It's vacation time! And that means a trip to the island! Which island? Why Balboa Island of course! Yesterday was "sit-on-the-beach-and-eat-crap-all-day" day.
Even though I don't consider myself to have grown up in Southern California, Balboa always reminds me of my "youth" (and the word is in quotations because I am well aware that my youth is still present). It was the hangout place in high school, great for dates, beach parties, and we even spent a couple hours there pre-prom my senior year. Balboa also has my favorite Ruby's in all of California. For anyone who has never been to Rubys, its modeled (loosely) after a NY Diner. They've got jukebox music playing, a limited menu, red vinyl booths, and a checkered floor. The one in Balboa is located at the end of the pier. Every seat is a window seat looking out into the ocean, it doesn't have the commercialized crowds of Huntington, and who doesn't love a good burger, fries, and a milkshake?
We spent most of the day on the beach, watching the swimmers, skim boarders, and reading. But one of the great things about Balboa is the Fun Zone, so we couldn't leave without a walk through. The Fun Zone is a boardwalk like area with all the cheesy souvenier shops, carnival rides, and arcades. Apparantly it is also the last year of the Fun Zone as they have been unable to renew their lease. No doubt something bland and republican will fill its place, but for now the laughter of children and sunburnt bodies of tourists continue to fill the area. The Fun Zone is also a great place to pick up one of Balboa's specialties - the Balboa Bar. Although equally renowned for their frozen bananas, Jon and I prefered to split something that lacked the nutritional value fruit would bring. The Balboa Bar is a bar of ice cream on a stick. Before your eyes it is dipped in fresh chocolate and then the topping of your choice. Take that Coldstone! It's the perfect afternoon treat for a summer day. The good news is, even after the Fun Zone closes the Island has plenty of stands that will continue to sell these treats.
Now, I consider Balboa Island to encompass both the Island and the Penninsula, but in truth, all the activites described have taken place on Balboa Penninsula. It was time to venture over to the island itself. This is one of my all time favorite things to do. Cause you know how you get over to the island? You take a ferry! Walkers, bikers, and 3 cars are ferried over from the Penninsula to the Island. I mean sure you COULD drive there over the bridge, but why? Yesterday the water was full of boats - sailboats, motorboats, zodiacs, paddle boats. I'm always amazed when we don't crash. The "commercial" district of Balboa Island consists of one "Main Street" type street. There's a market, general store, art galleries, boutiques, restaurants, toy stores, candy stores, and of course a couple stores selling bananas and balboa bars. It feels like you just took a trip to a small beach town, circa 1950. We love going into the stores and exploring the various uses of shells, but eventually the stores were closing and it was dinner time. There's a great Italian restaurant on Balboa Island, Amelias. Entering Amelias takes you of the street and into an Italian bistro. Jon commented on how you could really forget everything outside once you sit down in here. The restaurant seems small and intimate. It is divided into several rooms, which increases the intimate atmosphere as each room has three to four tables. The food is absolutely incredible.
All the pasta is handmade, and tastes like it. The entrees come with a choice of soup or salad and Jon adored the clam bisque, which tastes like a cross between lobster bisque and clam chowder. It was rich, creamy, and hot! Jon got the lobster ravioli, which was the night's special. "You can tell the sauce has a lot of butter, because it tastes so good!"
I had the manicotti, which was such a treat because the pasta was so delicate and practically melted in my mouth. The filling was creamy and smooth. Neither Jon nor I could finish our dinner, but they may be do to all the junk food....
Happy Vacation to me!!!!