between my new bojack horseman obsession, a lifelong love of marzipan, and this desire to compare everything to summer camp, i am almost positive that the santa ynez valley was made for me. it's this cute area in the mountains in california, just past ojai, that consists of five itsy bitsy towns, all adorable in their own way. there are vineyards and roadside bakeries in farmhouses and, in one of the five towns, a teleportation device that brings you straight to a small danish fantasyland, complete with windmills aebleskivers. and by teleportation device i just mean that it was built that way, to be cute and danish and disneyland-inspired. on my way back from the la jolla summerfest, i stopped through santa ynez for a couple of days with lily and alana and we had the gosh darn loveliest time! here is just about everything we ate and drank:
fluffy hot pancakes, breakfast quesadillas, and a 2:1 ratio of coffee to hot chocolate in the mountains after a sunrise horseback ride, past coyotes and deer! my horse was called goose. he did not get along with lily's horse, blackjack. but i don't blame blackjack because goose kept farting in his face.
just enough marzipan at olsen's bakery. which is to say that every single thing we got there had marzipan and i was in heaven from my spot standing on top of a chair photographing everything. that's one great thing about traveling lily and alana: standing on chairs to get an overhead marzipan shot in public feels less weird.
my very first shrub! at mad + vin at the landsby hotel. we had one of those long nice sunday meals where you have nowhere to be until the late night bonfire out back. it included lily's first fondue and a round of shrub cocktails. (shrubs are my new favorite, and i came straight home and bought two bottles of vinegar about it.) and the landsby hotel is right in the middle of solvang, it's great. being there is like being in an ikea if ikea had just received four promotions and a collection of quirky llama paintings.
big plump gnudi and a table of other tasty things in the tiny tiny town of los alamos at a restaurant called pico, which occupies the old town general store. the entire town was one block, i wanted to put it in my pocket and take it on home. instead i put the leftover gnudi in a box and took that on home.
wine. ok i am trying so hard to understand wine. it's become a dire situation, because this is 10x harder for me than high school calculus. we visited beckmen and sunstone and i loved learning about the harvesting process, seeing what it takes to make biodynamic wine, and hearing about how many different types of grapes can be grown in the valley--all things that appeal to the agricultural side of things--but when it comes to tasting wine, it's like fashion, i am like whaaaaaa halllllllllp i'm mellllttttttinggggggg.
aebleskivers! at solvang restaurant. girl, if the next time i see you i have gained 500 pounds it's because i've finally given in and bought an aebleskiver pan.
peanut butter pie, baby corndogs, boursin on the porch, and a poolside cookie at alisal ranch. alisal is like being at camp, but fancy camp! it's this big old ranch with chickens, horsies (including my friend goose), pigs, and a very old goat named goatie. and you get to dress up for dinner and there is no cell phone reception! it inspired me to start choosing my vacation spots based on where i can get no cell service because out of all the ways to relax, that is an increasingly important one. i loved alisal, it made me feel like a kid. alana said it reminded her of dirty dancing and that sparked a conversation about the borscht belt, which is one of my most favorite conversation topics. so yes, i'll definitely be back there one day.
biscuits out of a dutch oven made over hot coals by our friend in the cowboy hat! this was also at alisal but it was so cool that it deserved its separate list item. lily and alana and i woke up really early one morning to go take pictures of the fog and the horsies and suddenly the world smelled like freshly made biscuits and butter because suddenly 20 feet away, there was a man making biscuits. it was magic.
a stunning tasting menu at a beautiful b & b in a town that consisted of a b & b, a church, and a schoolhouse. that's it! it reminded me of the town near me that consists of a grain leg, a church, and a strip club. but this was better for obvious reasons, not the least of which was the roasted corn soup that made me want to make a hot tub of roasted corn soup.
solvang's famous hot pretzels that come with a little cup of cheese. it was like eating o.g. auntie annie's and we got em fresh out of the oven. it was the perfect road trip snack for our drive back to l.a.