Thursday, January 29, 2009

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (Tequila Factory Tour) - Things to Do in Orange County 49

After my morning excursion from the Mismaloya City Tour, we are now off to the Tequila Factory Tour.

The Tequila Factory Tour was one of my favorite excursions that I participated on this 7-Day Mexican Riviera Cruise.  The educational experience of tequila making, experiencing the history and culture of Mexico, and of course, being able to enjoy the Tequila!  It was an awesome excursion!

On the Tequila Factory Tour, you will head the opposite direction of the Mismaloya City Tour.  This was great because we were able to see a wide range of areas in Puerto Vallarta.  Some of the  excursions actually go to the same places as others, so it is better to check before booking double excursions.  

On the Tequila Factory Tour, we visit two Tequila Factories.  

Tequila is made from Blue Agave plants, and the best tequila is made from 100% Blue Agave.  Some of the tequila that give you headaches in the morning blend their Blue Agave mixture with potatoes or other alcohol.  The mixing allow for the prices to come down, but it will give you a nasty hangover in the morning.

The tequila makers will dig up the Blue Agave after 3-5 years old.  They then roast it in an oven or a fire pit over an extended amount of time.  Once the roasting is done, the Blue Agave tasted something similar to a sweet potato pie mixture.

They then can make the silver tequila, resposado tequila, or the anejo tequila.  The difference is the amount of time the tequila sits in a barrel.  The silver tequila doesn't go through the aging process, while the resposado and anejo tequila sit in the barrel for 1-5 years.  The aging process allow the tequila to absorb the color of the wood, and hence you find the golden color in a tequila.  It also smoothes out the flavor.

Well, after the tequila making lecture, its tasting time.  It does become a bit more difficult to focus after a couple tastings of tequila.

And we finish off the day with a nice little meal for about $5 a person.  Awesome.

We did have some time to go shopping after the excursion, but after a few shots of tequila, we figured it was best to retreat to our staterooms.  So we didn't get to go visit the Wal-Mart or other American places by the port.  

Well, the next stop is Mazatlan!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (Mismaloya City Tour) - Things to Do in Orange County 49

My Mexican Riviera Cruise Post 

After a couple days on the cruise ship, your first destination is Puerto Vallarta.  

Surprisingly, Puerto Vallarta is very Americanized, and you'll find a Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Starbucks, Office Depot, Home Depot, Applebee's, and many other American franchise restaurants right near the dock. You won't really feel as though you are in Mexico until you get out of the port area.

Puerto Vallarta is the longest day that you will have during this 7 Day Mexican Riviera Cruise.  You arrive early in the morning, and the cruise ship leaves Puerto Vallarta at night.  So you have a whole morning, afternoon, and evening to enjoy Puerto Vallarta.

Since we had a long day, we decided to participate in two excursion tours at Puerto Vallarta.  The Mismaloya City Tour and the Tequila Factories and Old Town Tour.

Let's check out what you do in the Mismaloya City Tour.

The first thing you do on this tour is to hit the city.  You see the church, the beach, and shopping areas of Puerto Vallarta.  It is the area where most tourists will hang out when visiting Pueto Vallarta.  

Puerto Vallara is famous for their tiles and jewelry, so the tour guides will take you to a couple of these places for you to shop.

After you enjoy your city portion of the tour, you'll then get to see some of the resort areas of Puerto Vallarta.  They will drive you for about half an hour from the city to arrive at the resort area.  Though this area is suppose to be the resort area, there are still many under developed areas, and for some reason they take you to this little village where you enjoy a little taco meal for $5 a plate. 

The area is full of green trees.  It is definitely a tropical area similar to Hawaii.  The place where you get off looks a little like the picture below.

Not necessarily clean or safe, and I wondered why they brought us here.  You're really stuck in the middle of no where, and there's nothing to do except for eat the $5 Taco Lunch or buy some souvenirs.  I guess its a way that the tour operators make some money.

And on the way back, there's a place where you can bungee jump.  The tour guide dared some of the guests to jump, and two guys took up the offer.  The tour guide mentioned that it was actually the first time a guest took up on her dare.

So we watched a couple guys bungee jump.

Personally speaking, the Mismaloya City Tour was a bit of a disappointment.  The tour company was a bit too focused on getting us to buy souvenirs.  We spend a majority of time at two little souvenir shops, and too little on the nice parts of Puerto Vallarta.  I may recommend trying out a different tour instead of this one.

So that was our morning.  Our afternoon was the Tequila Factory Tour, which I will post next. 

