California Coast, Vineyards and Food For the Sol (by Carmen)
Point A: Home base in Los Angeles
Point B: Friend’s wedding in Sonoma
There are various ways to get from point A to B, but Nathan and I chose to take it slow. A mini road trip to enjoy the changing landscapes of the California coast was in order. As we pulled out of LA the hip beaches quickly gave way to rocky shores lined with oak trees. First stop: Santa Barbara.
Nathan has fond memories of Santa Barbara based on the many family camping vacations that took place here in his youth. My family enjoyed Santa Barbara as well but since they aren’t exactly the camping sort, they had different reasons. One of them was La Super Rica. We happened upon this gem years ago after learning that it was one of Julia child’s favorites. We went and we fell in love. The love has since spread to Nathan and his family. Indeed, it has become Nathan’s favorite Mexican restaurant in California!
This little white and blue, divey looking shack is now a Santa Barbara institution. It is not a typical California burrito stand; it’s better than that. Instead it serves much more authentic and complexly flavored dishes, often on heavenly handmade tortillas. On this occasion, Nathan and I indulged in a veggie tamal (corn husk stuffed with maize dough) covered in crema, rich rajas (sautéed Anaheim pepper strips), delicious chicken sopes, and a queso fundido (melted cheese) studded with chorizo and onions. Add a Jamaica drink and our feast came in at under $30. Best deal ever.
From Santa Barbara we made our way to Pismo Beach, a cute little town right on the water. Our mission here was to make our way to Sans Liege, a special little winery with vineyards around the Paso Robles area. In their tasting room we enjoyed smooth whites, reds and rosés poured by a winemaker with a heavy French accent.
We set up camp for the night and headed off the next morning through the rolling hills towards Napa. Nathan and I were lucky enough to be invited to the rehearsal dinner at our favorite winery, Tres Sabores. The wines, staff, ambiance of this special place are all cozy and laid back, somewhat rare qualities in Napa.
After dinner we set up camp again, this time at the charming Spring Lake. With all the wedding activities we didn’t have time to go tasting but just being in the area brought back nostalgic memories of wine tastings past.
Finally we made it to point B, the beautiful wedding on a Sonoma winery. The vintage truck at the entrance set the easy going Sonoma chic tone for everything. After the touching ceremony we enjoyed delicious food, good people and a rocking dance floor. Really, what more could you ask for? Congratulations Julia and Jonathan!
To finish off a great weekend we headed over to another amazing restaurant, Sol Food. Basically, the food at this Puerto Rican eatery is too good for words. My thoughts while eating here usually start with “how” as in, “How do they get this chicken soooo tender? How is this rice so wonderfully garlicky? How is this shrimp so perfectly fried? How is all their food just so damn good???” I love everything the chefs send out of the kitchen at Sol Food but the customer gets to put the finishing touch. On each table there is a bright orange, tangy hot sauce that is the perfect balance of spicy and sour. As soon as the plates touch the table Nathan excitedly douses everything and I happily let him.
Wine country was a wonderful part of our life per-year off. California is beautiful with its rolling hills green trees and vineyards. It was a great way to be reintroduced to the Bay Area as we spend the next couple weeks catching up with old friends and attending yet another wedding!