Ordered From a Swim Up-Bar (91/366)

“Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming … “
Ellen DeGeneres as Dory, from “Finding Nemo

Swim up bars are awesome. Seriously, how cool is it that someone came up with this idea? When it’s sweltering outside, and you just want to relax in the pool, but you’d also like to enjoy a frosty beverage, what do you do? You swim up to the swim up bar!

I think I’d seen one in person before, but I can’t remember where – but I had never had the fantastic experience of actually swimming up to, and ordering a drink from one of these wonderful, wonderful inventions. What kind of awesome resort did Maddie find for us – an infinity pool AND a swim up bar?! Maddie, you are my hero. No joke.

Today, Maddie and I visited the swim up bar for happy hour, and got some refreshments for ourselves, Kim, and Joanna. Here’s another shot of the bar, from where Maddie and I hopped into the pool:

Maddie and I waded on over, had a seat, and perused the menu. We chose the “Tropical Diamond” which was a frozen drink with mango puree, and a special drink we created for Maddie – kind of an adapted Mojito with pineapple juice instead of the muddled mint and simple syrup. Thanks, Kim for taking pictures of us sitting at the bar! Isn’t that awesome?! They have bar stools sculpted into the pool floor at the base of the bar so you can hang out, have a seat, and still be in the water! Outstanding! Punny exclamation totally intended!

After Maddie snapped the pic of me looking very accomplished, we waded back over to deliver the drinks to the shore. Yay for happy hour!

This swim up bar was so cool. I loved the set up and the look – the other half of the bar was above ground, directly behind this setup. This pool, even with the swim up bar, isn’t as popular as the
infinity pool (they have poolside service there, too), which means it’s nice if you want to escape the crowds, but for us, it did feel a little weird being almost the only ones there. It probably is pretty neat to see when both sides are all filled up (but that’s totally not our scene anyway). Really though, it was a super cool experience just being able to order a drink without even getting out of the water … or rather, getting into the water just to order a drink!

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Tried Softshell Crab, and Scallop and Mackerel Sashimi (90/366)

“I learned the first night that IHOP’s not the place to order fish.”
Larry David

Okay, for those of you that know better, I apologize. The thought of “Mexican sushi” seemed funny to me. On the 20 minute drive from the airport to our resort, we saw two sushi joints on the side of the road – but they looked like places you wouldn’t want to necessarily eat anything from, let alone raw fish. I mean, come on – we were vacationing in a place where most people tell you not to drink the water. I thought the sushi places we saw were the random crazy “Chinese Food and Donuts” type places, and chuckled. But then Maddie told me about a sushi place called “Nick-San” that was supposed to be really good – and one of the chef owners, Masayuki Niikura, was supposedly the inventor of the “spicy tuna” [roll] that we know today. What?! No way. That was cool. We put it on the list.

As the week progressed, we saw more and more sushi restaurants around, and we realized that hello, Los Cabos has access to some ridiculously fresh fish. THAT’S why there are so many sushi restaurants here! I was still a bit leery of going to the other places we saw, but I was getting more and more excited to try Nick-San.

A place like this was kind of the mid-range of sushi restaurants we saw – I still wouldn’t necessarily want to get sashimi here …

But there were larger, and even fancier establishments at the
Puerto Paraiso Shopping Mall that we visited today. This was starting to look promising …

A lobster house?! Had I known this was here I would have asked the girls if we could make a special trip to eat at this place. You get to choose your lobster out of a BOAT [shaped tank, I know]. How awesome! I’m sure it would have been way over-priced though – this place is a total tourist stop.

And then, the time came to go to Nick-San. When we got there, it was so beautiful! We were so excited!

I think because we were building this experience up during the week, Maddie and I were totally revved and wanted to try everything. Here’s what we ordered:

For appetizers, the four of us shared (four pieces each order):
Stuffed with scallop and shrimp, sauteĢed with garlic and finished with a tasty serranito soy sauce.
Petit fillet of sea bass stuffed with shrimp and crab, deep fried in tempura served with sesame sauce
These were both yum. Great, bold flavors, not overpowering though, and textures and quality of each was just excellent.

