Saturday, January 9, 2010

CALI COAST ROADTRIP - sf/big sur/santa barbara

This last holiday season of 2009 I decided to do something different. My birthday is 2 days after Xmas and I took the hour and a half drive from Stockton to SF to join my friends and explore the Ferry Building which I had never been to. It is an extravaganza of deliciousness. I met up with my friend Butch (it was his birthday the day before) and we began at the Boccalone Salumeria where we got a mixed sliced meats cone...yes a cone. In this cone, we had mortadella with black truffles, brown sugar & fennel salame, and soppressata di calabria. Their motto is "TASTY SALTED PIG PARTS". Enough said. I ended up picking up some brown sugar & fennel salame and soppressata di calabria for the road.

We then went on to the Cowgirl Creamery's Artisan Cheese Shop where I got a little sampler bag of goodies that came with a cheese spreader...very tasty and there were so many choices. The sampler bag was the way to go for me.

Onto Tsa Nicoulai Caviar where Butch and I sat down to have a sampler platter of caviar and a bottle of Prosecco. We decided to go with the Perfection Platter which included California Estate Osetra, Paddlefish Sturgeon, Brandy Trout, Vanilla Trout, Beet/Saffron Whitefish, and Truffle Whitefish. I think my favorite was the Truffle Whitefish. I'm a sucker for anything with truffles.
Butch bought me an incredible Gingerbread cupcake from Miette...moistest must scrumptious cupcake EVER with a cream cheese frosting.

We found these crazy shitake mushroom logs that you can sprout your own shitake mushrooms from...they're actually quite beautiful.

We made our way to La Mar next door which is a fantastic Peruvian restaurant. We had pisco sours and a ceviche sampler and a causas sampler (causas are appetizers made with a potato dough - similar to a huge gnocchi that is topped with various tasty stuffs).

We were joined by Chris and we went off to check out the Foreign Cinema - a very cool restaurant where they project foreign films on their outdoor patio wall. They have good cocktails and some good apps as well. We were in a nibbling mood so I can't comment on the entrees.

It was an incredible night and it ended for me at the Hotel Vitale which is across from the Ferry Building and my room overlooked the bridge, which was a gorgeous sight. I highly recommend this hotel. It has a really good vibe to it...very relaxing and the rooms are soothing and beautiful. The pictures on the website really don't do the place justice.

The next morning I met up with Silvio to head down PCH back to LA. I had a 3 night trek planned for this leg, starting with the Post Ranch Inn. WOW. This place is stunning. When we arrived we were greeted with a glass of wine and they handled our luggage, giving us a ride to our Mountain Room and a quick tour of the grounds.

The room had a fireplace, a terrace looking out onto the mountains, a minibar that was included, a large soaking tub and no TV. FANTASTIC. We decided to hit the infinity pool which was close to our room. It was overlooking the ocean and heated to optional at night. It couldn't be more perfect. We had dinner at the restaurant which was absolutely scrumptious.

The following day we moved to a Tree House room. There were windows all around and it was absolutely gorgeous. Again there was a fireplace and a large soaking tub.

There are some pretty trails around the area. It was a beautiful combination of forest and ocean views.

The breakfast that is included in the stay is delicious...a nice variety of flavors and a nice selection of fresh squeezed juices.

We had to move on from there after our perfect two night stay. We stopped at Nepenthe for a quick drink and appetizer. If you can sit at the outside bar that stretches around the restaurant, that is the best place to get the view...especially at sunset.

We were on our way to Santa Barbara, the last stop before heading to LA. As we drove along, we passed by a very surreal looking cemetary as the sun was starting to get to that golden hour. There were ominous clouds hanging low in the distance which provided a soft grey blanket that separated the blue sky from the green of the planted field beyond. We HAD to stop.

The result was this photo which has a heart shaped lens flare...something I've never seen before. I'd like to think that it was a message or sign of sorts.

We arrived at the Presidio Motel in Santa Barbara after dark. It's absolutely precious with its quirky little artistic touches. The rates are great. The walls are a little thin (I remember hearing our neighbor sneeze in the morning), but I actually didn't notice for most of our stay and it was a full house. Our room had beautiful origami butterflies hanging on a mobile from the ceiling. It was whimsically charming.

I hope that next time I won't wait another 15 years before I take the PCH roadtrip again. It's stunning and a great excuse to have an adventure.