Back from Central Coast
Well, I had quite a food week with my dad, thanks in large part to you guys. We started in San Diego. DZ Akins, yes, an East Coast style deli in SD. After 2nd Ave. Deli closed in NY, can anyone think of a better deli in NY than SD's Akins? Seriously. We shared the smoked fish plate, and I've got to say the smoked cod was buttery and the whitefish was quite flavorful. Even the bagels were right, chewy and the right consistency to hold up under the smoked fish. For dinner, we went to an upscale Mexican restaurant in Tijuana called Cien Anos. Yes, in Tijuana. I had jumbo shrimp in a fine red pepper sauce with a side of cactus, my dad had a beautiful piece of salmon in a mild green salsa. Quite extraordinary for any place. On our way up, we had to stop at Philippe's. Had to get a double dipped lamb sandwich with a baked apple. Same meal I used to have before going to Dodger games as a kid. I would say this place has gotten better with age. Wanted another sandwich, but saved myself. Pops couldn't show restraint, even adding the beef stew. In Santa Barbara, went to Brophy Bros. Great location, right by docked sailboats, beautiful people. But the food was subpar. Tasteless clams in tasteless broth, cioppino that was too ketchupy with mediocre fish. Fried scallops were all right because they tasted somewhat fresh. When getting to Buellton, had to have the ubiquitous pea soup at Pea Soup Andersen's. Just like I remembered it, with the pleasantly surprising cartoon at the bottom of the bowl. Bought the bowl for old time sake's. In the morning, went to Mother Hubbard's. I love biscuits and gravy, and these didn't disappoint. Substantial biscuits that held up when dunked into the creamy gravy. Great beginning. For lunch, the Red Barnin Santa Ynez. Didn't feel like I was in Cali. People in cowboy and farming clothes. I had the tri-tip salad. Oh my god. Quite an intro to tri-tip. My dad had straight tri-tip. We were both impressed and wanted more. So that night we went for steaks at the Hitching Post. Possibly the best steak I've ever tasted, without exaggeration. The outside created a sort of cover that locked in all the juices. Their charbroiling system was perfected. Great seasoning. So good. We were high fiving each other during the meal. It didn't hurt that they had their own pinot. Next morning, gave into the tourist thing and had breakfast at the Solvang Inn. Had aebleskivers (sp.) which are like pancakes rolled up into a ball topped with raspberry sauce. Nice and spongy, quite good. The Danish sausage was okay, but the sweet mustard made me gag. Sorry. As for lunch, went to BBQ Land in Santa Maria. Okay for a take out joint, but I was still woozy from the earlier wine tasting; not a great experience. Santa Maria is a little depressing. For dinner, went to AJ Spur's, a western themed steak place that reminded me of Claim Jumpers in that big portions outweigh high quality. The steak was good, but everything that came with it, vegetable soup, garlic bread, potatoes, a bunch of other stuff, was mediocre at best. Left early the next morning. Had to stop at Canter's. Another deli that has seemed to outlive many East coat places. Everything was good-- kreplach soup, potato knish, pastrami sandwich. But it all was slightly worse than what I remembered from back in the day. Still a good experience, though. Back in SD, went to the Fish Market. First class seafood place right on the harbor. Did it up-- clams, shrimp cocktail, clam chowder, charbroiled ono (a long skinny fish, according to our waitress). All extremely good. The next morning, before leaving went to the fishette at Anthony's. If you've never been there, it's a must just for the location. Beautiful view that makes anyone wonder why they would live anywhere but SD. Had to have fish tacos, which had good fried fish but the rest of the accoutrements didn't quite congeal; for fish tacos, El Indio is better. All in all, a very enjoyable trip. The wineries I would recommend are Foxen and Melville. They were all fun, though, you know what I'm saying? The Santa Ynez Valley reminding me of Texas Hill Country. Same colors. Scenic rolling hills. Replace a German town with a Danish one. Nice wines and great beef. The only thing I'm mad about is that my dad still beats me in chess.