Day Two - Wonderful Day of Leisurely Wine Tasting, topped off with Dinner at Bouchon!

Santa Barbara Travel Blog

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My brekkie at Belgian Cafe.

I was having a lot of trouble sleeping because the heater was soooo hot.  Fortunately, Sybil also wakes up pretty early so I had someone to talk to (much to Az’s chagrin).  To give Az some quiet sleeping time, Sybil and I decided to take a walk around town in the freezing cold and take silly pictures.  We took pictures with a Pea Anderson bulletin board and a huge snow mobile that we saw at a RV Resort.  It’s amazing how little it takes to amuse us.  After about 40 minutes we headed back to see if Az was up and realized our cars were covered in  a thin layer of ice so we had to heat them up.  (I don’t think I could ever live in a cold place … brrrr). 

 

Our first stop in the morning was Belgian Café in Solvang – a delightful kitschy little place.

At the Melville winery - great wines and great views!
  Great service and yummy food!  Syb and Az both had waffles (which they are known for – and they were quite delectable).  I had the ham steak and eggs – really hit the spot.  Well cooked, fresh and delish!  Fueled with food and plenty of coffee, we headed out for some wine tasting!

 

Our first winery on our day of winetasting, we stopped at Royal Oaks, mainly because the wineries on our planned itinerary were not yet opened.  This place was near our breakfast locale and we had time to kill, so we thought “why not?”  I’m glad we did, because they had delightful sweet wines – perfect for my parents who only enjoy sweet wines.  We each bought a few bottles as gifts for our respective parents (… except for Sybil who I believe is keeping her bottles)…

 

Our second stop was Blackjack – which was highly recommended (probably because it was also showcased in Sideways).

Me waiting to sober up to drive!
  Unfortunately, the winery itself was rather nondescript and none of us enjoyed the wines. Obviously wine tasting is pretty subjective, but Az, Sybil and I have developed very similar tastes.  The wines at blackjack were … for lack of a better work, very masculine – with heavy tobacco, smoke and wood flavors.  They are very bold wines, but I found the taste horribly unpleasant.  But it was a good experience – if you don’t taste a myriad of wines, how will you ever know what you like and dislike?

 

We then headed to Rideau – also recommended by one of Az’s friends.  Very pretty, feminine tasting room with a lot of decorations and memorabilia dedicated to New Orleans.  Only Az did a tasting because Syb and I were driving, but we did try a little.  The one thing I can say is that the wines here have the most beautiful, amazing, floral and berry bouquets EVER.

Bouchon - dinner!
  If you could just bottle the smell, it would be fantastic!  The wines tasted good but it was definitely the bouquet that was the star.  I would definitely return to do a full tasting.  Also, they have a nice space for parties or weddings, etc.

 

At this point, Sybil had to head back to LA to meet her lovah (I mean, her boyfriend).  J  Az and I then went to Melville – whose wines I already adore.  The tasting room was very nice – warm, spacious but cozy, and all decked out for the holidays.  I did the tasting and the wines were all superb.  Wonderfully jammy bouquets, with smooth, complex flavors.

My mushroom salad
  Yum!  We bought a few bottles and then sat in their patio to enjoy the view of the sun dappled vines.

 

After a good long break (so I could sober up properly) we tried the neighboring winery, Babcock.  I wasn’t tasting so was just trying a little of Az’s wines – I definitely enjoyed them more than her though.  I thought the wines were very promising – interesting, complexities, good bouquets.  I think had I tried this place first I would probably have bought some wines, but at this point I was imagining the damage I was doing to my credit card bill (esp since I had just spent 2 days after Christmas shopping).  J

 

We were going to try another winery but got lost, so then decided to head to Santa Barbara.

My gnocchi with lobster, beets, pancetta and peas - soooo good!
  We stopped at C’est Cheese for an afternoon snack and then spent a few hours shopping on State Street.  Our main goal was to wait until Bouchon was open so we could have an early dinner before heading home to LA.  Finally 5:30 arrived and we rushed to the restaurant.  Such a cute place!  And the service and food was absolutely divine!  I had a delectable mushroom salad and gnocchi (with spiny lobster, peas, pancetta and beets) --- soooo good!  Az had a salad and short ribs – also yummy!  We finished with a  molten lava cake (good, but still not as good as Arnie Morton’s) and a glass of Zin Essence – a perfect accompaniment to the cake.  Mmmm….

 

Then our carriage turned into a pumpkin and we headed home towards LA – after a nice little weekend of eating, drinking and being with close friends. 

Sheila_0808 says:
that's awesome! love the blog! looks like you girls had a great time.
Posted on: Dec 29, 2008
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My brekkie at Belgian Cafe.
My brekkie at Belgian Cafe.
At the Melville winery - great win…
At the Melville winery - great wi…
Me waiting to sober up to drive!
Me waiting to sober up to drive!
Bouchon - dinner!
Bouchon - dinner!
My mushroom salad
My mushroom salad
My gnocchi with lobster, beets, pa…
My gnocchi with lobster, beets, p…
Short ribs - yum!
Short ribs - yum!
Molten lava cake - chocolatey!
Molten lava cake - chocolatey!