Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Savoring Santa Barbara

July 2009 589Santa Barbara is a slice of paradise along the Southern California coast – maybe that’s why Oprah and Michael Jackson and tons of other well-known personalities built homes there. You can enjoy the sun where the mountains meet the sea, then head inland a few miles to a more rugged terrain where wineries dot the countryside. Following my time in San Francisco with high school pals, I headed to Santa Barbara to catch up on old times with Jeannette, a good friend and neighbor during our years of mothering young children in Princeton.

On the night of my arrival we dove right into a gourmet dinner at a lovely restaurant called “Stella Mare’s,” courtesy of Jeannette’s mother and stepfather, who couldn’t have been more gracious.

We started with drinks. Mine was something called a “blueberry lemonito.” It was made with blueberry vodka, lemon and lime juice, simple sugar, mint and lots of crushed ice.  Wish I had one right now.July 2009 419 I couldn’t resist the appetizer of ripe figs stuffed with goat cheese, wrapped in bacon and grilled till crispy. Sorry my photo was not so great. Visualize instead. But you can get a gander at my main course, a dish that pleased the eye before it reached my palate. You’re looking at sea scallops in lobster cognac sauce next to a tomato, poached lobster and butternut squash flan. Perched above that are spears of roasted asparagus and crispy carrot shavings. It tasted every bit as scrumptious as it looks and sounds.

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The next day we were off to wine country with a couple of Jeannette’s friends. For you movie buffs, this is the region where “Sideways” was filmed. One of our stops was Sunstone Winery, where these shots were taken:

Then it was off to a lavender farm. It looked like Provence and smelled divine.

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But back to the wine-tasting – here are some of the scenes along the way:

 

We arrived at Rusack Winery, where wine-tasting was accompanied by a perfect picnic lunch assembled by Jeannette (far left):

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On the way back to town, we stopped off at Los Olivos for a tasting of olive oils and vinegars:

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Jeannette and I headed off the next day to a place I’ve long wanted to visit – the Getty Center in Los Angeles. The complex of buildings and gardens, designed by architect Richard Meier, is every bit as wondrous as the artwork within.

But the artwork within also was captivating, from illuminated manuscripts to Renaissance altarpieces, to Monet’s impressionistic bridge:

On my last day there we had breakfast at the beach and meandered along the sea:

And of course we had to give a nod to the city’s heritage, touring the courthouse and old mission with its Spanish-influenced architecture:

Thanks Jeannette for being the perfect hostess in your beautiful city:

15 comments:

Christelle said...

Wow, brilliant postcard! I only knew of santa barbara for the terrible sitcoms from the eighties, you have restaured my vision of the place, lol! it looks really great!!! :)

5 Star Foodie said...

I've never been to Santa Barbara - it looks gorgeous! The lavender farm is very neat and the scallops with lobster cognac sauce look heavenly!

Foodie with Little Thyme! said...

Beautiful! Looks like a great trip.

Stacey Snacks said...

I could be a grape stomper!
These pictures could be from Provence. Looks beautiful!

Bridgett said...

Gorgeous photos! Wow, everything looks amazing. I haven't been down that way in so long it makes me want to take some time off and get traveling!

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Fabulous photos, I love the way you have displayed them too!!

Blueberry Lemonito sounds and looks delicious, and the food, well what can I say..fantastic!!

Great trip!

Hilary said...

Why, oh why, am I allergic to lobster?? It looks so delectable!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

That's it -- I'm packing my bags and moving to Santa Barbara! What a beautidl city! I can get a job as a grape stomper, as I fit the qualifications..lol.

I'd love to try that blueberry vodka drink and the fig appetizer and seafood dish are what I would have ordered. Looks & sounds so extraordinary!

Glad you had such a nice visit with an old friend. Your photos are gorgeous!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

PS: Linda, the Elevated Garden was completely renovated and reopened in 2005 after some years of neglect, so it's quite possible that is why you never heard of it when you worked in Manhattan. The new landlord of 55 Water wanted to make the space usable again and hired the Municipal Arts Council to run a contest for architectural firms to submit designs for it. This was the winning design. The only modification was that the grass area was to be converted into an ice skating pond in the winter, but unfortunately that proved too expensive.

That was "T.M.I" for my blog post ..lol

♥peachkins♥ said...

WOW! it looks like a great place to visit and you really had a great time.
I love the photos.

Emily said...

This looks like an amazing time! I can't believe how beautiful the lavender is in that picture.

Anonymous said...

Ciao Linda,
sei bravissima: come cuoca, reporter e...pensionata vivace e intelligente!
Sono felice che tu faccia dei bei viaggi e di vederti sempre sorridente.
Anche noi siamo stati via 10 giorni in Israele.
Se fossi brava quasi come te, ti avrei mandato qualche ricetta molto colorata e multietnica:
falafel, humus, insalate speziate e fresche, dolcetti al miele con pistacchi e mandorle...E' una cucina che unisce tutte le tradizioni dei paesi di origine degli Israeliani: dal Marocco all'Ungheria, dall'Iraq alla Russia, dall'Etiopia al Brasile...
Non sono ingrassata solo perchè ho camminato tantissimo con un caldo tremendo!
Ma è un paese meraviglioso...quasi come la nostra amata America.
Tanti baci
Bianca

Proud Italian Cook said...

I need a steller vacation like this right now! Excellent food, good drinks and a gorgeous view!
I'd never want to leave. I'll even stomp grapes!

Lori Lynn said...

That is such a beautiful area.
Your picnic lunch looks so wonderful.
LL

janie said...

You got a great taste of Santa Barbara and the surrounding area-it's my favorite getaway!