And then Maddie and I went crazy with four more dishes between the two of us. We decided to let the sushi chefs decide what kind of fish to give us in the two dishes that didn’t specify, even though our server said we could ask for specific fish if we wanted – something I’d normally do since I know there are certain kinds of fish I either haven’t tried, or don’t care for that much. But Maddie and I decided we wanted the full experience. Yay!

Here they are in the order they were served – first was the:
Slices of today’s fresh catch with serrano chile pepper sauce, decorated with thin slices of serrano chile.

The sashimi chosen for this dish were a local yellowtail and scallops – and it was fantastic. The sauce, the extra chile on each slice – just fantastic. Maddie doesn’t even like spicy food and she put up with the heat on this because it tasted so good. This was my first time having scallop sashimi, and I loved it. I like scallops, and I’ve had them “rare”, but I was hesitant to try scallop sashimi before. I think I was afraid I wouldn’t like the texture – that it might be too soft – maybe mushy, or gelatinous. But this was meaty and substantial, yet tender. Both the yellowtail and the scallops were perfect choices for this presentation. Maddie and I only wish we had brought our DSLRs on the trip even if JUST for this dinner – the lighting was low so we had to use the flash for detail, but of course it ended up making everything look so harsh.

Next came the:
Tuna filet seared with olive oil, black & white sesame seeds, chopped red onion, chives and ponzu sauce.

Beautiful, isn’t it? And delicious, of course. We were expecting that.

Kim and Joanna had also ordered a Spider Roll to share, and when Kim tasted it, she said it was “the softest, soft-shell crab” she had ever eaten, and that it was delicious. She asked me if I wanted to try it, and I told the girls I had also never had soft-shell crab before. They freaked out and told me I HAD to try it here then. I had never had soft-shell crab before because I assumed it was similar to eating a shrimp with the shell on. Not a crunchy that I like … but I had been meaning to try it, and so far this was some of the best sushi I had ever eaten – so I decided this was the best place to try soft-shell crab, too. But we had to make sure we got some nice, crabby shots of it beforehand:

It was good! But ha ha kind of how I thought it would be. It was a very tasty roll, just that it did kind of have that “shell” texture I thought it would have. But it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be – at the very least, I know I had a good first soft-shell crab experience. I’d try it again …

Next came the:
There was no menu description of this, but it was a shrimp tempura roll with a leaf of cilantro inside, topped with salmon sashimi and thinly sliced lemon.

I’ve had this before (sans the cilantro – that’s a Nick-San addition), but I mostly don’t care for salmon sashimi – it’s a bit too “salmony” for me I think. I told everyone this was it, I wasn’t going to like this roll that much and therefore I was safe from falling in love with Nick-San and having to pay hundreds of dollars to come back to Los Cabos just to eat here.

I was wrong. This dish was fantastic as well. Everything was fresh, light, succulent … just absolutely lovely. I’ve had basically this exact same roll at other sushi houses (and don’t get me wrong, San Francisco has wonderful sushi), and the combination always sounded like it should be great, but I’ve just never liked the raw salmon before. And yet this, I loved. I was so happily surprised. I pretty much started making a spectacle of myself. I just could not believe how delicious everything was. We had been to Edith’s the night before, and had one of the best meals I’ve ever had there as well … and to follow that up with tonight’s experience? I was just beside myself. This was EPIC.

But here, HERE was going to be Nick-San’s undoing. Our final dish was the:
Choice slices of fresh fish – seared with olive oil and green tea salt, served on our unique cilantro sauce with a ribbon of spicy chile oil and sliced avocado.

Cilantro is not my favorite, but I’ve had cilantro cream sauce that wasn’t bad, so I was okay with ordering this dish. But when it arrived, the fatal flaw was that the chef had chosen mackerel for the sashimi. I had never had mackerel before, but Maddie said she liked it, so that was good. She said they always leave the skin on this one and that it was a bit fishier, and had a cooked, sometimes almost mealy texture to it. WHAT?! And she still liked it? Aack! That sounded totally, totally gross to me. Those are probably the absolute worst things for me to hear when talking about … well, anything, but I certainly don’t want my sashimi to be FISHY or MEALY. Gross. Okay. Here it was. No problem. I’d try it, but I was NOT going to like it. It was pretty though …

In the words of
Ed Norton, in Nick’s favorite movie “Fight Club“:
“We have just lost cabin pressure.”

