Posts Tagged With: san jose travel blog

Gilroy Garlic Festival–Interesting sights

After missing it last year, I was able to attend the Gilroy Garlic Festival this time. And I can safely say that it was a good experience.

Gilroy is known for its garlic farms and garlic flavoured food. If you pass Gilroy on 101, you will see lots of garlic farms and restaurants. This festival, held in July last week every year, brings all food creators together under one roof. On one ground, actually. The festival is held on a huge barren land. There is dry grass and dust as far as the eye can see. More on that in a little while.

This festival has attributes of a typical summer fest – music, food, shopping, kid stuff and fun sights. It can be a family outing or a chill out excursion with friends.

Of course, the highlight is food. All foods have one thing in common – an obvious tinge of garlic. Garlic egg rolls, garlic mussels, garlic pasta pesto, garlic veggie wrap, garlic popcorn, garlic pistachios – garlic is an intrinsic part (and not in a bad way) in everything. If you are allergic to or have a dislike for garlic, there is not much you can eat there.

I delved into some stuffed garlic mushrooms and garlic bread, both of which were heavenly. Must try for everyone. But mind you, the garlic bread was super heavy. I was done with just these.

I tasted samples of garlic pistachios and popcorn. Both were really good. Worth buying and stocking in your house.

Now for the tricky parts.

There is an entry fee of $20. I think that’s a bit too much.

The parking lots and the main festival area are far away. You need to park your car in the parking lot and take shuttle buses to the ticket counter. And if it is as hot and dusty as yesterday, that experience won’t be pleasant.

Some exits from the freeway may be choked up. I took the Monterey exit on 101S and experienced slow moving bumper to bumper traffic. Do not follow your GPS. As the website recommends, many roads will be blocked. Only some main exits are allowed. Cop cars and signs will lead the way to the parking lot. I suggest taking the Masten Ave exit on 101S. It was deserted (I took it on the way back and sailed through).

If it is going to be hot like yesterday, be prepared. Hats, bottles, tissues and if possible, your own mats, chairs and umbrella to put up under shade. There were 2 free water service counters. Keep an eye for them; they will not be easily discernible.

I would love to visit this festival again next year and try more food items.

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I said interesting fun sights, right?

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Garden sticks being sold at a stall. This place was swarming with parents and kids. I did pick 2 for my balcony garden.

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Strawberry+Banana+Peach smoothie from Fruit Fritz. Without this, I would have been dehydrated. This was yummy. $9 for this big glass; $4 for refill. Worth it.

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Sauteed mushrooms, shrimp and garlic bread (uh-uh, that’s not my plate!)

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Flat bottle trays. To be used to serve cheese, sushi, starters, etc. Some interesting labels on these.

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Categories: Bay Area, California, Photography, San Jose, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Boats Through My Lens

I came across this picture recently when I was going through my photo collection looking for a photo to submit to a contest. And I realized, I had so many pictures of boats!

Surat, India

Taken on one early Sunday morning on ONGC bridge, Surat. The full post here.

The picture above and the one below were the first pictures of boats I took (with a simple point and shoot camera. In fact, they were one of the first pictures I ever took for the purpose of blogging). I used to look at these boats everyday while going to and coming back from work. They captivated me. Somehow. I thought they looked lonely, desolate and sad floating all by themselves.

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Two very red boats tied on Tapi River, Surat

Over the years, I clicked a lot of boats. I have no particular attachment to boats or the ocean or boating. It’s just that they make good photography subjects.

So let me show off my boat collection.

These ones were taken at Allepey, Kerala. Allepey was all about boats. There were houseboats, of course. And then there were these fishermen boats that would silently, confidently stroll by the huge houseboats, totally oblivious to their own littleness.

Allepey backwaters

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One place I have visited a lot in the last one year is Monterey Bay. Monterey is a merry place where families pour in on weekends and feed on clam chowder soup and crab. I have been there several times and am never bored of that place. It is a coastal place and there are all kinds of boats all around. The first picture is my favourite. It is currently my screen wallpaper.

