Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Basilico's Pasta E Vino - Things to Do in Orange County 52

Looking for a nice intimate setting for an Italian dinner?  Well, a nice place to visit is Basilico's Pasta E Vino in Huntington Beach.  I got to visit this place for Valentine's Day.

Basilico's has been around for quite some time in Huntington Beach.  I would guess around 10 years at the same location.  I live real close by the place, and have visited them several times, but this was finally the time I got to dine there.

Why was it so difficult to dine here?  Well, first of all the wait.  They are an extremely popular Italian restaurant in Huntington Beach, and their place is tiny.  It may seat only about 15-20 people max at a time, and its always packed.  The wait to dine is usually about an hour, and they take no reservations.  Hence, the difficulty dining at this wonderful restaurant.

This year, we went prepared.  We expected the wait to be about an hour (in actuality it was 50 minutes) and brought our blankets, newspaper, magazine, books, and a Nintendo DS so that we can keep ourselves occupied while we wait in the car.

And finally, after the hour wait, we were able to get in to dine.  It was sure worth our wait.  

By the way, sorry about the pictures.  Since its really dark inside, my pictures didn't turn out very well.  But hope you get an idea of the place.

Okay, so about the dining experience.  First of all, Basilico's is pretty famous for its bottle wine practice.  Since a bottle of wine here is relatively inexpensive ($15-$20 a bottle) it is recommended that you get a bottle with your date, and dine slowly at the restaurant.  That's exactly what we did, and we got a bottle of Mondavi Chardonnay for $20, and dined like we were Parisians.

We first got the Fried Risotto Ball for appetizer which was delicious.  It complemented our Chardonnay very well.  You of course get your bread and butter, so we enjoyed our appetizer, bread, and wine as we waited for our entrees to arrive.

For entree we got the Seafood Linguine and the Fettuccine Alfredo Milanese.  The Seafood Linguine was good, but it was a bit overwhelmingly "Herb-y" for me.  I think they put in too much Italian parsley, and it wasn't the usual Seafood Linguine that you get at Italian restaurant.  But who knows, maybe this is the authentic version.  

The Fettuccine Alfredo Milanese was superb.  I usually don't like Alfredo sauces too much since they are usually very heavy in cream, and after a few bites, I get a little bored of the flavor.  Not here.  The Alfredo Milanese here was just superb.  Mmmm...  The sauce was creamy, yet for some reason not too heavy.  The pork in the Milanese was cooked perfectly.  Very thin, and tender.  You eat the pork and the pasta together, you are just in heaven.  And drink some of your Chardonnay afterwards, you will fly again to heaven.

So the meal was wonderful.  We got Tiramisu for dessert, and life was good.  I had a wonderful Valentine's Day thanks to Basilico this year.  Hope you can go visit them too.

Oh, I forgot to mention this, but if you don't like to wait an hour before being able to sit down, you can actually write your name down, and go on over to the Irish Pub in the same mall for some drinks.  The pub is called Fitzgerald's and they will actually give you a call at Fitzgerald's when your seat is ready.  That way, you can keep yourself busy and entertained before your romantic dinner.

We didn't know about this, so we waited  for an hour in the car.  Next time, we'll be drinking at Fitzgerald's before.

Basilico's Pasta E Vino
19171 Magnolia St Ste 1
Huntington Beach, CA 92646

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - Things to Do in Orange County 51

So the final stop of this 7 Day Mexican Riviera Cruise is Cabo San Lucas.  

Los Cabos is located on the very edge of Baja California.  So if you're able to drive straight down from Orange County, this is where you may just end up.  The beautiful peninsula of Los Cabos.

Once in Cabo San Lucas, you have to take a little boat ride to the shores of Los Cabos since there isn't a docking area for a huge cruise ship there.  Be sure to wake up early and get down to the boat station as fast as possible because it gets really crowded.  Everybody wants to get to Los Cabos fast, but there's only two little boats that go back and forth.  We thought we got down early, but had to wait about 30 minutes before being able to get on the boat that takes you to Los Cabos.

Anyway, once you're on Los Cabos, you are welcomed by the beautiful sea and wonderful natural architecture.  Here in Cabo San Lucas, we decided to go on the Land's End Boat, Beach, and Shopping excursion.

