-----A quest adds zest to life - and what better quest than a good meal. Living on a small boat adds to the savoring, since it is difficult to store and prepare the fixings for a gourmet meal.
-----The sauce in our cruising life can be a little thing -- like an ice cream cone for us folks without a refrigerator. -----.
-----Life needs goals, we believe. They stand like little signposts beside the road, urging one happily onward. Some folks set lofty and, often, materialistic goals - build a bigger house, find that dream car, make a million. Other folks set personal goals - lose 20 pounds by your birthday, say one kind thing to every person you meet each day, read a new book every month. Well, you probably know us well enough through this cruising tale, to know what goal helps guide our cruising - find the best restaurants in the area.
-----Now, don't laugh. That's a serious and difficult task. First, tastes are different. Oh, we know our taste, but we have to rely on recommendations since life is too short (and our time in each cruising ground too finite) to attempt a random sampling. Everyone else's tastes are different - from ours, from others - so what's sauce for the goose may not be sauce to the gander (if you allow me to stretch that metaphor). We try to get to know the personality of a person before asking for a recommendation, and that sometimes leads to a good result. Sometimes, believe it or not, we follow a plump and happy person into the restaurant of choice. We have discovered that librarians are very helpful people, who love to be asked (about anything), and take great pride in their answer. They have led us to many a fine meal. We fondly remember the chubby and pleasant person we met in a marina. In answer to El's question (she's the brave one who usually asks), "Where would you eat lunch today?" he smiled, and without hesitation answered, "At home."
-----The second difficult aspect is the money part. Some suggestions we receive are horribly inflated to lighten the burden weight of an innocent's wallet (and hence the boat). We have discovered that there is certainly a minimum financial threshold that must be surmounted to achieve culinary success, but it is far less than the stash in Fort Knox. Creative skill in cooking requires choice ingredients, and they often cost a little more than catsup, but the key ingredient is imagination - and there isn't a price tag on that component. So, we don't judge quality in food (or anything else, for that matter) by the size of the bill. We let our palate guide us.
-----Thirdly, being cruisers, there is the distance factor. We must be able to walk there from our dock. Taxi bills don't improve the flavor of the pesto.
-----Lastly, we have no bias to guide us. We'll eat (and have) anything. Haggis, sparrow soup, fish eyes, snakes, sea urchins, crocodile, zebra - nothing is safe from our palate. We are true omnivores. Italian, Greek, Latvian, Montenegrin, Inuit, Samburu - any culture, any cuisine, anywhere.
-----So, you see? Our goal of finding the best food on our cruising route is not as simple as it seemed at first blush. And, speaking of turning color, we have had a few monumental failures. To stay on the high ground, you must occasionally step into the mud.
-----We hesitate to recommend. Restaurants are ephemeral things - they come and go, get new chefs, have new owners. The target is always shifting, so it's hard to duplicate a bull's-eye. Also, we don't know who is reading this - we don't know your tastes. We remember a delightful trip to the back blocks of Japan with a friend who thought anything that didn't have hamburger in it was unpalatable. We ate our wonderful dinners, and his, too.
-----This brings us to the subject - food in the California Delta. After witnessing Wakeboard Weekend and its aftermath, we were not optimistic. Were we surprised! We ate some marvelous meals.
-----Our big meal is noonday. We sleep better on just a little wine and cheese at night, when all that digestion thing is finished. Also, living on a boat, you don't want to search out an anchor site in the dark after an evening meal. So, every day we sampled another luncheon menu, and there were excellent meals. However, only one restaurant, our very favorite, did we revisit (we won't say it's name, but it has baseball caps tacked all over the ceiling).
Sunset Grill Restaurant (Tower Park Marina) -Chris (Rana Verde), Bill & El (Halcyon), and Jim (Pounder)
Wimpy's, near Walnut Grove
The Rusty Porthole - Closed, So we ate our Hot Dogs on the Dock
Herman & Helen's Cafe - Breakfast Burrito
Grand Island Mansion
Bob's At The Marina (Village West) - Chris in Hog Heaven
Al The Wops, Located in the Chinese Hamlet of Locke. El Dipped a Pepper in Peanut Butter, and Loved it!
Chez Halcyon, with Chris, Cruising Cuisine Chef Extraordinaire
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