Boat at Monterey

Monterey bay

Yacht parking Monterey

Another coastal place I visit a lot is San Francisco. SFO is always cold and windy. Like Monterey, SFO’s Pier 39 is flocked by families for clam chowder, chips (pigeons flock here for the same reason), street shows and boat rides. The boat in this picture is probably nothing special but the background is. The pier has a lot of history like the rest of SFO. From the pier, one can see (on a clear day) the Alcatraz Jail island and the Golden Gate bridge. This pier is one of the old retained buildings of the city.

SFO pier

My first experience of being surrounded by boats was during Christmas of 2012, 10 days after I landed in the US. This was at Two Harbours, Catalina (near Los Angeles). It is a beautiful, sparsely crowded island with just 1 restaurant and a couple of lodges. It is an adorable place. I should be writing about it soon.

Catalina Island

The next 3 pictures have been taken in Tulum, Mexico. Mexico… ah. Pure ecstasy! The tropical climate soothed my senses and allowed me to take a dip in all its offerings – exotic fruit juices, summer clothes and beautiful blue beaches. I gasped when I had got the first glance of Tulum beach. Its waters are in the prettiest of blues. Take a look yourself.

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Boat at Tulum beach

Neon boat mexico

I loved the color combination of this one. I wish I had better zoom lenses.

And this last one was taken at Hume Lake in Sequoia National Park. The lake enthralled me completely. 4th of July long break crowds were all over the place – swimming, jumping off rocks, picnicking – and yet the lake made the atmosphere look so serene. i could have sat there for hours watching the calm waters and people frolicking around.

Hume lake boating

After looking at the effect of this picture, I am happy for once that I do not have high zoom lenses. The enormousness of the mountains and minuteness of the boats would not have been so apparent.

If you look through your archives, you may discover that you take too many pictures of a particular subject like food or flowers. Or clocks, maybe?!

Share with me!

Categories: Bay Area, California, India, Mexico, Photography, South India, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Sushi Boulevard, Sunnyvale – Restaurant Review

I read about sushi first in movie magazines like Filmfare during school. In interviews, celebrities would quote sushi as their favourite food. I was so curious. Then I got the idea from somewhere that sushi meant squids and eels. Eek!

I have become a fan of sushi (and this restaurant) in the last 2 months. I have visited Sushi Boulevard (SB) thrice in 1.5 months. I am that crazy. It has become comfort food, anytime food and an ideal meal after a long tiring day.

This little, basic restaurant is located in Sunnyvale. They often offer Groupon deals. If you miss that, you can always visit them during their Happy Hour (3 pm to 7 pm). They offer 20% discount on the total bill during these 4 hours.

The service is pretty quick unless crowded. It is unpredictable, actually. Sometimes, the place is almost empty and yet food takes a little while to arrive. And given that I always go there from college, starved and deprived of good food, the wait seems a tad longer than usual. Well, sometimes they just have one cook. That could be the reason.

Their menu is elaborate and like most sushi bars, many items are presented with pictures on the menu card. Believe me, that is pretty helpful! Not to mention, the items are listed in alphabetical order. How convenient!

I usually go in for their rolls. Gordon & Spider Roll are my favourites. You cannot miss Gordon. It is marked with a red chilli, indicating that it is the spiciest roll. As per my tolerance level, it is not really spicy but yes, spicier than others and extremely flavourful. This has to be my favourite dish. It is made of up tako, scallop, shrimp, cucumber and jalapeno. Slurp!

The second is Spider Roll. The pieces are large and filling made of crab, avocado, cucumber and tobiko.

I have tried other rolls like Miss Netscreen (Tuna, Salmon, Hirame, Shrimp, Cucumber) which was a little bland, Hamachi Roll & Jackson Roll (Spicy tuna roll with seaweed). There are numerous options to try out and because I am still not bored of sushi or SB, I will be trying out more items of their menu.

