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One of my favorite harbor-view dining spots is at BALEEN in the South Bay. It’s located on its own private peninsula overlooking hundreds of boats docked in the harbor.
Recently, when I dined with my friend Toni, we had a memorable meal, starting with two glasses of Meiomi Chardonnay. The white wine offers the aroma of golden apple, ripe pear and white flowers and has a pleasing honeysuckle flavor. It was an ideal wine to sip with some of the best ahi tacos we had ever tasted. Three tacos arrived in a special metal taco holder with a bite-size, crunchy wonton taco shell. Filled with raw ahi tuna, avocado and sriracha aioli and a sprinkling of black and white sesame seeds, the crunch of the shell, smoothness of the fish and heat from the sriracha made for a great taste.
We ordered the decadent lobster mac and cheese served in a black skillet filled to the rim with perfectly cooked orecchiette pasta smothered in aged white cheddar cheese fondue and topped with pieces of lobster. A dash of truffle oil and toasted breadcrumbs on top finished the dish.
Another starter that caught my eye was the coconut shrimp tostadas on crispy taro chips with cucumber, avocado, shaved onion, tomato and a squeeze of citrus.
For our entrées, we ordered the heart shaped, citrus-grilled swordfish that was placed on mashed purple yams and crisp haricot verts, which paired well with the tempura okra. It was served with an artistic swirl of preserved-lemon gremolata dip.
Toni was excited when the bouillabaisse arrived in a black skillet similar to the lobster mac and cheese. Two grilled pieces of baguette bread topped giant king crab legs, beautifully cooked scallops, large tiger shrimp, calamari and Salt Spring Island mussels bathing in a warm fennel-tomato broth. The hint of licorice flavor was delicious.
BALEEN is part of the Portofino Hotel and Marina, and the restaurant is offering a special menu on Sunday, May 15, for the upcoming lunar eclipse. They have partnered with REI to provide “adventure for good” programs for guests. Start with a special meal before or after seeing a beautiful and rare Blood Moon. The dish is named for the reddish tinge of the full moon. The lunar eclipse will be available for viewing from 7:35-11:50 p.m.
The chef will feature a Harvest Moon salad and crispy meteor crispy fried chicken “karaage.” Afterwards, a REI guide expert will take participants out for a “Dockside of the Moon” evening kayak cruise starting at 8 p.m. Kayakers may get to view the California sea lions in the harbor resting on a bait shop dock. A portion of the proceeds from every kayak ride will be donated to the Marine Mammal Care Center. Call to see if there is still space. $$ 260 Portofino Way, Redondo Beach, (310)372-1202.
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