver, you would think each person was family. You know how they say that New Zealand has the friendliest people on earth? Totally proven true today!
We stopped off at a park by the beach where Laura and Tess put together our scrumptious lunch.
The best part were Laura’s Chocolate Cornflake Cookies. I am not leaving this island without her recipe!
We found a long cement slide with some cardboard, and Griffin went first. Not gracefully. It’s a must-see:
From there, the drive down to the Kaikoura Peninsula was breathtaking, and we saw dozens of fur seals. We arrived at our destination to do an “easy flat walk to stretch our legs” before the real hard stuff coming up we were told.
So now I know that the word “flat” is just a state of mind. It’s all about perspective. No this was not a terribly hard or long hike. But “flat” it was not! We started off with a really steep hill. This morning I received some spam email from a company called Inogen, selling portable oxygen tanks. I was thoroughly insulted. Jeez, I’m still in my 40’s! I threw it disgustingly away. Someone somewhere knew something, because towards the top of that hill all I was thinking was how amazing a portable oxygen tank with a little extra O2 would be.
The beautiful pastures we passed were filled with cows, sheep, deer and Kellens.
View from the top of our “flat” walk.
Going downhill was great and I kept up with the group like a freaking ROCK STAR.
All of these white rocks were submerged until the earthquake two years ago. The quake lifted the whole sea bed 2 feet in this area. Now it’s a beautiful playground. It looks like it should be great tide-pooling, but there’s not a sea creature to be found here.
We climbed back into Ernie and went to our final destination. We were told that although there would be a “shout out” at dinner, all other alcohol would be on us. Rich panicked. “Could you please take me to the nearest grocery store?” he said. “Well, we are already here at our apartment for the night. Do you mean you want me to drive back to town and go to a supermarket so you can purchase alcohol?” said Tess. “Thank you” from Rich. So back on the road we went. We decided to see who could find the weirdest food at the store. BP won with these:
We finally made it back to the apartments, and were blown away with how fancy they were. We were told not to get too excited, as not every place will be this nice.
Tess and Laura prepared a beautiful dinner of steak, sausages, potatoes, garlic bread and two kinds of green salads. It was all superb. The pavlova cake Laura made was divine.
Over the next three days we will be split into two groups: The Kayakers and The Hikers. After dinner our guides had a debriefing with the 6 of us hikers ( Clarks, Rich and Laura) about the details.
Tess “I’m not going to sugarcoat this guys, the next three days are going to be tough, but totally worth it.” We’ll that’s very reassuring for someone who’s been a giant ball of stress for months over this. NOT!
Tess went over how to pack our (huge) backpacks we rented with all the gear we would need. She kept talking about the importance of our rain gear ( we had some, not all) and our very warm clothes ( we thought sweatshirts were good enough, it’s summer here right?) and the dangers of cotton. We brought cotton. It’s not like they didn’t send us a packing list before we left, but we took it as more as a suggestion rather than necessity. When I questioned Hubby months earlier about all the ” Quick Dry” clothes it said to bring his response was, ” this is just a standard packing list they use all year round. We won’t need most of this stuff, it’s summer” turns out he was wrong.
Tess, “You’re heavy fleece (which none of us had) will make a good pillow. Now stop right there. Did she just say to use our clothing as a pillow?
Me,” What’s wrong with the pillows in the hut?” You already know the answer.
I’m a three pillow sleeper, and no ordinary three pillows will do. I need my head pillow that is so dense and heavy I can barely move it. Having said that, I love it so much I really almost brought it on this trip. My next pillow is a special foam one I bought from Chiropractic Lifecenter on Encinitas Blvd. (worthy plug) to use between my knees for back support. And the third is my hugging pillow which can be almost any pillow as long as it’s thick and firm. So not almost any pillow. My fleece top that I didn’t pack is just not an option, that is barbaric.
