Monday, September 16, 2013

So We Arrive in San Juan Bautista, CA…

and, after unhitching, immediately set off for lunch at an Irish pub that Chuck found on-line. I punch the address into the GPS and when we come to 101 Chuck puts on the left turn signal. “San Juan Bautista is to the right” I tell him.

“Aren’t we going to Gilroy?” he asks.

“No, you told me that the restaurant is in San Juan Bautista.”

“I did?” he asks.

So we turn right and head into San Juan Bautista. When the Lady Who Lives in the Dashboard signaled that we had reached our destination we found ourselves with fields on both sides of the road. We continue to drive and after circling the business district (such as it is), Chuck says “I am sure we want Gilroy.” So we reprogram the GPS and finally find ourselves at the Claddaugh Irish Pub in – of all places – Gilroy.
Now I have to admit that the interior of the pub bore no resemblance to my picture of an Irish pub. Unless you consider a high white suspended ceiling to be pub-like.
Rather, it more resembled a sports bar with flat screens on both the wall we were facing and the wall over the bar—all of which were showing college football.

As we were seated, the (or should I say, The) Ohio State vs. San Diego State game was just ending. Final score – OSU 42 SDS 7. Suddenly a voice from behind us could be heard saying, “Make that a double, barkeep. I had money on the Aztecs.”

Still, there were a few token Irish artifacts like the two mirrors reading Harp and Guinness and the sign reading “Céad míle fáilte” or “A Hundred Thousand Welcomes”.
It is on the menu that you get the sense that you are in an Irish pub with menu items like fish and chips, Shepherd’s Pie, sausage (bangers) and mashed, Irish Stew, and corned beef and cabbage. It is regarding the latter that one of the pub’s on-line reviewers on yelp.com wrote: “Tried the food & it's really yummy!! Had the corned beef & cabbage.... I have never tried it before & I really liked it. And I discovered there is no corn associated with it at all. Weird?? It's a very traditional meal with carrots, red potatoes & cabbage & super lean beef with hot mustard. I enjoyed it.” Are you kidding me? Is this person clueless or is this intended to be a joke?
Still, we are in The Garlic Capitol of the World, so there have to be a few items featuring it. So we find Galway Chicken (grilled chicken with mushrooms, garlic, and wine cream sauce) and Garlic Chicken Fetto’cinni. And a nearby city—Castroville—is the Artichoke Center of the World, so we find Artichoke Chicken (chicken breast, artichokes, mushrooms, and wine cream sauce) on the menu.
We finally decided to share one entrée and one appetizer and to have both served together. Our appetizer was the Beer Battered Banger Bites or slices of sausage dipped in a beer batter and deep-fat fried. As I have said before, there is nothing better than a deep fried pork product.

And I know that I have told this story before, but cut me some slack. I like it. “Although it is sometimes stated that the term ‘bangers’ has its origins in World War II, the term was actually in use at least as far back as 1919. The term ‘bangers’ is attributed…to the fact that sausages, particularly the kind made during World War II under rationing, were made with water so they were more likely to explode under high heat if not cooked carefully…” (wikipedia.org).
The garlic-pork banger bites were served with a small cup of ranch dressing and a smaller cup of mustard. Our server advised us to mix the two, which we did.
What is that mustard? My guess was Coleman’s, and I was right. On our next shopping trip I made sure to purchase a bottle of this incendiary (made with both brown mustard [Brassica juncea] with white mustard [Sinapis alba]) condiment, and I plan to replicate this dipping sauce at home.

For the entrée we chose the Combo Platter with cod, calamari, prawns, and fries.
The fries were pretty standard, but the remaining three items were fresh and impeccably cooked. The prawns had, under the beer batter, that “snap” that I expect when I bite into a well-cooked shrimp. The large piece of cod was sweet and flakey. And the calamari, which came in strips rather than rings, was tender. My only quibble is that all three were coated with the same beer batter. When we order a similar platter in Louisiana there are usually small variations—especially when the platter includes catfish, which is always coated with a corn meal/corn flour mixture.

We left happy and full after our 4.5 Addie meal. So full that some of the banger bites along with the ranch and mustard sauce plus some fries came home to become a light supper some night.

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

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