As a Central Coast Californian living in the Evergreen State, less than an hour’s drive to Puget Sound and within a stone’s throw to seafood markets and restaurants, I have no regrets about living far away from the ocean. Pangs of homesickness do hit me from time to time when I think about Cannery Row, Fisherman’s Wharf, Pebble Beach, and the myriad places dotting the historic cities of Monterey County and over 95 miles of beautiful coastline.
One place worth visiting is Moss Landing, which is the first Monterey County city one encounters driving south on Hwy 1 from NorCal. You’ll know you’re near or in Moss Landing when you spot the power plant. Each time we drive through the city and I see its famous landmark, I imagine I’m in Springfield and the Simpsons are out and about town. The Moss Landing Power Plant, however, is not a NPP but a natural gas powered electricity generation plant.
A few miles west of the power plant is Phil’s Fish Market and Eatery, home of the famous cioppino that (ahem, get ready for this) “filleted” Bobby Flay’s. You can even buy the seafood stew by the bucket.
Whenever we drive down Hwy 1 from San Jose, I mention dining at Phil’s Fish Market as I have a positive memory of a seafood sandwich that I tried at the eatery years ago. It’s just recently that The Hubby and I tried the restaurant together.
Although Phil’s is famous for its cioppino, I had the sampler platter in mind while The Hubby had visions of seafood sandwiches dancing in his head. To stop the visions, he ordered a snapper hot sandwich, while I chose the combo seafood platter consisting of fried seafood goodness: oysters, scallops, prawns, and squid.
The fried bivalve molluscs, decapod crustaceans, and cephalopods were unsurprisingly tender. I’m a fan of sampler platters as it’s the best way to taste various dishes in one go. In theory, it’s good and in practice, it’s even better. Getting the seafood platter gave me a chance to discover something new about my tastebuds; for instance, I learned that I prefer oysters raw. Don’t give me any bit about oysters being bottom feeders… I already know it and I find them tasty nonetheless. Fried oysters, on the other hand, isn’t tasty to me. Biting into a plump fried oyster and having its fried organs ooze in a greenish mess is just vile. I consider fried oysters a blight in an otherwise great seafood platter.
The snapper hot sandwich deserves a blue ribbon for being so very… what’s the word that starts with the letter s and ends with the sound “shuh s”? Yes, that’s the word. The bread slices were nicely toasted and the fish was lightly seasoned and grilled to flaky perfection.
If you want a warm and delicious welcome to Monterey County, drive over to Moss Landing and get some seafood delight at Phil’s.