Travel: Southern California

June 13, 2011

For the past ten days, I have had the joy of galavanting around Southern California with my family (sans sister). We met some incredible, and hospitable folks, drank great wine, indulged in fresh foods, and soaked in the beauty of both the coast and the mountains. It was a nourishing and inspiring vacation.

We spent an ample amount of time on the beaches of San Clemente and Dana Point. (The handsome man pictured here is my dear brother.) When I was not being mesmerized by the beauty of the water or the grace of the surfers, I was reading: The Help, The Absorbent Mind, French Women for all Seasons, back issues of Saveur, or Ecclesiastes.

We got to go to a few stunning farmer’s markets, brimming with California’s finest – avocados, citrus, and berries of all sorts. Keeping most of our cooking simple, we often grilled fresh fish and loads of vegetables.

On Saturday, we took a day trip to Temecula Valley – Southern California’s wine country. The scenic drive from the coast took us through lush mountain passes, and dropped us off into what felt like the South of France – rolling hills dotted with sprawling vineyards. We enjoyed a stop at Mount Palomar where we ate a Medeterrainian style lunch in their bistro. I especially enjoyed the baked brie bowl (pictured above, soft brie placed into a sourdough bread bowl, lined with fresh basil leaves, then covered with roasted garlic, sundried tomatoes and pine nuts). They recommended enjoying it with their Dry Riesling – perfect to cut the savory richness.

  We followed lunch and a small hike around the vineyard with a leisurely wine tasting. They had a wide variety – my favorite was called Castello Trovato, a red metitage of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc grapes. Everything I love in a red – hints of black cherry, earthiness, robust, with a long finish.

One of the most inspiring pieces of the trip for me was the landscape – especially the vegetation and plant life. Flowers, succulents, and trees of all kinds offered color, texture, and smell that I am unaccustomed to in the midwest.

On our final day, we had the honor of sailing with hospitable friends out of the Dana Point Harbor. It was a breathtaking adventure to go out on the water and feel the freedom of Pacific air. They also graciously took us to a lovely restaurant, Chart House,
overlooking the harbor, where we had a number of quentessential California/Pacific inspired hors d’oeuvres. Pictured top right:  tuna tartare drizzled with wasabi cream paired with seared peppered tuna & avocado, with kim chee slaw & plantain chips. Bottom left: jumbo lump crabmeat tossed in remoulade, layered with avocado & mango.

California was a breath of fresh air and I eagerly anticipate the time that I will be spending there in the near future.


One Response to “Travel: Southern California”

  1. Clarissa said

    Ah….sounds like a dream vacation, dear one. I’m so glad you were all able to go (well…w/out Lori–I know she was missed!)

    I’d love to visit California. My parents married there and my siblings were all born there. My folks lived in south San Francisco. I think it would be fun to see their old houses and walk the same streets my parents did when they were young.

    Your pictures are so lovely and your descriptions are so vivid, I could almost taste the food and wine and feel the salty breeze! Thanks for sharing, Abi!

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