Oh and these cute rustic huts that were given NO details in the brochure, are not private sleeping areas with en-suite restrooms. It is one big bare room where we lay mattress pads on the ground and sleep with all of the other snoring backpackers that will be there. No electricity. The outhouse is a ways away. But there’s no guarantee we will even get spots in this hut so we have to bring tents too just in case. This is NOT the semi luxurious Glamping sold to me by Hubby, who was getting my Evil Eye so hard I thought he may burst into flames. This is straight out hard core backpacking and camping. In the freezing cold and probable rain. I did tons of this shit in my teens. I’m about to pull 50 and am so not there anymore. I like beds, warmth and pillows. Three pillows, did I mention that?
“Where should we pack our towels?” I asked Tess.
“You don’t need towels” was the answer I did not want to hear.
“So after all of this hiking and sweating we have no showers for three days?” OMG!!!!! Can you imagine what that hut with all those other backpackers is going to smell like? And if we are in a tent, will it be worse?
Tess continued,” Day One is a pretty flat hike (sure it is) that’s just over 6 miles.” Ok, I can do that.
“Day two is where things get really hard Guys” informed Tess. ” We’re going straight up for 6-8 hours.” Something like 3500 ft. Since my training hikes have been about 1000 ft with no pack, I started shvitzing.
Hubby noticed the terror in my face and whispered, ” don’t worry. Remember the Kaanapoli Trail we hiked in Kauaii? That was probably a 7 hour hike.” So I’m freaking out over nothing because apparently I already trained for this hike 20 years ago.
“Day 3 is going to be quite rough as well. The trail gets very rocky and we will be doing a lot of bouldering.” What I heard was, “If Kori isn’t dead afer Day 2, Day 3 will most certainly do her in”. I have had two back surgeries from horse falls. I am fused at Level L5-S1 and there are metal plates still holding things together. After the last surgery my doctor said, “No yoga and never go bouldering or do any hiking with a pack. Never sleep on a floor and always use three pillows.” He may not have actually said the last few things, but I for sure have a get-out-of -jail -free pass for never having to do yoga. I’m not going to lie, as my kids were jumping up and down at the thought of a ridiculously challenging hike that includes bouldering with large packs, tears were streaming down my face.
I walked back to my room in a shell-shocked daze. After a few minutes there was a knock on our door and an extremely kind and understanding Tess came in. Seeing my tears and look of doom, she gently said, “You know, there are other options.” The kayak trip. I wanted to hug her. A wave of relief came over me so fast I thought I heard angels singing.
I was embarrassed to tell Rich I was bailing on the 3-day and told him that I cried when I heard the details. But Rich told me he totally gets it and that he almost cried too. Rich. Strong Rich. Canyoneering, super outdoorsie, very physically fit Rich. Thank you for that validation. Thank you for almost crying too.
So I will part ways from my four boys tomorrow, and join Marleen and Baroot on a three day kayak trip that includes no packs and comfy beds at night. I will miss my mangy crew but couldn’t be more relieved.
New words for today:
Jangles- flip flops
Scroggin- trail mix
shout- free drink as in “I’m going to shout you one tonight but that’s the last one.”
I would document the day, but who the hell knows what day it is? Traveling over the equator and the international date line totally messes up your sense of time, space, and direction. Everything is backwards like driving on the other side of the road, and the need to sleep on the opposite side of the bed.
I won’t bore you with stories of our airport travels. Lots of waiting. Lots of turbulence. Hubby and Griffin slept like logs. Kellen and I white knuckled it for 13 hours. Blah blah blah.
I took my friend Jennifer’s advice and started reading a book so funny she laughed out loud on a plane called “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” by Jenny Lawson. I, too, laughed out loud on the plane.
When we arrived in Auckland we had plenty of time to get through customs and switch planes. We had to choose the “Something to Declare” line because I made a ton of granola for us to have on our hikes. Granola has dried fruit and it needs to be declared.
“I declare your granola to be delicious!” announced Hubby, yet they still made us go through the longer line.
