My sister had worked for a few weeks out at a vet practice in Los Olivos (lucky girl), and raved about the area so we decided to make a stop. It is an intensely cute place – almost too cute! It’s about 4 blocks total, with some shops, restaurants, and wine shops clustered around one main intersection. It’s in the center of the Santa Ynez winelands, which was made famous by the movie Sideways a few years back (hint: don’t mention the movie to the locals, I think they’re not big fans). We strolled around, had a bite to eat, visited one of the wine shops that does tastings for a number of the vineyards in the area. Unfortunately, the guy doing the tastings in his shop was a serious wine snob, and obviously had no time for tourists (a bad characteristic to have when the vast majority of your income probably comes from tourist dollars). The surly shopkeeper didn’t make for the most pleasant of tastings, but at least we got to hear a few local stories as he chatted with his wine reps who came in to sell while we were there. And the wines were excellent, making up for his lack of charm. Pinot Noir is the wine the region is most well known for, and we enjoyed a few – but in reality we’re both pretty out of habit of drinking reds. Tropical climates and red wines don’t go together too well, white tends to be the wine of choice as it’s a bit more refreshing on a hot night.
After pitching our tent in a random campsite (really an RV park with a few tents, and apparently the only site in the area – I can see that would be true given how expensive the area is, there probably isn’t much land to cater to passers through!) we drove into Santa Barbara. Again, I’d been here before, but loved the posh-ness of the area. There was a huge farmer’s market lining the main street, so we browsed that for some amazing samples of peaches, avocados, strawberries and other yummy items. We settled ourselves at a little wine bar with great happy hour glasses and flatbreads and sat people watching for quite awhile. The guy next to us was a real character – he wore a unbuttoned hawaiian shirt that showed off his leathery tan, obviously knew the owner or something and proceeded to make himself completely at home, taking cushions from other chairs, putting his feet up, and talking loudly to the woman he was with. Nick thought he had a strong accent, a bit of a Donald Sutherland sound. I guess I never thought he had much of an accent! We walked down to the beach, which is actually not all that impressive. We took advantage of the happy hour specials at another bar, had a few margaritas and fish tacos – my first! I can’t believe it took me so long to discover the fish-taco goodness. What was I thinking?? YUM.
Is it strange that so much of my blogs revolve around food? I guess that’s one of my highlights of the trip so far – all the great food. We’re trying to balance fun restaurants with cost-saving make your own sandwiches and breakfast, along with Nick’s desire to taste every fast food chain in the US while we’re here. Not doing to badly so far, though it’s easy to make your own sandwiches when you’re not surrounded by a million tasty restaurants like we have been in SF and now this area!