This excursion was an awesome deal.  We first start out by getting on the triple decker boat that takes you around the Los Cabos Peninsula.  You're able to see the famous "Arch," a beautiful natural archway, and all the beautiful things around it.

We also saw dolphins, seals, and pelicans as we sailed through the beautiful peninsula.

After your boat tour is done, the tour guide will then take you down to a local resort hotel.  The hotel is located right by the beach where you can relax, enjoy the ocean, and have a wonderful lunch.  As you saw from my previous post, we enjoyed this little spot, relaxing on the sand with some Pacifico beer.  One of those Corona beer commercial moments.

And after you relax and enjoy the beach for about an hour, they take you down to the local shopping mall where you can splurge what you have left of your money to buy souvenirs for your friends, family, and of course, yourself.  I was able to buy some Cuban novelties here myself.

After the shopping, its now time to go back on the cruise ship, and you have two more days of never ending entertainment, all you can eat buffets, and relaxing by the pool.  Can't complain.  :)

I think on this trip, we spent about $2000 for the two of us including the cruise, shore excursions, tips, and alcohol.  The cruise alone turned out to be about $550 a person or so.

One little advice for you to save money when going on a cruise is to bring your alcohol with you when you initially board the cruise ship in Long Beach.  Having a bottle of rum, tequila, whiskey, wine, or anything else that you like will help you to save a lot of money on alcohol.  Of course, we did splurge once on some strawberry daiquiris and pina coladas, but it's always nice to have your own bottle of wine that you can sip to.

The cruise will not let you bring in alcohol once you are in Mexico.  You can buy a bottle of tequila and some Kahlua, but they will take it away from you and give it back when the cruise is all over.  Having your own little stash of booze will definitely help to make your trip even more entertaining while saving a little cash that you can spend elsewhere.

Anyway, it was all fun on the cruise.  We hope to go again sometime soon!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Mazatlan, Mexico - Things to Do in Orange County 50

So this is my 50th post! Nice! I hope to continue blogging about Things to Do in Orange County.

This post is a continuation of my 7 Day Mexican Riviera Cruise trip that I went on. You can go on this cruise right out of Orange County at the port of Long Beach.

After we visited Puerto Vallarta on Wednesday, you wake up at Mazatlan on Thursday.

Mazatlan is known for their shrimps. After tourism, the shrimp fishing industry is the second biggest industry in Mazatlan. And that means awesome deals on some of the freshest shrimps in the world at Mazatlan.

In Mazatlan, we decided to go on the City and Shopping Excursion Tour. This tour turned out pretty normal. Let's get into it right now.

But before we do, I also wanted to mention that Mazatlan is also the home of the Pacifico Brewery. Come to think of it now, I should have went on that excursion instead. But maybe next time!

On the City and Shopping Tour, the tour guides will show you around Mazatlan. They will drive you around the city for you to check out some of their churches, beaches, and the shopping areas. Matatlan has a lot of European influences, as some of the early immigrants to this land were from Germany and other European countries. The city buildings were very colorful, and the architectural details were interesting to see.

After you go through the city and beach areas, the tour guides drop you off at the shopping area for some free shopping time and lunch. We decided not to shop at Mazatlan since a lot of the places were a bit of a rip off, designed for tourists to drop a buck. Instead, we went by the beach, walked around, and found a restaurant on the sand.

Since we were in the Shrimp Capital of the World, why not try some of the best shrimps around? We decided to go for some shrimps, margarita, and beer at the restaurant that we found.

Got to say, the shrimps here at the restaurant were awesome! Very fresh. The shrimps you see above were actually raw, sort of sashimi/ceviche style dish. Had some lime and hot peppers on it along with the shrimp, and they served it with Saltine crackers. Delish!

Combine this great dish with a mango margarita and Mazatlan's own Pacifico beer, and you're in Shrimp Mazatlan heaven. We also got some chips/guacamole, and an entree dish with three different kinds of shrimps cooked all differently. The total bill came out to something like $30 with tip. Awesome deal.

Shrimps, beach, Pacifico beer... Mazatlan is my kind of town! Love to go back anytime!  I just need to learn how to pronounce Mazatlan.

Next stop is Los Cabos!

(In Los Cabos)


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