In Search of Best Food — Solvang and Santa Barbara

On Day 2 of Kevin and my staycation, we headed north to Solvang for some delicious Danish delights. We were looking forward to visiting our favorite Aebleskiver restaurant in this dreamy little European enclave but it looked like it has closed down between the time we were there last several years ago and now. We really enjoyed watching an older gentleman (probably the owner of the shop) make the Danish round pancakes at The Little Mermaid so we were very bummed that it went out of business.

We ended up at a restaurant called Solvang Restaurant, a coffee shop that served my favorite round treats, which turned out to be a big hit!  Kevin ordered the meatball and sausage combination and they were out of this world!biggrin

The split pea soup was creamy and delicious!

There was something SO amazing about the braised red cabbage and apple. I think it was the perfect combination of sweet and tangy that made me fall in love with this side dish.  Kevin didn’t have a chance with this one!

Aebleskivers were great. I liked the homemade raspberry jam too. These little balls were little denser than the ones I got used to from the Mermaid place but still delicious. This alone was worth a two-hour drive (although Kevin drove and I slept most of the way)! We ended up taking home our very own Aebleskeivers pan so we can make them at home!

After shopping and strolling around Solvang, we headed south and made a quick stop at Santa Barbara.  Our first stop was our favorite pastry shop called Renaud’s Patisserie and Bistro.  Although this place is tucked away in an unsexy shopping mall, its pastries are absolutely world class!  Think The Bakery from the movie, “It’s Complicated.”  This is how I’d imagine how buttery croissants tasted like in Jane’s shop.

Kevin goes absolutely head over heels for its almond croissants and I’m crazy about its apricot tart.  If you are in the area, please go check this place out (there are two locations in Santa Barbara — one on the lively State Street).  You won’t regret it!  Just make sure to go early since a lot of these goodies sell out pretty quickly.

After we successfully secured our desserts and tucked them away safely in the car for the evening indulgence, we headed to a restaurant called Los Agaves that Shannon recommended.   She was totally right on with how amazing this place is — one of the best Mexican food I’ve had, which is not easy to say since there are so many great Mexican restaurants in Los Angeles.

Crispy chips and fresh salsa, with guacamole … heavenly.

I ordered shrimp ceviche with cucumber slices and a piece of pineapple.  Shrimps were freshly “cooked” in lemon juice (not pre-cooked) and there were A LOT in the plate. biggrin This was  the best ceviche … ever.  I’m not kidding!

Kevin had the seafood burrito.  Look at the size of this thing!

We seriously ate non-stop the entire day.  On the way back, we had to stop at Camarillo Outlet just so that we can park the car and take a nap! lol We were that full with all the good food we ate!

Oh, how we didn’t want this bliss to end.

Weekend Getaway: Day 2 (of 2)

Morning: Tiffany and I stayed in and played the LA Times crossword puzzle in bed while Shannon and Roya went to workout at the downstairs gym. Tiffany is a riot. I don’t think I laughed so hard playing a word game!lol

(You’ve gotta love the mess — this is the aftermath of us having so much fun the night before.)

Breakfast (11:30 a.m.): After we got ready and checked out of the hotel, we drove to Pacific Crepes for French-inspired breakfast. This was such a cozy and quaint restaurant with wonderful service and amazing food. We started out with glasses of Kir and Café Latte, and shared two onion soups among the four of us.

I ordered Santa Cruz crepe, with salmon (raw fish “cooked” in lemon juice), Portobello mushrooms, steamed spinach, ratatouille, and béchamel sauce. This was very different and super delicious!

We shared a sweet crepe for dessert. This is crepe with Nutella and pear, with amazing homemade whipped cream. I’m not even a whipped cream fan but this one was out of this world.

We are all incredible full at this time but we inhaled it because it was so

We did the whole touristy things in Santa Barbara and shopped on lively State Street for a few hours (I picked up a cute top – YAY). We went to Renaud’s Patisserie in hopes of it amazing macarons and other French desserts but the place was CLOSED when we arrived! I was SO bummed because I was really looking forward to it for so long.cry

Dinner (6:30 p.m.): On the drive home, we decided to go to Jinya for a ramen dinner, only to find out upon arrival that the place was closed for remodeling tonight. We went to another restaurant across the street, only to be disappointed that it was also closed!

We found a Thai restaurant nearby so we ended up having dinner there. I was pleasantly surprised to find Sompun Thai to be quite delicious! I had a glass of chardonnay to unwind, and we shared yum woon sen to start. I had steak salad for dinner and half of Tiffany’s curry for dinner.

What an amazing weekend this was. I had a blast hanging out with such great friends over good food. I can’t wait to do it again soon.  Thank you, Tiffany, Shannon, and Roya!

Weekend Getaway: Day 1 (of 2)

Breakfast (9:30 p.m.): I had a wonderful weekend. Saturday began with me and Kevin getting up early in the morning to partake in the wedding “sneak peak.” We got to visit our wedding venue and watch the set-up process for a reception that was taking place that day.  It was a random couple’s wedding that we were getting the glimpse of, but it totally gave us good ideas on how we want our wedding to look and feel.

Before arriving to the venue, we stopped by Joan on Third for a quick breakfast of chocolate croissant (I only ate 1/3 of it because it was mediocre and I didn’t want to waste my daily calories on something that’s not spectacular) and half of Kevin’s ham and brie sandwich (this was pretty darn good). We only have a few minutes so we ate in the car.

After the sneak peak, Kevin dropped me off at Roya’s place, and Roya, Tiffany, Shannon and I headed to a girls’ weekend trip to Santa Barbara. On the way, I had tall strawberry smoothie and banana bread from Starbucks. (Oh, and we also stopped at Dash in Calabasas because Shannon and Roya are fans.)redface

After we checked in to Harbor View Inn in Santa Barbara (highly recommend this place), we went out for a five-mile run on the beach. The first two miles were really tough because they were all uphill but coming down felt really great.

We found a local community college along the way so we went to the track to do stairs. I did 1.5 rounds (I think the girls did three or four), and ran two laps around the track. I actually wanted to do more rounds but I got a little scared coming down the steps!  It was such a wonderful day for an outdoor exercise!

Dinner (5:00 p.m.): After the workout, we went to this neighborhood Mexican place that Shannon saw on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, but was closed, so we went to another, more fancy Mexican restaurant, Casa Blanca, down the street from the hotel. We had a round of drinks (I had blood orange margarita with jalapeno) and chips and salsa. We were only going to stay for drinks and appetizers, but we ended up eating full meals. I absolutely loved the steak salad that I ordered. It was one of the best steak salads I’ve had in years!

Late-Night Dinner (11:00 p.m.): We soaked our tired muscles in the Jacuzzi after we returned from dinner which felt incredible! We had a few more cocktails there, and came back to get ready to go out. We ended up at a pub full of Santa Barbara locals, and we shared Mac and Cheese (with bacon, Gruyere, and arugula) and French fries (sweet potatoes and regular). We knew that she shouldn’t have eaten such fatty foods so late at night but we figured we’d have fun on our vacation. The good news is that I didn’t drink and we didn’t polish off the plates.