Monday, March 2, 2009


This weekend was a nice break from the throbbing misery that was my cold last weekend. On Saturday I headed to Santa Barbara with three friends. We walked State Street for awhile. My rambunctious Beagle puppy Huck pulled free from his collar and I spent several breathless and semi-panicked minutes chasing him through crowds of shoppers (there appears to be no recession amongst the trendy young shoppers on State Street) before cornering him in a little boutique shop. For my involvement in the chase, I was rewarded with a breathless walk back to the car with Huck. For his involvement in the escape, he was rewarded with a cookie by the two young girls who worked at said store. Beagles do wonders with their charm.

For dinner we went to a locals favorite, one of ours too, Los Arroyos. A perfect little Mexican restaurant off State Street. Los Arroyos has been apart of Santa Barbara for 10 years now and it never disappoints. The downtown location is more informal; you order at a counter and they bring your food, very quickly I might add. If you are looking for great Mexican food, but more of a formal dinning experience, try their Montecito location on Coast Village. Same amazing food, but more of what you expect for a sit-down dinner.

After we ate, we decided to try something we have talked about for some time: fondue for dessert. The Melting Pot is a brilliant idea. There are two locations in our local area, Thousand Oaks and on Anacapa Street and few blocks east of State. The environment is more lounge than restaurant, but it suits the intended atmosphere perfectly. This would be an outstanding date destination. What better than sharing wine and warm melted chocolate with the one you love? I must say though, what immediately caught me as we drove by, was their wine storage system. A 10-12’ high by 15’ or so foot wide wall of glass filled with row after row of taunting bottles. The living room wall of my dreams!! The wine list was extensive and well arranged. The wines were listed from lighter to stronger, which I though was very helpful for your beginner to intermediate wine drinker. I ordered a Malbec, one of my new favorite varietals. The wine was a Bodega Norton, but I forgot to take notice of the vintage. One of the reasons I have recently been drinking Malbec is their gentle pleasant nature. Although the more I drink, the more I appreciate a spicy red, many Malbecs have a way of dancing with your tongue in a very pleasant way. However, the Bodega Norton was a bit bland on my palate and probably not the best choice for the wonderfully rich chocolates and treats.

Sunday started with a drive to Monterey Park in LA. For lunch we went to an LA favorite of ours, Home Restaurant on Hillhurst Ave in Los Feliz. The trendiness of Silver Lake area certainly reflects in the diners at Home, but with its large open air patio that includes a Koi pond and with a comfy interior it is quite clear that Home lives up to it’s name. It is very easy to enjoy a late Sunday morning or early afternoon. The breakfasts are simply amazing.

After returning home for a few hours and an attempted afternoon nap, it was time to head to Santa Barbara…again. This time, it was to attend a reading Sarah Vowell was doing as a part of UCSB’s Arts and Lectures series. The show did not start until 7:00PM, so three of my friends and I decided to pop in at Kalyra By the Sea located towards the beach at the end of State street. Kalyra is a local winery, with most of their wines being produced just a short drive up North in Santa Ynez. Kalyra is unique in that their Owner and Wine maker Mike Brown is Australian and has there fore brought a touch of Aussie style to the Central Coast. In fact, Mike Brown produces several of the wines sold at Kalyra in Australia, including my favorite, Barrossa Valley Shiraz. Although I do not care for every style Kalyra produces, I have yet to have a bad wine they have made. I highly recommend this local producer. You may even want to consider their wine club: Wine Thief’s. Their MC2 Bordeaux style blend is also a recommended favorite of mine.

Back to Sarah Vowell, the reading was very fun. I have never done anything like that before so it was a new experience. I am kind of an NPR geek, so listening to someone in person I have heard many times on This American Life was a treat for me.

So, it was a fun weekend.