7 Day Mexican Riviera Cruise - Things to Do in Orange County 48

I love to go on a cruise.  Why?  Well, of course, the all-you-can-eat food available.  I also like the fact that the cruise ship will take you around the world, while you're enjoying a nice Pina Colada by the pool.  And I really like the fact that you really feel like you're on a vacation when you go on a cruise.

Believe it or not, cruise vacations are probably one of the cheapest ways of traveling around.  The base fee of the cruise vacation which includes food and travel usually start at around $30~50 a day.  Considering you get accommodation, dining, entertainment, and travel, wouldn't you say that's a pretty good deal?

Of course, the cruise ships will try to make money by selling you alcohol, photos, souvenirs, and excursion tours once you arrive at the destination.  But all in all, it's usually an awesome deal, and an awesome vacation when you go on a cruise. 

So today, I wanted to post my 7-Day Baja California/Mexico Cruise vacation that I went last November.  Being able to go on a cruise vacation very easily is one of the privileges that we have as Orange County residents.

Orange County's closest cruise ships are located off the port of Long Beach, about 20 minutes away if you encounter no traffic.  Carnival is docked next to the Queen Mary, and the Royal Caribbean ships are docked in San Pedro.  

Both cruise ships offer the 3 Day/4 Night Cruise that depart on Friday and returns on Monday.  The 4 Day/5 Night Cruise that departs on Monday and returns on Friday.  Or the 7 Day Cruise that departs on a Sunday and returns the next Sunday.

So anyway, here's my experience on the 7-Day Mexico Cruise on Carnival.

Room-wise, we got lucky on this trip.  We reserved an interior room at the cheapest rate, but got a room with a window.  And even better, the room was a special room for the disabled, so it was much bigger than the standard interior room.

As the cruise ship starts to sail, we all have to practice our emergency procedures.  Basically in this drill, they teach you how to wear the life vest and what to do in case of an emergency.  The life vest has a little light and a whistle that is suppose to help you get saved if the cruise ship goes under.  I thought the life vest was a bit out dated, but hopefully, we'll never need to use it.

With the emergency procedure drill completed, you're now allowed to exlore and enjoy the cruise ship.  Carnival had a party ready for us as we kicked off our cruise with a free liquor tasting to start things off.  Exploring around the cruise ship is always fun, and a necessary part of the cruise vacation since you'll be spending the next 7 days on it.

The pool is always a nice place to enjoy and spend your time.

And Carnival will always keep you occupied with something to do.  This theater is used for orientation, daily evening shows, shopping lectures, and welcome parties.  Always something to do on the cruise ship.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Beachcomber Cafe - Things to Do in Orange County 47

Last week I've enjoyed the Newport Beach Restaurant Week. I may have enjoyed it too much as I realized how much weight I've gained after one week of dining out. Off to hitting the gym this week.

Anyway, I wanted to post another highlight of mine during the Newport Beach Restaurant Week. After trying out many restaurants in Orange County, I don't think there's anywhere else that has a better location than The Beachcomber Cafe in Crystal Cove.

It was my first time visiting The Beachcomber, and was pleasantly surprised to see how close this restaurant is by the beautiful Crystal Cove Beach. Literally, the beach is in its front yard.

We dined a little late in the day - 2PM - and probably got the best seat in the house. Right on the front edge of the patio, where you are facing the ocean. Beautiful.

Since we did come for restaurant week, we decided to get the three course prix-fixe menu for $20. The food was very good. We got the onion soup and clam chowder for our first course. Both were made very well. 

Then for the main course, we got the tuna melt and the steak sandwich. The tuna melt had a very cute garnish on it, and the steak sandwich was huge. The steak sandwich was one of those All-American Meal with a huge sandwich with generous portions of steak, cole slaw, and fries. We've been trying to keep ourselves disciplined by not ordering any drinks during Restaurant Week since that adds to the total cost of the meal significantly, but here, we couldn't avoid the temptation of ordering a coke to go with our steak sandwich.

For desert, they served the banana boat. A huge portion of vanilla ice cream with bananas, whipped cream, and a tasty hazelnut sauce.

All this with a view that's probably one of the best in Orange County.

The Beachcomber is definitely recommended for all who'd like to enjoy the beautiful view of Crystal Cove in a nice cozy atmosphere. A great place for lunch, brunch, or romantic sunset dinner.

