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Monday, August 29, 2016

The Monterey Bay Aquarium and Lunch at The Haute Enchilida

Monterey, CA is a city with an interesting past. Alta (Upper) California was a territory that included Monterey. It was owned by Spain and was acquired by Mexico after their independence from them. 

By Samuel Augustus Mitchell - This file was provided to Wikimedia Commons by Geographicus Rare Antique Maps, a specialist dealer in rare maps and other cartography of the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, as part of a cooperation project.

Monterey Bay was the sole entry place for goods in the entire region. After the Mexican-American War, Alta California became part of the U.S. Shortly thereafter, in 1850, California became a U.S. state.

Monterey Bay is a very picturesque area in Northern California.

It has an abundance of sea life, in no small part due to the Kelp Forests in the area. A robust commercial fishing industry spawned here. The most notable part of this industry was the large number of sardine canneries here. The canneries collapsed in the mid 1950's due to over fishing and other factors; the last cannery closing in the early 1970's. The cannery area of Monterey became famous with the publication of John Steinbeck's Cannery Row.

Today Cannery Row is a commercialized tourist area with shops, for the most part, full of quite unmemorable gee gaws such as t-shirts, fudge and sea shells.

There is one diamond on Cannery Row that makes this area worth a visit, the Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA).

MBA was opened in 1984, largely through the largess of the Packards of Hewlett-Packard. Their daughter, Julie, a marine biologist, is currently Executive Director.

As you enter MBA, there is a large entryway with a gift shop and information center,

but the first thing you notice are the crowds that are there

to view the sea otter exhibit.

MBA had the first kelp forest exhibit of any aquarium.

The viewing area of this exhibit is 28 feet high, and the exhibit is in part made possible through the use of water from Monterey Bay. It is filtered for viewing clarity during the day but not at night allowing plankton and other organisms through which the kelp need to grow.

The Open Sea exhibit is also of note. Schooling fish

and a 1.2 million gallon tank with one of the world's largest single panes of glass

make this a very impressive display.

There are also a variety of interesting sea creatures at MBA including sea nettles (jellyfish),

tube worms,


tube anemones

and other sea life.

There is also a wave machine. It's pretty impressive to see the waves crashing over you from the observation area.

Looking at all this sea life made me hungry.  After a tip from another local,

we headed north up the coastal road to eat at The Haute Enchilada. There are 2 proprietors here, one is a chef and the other is a visual artist.

They have a very nice outdoor dining area

and if you go into the restaurant, a strikingly colorful indoor space.

It was a nice day out, so we ate outside. My dining companion and I decided to try a few things for lunch off their Menu.

We shared a bowl of artichoke bisque.

This was a first for me and it was very good. They use mostly a vegetable broth base for this bisque and just a minimal amount of creme. This preserved the delicate flavor of the artichokes. A reduced beet puree tops off this dish for color.

I ordered the tamale trio.

Mini artichoke/cheese, chicken and carnitas tamales were covered with salsa verde, mole and roasted Poblano chili sauce, respectively. This dish was very good.

Dining companion ordered the Haute Enchilada al Mole.

Chicken, rice, beans and locally grown veggies made the filling The enchilada was topped with a delicious mole sauce, sour cream and cheese. This dish was literally as good as it looks and absolutely delicious.

After this wonderful food, a short walk was in order.

Going around the interestingly landscaped property

behind the restaurant

was a nice collection of one of the proprietor's art.

The restaurant and gallery is almost like Frida Kahlo meets Rick Bayless.

For those who may venture to the area, these venues were a very intriguing mixture of nature and biology and the culinary and visual arts. MBA and The Haute Enchilida are both highly recommended.

That's that for another post on Forks.

Monterey Bay Aquarium
886 Cannery Row
Monterey, CA 93940

The Haute Enchilada
7902 Moss Landing Rd.
Moss Landing, CA 95039
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