Sunday, September 30, 2012

Clearing

We were packed and on the road by 9:30 AM.  After a quick Starbucks stop, of course.  

 This was the B&B - Bridge Creek Inn.  It seriously reminded me of The Brady Bunch house.
J had never driven the famous Hwy 1, so we had to take it north!  We drove some serious winding, hairpin curving, deviously swerving roadways on this trip!
 This is what most of the trip looked like.  Which is sad because 3/4 of the reason for taking the 1 is to see the ocean.  However, I love fog.  I ooed & awwed over the way the hillsides and the fringed grasses looked in its muted light.  The dampened earth, the misting on the windshield, the cool tones - all of it made me feel cozy.
 So we sipped the java, drove slowly, and listened to a message about functional saviors from Tullian Tchividjian.  Not everybody's ideal maybe, but it was ours and it was fabulous.
 When we reached Big Sur we got out to let J stretch those long legs.  We climbed to the top of a cliffside (using stairs).  At the top was a restaurant and viewing deck.
the Phoenix.
Our lives have felt much like this lately.  Like we know there is something breathtaking beyond what we can see, but the clouds never quite roll out far enough for us to see it completely.  We are still enamored with the beauty we do see, but there is a longing for clarity.
At the end of this trip we do feel we see more than we ever have, but there are still wonderings.

We climbed back in the car and finished the drive to our hotel in Oakland.  We did some research and found a highly recommended Mexican place not too far from us, so after we unpacked and I repacked (for the plane - weight limits, you know) we jumped into our little Nissan Sentra and found Santo Coyote.  Yelp didn't lead us astray.

They had the vegan fare I wanted and the greasy gutbombs and Coke in a bottle for J!  I had Tostadas with extra guacamole and chips!  To die for!  Their salsa is one of my all time favorites - the only thing it lacked was enough heat to make my nose run.  :)
Now for a good nights sleep, a short plane ride, and returning to responsibility.  So good to get away.  So good to be together.
In the escaping, and now in the homecoming.

Get Crackin'

We knew this day would take us back to the sea.  We set out on a winding road through See Canyon that dropped us out onto a small highway and right next to Salisbury Winery.
We had a free tasting of some delectable wines!  J discovered he likes "fruit forward" wines and had a discussion about this with the Sommelier while I wandered around the art gallery.  
I found a painting I wanted badly but, luckily, it had already been sold and saved me $1500.  :)
It was grapes on a vine done in a Klimt style, but in more of the California sunbleached tones and antiqued golds rather than Klimt's vivid jewels and brazen golds.  
 We may have had wine tasting on the agenda but this trip was really about getting J a crab feast.  Elizabeth (our endeared sommelier from Churchill & Claiborn) had told us just where to go for, "a real palpable, physical, gustative experience"!  (See why I liked her?)
 He was excited when we pulled up to the Cracked Crab in Pismo Beach, but when they put his bib on for him and brought out 'the tools' he couldn't contain himself!


 Then they dumped 2# of heaven on his plate, handed him a beer (he said tasted a lot like Cold Smoke), and I didn't hear a comprehensible word for the next half an hour.  It was all maniacal laughs, muffled sighs of delight, and grunts as he ripped apart shells to get to the glory inside.
He told me after that we needed to get these little warmers for home.  :)
 I'm not supposed to eat shellfish, so I had a bit of halibut smothered in green tomatoes, oyster mushrooms and herbs.  Needless to say, I was done much sooner and had time to draw on our table cloth.
 It's hanging in the restaurant now ~ LOL!  Not bad for having just tasted a flight of wines and having another glass with my meal.
 There's the man who just finished every last tidbit of that 2# of crab and took his bib off.  Does he look a little dazed?  Time to walk it off.  Paul Boy metabolism.  No rest for the full.  hee hee!
 Pismo feels like an Annette Funicello & Frankie Avalon movie.  Straight out of the 50s/60s era.




 The Pier had it's own Photo-Op Props...
 J wasted no time getting down to doing the tourist thing.
 I talked to the guys working at this shop on the pier.  It's original to when the pier was built!  They even try to keep it painted the same way.
 AND they still sell some of the original kitchy souvenirs from that era!




 We went into the candy store that is famous in Pismo for being the original purveyors of candied insects.  Lolipops with scorpions, salt & vinegar larvae, BBQ flavored crickets, and, of course, candied apples with candied worms...
The only sweet I eat... heh heh...  :D
 J bought Salt Water Taffy with no insects or soon-to-be insects in them.
 We headed back to the B&B and stopped at one more winery that I won't mention the name of because we were totally unimpressed with everything we tasted but we did get some lovely shots of the surroundings.



 Everything in California has a bleached out look to it until you get up close, then there is brilliance.

 The last day in the warm lands.  We'll head north tomorrow.

Friday, September 28, 2012

R+R

 We realized pretty quickly that the previous days of meetings and friends had taken a lot out of us. At breakfast, as we talked about the plans for the day we knew what we really needed was some more sleep and down time, so we stuck close to the B&B for activities.
Our first stop was Claiborne & Churchill winery.  Elizabeth, the owner's daughter, was our sommelier.  We liked her instantly.   Knowledgable, witty, happy, and kind.
 I love hearing how dreams and visions come to pass.  These vinters had no idea what they were doing when they began and now have a thriving vineyard, a solid presence in the industry and wines that are some of the best I've ever tasted.
 I'm not a white wine fan most of the time but here I liked 3 of the 4 I tasted.  Their Dry
Gew├╝rztraminer may be getting ordered for Thanksgiving Dinner this year.  
 Here are a couple other things I loved about this little winery: They use no yeast, no oak, and still hand harvest their own vines!  Elizabeth made sure we knew they didn't stomp them with their feet though.
 She tried hard to make me a Pinot Noir believer, but I am still not impressed by them.  Noir grows well in Edna Valley's perfect conditions, so this area is a high producer of the touchy, finicky grape.  I had 9 different Noirs over our 3 day stay and not one made me want more - most got poured out.
 Our next stop (on the way back to the B&B for a nap) was Baileyana.  I had read about their Zucker label and wanted to see if it lived up to it's reviews.
 We tried several on the tasting list but, sure enough, The Zucker Gruner Veltliner was the winner!  We bought 2 bottles!  Sparkly and bright.  We sipped it chilled with strawberries I bought at Farmers' Market.
J took a nap and I read and took photos at the B&B while he did.  When he woke we headed into SLO to a restaurant that Elizabeth had recommended for a late lunch.

 It was such a peaceful setting with the creek flowing by and the trees shading us.  I told J if I lived in SLO I would spend a lot of time on that patio.  It's a little oasis.

Back at the B&B we watched Snow White and the Huntsman on the laptop and went to sleep early.  Tomorrow we would return to the seashore.