Monday, August 16, 2010

Wining and dining part deux

I'm not going to need to eat for a week after we leave here. Or a month, maybe.

Last night, we went to Root 246. Unbelievable.

A bleu cheese souffle, with marinated strawberries and arugula.

We had calamari and rock shrimp, too, and although it was the best I've had, it looked just like it always does.

John's ratatouille and goat cheese ravioli, with an heirloom tomato sauce.

I had the most unbelievable pork in the entire world - and although the plate looked divine, the actual picture looked more frightening than appealing, so that was that.

And then a blueberry sorbet with a homemade sugar cookie.

And this morning, Paula's pancakes, because that place is always packed, and we want to see what the fuss is about. We might do another winery today, or Cachuma Lake and Los Padres National Forest, but I'm sure there will be delicious food involved.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Wining and dining

We went to the Bridlewood vineyard today, which was one of the most amazing places I've ever been to, and on another gorgeous day.

Bridlewood is right up next to the east/west mountain range, which gives the syrah grapes a flavor like nowhere else. 90% of the 105 acre output is syrah, of which we tried three, including the #5 Syrah in the Syrah du Monde competition in France.

Syrah grapes - sweet and juicy, although with bitter, crunchy seeds.

I loved the pipe rail. Elegant yet practical.

Bridlewood has only been a winery for 15 years or so. Previously, it was a racehorse rehabilition facility, and there are racehorses there still, as well as a small track and stables. Remnants of the property's past life show up everywhere.

The cellar used to be the stables.

A horse stall now holds a temperature-controlled cask.

The award-winning Syrah, straight from the cask.

And the final product.

I wanted one of these plants - the texture of the seed pods was like felt. I've never seen something like this before.

Then, we had a lovely lunch in Los Olivos - John had a fresh crabmeat sandwhich, and I had the most lovely salad with cumin-toasted pumpkin seeds, a bleu cheese vinaigrette, avocado and tomato, and then we got coffee and cupcakes at the sweetest little cupcake shop. I adore cupcakes. We got a small flight of them, including some with wine in them - which were of course phenomenal.

There are mountains, and a sea

The weather here is astounding. It couldn't have been over 80 degrees even at 4 pm, with the brilliant sun and blue sky as we walked around the Danish-like streets of Solvang. Like any tourist town, each gift shop is packed with all the same stuff - magnets of clogs and windmills and beer steins, and lots of crystal necklaces - but the dainty, colorful architecture and the gorgeous weather made it the most amazing afternoon I've spent outside - and maybe the only afternoon I've spent outside - since May, as it's simply too hot to do this in Oklahoma.

Then we had espresso and aebleskivers, which I remember Grandma Lil making - perhaps the Swedish version, but I've had them before. Then wine and cheese hour at the inn, and sake and sushi for dinner, the freshest, most amazing sushi John and I have ever had.

And our room has shutters. Shutters! I have never stayed somewhere with real shutters before. Opening and closing them is strangely thrilling.

And we have three and a half more lovely days here.