We also were told ahead of time to have our hiking boots clean for inspection. New Zealand is VERY uptight about foreign contaminants. The adults had their boots cleaned fine, but the two teenagers did a half-ass job on theirs and we got redirected to the “YOU SUCK AND WILL PAY FOR IT” line. It took an extra hour to get through the inspection, which included a kindly old man literally washing the boys’ shoes, which is more than I would ever do for them, obviously. This delay made for a mad dash to catch our next flight. We barely made it and we were hot, sweaty, tired and stinky. Man I felt bad for the other travelers around us.
The only other thing worth commenting on is that I may or may not have run right past Top Chef Michael Voltaggio in the airport. I really wanted to stop and ask if it was him but we were literally running at top speed to catch our flight. Plus my family hates when I stop to ask strangers if they are famous because I am almost always wrong and I totally embarrass them. But I still do it. Often.
We landed safely in Christchurch and met up with Rich, our family friend who goes on most of our trips with us. Rich is a professional traveler and arrived in Christchurch rested, fed and properly buzzed from The Admiral’s Club. He arrived much fresher than The Clarks.
We checked into our hotel and took much needed showers. Then we headed out for a beautiful walk to town for dinner. We bought Rich the best shirt ever.
Can we please address the elephant in the room? Griffin’s hair. For weeks and weeks I have been suggesting, encouraging, pleading, begging, bribing and nagging him to death to get a haircut. Being 17, he’s way past the point of wanting my opinion. Plus his girlfriend likes it long. The problem is that male Clark hair doesn’t get long. It just gets BIG. And this thing is now so BIG and poofy I’m surprised they didn’t make us pay for an extra seat on the plane. He is now finally in agreement that it needs to be cut. But it’s a day short and a continent too late. Good luck trying to find a barber on our trek! We agreed that we are more likely to find a sheep herder who, for a few bucks, may sheer him. So that’s our plan: to get this thing shorn before we get home.
We chose a nice looking restaurant for dinner.
I was intrigued with the menu item that included “eggplant textures” and regret not ordering it. I may never know what eggplant textures are and I’m sure they’re awesome.
We ordered some Truffle Fries for the table. They were served with mayo- blech! I will also add that no actual truffles were harmed in the making of these Truffle Fries.
Kellen (also referred to as Bottomless Pit or BP) inhaled his Fish and Chips. Why are they called “fries” when they are “truffled”, but “chips” when served with fried fish? Head scratcher. They served his “chips” with, not mustard, but yellow curry! Now this I can get on-board with -yum!
The rest of us ordered the Fresh Fish plate. If you chose to order fresh fish over the other menu items like lamb or burgers, you are probably doing it to stay light and healthy, right? Here, they smoother the fresh fish with chorizo. Another head scratcher.
Tomorrow morning, we meet up with our tour group. We heard that there are two other people signed up to join our Active Adventures group who will travel with us over the next two weeks. All we know about them is that they are women. Rich ordered two Swedish, mid-forties, volleyball players. We will see.
Steps today: 13,700 not too shabby for a travel day!
I remember the old Roxy quite well. It was one of three places Hubby and I used to dine at on the 101 before starting this blog. I remember a shoddy looking restaurant with great quality, healthy food. It was a Black Bean Enchiladas on Whole Wheat Tortillas kind of place. The old Roxy is gone. The new Roxy is much classier. It has a been restored to have a 1920’s vibe. Our waiter wore suspenders. That kind of place.
After 38 years of business, why would Roxy change a thing? With skyrocketing rent, Roxy was able to keep their “regulars” but they weren’t getting the additional new customers they needed to pay the bills. They felt a big change would wake up the community and bring in more people. I know exactly what they mean. When my friend “Carly” got divorced, she decided to put in some big bucks into her own renovation. She too looks nothing like she did before which helped her land some new clientele as well. It works.
Yup, they’ve gone old school here, bringing the sense of what a 1920’s speakeasy would be like.
I was impressed that they went through such lengths as to hire a band who actually played in that same year.
I was hoping for something a bit Jazzy or Bluesy but Chuck belted out Sinatra like the best of ’em. Salt of the earth guy that Chuck is.
