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A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures

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Our family’s spring break started last Saturday with a major screw-up on my part: I stood up my childhood best friend, Evelyn, having completely forgotten that we’d made breakfast plans until she texted me from the café (that I’d picked out!). I’m such an idiot. (Sorry, Ev!)

So instead of gabbing with Evelyn over eggs and coffee, I made another dish of Cantonese Savory Steamed Egg Custard for my morning meal. (It’s a recipe I’m still testing, but you’ll see it on the site soon!) Too bummed to whip out my trusty DSLR, I just snapped a shot with my iPhone and posted a pic on Instagram:

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“Breakfast before our Mountain View Costco signing: Cantonese Savory Steamed Egg Custard.”

And then, when Henry and I headed off to Costco for our book signing, I kept Instagramming, and decided I’d keep it going for our entire road trip.

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“We’ve sold piles of books and given away all our action figures, but will be here at Costco Mountain View to chat and sign books for another hour! Come on down!”

This was the first stop on our jaunt down the California coast with the kids, and our second stop was the Front Street Kitchen in Santa Cruz for my pal Arsy Vartanian’s release party for her fantastic new book, The Paleo Foodie Cookbook:

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“Celebrating @rubiesandradishes’ fab book release! Great seeing @grassfedgirl and other Paleo pals!”

Next: down to Pacific Grove for dinner at Passionfish, where we enjoyed a beet salad, spicy ceviche, steak, and lobster. Passionfish has a special menu that identifies specific allergens in their menu items, so we were able to steer gluten-free. But as you’ll see from our photos, just because we avoided gluten doesn’t mean we stayed 100 percent Paleo on our vacation. At all.

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“#RoadTripEats: Sustainable & #glutenfree surf ‘n turf at @PassionfishPG

Bright and early the next morning, we headed into scenic Carmel in search of morning grub, and found ourselves at Carmel Belle, where we eagerly tucked into plates of prosciutto and poached eggs with arugula pesto.

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

#RoadTripEats: Breakfast at Carmel Belle #ByTheCoast #HoldTheToast

But our main event for the day was to take in Monterey and its incredible aquarium.

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“#Monterey”

The aquarium is pretty darn cool. The boys geeked out over the hammerhead shark, the weird-looking Pacific sunfish, and the eerie, pulsating jellyfish.

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“Jellies and fishies”

One of the restaurants in the aquarium is Cindy’s Waterfront, which features sustainable seafood and farm-to-table eats by Cindy Pawlcyn (whose other restaurants include the Fog City Diner in San Francisco and Mustard’s Grill in Yountville). Looking out over the serene Pacific, you almost forget you’re actually in an aquarium filled with screaming kids.

And yes, those are fish tacos on corn tortillas.

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“#RoadTripEats: salads & seafood at Cindy’s Waterfront #Monterey”

That afternoon, we drove down to Pfeiffer State Park in Big Sur for a family hike in the redwoods.

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“A walk in the woods.”

Having worked up an appetite, we dined at Big Sur Bakery. Yes, it’s a bakery, but as you can see, there are plenty of options for non-bread eaters.

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“#RoadTripEats: butter lettuce, grilled octopus, bavette steak, and lamb shoulder @BigSurBakery”

Early the next morning, we headed to the legendary Nepenthe restaurant in Big Sur for breakfast at their outdoor cafe, with stunning views of the coast and ocean. (Incidentally, our cookbook shares a publisher with Nepenthe’s!)

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“#RoadTripEats: bacon, eggs, potatoes, fruit, coffee, views. #Nepenthe #CafeKivah #BigSur”

It was chilly, though, so after downing our eggs, bacon, and fruit, we piled into the car and headed down to check out the Elephant Seal Vista Point along the highway.

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“Along the coast #SanSimeon”

The boys had been cooped up in the car for far too long, so as soon as we got to the Fogcatcher Inn in Cambria, they made a beeline for the pool.

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“Someone’s gonna get hurt.”

We spent the better part of the following morning checking out Hearst Castle in San Simeon (which Henry and I enjoyed, but the boys proclaimed “BORING”—touring a dead rich guy’s mansion and gazing at his collections of centuries-old European antiques isn’t exactly thrilling for two little boys).

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“My kids say the best part of the #HearstCastle tour is the audio narration on the bus by Alex Trebec. My favorite part: grass fed, grass finished ground beef by Hearst Ranch for $5.50/pound.”

Arriving in Santa Barbara, we treated ourselves to a late (but very satisfying) lunch at Los Agaves.

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“#RoadTripEats: Lengua Salsa Verde & Carne Azteca at Los Agaves, Santa Barbara”

Then, we headed on down to Los Angeles, where we popped in on my sister and brother-in-law. Knowing we were coming, my super-chef sister already had a pan of freshly-baked gluten-free cookies at the ready. It would be an understatement to say that they were appreciated—especially by Lil-O.

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“#RoadTripEats: Arrived at my sister’s house in L.A. to find…homemade #glutenfree chocolate chip cookies!”

And just like old times, I got her to cook dinner for us.

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“The best homemade #RoadTripEats can be found at my sister’s house. #HomeSmokedBrisket #GreensFromHerGarden #LosAngeles”

After passing out for the night, we grabbed a quick breakfast at Russell’s in Pasadena before my flight home.

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“#RoadTripEats: can’t have breakfast at Russell’s without ordering a burger (patty).”

At this point, my spring break was over—I had to get back home to start my week of hospital nightshifts. The boys, however, continued on south to their ultimate destination: Legoland California. So Henry took over the child-herding (and Instagramming) duties from here on out.

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“Waiting for lunch at @LegolandCalifornia #ForgetCrayonsGimmeLegos.”

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“Building dinner. #LegosEverywhere”

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“The end of a very Lego spring break.”

After a long drive up from San Diego, the boys just got home last night. For our family, it’s back to homework and home cooking—at least until next week, when I hop onto a plane for Texas! (Will I see you there?)


Looking for recipes? Head on over to the Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPad® app, and in my New York Times bestselling cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel 2013).


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