I took a walk on the wild side last Friday night while road tripping from L.A. to The Bay. Instead of my usual In-N-Out order, a Double-Double with grilled onions, I crammed every “secret menu” add-on I could think of in between the two delicately toasted buns. After enduring rush hour on The 405 and odious feedlots along The 5, this gal demanded some serious entertainment of the edible variety.
Archive for the 'Central Coast' Category
Aside from eating apple fritters the size of a small island nation while visiting the Central Coast, The Astronomer and I also indulged in a seafood stew called moqueca from Moqueca Brazilian Cuisine. I would have never found this out-of-the-way restaurant if it weren’t for my friend Bill of Street Gourmet L.A. I mean, sleepy surfer towns and authentic Brazilian fare don’t exactly go hand in hand, you know?
To begin, The Astronomer ordered a bottle of Xingu beer. The dark and spicy Brazilian tipple fit his mood and palate perfectly.
I took Bill’s advice and ordered a caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail. It was made with cachaça (sugar cane rum), sugar, and lime—simple, refreshing, and strong.
Get thee to Diaz’s Bakery for freshly made apple fritters the next time you’re in Ojai. My friend Melina introduced me to this monstrosity a few weeks ago, and it’s been making regular appearances in my doughnut-flavored daydreams.
Each Frisbee-sized fritter is coated from top to bottom in a classic sugary glaze. The innards are soft, simple, and dotted with cinnamon-sprinkled apples. The whole thing is truly spectacular, but the best bites are along the cratered edges, where the icing has turned the deep-fried nubs into candy. It’s the perimeter that disappears first on my fritter.
Following a morning of split pea soup, Danish pancakes, and famished ostriches, The Astronomer and I made one final stop at Saarloos & Sons before departing home. While I love wine tasting, my tolerance is low for vineyards with snooty and intimidating atmospheres. I knew that Saarloos & Sons wouldn’t give me any trouble on that front because they’re well known for their hospitality and warmth, along with their exceptional wines. Plus, I’d heard that cupcake pairings were available with every wine flight. Clearly, this was my kind of tasting room.
Saarloos & Sons is a family-run winery four generations in the making. The tasting room, which is located in a beautifully refurbished home in downtown Los Olivos, had a relaxed and airy feel to it. The lineup for the day included five different pours:
- Mother - Grenache Blanc
- Father - 100% Estate 2008 Syrah
- 194VII - 100% Estate Cab/Syrah
- Family - 2007 Bordeaux Style
- Extended Family – Pinot, Santa Maria Valley
All of Saarloos & Sons’ wines are produced in small batches, with usually less than 400 cases of each. Every wine is given a name befitting its character and reflective of Saarloos family history. Much to our disappointment, the tasting did not include “In-Law” (Whole Cluster Pinot).
Truth be told, I was a teensy bit more excited about the cupcake lineup by Enjoy Cupcakes. Baker and owner Amber Joy Vander Vliet changes the flight every week depending on the wines on offer. This afternoon’s selection included:
- Chocolate Blackberry Syrah (Signature Treat) – Chocolate syrah cake, filled with dark chocolate fudge, topped with blackberry frosting and a syrah soaked blackberry that’s rolled in sugar
- Meyer Lemon Chardonnay – Chardonnay cake, filled with meyer lemon curd, topped with lemon frosting and sugared lemon zest
- Banana Churro – Vanilla cake, with a fried banana filling, topped with cinnamon frosting & homemade churro chip
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Honey – Chocolate cake, filled with honey mousse, topped with peanut butter frosting & creamed honey
- Mud Pie – A buttery chocolate cookie crust under a chocolate cake, filled with whipped chocolate mousse, topped with vanilla Kahlua frosting & chocolate sauce
- White Chocolate Macadamia Nut – Vanilla cake, filled with white chocolate mousse, topped with vanilla frosting, white chocolate & chopped macadamia nuts
The thing to do in Solvang between waking up and getting tipsy at nearby wineries is to sit down for a Danish breakfast. While the people in Denmark would most likely scoff at the inauthentic fare served in these here parts, no one seems to mind because the ambiance is cozy and the waitresses are clad in traditional Scandinavian get-ups. Or so we kept telling ourselves as we walked toward Paula’s Pancake House, the most popular brunching spot in town.
Lang arrived at the cozy cottage before The Astronomer and I did and snagged a table on the sunny patio. Soon after we joined him, waters and menus were dropped off.
I ordered the Paula’s Special ($8.75), which included two Danish pancakes topped with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. The pancakes were larger and thinner than traditional ones, but tasted more or less the same as a box of Bisquick. I wasn’t expecting the pancakes to bring on any fireworks, just something more unique than a super-sized version of traditional American pancakes. On that front, I was sorely disappointed. The strawberries and whipped cream, on the other hand, met and exceeded my expectations.