One of my earliest memories consists of when I stuck my chubby baby hand into a puddle of hot tar. The recollection comes to me in senses; I remember the feel of the black putty in between my fingers, the heat of the sun on the beach house driveway, and the smell of salt and boat oil wafting with every breeze. There was a sense of peace, until someone saw what my young self was doing, and snatched up me from the driveway, wondering how on earth she was going to wash all this black gook off my wandering fingers.
Some time has gone by, but that smell tends to reoccur occasionally, surfacing in beach towns with large bays or a plethora of boats that dot the waters like seagulls. The Jersey Shore, Ocean City, and Hilton Head are some immediate examples. It's a comforting smell, oddly enough, because it reminds me of beach vacations when I ate Life Cereal on the back porch while reading Little Critter. I didn't expect to pick up it's addictive aroma while strolling the wooden boards of Santa Barbara, but I'm glad I did.
My first exposure to Santa Barbara was in the movie, "It's Complicated" with Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Martin. i have a soft spot for these sorts of movies; they most often take place in a beautiful location like Martha's Vineyard or the Hamptons or Santa Barbara, and they feature an older strong female protagonist falling in love with an older stupid but lovable man. Another example would be Something's Gotta Give, which also features the famous Diane-Keaton-Turtleneck-Ripping scene. (GO DIANE.)
Santa Barbara is a city painted with white-walled and red-roofed homes. The shutters open to airy lofts, where the inhabitants likely drink horchata while lounging on clean sheets. We parked the rental car next to the Santa Barbara library, where a biker gang had stashed their motorcycles to sip coca-cola. Before lunch, Mish and I wandered into a lil Buddhist/Zen/Incense/cool jewelry shop that offered an especially Zen poodle chillin' in the front window. He looked happy and adorable.
We had lunch at a place called the Benchmark, sitting snuggly in the shade of the outdoor patio and snacking on fried chickpeas and sparkling wine. The chickpeas were stellar, as they were essentially crispy hummus, and therefore a perfect recipe. Dad was craving a pizza, and made that happen. It came in a humble circle, decorated with thick crumbles of sausages and cheese. The rest of lunch was salads for Mish and I: hers consisted of goat cheese, quinoa, zucchini, white corn, and spinach, and mine was olives, kale, prosciutto, and tomatoes. They were simple and good.
Santa Barbara is a treat for the eyes, and filled with lots of interesting people, shops, and landscapes. Look behind you and you'll see waves of mountains, speckled with greenery, and looming into the blank sky. Then there's the houses, bustling with tourists and locals alike. And then there's the water. And the wine tasting. And the wine tasting on the water. And with so many tasting rooms to choose from, it's hard not to pick the one that offers the best view.
The wine! I liked it. The Chardonnay was warm without being oaky, tasting like unsalted butter. The pinot noir was like sweet, raw cherries and the cab reminded me of cola. In the tasting room, there were families both with children old enough to drink and with smaller kiddos swapping vino for Cotton Candy gelato. I would have enjoyed both, but there was only so much time (!!!!)
(Side note: love my parents. My dad and I have scary similarities; we both laugh at videos of people falling down, we have ideas for coffee table books, and we're in love with RVs. My mother and I should not be left alone with each other and our wallets, especially an Anthropologie or Williams and Sonoma, as we will purchase the entire store. They're really good people.)
In other news, the weekend is not over (!!!!!!!!!) and after this post I'll be plunging into a music festival dress for all-day Sunday shenanigans with some JMU grads. Not sure what the musical line-up entails, but I've been feeling especially folk-y. And thinking about love and romance and all those crazy brain synapses.
These chocolate espresso cakes with soft centers remind me of a grown-up TastyKake.
Countdown to VA! I love the West Coast, but when it's been sixth months since you've seen your childhood home, the cravings start to kick in. Humidity, fireflies, and Ketel One is just a few itty bitty weeks away!