I can’t believe it’s been a year already since The Husband’s needling me about starting my own blog finally sunk in, and Tiny Kitchen Stories was born. And thanks to all of you who have nicknamed it “TKS” and read, like and comment often. It is truly, deeply appreciated.
So instead of a round-up of the year, I thought I’d round up my little jaunt up to Santa Barbara and Los Angeles for my birthday, which was full of fun, lots of eating and friends old and new. I was eating for gold that week, as I knew when I returned I was going to do a seven-day raw food cleanse and then change my diet. Right now I’m off gluten, corn, grains, potatoes, eggs, soy, dairy….yes, some of you may ask—What the hell is left? What will happen to TKS?
Well, it is a rather restrictive diet, but (a) I’m hoping to drop a few pounds from the Not-So-Tiny Kitchen Cook’s Ass and (b) won’t it just make me more creative? Duck carnitas will be featured in a future post, and yes, I had my tacos in lettuce wraps instead of tortillas. I didn’t mind at all. Sure, those handmade tortillas I got at the Mexican market looked good, but I didn’t cheat….although I’m surprised none of my guests commented on how I was staring as they ate. But at least I didn’t punch anyone.
But back to the trip, and the eating.
As mentioned in a previous post, we like to hit Brophy Brothers as soon as we get to Santa Barbara. We have to sit at the bar, and we have to eat shellfish while drinking beer and tequila shots. There’s nothing better than gazing up at SB’s beautiful mountains while enjoying these things. Nothing. Then you can check into your hotel with a lovely buzz and get your vaca really rolling! Julienne was dinner on our first night, but you know about that already.
The next day we hit one of our favorite taco places, and not just because they have a full bar (but it helps!) but mainly because their tacos ROCK. Plus, the place’s name is El Taco Tequila Taqueria, and you can’t beat that with a stick! A family-run and operated business, these people pump out some seriously delicious tacos, and in all flavors—vegetarian, fish, chicken and beef. Oh, did I forget pork? Their pork tacos are TO DIE for! Plus they have all of this Day of the Dead decor that is just irresistible.
Breakfast was at Scarlett Begonia—a lovely place, but don’t go there if you have anything to do for the next two hours. Food is da bomb—bacon-maple biscuits and breakfast pizza, YES!—but service is slllllooooooowwwww. And I don’t mean part of the Slow Food movement, either.
And then it was my birthday. The Husband had heard me mention that I liked a silly, stripy sock monkey in a store near the hotel, and ran down while I was in the shower to buy it for me. Isn’t he adorable? (The correct answer here is “Yes”. I don’t care if I’m a grown woman with a stuffed animal.)
I also had a wonderful afternoon with my dear friend Rose, who I hadn’t seen in about 15 years. Which is ridiculous, because Rose has such a calming influence on me, I need to bottle her and keep her in my purse. I got to introduce her to the love of my life (The Husband, natch) and we got to catch up on years apart. She also put out the most amazing spread of vegetarian goodness—we were wondering when the rest of the lunch party was going to get there, she made so much food. Seeing Rose was the best birthday gift I could have imagined!
Birthday martini at the Marquee before dinner with dear friends at Bouchon (where we snuck more fois gras…after the ban! Shhh!).
A much needed raw breakfast with liver-cleanse juice at Alchemy to ease the pain of a hangover.
We started celebrating the Fourth just a little early, on the 3rd. We found the Boathouse, a replacement for the Brown Pelican at Hendry’s Beach, where we drank the afternoon away and mooned over the dogs running willy-nilly without leashes on the beach—we had to leave our dog at home, thanks to a wedding we had attended early in the trip.
Here we met Stephen, the bartender (and his family’s delicious tequila, La Carreta de Oro), an oil-baron who had a house in Montecito and a penchant for buying the whole place shots, and adopted the hostess as she’ll be attending CSU Fullerton in the fall and knows not a soul in the OC. Until now. She’s cute as a button and will dog-sit for us! Result! Didn’t get a pic of Mary though. Hope to this weekend when she makes her first visit behind the Orange Curtain. (Oh, and Stephen makes an excellent michelada, BTW.)
A trip to Santa Barbara is not complete without a martini at Joe’s. Only have one if you can hold your liquor—why? Look at the picture. Beyond the awesome retro checkered napkin and the petite martini glass, see the glass with the cocktail strainer on it? Oh yeah, that’s parts two and three of your martini. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Looking for a lighter meal on our last night in town, we headed to Arigato, where our sushi chef was a fish-slicing, fun-loving maniac. Just how we like ’em.
Then down to La-La for a wonderful room on the same floor as the awesome pool deck at Petit Ermitage. This hotel rocks—it’s totally reasonable in price (for West Hollywood, that is) and is only four stories. With a pool on top. Did I mention that? Also, they have a wonderful little restaurant up there with tables tucked in amongst lots of greenery with stunning views.
Our beautiful and ridiculously talented friends C+E joined us for a few drinks by the pool before we all got dolled up for an evening at Son of a Gun, the sister restaurant to Animal. OH. MY. GOD. This place is off the charts delicious! Especially the prawn toast sandwich. We all shared two. We all secretly wanted two whole ones for ourselves. Or maybe that was just me and C?
The next day they took pity on us and cooked us two wonderful meals. One was their famous fried eggs a la pimenton with toast and salad for breakfast, and for dinner they whipped up some lamb chops for me and “Fred’s tips” for everyone else—some sort of Sonoma, CA delicacy. To me, it was like beef pretending to be bacon. I could only have one bite, but it was delicious, as was my lamb. These guys fly all over the world for work, so getting them for a whole day and a bit was dee-lightful!
After picking up our leftovers the next morning from C+E and a quick hug goodbye, we raced down the freeway to get back to the four-legged kids. Well, we did make one stop, for the pork dumplings at the very strangely named Guppy House in Irvine. This Taiwanese place has a long menu of great-looking stuff, and I accidentally found out about this place through a business meeting. You get 15 dumplings for about $8, which is crazy for something off the “snack” menu, and the leftovers were met with great joy by The Husband. Hence the stop on the way home. It was worth it.
Sigh. So there you have it. It was a fantastic birthday vacation, and thanks to all of you who commented on my posts while I was away. Next blog will be recipes, I promise! No more travel blogs—until Fiesta weekend in Santa Barbara next month. You’ve been warned…