July 14, 2008

LMC & Mr. Tall's Adventures in Santa Barbara: Part 1

Mr. Tall and I recently went on a much needed vacation and culinary adventure in Santa Barbara. While I was studying my life away last semester, Mr. Tall found a lovely bed & breakfast across the street from the wharf and thoroughly researched interesting attractions in town. We made our way from San Diego, stopped in Los Angeles for one night to have dinner with my sister (at Yabu, of course), and off we went to Santa Barbara.

After checking in to our B&B, Casa del Mar Inn, Mr. Tall and I checked out Stearns Wharf and took in the sights by the beach. Since it was nearly dinner time, we walked over to Brophy's Brothers, which was highly recommended by a friend of mine who's from Santa Barbara. Brophy's Bros is a 2-story restaurant at the Breakwater fisherman's wharf that is very popular among the locals and tourists; the top floor is the restaurant/bar and the bottom floor is its bar/merchantile. Mr. Tall and I waited for 45 minutes (good thing we weren't too hungry) and were seated inside on the second level. There are seatings out on the terrace overlooking the Breakwater; the bar faces and opens out to the water as well; and there are several tables inside.

All the entrees were served with cole slaw, a choice of a green salad or a cup of clam chowder, and a choice of rice pilaf or french fries. Its fresh fish menu changes daily depending on the market availability. Mr. Tall ordered the halibut, which was grilled and served with a curry spice sauce and mushroom, and served with cole slaw a rice pilaf. As for me, I'm not a huge fan of clam chowder (or any cream-based soup for that matter) but decided to try Brophy Bros' version anyway--and I was pleasantly surprised! I have limited experience with clam chowder, but this one had really good balance flavors from the cream and little cubes of potato, and nice chunks of clams in nearly every bite.

My entree was the Thresher shark, grilled and served with a sweet and tangy sauce of red onion and pineapple, and it was delicious! It was my first time trying shark and I really enjoyed it; its texture was similar to a cross between halibut and tuna but more dense and a meatier flavor. The portions at Brophy Bros were extremely generous, and Mr. Tall and I weren't even close to finishing our entrees because our pieces of fish were so huge!

Mr. Tall is not a breakfast person, but luckily our B&B has a lovely selection of breads, pastries, and really yummy homemade blueberry muffins, and a variety of tea, coffee, and juice. Every morning, I woke up, grabbed some blueberry muffins and several tea bags, and avoided all eye contacts with other patrons and ran back to the room because my bed head is not even slightly attractive. The B&B room's kitchenette area is equipped with a mini-fridge, sink counter, and a microwave, which was very convenient for heating up my muffins and hot water.

For our first full day in SB, Mr. Tall and I started the day with an early lunch at Tupelo Junction. Although Mr. Tall did the research for Santa Barbara attractions, I happily volunteered to research restaurant spots. Well-reviewed by the NY Times and Bon Appetit, the Tupelo Junction was a natural choice for one of the restaurants not to be missed. Our water arrived in mason jars, which was a really nice touch reflecting the restaurant's southern-style influence. There were so many items we wanted to try on the menu, but we knew our appetites could not accommodate.

So, Mr. Tall decided on the oven-roasted free-range turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce, cream cheese and lettuce (Mr. Tall dislikes tomatoes in his sandwiches and burgers, among other applications), and served with sweet potato fries. The sandwich was great, but the fries were disappointingly soggy and oily. I went with Tupelo Junction's signature fried chicken salad. Definitely not the healthiest "salad" but with the combination of crunchy fried chicken cutlets, dried cranberries, toasted pumpkin seeds, huge chunks of fresh corn bread croutons, and herb buttermilk dressing (with plenty of dill), every bite was worth it!

Day 1: Old Mission Santa Barbara & Rose Garden

Day 1: Santa Barbara Botanic Garden--definitely our favorite attraction in SB!

After a fun-filled first day, Mr. Tall and I headed to the State Street area for dinner at Los Arroyos. Once we entered this restaurant, we ordered our food at the cashier and sat down to enjoy fresh tortilla chips and a selection of salsas at their salsa bar. I am a big fan of horchata so Los Arroyos's homemade horchata was a delicious choice, and Mr. Tall went with his usual Jarritos tamarindo. Mr. Tall's Burrito Mojado--a burrito filled with steak and black beans topped with salsa roja, cheese and sour cream--served with rice, was very filling; the steak was flavorful and not too fatty, unlike most carne asada; Mr. Tall really liked it.

I ordered a special item of Tacos a Mano Rajas con Queso--two soft tacos of homemade tortillas with chorizo grilled pasilla chiles and onion, topped with Monterey Jack and queso fresco--it was absolutely delicious! Their soft taco plates come with a side of rice and black beans or Caesar salad, which was good but not as memorable as the tacos themselves. Mr. Tall and I enjoyed Los Arroyos so much that we returned for a second time for a shared plate of Maria's Enchiladas--two enchiladas with carne asada topped with salsa verde, cheese and shredded lettuce.

It was a mighty tasty afternoon snack! Los Arroyos is undoubtedly one of our favorite restaurants in SB. They also have another location in Montecito, which is a short drive from the State Street area. If I lived in SB, Los Arroyos would have a place in my heart like Mama Testa does!

On our second day, Mr. Tall and I decided to take a leisure day of walking and shopping on State Street as well as visiting the museum. Another favorite spot on the trip is Blenders in the Grass. It's sort of like a Jamba Juice with a dozen locations from Santa Maria to Oxnard. Mr. Tall really enjoyed the Red Cranberry, a blend of cranberry juice, strawberries, non-fat plain yogurt and raspberry sherbet, which was a special item on the menu that day. I also enjoyed the Tropical Guava, which blended guava juice, strawberries, banana, non-fat frozen yogurt and pineapple sherbet. They have menu items like a date-based smoothie among other interesting and seasonal choices. They also offer a wide variety of free supplements such as bee pollen and spirulina to boost up any of their 24-oz smoothies. Their Blenders in the Grass jingle on the radio is pretty catch, too--"Give me a Blender!" I will boldly say that their smoothies are much better than Jamba Juice--give me a Blender now, please!

Day 2: Santa Barbara Museum of Art

I was trying to consolidate all of our adventures into one post, but I'm getting a bit A.D.D. so please come back soon for part deux of SB!

Little Miss Contrary


Kat said...

OK, so can you please let me in on your secret to perfect photo and text ratio? Even in my Google Reader it looks impeccable! I feel like everytime I add photos to my blog posts, Blogger screws with my indents and spaces...grr.

As always, without fail, I am hungry for things I cannot at this present time eat. =)

Little Miss Contrary said...

Kat, darlin'--I have no secret for my posts! I just use the options for adding image on blogging each post. The only thing I can think of is I don't use any indentations, and just mess around with the placement of the picture by looking at the preview. Hope that helps!