Although Roxy touts, “Our menu is designed to create a sense of community between friends, family and neighbors.” I found it to be just a very basic menu with regular appetizers and entrees. I’m not sure how that is designed to create community except that eating together does that just about anywhere you go. If you are having a picnic of leftovers together in an alley, you are still enjoying a sense of togetherness, are you not? I’m not seeing how this menu is special that way. In fact, the menu is very limited with none of the old healthy items I remember and loved.
I’m a sucker for Brussels Sprouts so Violet and I ordered some for the table. These were decedent with salty little treasures of bacon lardon throughout. Although tasty, the sprouts were very heavy with oil and one or two pieces was enough. But who stops at only one or two pieces? After five or six my mouth had a nice coating of oil that wasn’t going anywhere.
Mom and I both ordered The Roxy Burger with a side salad. No dressing needed for that salad, I brought my own still stuck to my mouth.
The salad was nothing special at all. I would have liked to see some different organic greens or sprouts mixed in for a little excitement. But that burger was outrageously good. It was super juicy, flavorful and so big, mom could only eat half. I only ate half too. But then I ate the other half. Hey, I went on a huge hike that morning and was starving! Plus did you see how I ordered salad instead of fries? So stop judging me!
Violet ordered the Tandori Spiced Chicken Skewers appetizer for her main meal. She said it was ironic that they use the word “spiced” in the title because she found it pretty bland. And measley in size if you ask me, even for an appetizer.
Hubby ordered The Roxy Chef Salad with Chicken. Ok, so they did add some sprouts to liven it up, but you know what? Still not exciting. Pretty boring in fact. It tasted “fine” he said. Shouldn’t “fine” be a kiss of death when talking about one’s food? I love to cook and I know I would take offense.
The new Roxy Encinitas was a bit of a let down. Although they did a great job aesthetically speaking, I was hoping for more from the kitchen. Our service was great. I love that they have live music every night of the week. I just wish their website gave a blurb about what kind of music it is. We wouldn’t have chosen Sinatra night.
SUPER annoying that there are no prices on their website! I want to have an idea of what I am in for both gastronomically and financially before I go out to eat. Having said that, I thought the prices may have been a tad steep, but we weren’t gouged for what we ordered.
Most of our food was “fine” with the exception of The Roxy Burger which was fantastic. All in all, we weren’t impressed. Maybe the charm is to come here for drinks and live music, with the food taking a back seat to that. It’s not our favorite place, but they’ve got some good bones here. Keep improving and we may be back Roxy!
I couldn’t understand why the staple Thai restaurant on the 101 in Encinitas that’s been around forever, “Siamese Basil”, would close down. But then to find out it was being replaced by another Thai restaurant called “Plum”…that didn’t make sense. If Siamese Basil couldn’t hack it serving both vegetarian and carnivorous options, why would Plum, a strict vegetarian restaurant do better with less options? And don’t we already have enough vegetarian restaurants on the 101? We meat lovers are getting the boot and I’m a bit disgruntled. You Plant People can always order options without the meat, but at your restaurants, we carnivores have no meat options at all. Totally unfair.
This sign hanging out front explained everything.
I’m going to be honest here. I forgot my reading glasses. And as I head into the big 5-0 this year, I’m blind as a bat when it comes to reading without them. So I took a picture of this sign and waited until I got home to read it. I just read it. I am so blown away by the story! Not only are they supporting our own community with their profits, they are supporting their home country as well. How very Paul Newman of them. Ok, I LOVE them even more now!
Entering the restaurant, we noticed the lack of decor and stark white walls. This makes much more sense now that we know that they are in transition. Same with makeshift sign hanging over Siamese Basil’s. I now have clarity.
Our waitress was very friendly and attentive and we were excited to order dinner. We started with a bowl of Tom Yum to share among the 5 of us. Tom Yum is a hot and sour soup with mixed vegetables and fresh chili. I thought we mentioned to our server to keep things at a level 2 (out of 10) on the Thai spice scale. Lynne took a ladle of soup off the top and didn’t think it was very spicy at all. But those dangerous red flakes were looming just below the surface. The broth was so good, I couldn’t let the pain stop me from enjoying it. So it was take a spoonful of soup, ow ow ow, put some ice water in my mouth. Soup-ow-ow-ow-ice water. Soup-ow-ow-ow-ice water. I looked around to see how the others were managing, and there was John, adding spoonful after spoonful of extra hot condiments into his bowl. I couldn’t believe it. He told us that he was the only American to order something in Thailand with a “10” and lived to brag about it.
