To us, Santa Barbara is always a treat. We have lots of fond memories (including a splendid little wedding and some heady college years) and we always come away as proud wannabes: one day, we say, we will be able to afford the overpriced real estate here, and the Californian Riviera will be our oyster. Until that day, we are happy to make the trek on a regular basis, and in the cheese year, we obviously had to visit C’est Cheese, the wonderful cheese store and café with an admittedly cheesy name (Eurosnob trivia: c’est, in French, is NOT pronounced ‘say’).
After a glorious breakfast, with great coffee, excellent breakfast potatoes, some of the best eggs Benedict I have ever enjoyed and friendly I-live-in-Santa-Barbara-so-I-really-have-no-reason-to-ever-be-crabby style service, a fine female cheese monger helped me pick not one, but two very nice, creamy cheeses, and we were off wandering the streets. It rained – not so strange in March – but that hardly mattered.
We were reminded of the days before our wedding when rainshowers severely cut into the supply of fresh flowers at the farmer’s market. So in a way, through that memory, the rain drove us to the farmer’s market, where we procured an on-demand poem, written by a young woman with a typewriter who offered her services for a modest fee, and a jar of out-of-this-world raw avocado honey, too good to eat in any other way but by the spoonful. We also got some tangerines and then walked on. We stopped in at the Lost Horizon Bookstore, an excellent used bookstore that really requires a lot more time than we had, drove back to our hotel for a short while and went for another walk in the Douglas Family Preserve which affords views over the pacific and the Arroyo Burro Beach, with the restaurant that used to be the Brown Pelican.
For dinner, we enjoyed the seafood at the Hungry Cat twice in a row. Yes, sometimes it is as simple as that: when the food is that good, why bother going elsewhere? The first night, there was plenty on the menu to choose from and we decided on the encore before we had finished our meal. Of course we ventured out to the waterfront at the harbor and at Stearns Wharf also – it is part of the tradition in Santa Barbara. All in all, we didn’t do an awful lot, but drove home along the Pacific Coast Highway very content and refreshed: Santa Barbara is good for our souls, we find.