May 16th, 2010

full steam ahead

Starting with the 'ask your waiter' omelette

We still haven't found the perfect hotel in Santa Monica; the Pico Travelodge is nice, clea, super-friendly and the rooms are big - but there's no pool and the courtyard light outside the bathroom window has a transformer that buzzes like a helicopter going overhead... The coffee shop acrosss the road is marked Death Before Decaff but we headed straight to Coras Coffee Shoppe for breakfast under a tunnel of bourgeanvillia, where the wait is long, the food is good, the coffee is Illy, the omelette is ask your waiter and the eggs benedict is a soft boiled egg on country bread with smoked salmon, spinach and lemon sauce.

The marine haze cleared partway up the coast. I don't know what the little pink-faced birds on the Moomat Ahiko verge were but I saw a red-tailed hawk spread its wings and land on the slopes just north of Malibu and more on the hills north of Santa Barbara (where there were classic and kit cars parading up and down the main street). We nibbled cherries - and why are so many cherries mutant doubles this year? - and gazed at the wild flowers and the hills and the sea and swooped through the hills to Atascadero to check in and get bounced around in the most energetic hot tub yet. Dinner in Paso at Artisan; I've had quite a few fried green tomatoes this trip and I like them, but they mainly go to show that anything is edible if you coat it in cornmeal and fry it.. Nice foil for bacon wrapped shrimps and the lobster risotto under my Alaskan halibut was almost as good as the halibut (and that was gooood). Simon's mustard greens almost tasted of mustard, the cherry sauce on his duck was fresh cherries and I still can't place the flavour of the caramelised fennel. Something elusive, possibly it tasted of - fennel? Cafe au lait and cacao nib ice cream. The white wine flight was an exercise in blends - grenache roussane, roussane viognier; very nice but not a standout like the Flowers pinot we had thursday night. More work this morning, then wine tasting!