The broth was a powerhouse of flavor. My only minor complaint is that I wish it had more of the delicious vegetables in it.
Here is what my bowl looked like after I was done. That’s a mighty spicy bowl!
We shared an appetizer sampler platter. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I am not usually a fan of “mock” meat. But slap my ass and call me Judy! These satay “chicken” skewers were to die for! In fact, everything was delicious and presented beautifully.
Our next course was the sautéed eggplant with an option of jackfruit, which none of us had ever had. We were living large tonight. Taking chances. Going for it. We conquered that spicy soup. We took down that mock chicken. Jackfruit? Bring it!
Though I was intrigued to try jackfruit, I was also a bit nervous. I mean, have you seen one? They’re not pretty.
I found the texture and appearance of the jackfruit pieces to be a lot like the eggplant, without the purple skin. I took a nibble, then ate the whole piece. Not bad actually. It tasted a bit like…chicken? No, artichoke heart.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the brown rice option we chose was actually a medley of grains, giving great texture and nuttiness to the rice. And what a nice touch to make it into a heart. We ♥ that.
The next dish was one I ordered called, “Pad See Iw” only I can’t pronounce it correctly. I butchered the pronunciation so bad in fact, that my server had no clue what I was saying. When I told her it was the one with the thick egg noodles and broccoli she said the name of it back to me which sounded nothing like what I told her. Oh well. She got it right and it was delicious! It was truly outstanding with the “chicken”. Everyone loved it.
Katie ordered the Pad Thai. I have had Pad Thai so much in my life, it’s not something I order anymore. Too boring. Been there, done that. And the thing that brings Pad Thai to life is the fish sauce, so I’m sure it wouldn’t be very good here without it. WRONG! Not only was this Pad Thai with tofu amazing, I think it may be the best Pad Thai I’ve ever had. I will absolutely order this again next time. Fan-friggin’-tastic!
And that my friends, is a wrap. Or so I thought. Our friends started sniffing at the dessert menu. I didn’t need anything. I wasn’t going to order any. But if someone else happened to order the chocolate lava cake on the menu, I wouldn’t exactly kick it out of bed. But when Lynne started ohhing and ahhhing over the Sweet Sticky Rice with Mango, I thought she was nuts. DID SHE NOT SEE THE CHOCOLATE LAVA CAKE ON THE MENU?? But since I wasn’t ordering it, I had no say.
When the Sticky Rice arrived, we all took forks and scooped it up (except Hubby who won’t eat anything with coconut). Ohhhhh my. This was amazing beyond words! I closed my eyes to savor the deliciousness of the rich, creamy, coconutty rice with the sweet mango. I tuned out the world around me and immersed myself in these few bites of heaven. Do other people know about this??? Lynne, who has spent time there, told me that this is the traditional dessert served in Thailand, and yes, everyone knows about it. And now I do too.
Do not come to Plum Encinitas because you are looking for good vegetarian Thai food. Come to Plum because you are looking for good food. Even if you’re a dedicated carnivore, you will miss NOTHING. The mock chicken and organic tofu protein options complete any dish. They also have mock duck and beans you can add that we didn’t try. Try the jackfruit option if you’re feeling adventurous. I found the prices to be spot on for the quality and organic ingredients used to make these scrumptious dishes. I am on-board with these Plant People. Plum is not only fantastic, it is special.
Join us next week for live music and dinner on Sunday, February 10th 6pm at
*** Please come and support my team “Spinheads” at a super fun event this Saturday, February 9th from 7-10pm at the Encinitas Elk Lodge as we raise money for the Encinitas YMCA! There will be a fantastic live band to dance to, snacks, silent auction, raffle prizes and more! Tickets are just $10 each and you can buy them here: