Thursday, July 7, 2011

Eating our way up the California Coast

June 29, 2011

In the morning we went to:

Paula’s Pancake House
1531 Mission Street
Solvang, CA 93463
(805) 688-2867

The place was totally decked out Danish style from the decorations to the waitresses uniforms. The waitresses themselves were all Latina. I ordered the Danish pancakes with cinnamon apples, syrup, and butter. Collin ordered French toast made with sourdough bread which he said was excellent. Their syrup was watery but very good, it was also light in color. I suspect that it’s not maple syrup, but sugar syrup. My Danish pancakes were scrumptious, I loved the cinnamon apples. They were kind of tart, but sweet and cinamonny at the same time. Collin ate the rest of mine, it was so big I couldn’t finish it. They also had a fresh squeezed orange juice machine just like they do in Spanish cafes. We all had fresh squeezed orange juice and it was soooooooooooooo good. Collin felt like he was back in Spain, which is his happy place.

I went next door to
Olsen's Danish Village Bakery Coffee Shop
1529 Mission Drive
Solvang, CA 93463
(805) 688-6314

To buy some treats for my mom and my sister, Teela. The bakery was really Danished-out this time, the owner, Susy, was working and she really is Danish. Again, everyone else working there was Latina. I got some pastries, almost all of them were almond flavored or had marzipan in them. I was tempted to buy a Danish cookbook, but the first recipe I saw when I opened it up was pickled herring with sour cream sauce.

The town of Solvang is totally cute. I loved driving through and seeing all the Danish style buildings with fake storks perched on top, a bar named The Little Mermaid, the little mermaid statue in the middle of town, and Danish flags flying everywhere.

Our next stop was Santa Barbara where we walked around downtown with Jim. We stopped at the historic courthouse, which is about 160 years old. The kids had fun running around the grassy area in the center while Jim and Collin went up to the tower to look at the view. I was kind of fascinated by the elderly woman dance troupe that was practicing dance numbers to Proud to Be an American and YMCA. They were pretty cute with their brightly colored tutus, leotards and leggings.

We stopped at the mission and laid on the grass in front while Collin looked around, I was feeling kind of ill. There were some really creative chalk drawings sponsored by local businesses on the grounds outside the mission itself.

UC Santa Barbara was next our (early) college tour for the kids.

San Louis Obispo was awesome!!! We first ate what Gourmet Magazine called the “world’s best fries” at:

Bel Frites
1127 Garden Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
(805) 784-0422

They serve the fries in paper wrappers inside a spiral cone shaped holder. We chose lemon pepper seasoning for one order of fries with red pepper aioli to dip it in. The other order was Jamaican jerk seasoning on the fries and curry mango chutney to dip it in. We all chowed down on those delicious fries and also each did a drawing about our experience and put it up on the bulletin board.

After that little amuse bouche, we had what Collin said was the best meal of the trip at

Big Sky Café
1121 Broad Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93410
(805) 545-5401

The place was moderately priced, had a blue painted ceiling with stars on it, and a very strange photo essay featuring a monkey and a naked man and woman near the restrooms. Collin ordered the lamb kabob and ginger eggplant pita which was grilled lamb skewers marinated in Turkish seasonings, served over ginger-harissa eggplant and lemon-tahini salad with tomatoes on grilled flatbread. I ordered the grilled cheese, eggplant, and chipotle sandwich: Cheswick, N.Y. white cheddar on Pure and Simple sourdough with roasted eggplant, red pepper relish, and a smear of smokey chipotle chilies. It was good, but a little too greasy after all those fries. I should have gone with a salad instead. Aidan ordered a turkey burger, Ian got a hot dog, and Emma ordered buttered spaghetti with parmesan. The kids’ fruit cups were obviously real fruit as opposed to canned. The server was very friendly and we talked a little photography talk since he had the same camera and Miche bags since I had mine with me and his girlfriend really wanted one.

Right next door to Big Sky Café was:

Tropical Chocolates
1127 Broad St. #A
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
(805) 540-7077

They had some really exotic flavors and were all beautifully handcrafted and painted. It was kind of pricey, the smaller chocolates were $2 a piece and the cake balls were $2.50. We ordered a salty caramel dark chocolate, a dark orange sunset, milk chocolate macadamia nut, coconut milk chocolate, and green tea ginger milk dark chocolate. Pricey, but delicious chocolate bliss is always worth the dinero. We enjoyed them by a little creek that had the San Juan Bautista de Anza historic path next to it and the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art.

Bubble Gum Alley on is on Higuera Street in San Luis Obispo. People come and stick their chewed up bubblegum on the walls of the alley. Some people just stuck the gum on the wall. Others spelled their names out with gum or gum wrappers. Collin stuck his gum on the wall with a penny in the middle. I blew a bubble and stuck it on the wall. We seem to be leaving our mark in a lot of places.

While looking for a public bathroom, we ran across a little museum about the town that had a cool kids room where the kids could stamp aluminum foil and type on an old-fashioned typewriter. I enjoyed looking at an old Sears Roebuck catalog.

The view up the coast was GORGEOUS! We stopped at the Hearst Castle gift shop for a pit stop and then stopped around San Simeon to watch the elephant seals blubbering around on the sand nearby. Some were fighting, others were sleeping, and some were slowly making their way in and out of the water. It was awesome to see them up close in their natural environment.

We were afraid of running out of gas, so we stopped for gas in Gorda-by-the-sea. Gas was a whopping $5.39 a gallon, but the sign at the gas station said that the next gas station going north was 40 miles away. We stopped for dinner at:

r.g. Burgers
201 Crossroads Shopping Village
Carmel, CA
(831) 626-8054

It was just OK. I got a falafel salad. The falafel was spicy, but without any real flavor, the salad was just iceberg lettuce and tomato (burger toppings!). I should have ordered the pulled-pork sliders. Ian and Aidan had turkey and beef sliders. Emma had a turkey sandwich with fries. Collin hoofed it over to the grocery store and had crab roll sushi. I wish we had joined him and skipped the restaurant.

We finally arrived at my mom’s house in Montara around 11 p.m. My sister, Teela and her boyfriend, had waited for us until about 10:50 p.m., so we just missed them. We had a joyful reunion with my mom with lots of hugs and kisses. My mom, of course, had some snacks ready and waiting for us when we arrived: Ube Crackers and other Asian craveables. We finally beached ourselves like the elephant seals we had become from all the food we ate today and went to bed around 12:20 a.m. after shooing Teela’s cat Meesi out of our room.