It was phenomenal. I couldn’t believe it. The floodgates had opened, and Maddie and I were freaking out. I was admittedly more ridiculous, but this really was the best sushi experience I’ve ever had in my life. I had tried three different new things (two that I was sure I wasn’t going to like), and I could not believe how wonderful everything was. We ate and talked and cried over how life-changing this sushi was (okay, a LITTLE exaggeration there … but not much). When it came time to finish the last two pieces, Maddie even wanted to take a picture of them:

Aren’t they glorious? That prompted Kim to take a picture of me and Maddie, lamenting over our grand sushi adventure’s ending. Don’t let the smiles in the second picture fool you – we dragged out the finishing of those two pieces for about another 20 minutes. We were heartbroken; we just put on brave faces. And if you look back at the picture at the top, that’s not me apprehensively thinking about trying the mackerel, it’s actually me mourning over my last piece!

This was an absolutely spectacular night. I am so happy to be here with my girlfriends, and to be able to experience all these new things with them. We will DEFINITELY be back. With a name like “Nick-San”, how could you go wrong, after all?

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Swum in an Infinity Pool (88/366)

“To see the world in a grain of sand, and to see heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour …”
William Blake

An infinity pool is a pool with an outer edge where the water is allowed to run off the side, without a lip containing it, creating a beautiful visual effect that the water extends out to the horizon. When my mom and I were in Hawaii recently, we realized that our hotel had an infinity pool … but when we went down for a swim found that it was out of order. Technicians were working on the system, and while people were still allowed in most areas of it, the “infinity edge” section wasn’t filled all the way, and the illusion was not apparent at all. Boo!

I’ve always thought the idea of an infinity pool was really neat – and especially since the one in Hawaii was broken, I was super excited to find out that the resort we’re staying in has one! Here’s one view of the pool – you can see the illusion created – the people are sitting on an interior ledge at the end of the pool. Neat, huh?

This is the view from inside the pool. Here’s the infinity edge, the beach and ocean beyond it … and a fearless seagull taking a drink …

Here we all are, lounging on the edge of infinity! The picture’s pretty washed out, but you can see what a gorgeous view it is from this pool! It’s fantastic.

And check out how our view WAS from the pool! They’re hard to see, but look for the white water in the distance … those splashes are whales. So awesome.

Here are a few more views of the infinity edge illusion from later on in the day – it really creates a lovely, serene feeling – especially when the sun is setting (and there are less people at the pool!):

This pool is really nice, and I can’t believe the views we’ve had so far. I’m totally psyched that it’s just steps away from our home-away-from-home this week! We will definitely be back here for a swim soon.

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Been to Mexico (87/366)

“The moment you land at the Los Cabos airport, the adventure begins.”

Girls trip! My childhood friends Joanna, Kim, and Maddie were planning to go to Los Cabos, and I’d never been (it would be the first time for all of us)! Nick’s been to several different places in Mexico and is busy at work right now, so all the girls going together is perfect! Also, though we all grew up together, I’ve never gotten to go on vacation with these girls before either. So exciting!

The trip idea started when Maddie got a deal online for some Virgin America flights. I love flying Virgin. Off to a great start already. Here we are in the SFO terminal, waiting to board!

The flight to Baja California is only about three hours, so I didn’t feel that far away from Nick (whenever I’ve gone somewhere without him it’s usually to Hawaii – still in the U.S. so I can use my phone, but the flight is five hours!) – shortly before we landed, I peeked out the window to see the landscape. Baja California is somewhat like Wailea on Maui – there’s a lot of desert (it’s a “tropical arid” climate), which is why tourists like it here – it’s almost always sunny.

Things were a little different at the airport in Los Cabos – the planes are still boarded out on the tarmac and at least for our flight’s luggage, there was a cute and cuddly drug-sniffing dog hanging out on the luggage conveyor:

It was pretty cool to see this “Mini Super San Francisco” corner store on the way to our resort. The views of the water along the way were just beautiful.

And of course, no vacation is complete without a trip to the local Costco, to get some staples: super-gigantic marshmallows and a pillow-sized bag of chicharones!

We have some really fun stuff planned for this week, and I’m looking forward to just spending time hanging out with my girlfriends, too. I can’t believe I had never been to Mexico before and am glad we all finally got to take a trip here, together!

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