I recently spent 10 days in California, driving down the coast (in a convertible nonetheless!) from San Francisco to Laguna. We stopped in lots of places along the way, but one of my favourites was Monterey. Situated on a beautiful stretch of coastline just North of Big Sur and the famous 17-Mile Drive, this picturesque town boasts a charming street of converted canneries (the "Cannery Row" of John Steinbeck fame), some lovely coastal walks, a large population of local sea lions, and a famous aquarium (which we didn't get around to visiting...).
It was also the location of one of the best meals of my trip: our breakfast at First Awakenings featured the lightest, fluffiest pancake I have ever eaten in my life, setting me up for a lifetime of disappointment back in the UK!
Free refills of coffee...yes please! (cue caffeine shakes)
It took me a while to choose from the selection of pancakes on offer (raspberry-coconut-granola was particularly tempting), but I ended up shunning the more traditional options (blueberry, or - dare I say it - plain) for the very breakfasty-sounding "Fresh Apple Cinnamon and Oatmeal" pancake. I was slightly worried that the oats would make this too heavy, but they were sprinkled on top (rather than incorporated into the batter), and - lightly toasted - brought a lovely nutty flavour to the dish.
The incredibly airy pancake was packed with little cubes of sweet apple (perfectly cooked, neither too hard nor too soggy), and the dish was completed with a sprinkling of oat flakes, a dusting of powdered sugar, and the traditional American pancake accompaniment - a scoop of whipped butter. I had a tentative taste, in the hope that it may have been ice-cream, but was sadly disappointed. Still, I maintain - this was the best pancake I've ever had, and if you ever pass through Monterey, you have to go here!
The savoury options were pretty impressive too: my boyfriend went for the "Caps, Etc" - a dish of sautéed mushroom caps tops with a bubbling layer of melted cheese, served alongside fried eggs, toasted English muffin, and a very generous portion of home-made hash-browns. Delicious.
After our breakfast we went for a stroll along the bay, and said hello to some of the local sea lions, who were lounging on the protected beach below the coastal path. And then, sadly, it was time to go - heading off down the 101 to Santa Barbara.