Visit their website which has the detailed menu with pictures and descriptions to help you choose better. They also have some vegetarian rolls and a lunch menu.

It is a wrong idea that sushi is raw food. Indeed, the seafood portion is often raw (I am sure it is treated in some way and is not totally raw) but some sushi rolls are steamed or deep fried. There are many rolls that contain vegetables in larger quantities, suppressing the raw taste of seafood. And then you have the very spicy Wasabi sauce and Soy to pique up the flavour. Undeniably, sushi is an acquired taste. It took me 3 attempts to get hooked on to it. But do try it. Like me, you may get addicted and it may soon become your drug (yes, in my case It’s that bad. During my upcoming India visit, I am going to miss sushi like crazy).

And if you are near San Jose, visit Sushi Boulevard so that you get a great first time experience!

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Miso soup served at the beginning. It is yummy.

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Don’t remember the name but it was pretty raw and mild

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Spider Roll. Yummylicious!

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Jackson Roll. It was pretty good.

Categories: Bay Area, California, Restaurant Reviews, San Jose, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Isabella’s Restaurant, San Jose

Isabella’s is a Peruvian food restaurant at Winchester Boulevard (near Santana Row). I was excited to have a look at the restaurant interiors menu because this was my first experience with South American cuisine. I had no clue what kind of flavour this fare has.

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The interiors are done simply with some wall art and some artefacts, probably depicting SA cultures. The place was full even on a Tuesday evening. We were lucky enough to find a corner table.

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Our server quickly asked us for drinks. They have some speciality regional drinks also on the menu. You can try those if you feel adventurous.

They are more known for their seafood. They had the best dishes to offer in seafood. Chicken dishes did not seem special. So, we went in for 2 seafood dishes – Fresh Fish Cebiche and Arroz con Mariscos (sautéed seafood with fried rice).

We had to impatiently wait for a while before the dishes arrived. And the seafood-rice dish looked amazing! We barely took a few compulsive photos for this post and divulged! And the taste was heavenly. The seafood (shrimp, mussels, clams) was absolutely fresh. The rice was pleasantly sautéed in peas and light spices (pretty similar to Indian preparation). We stared with remorse at the empty dish after 5 minutes.

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Next arrived the Cebiche. This cold dish was served with corn, onions and yam. As many reviews mentioned, it was more lime-y. It was sourer than necessary. If you really like Cebiche and want to order it here, do inform them to make it less sour.

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For dessert, we ordered Peruvian Banana Sundae. They did not have Peruvian ice cream and used ice cream. The ice cream (orange and strawberry) was as such good but I did not like the fried banana much. Some people may really like the taste and maybe this dish would actually be nice.

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Green sauce served to spice up your meal. Mind you, this sauce is very very spicy

My conclusion is that this place is known for its warm seafood dishes. Their flavoured rice, sautéed seafood and speciality sauces are your best bet. I would love to try the other dishes mentioned under ‘Seafood’ in their menu. The photos look so attractive (check out pictures on their Facebook page). I wish we had not ordered the Cebiche and ordered another rice dish instead.

They are a tad expensive (each main dish costing 15 to 17 bucks). Hence, one can make use of the discount coupons they offer on their website.

I would love to visit them again. The memory of soft, juicy and flavoursome shrimps with delicious rice is still fresh on my taste buds.

Categories: Bay Area, Restaurant Reviews, San Jose, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Scrambl’z, San Jose–Restaurant Review

Of all the places we stumbled across using Groupons, Scrambl’z has to be the clear winner. We have been visiting this ‘fun place to eat’ every other month, especially with guests visiting us from out of SJ. It is just our excuse to go there again and again.