  • Phone: (949) 376-6900
  • Hours of Operation:
    Breakfast: Monday - Sunday: 7:00am - 11:30am
    Lunch: Monday - Sunday: 11:30am - 4:30pm
    Dinner: Monday - Sunday: 4:30pm - 10:00pm

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Balboa Pier - Things to Do in Orange County 46

One of the lovely spots to visit around Orange County is the Balboa Pier. I really love the relaxed atmosphere here. Aside from the Newport Beach Boat Parade, there's the beach, dining, and people hanging around the pier with their bicycles or roller blades.

Anyway, it's January, but it sure feels like Spring or even Summer these days. I got here last weekend, but it was pretty hot. There were people swimming and sun bathing like it was August.

Personally speaking, I like the Balboa Pier over the Newport Beach Pier. I love the fact that you can look to your left, and see the entire coastline of Laguna Beach. It's my picture perfect image of "Orange County" here.

Also, love the fact that you can still get parking here because it is still January. Parking does become much scarce as you move into the summer months. I'm going to enjoy it while I can.

Balboa Pier

P.S. If you like ocean fishing, this seems to be the spot for you too. There's always a whole flock of guys fishing at the Balboa Pier.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Cannery - Things to Do in Orange County 45

For the Newport Beach Restaurant Week, I was able to visit The Cannery for lunch, and 21 Oceanfront for dinner.  Here's a report on The Cannery.

First of all, when you eat out during the Newport Beach Restaurant Week, lunches are usually the better deal.  For only $15 or $20, you get as much food as a dinner course at most places.  The Cannery offered their 3-Course Prix-Fixe for $20.  Here were the choices:

First Course

New England Clam Chowder 

Panko Crusted Crab Cake
Avocado Relish, Mango-Ginger Cream Sauce

Organic Wedge Salad 
Iceberg Lettuce, Tomatoes, Lardons, Port Reyes Blue Cheese Dressing


Cannery Seafood Salad 
Young Organic Greens, Crab, Lobster, Shrimp, Scallops, Citrus Vinaigrette

World Famous Pike Place Fish market Wild Salmon 
Chef’s daily Creation

“Brendon’s Filet” Tournedos 
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Mushrooms, Carrots, Asparagus, Veal Jus


Chocolate Molten Cake
Valhrona Chocolate Sauce, Cream Chantilly

We decided to go with the Crab Cake & Clam Chowder for appetizer.  The Cannery is known for their seafood, and I got to tell you both dishes were delicious.  The clam chowder was packed with flavor, and it was very creamy.  And the crab cake was generously filled with crab and cooked perfectly.

With our expectations now up with the appetizer, we ordered the filet and the seafood salad for the entree.  

Awesome!  The filet was tender and packed with a lot of flavor.  The veal jus complimented the meat and the roasted vegetables perfectly.  Very well made.  And the seafood salad?  Well, just look at the picture above.  You see that The Cannery is not shy about giving you a lot of good food.  Very generous portions of seafood on the salad.  I was surprised to see that they can offer all this for only $20.

And after our entree was the Chocolate Molten Cake.  It was good, but we were pretty full by then, so we got one for take out, and ate one at The Cannery.  

The Cannery was a great first choice to kick off our Newport Beach Restaurant Week!  It is located in a very cozy location in Newport Beach where you can enjoy little walks after your meal.  For only $20, it is a must go restaurant in my opinion.


Newport Beach Restaurant Week

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Newport Beach Restaurant Week - Things to Do in Orange County 44

So it's that time of the year again!  Newport Beach Restaurant Week is here!

Starting today, a wide variety of restaurants in Newport Beach will be offering Prix-Fixe Menu for us to enjoy.  Price of the menu offerings will be $15-20 for lunch, and $20-35 for dinner.  At this price, you can't afford to miss some of the awesome, world-class restaurants available during the Newport Beach Restaurant Week.

Last year, I was able to eat at a few restaurants for lunch, and at $15~20 a person, it's difficult to go wrong.

For example, I posted this review for The Ritz.  This was during restaurant week last year.  Now, this was an awesome place to dine for only $20.  I did have to pay the valet as well as some tip, but still, dining at the Ritz for about $20 is just amazing.  As you'll see on my review, the food was ex~ce~llent.

I was also able to go to Sage on the Coast for lunch last year too.  For only $15 a person, I had a very satisfying meal.  This restaurant was featured on the latest episode of Housewives of Orange County.  It's a very nice restaurant in an awesome location - across from Crystal Cove.

Anyway, the Newport Beach Restaurant is an awesome deal.  I have a lot of dinners reserved for this year.  I'll post my reviews after I go and enjoy all the food this week!
Hope you can check out the Newport Beach Restaurant Week as well!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...