Scrambl’z is a breakfast and brunch place. Essentially, breakfast. It is open from 7 am till 2 pm every day (oh yes. Please remember this lest you want to land up there at 7 pm and be disappointed, like us). They have a huge menu with a huge variety of eggs, omelettes, pancakes, waffles, juices, crepes and sandwiches. Many of their main dishes (like omelettes and benedicts) come with one or more sides. And you won’t believe it, the side is as big and heavy as a main dish. Greed will naturally overcome you; you will order a lot of food and struggle to finish it.

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Lot of yummy food along with Hazelnut Coffee. I never give this one a miss

Their menu is overwhelming. First they astonish you with statistics like the number of eggs broken each week (18000), number of oranges squeezed each week (10000) and amount of flour used (1 ton). And then confuse you with the vast array of breakfast dishes.

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Chocolate Crepes

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Bread Pudding French Toast

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Whole Grain Waffle

Rarely have we been disappointed there.

Our personal favourites there are Whole Grain Waffle, San Francisco Omelette, Florentine Eggs Benedict, Bread Pudding French Toast and Biscuits. Of course, we are yet to try many, many other dishes.

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Florentine Eggs Benedict

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San Francisco Omelette

For 3 people, choice of one main dish and 2 side dishes would be perfect (along with some coffee and / or juice). An omelette, for example, comes with 2 sides you can choose. That would be perfect.

Their interior is worth mentioning. They have a very American feel. Lot of B&W photographs of stars, witty signboards and vintage posters crowd all the walls. You can easily spend the wait time gazing across these. Scrambl’z can be crowded in mornings and you can expect a 15 minutes wait.

It’s going to be a while before I get bored of this place. I am already looking forward to my fourth visit there.

Breakfast happens to be my favourite meal of the day. I have a seed of thought growing in my head. Maybe I should try out all Breakfast / Brunch places in SJ???

Categories: Bay Area, Restaurant Reviews, San Jose, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Berryessa Flea Market, San Jose

I had a very fascinating motion of flea markets when I came here. I had seen pictures on some blogs before and totally loved the idea of a colourful, lively market where one could find interesting finds. And so I was dying to visit one.

I turned out to be lucky. The biggest flea market in San Jose happens to be 5 minutes away from our house. Last Sunday, weather was beautiful – sunny and warm – perfect for a day outing. Yippie!

This flea market is located in a huge space and even though it was pretty crowded at 2 pm, we had no difficulty moving around.

We meandered through broad and narrow lanes of sellers selling everything under the sun – jewellery, clothes, shoes, soaps, electronics, ear phones, kitchenware, cosmetics, bags, baby clothes, toilet cleaners, hats, country clothing, boots, vintage crockery.. phew! It took us a while to sink into the expanse. I was enthralled at the idea of buying handy stuff (like washing brushes and floor mats) at cheap rates.

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And yeah, haggling is allowed!

A flea market is like a family outing spot. Because there is something for everyone. There is food, there are toys, there are clothes, there is face painting. And some pretty entertaining sights.

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So, everyone is entertained.

This reminded me of the many exhibitions I have seen in Baroda with M. One of the many good things in the flea market is that one can take photographs freely! No one is stopped from taking photographs of the stalls and products, unlike in India.

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The most crowded area is the fruits and vegetables section. Basic fruits and veggies to dried spices to exotic fruits to fresh breads – everything found its way into this colourful aisle. We ended up buying some basic veggies, yummy soft cinnamon bread and the most heavenly honey ever. Most fruits and veggies were of the same price as supermarkets but we did find some different variety of fruits that are not available elsewhere. Things like eggs turned out to be much cheaper.

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If you become a regular at flea markets or farmer’s markets, you would know what to buy there. Also, it becomes convenient if these markets are close to your place of residence.

I know for sure that I am going to be a regular visitor at this flea market. I didn’t get to explore it fully this time. I am sure there are many treasures yet to be discovered by me.

The Berryessa flea market is open on Wed, Fri, Sat and Sun. For more details, visit their website.

Categories: Bay Area, California, Photography, San Jose, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

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