I had the honor of writing several pieces for the Santa Barbara Visitor’s Magazine this year, as well as serving as the copy editor. To read the magazine in its entirety, click here.
Science Teacher Returns to West African Coast for Educational Outreach
When Zack Moore travels to Ghana this November, his second journey to the West African coast will take his educational voyage full circle. The Laguna Blanca STEM coordinator and science instructor began his teaching career in 1997 as a physics and science instructor for the Peace Corps in the village of Breman Asikuma. Now, thanks to winning one of the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Short-Term (DAST), he’ll return to the same town to facilitate STEM integration in the Ghana-Lebanon Islamic School. He’s one of just 13 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad as part of the prestigious program in 2019.
Moore’s first journey to Ghana came after he graduated from the University of North Carolina with a degree in civil engineering. He had “a vague notion of going out and saving the world by joining the Peace Corps,” thinking he’d spend a few years in Ghana and return home to be an engineer.
“When I did Peace Corps, I recognized the impact that you can have on others,” said Moore, who admitted that there is a self-serving aspect as well. “The amount of joy I had every day, where kids were excited to see me and wanted to hear what I had to say and interact in a way where I helped them grow and they helped me grow was so great.”
He’s been teaching ever since, first at several high schools in San Francisco and then the American Nicaraguan School in Managua, Nicaragua. He joined Laguna Blanca in 2007.
On his return to Breman Asikuma, Moore will bring his expertise in infusing STEM methodology into a traditional liberal arts education, particularly for young girls. But he’s also bringing his wife, Dr. Erin Moore (a physician at UCSB Student Health), and their two young sons, Riley, age 9, and Shane, age 5.
“It’s just such a great opportunity,” said Moore, who hopes his kids will take classes at the school. “It would be great to have them see a very different experience from what they’re used to.”
For the STEM program at Laguna Blanca, Moore tries to “give kids tangible skills that they can apply to not just their STEM electives but also to problems around the world. We try to instill this design-thinking mindset into what we do … across all disciplines.”
He hopes to do the same during his short stay in Ghana. “A Fulbright program focusing on my field of expertise and passion — STEM integration for girls — seems serendipitous,” he said. “It will give me an opportunity to come full circle.”
By Leslie Dinaberg
Like its Irish mythological legend, The Silver Bough—the entry into the Celtic otherworld, believed to offer everlasting youth, beauty, health and joy, and a rich paradise of delights, where food was ever abundant and where travelers were treated as kings and queens—is an impressive bounty of elegantly prepared food and dramatic culinary theatrics. This intimate, eight-seat tasting menu fine dining experience is one of the most ambitious restaurant endeavors I’ve ever experienced.
From the moment you enter the Montecito Inn, the new home of The Silver Bough, you are transported into an exquisite, magical world of high-class indulgence. The evening starts in the lobby lounge, where a personal concierge offers you specialty libations or champagne from a custom-made bar cart.
Promptly at 7 p.m. (there’s only one seating per night, Thursdays-Sundays), you are escorted in a dark, theatrically anointed room, with an intricately designed Silver Bough-themed table as the focal point. Handcrafted and modeled after a voluminous Ginkgo tree, completed with painted brass butterflies and a glass top, the table—as well as the dishes, silverware, candelabras and serving pieces—was custom designed by award-winning American artist Michael Aram. Here the overture for the journey officially begins, with the host acting as narrator, guiding guests through the story of The Silver Bough and correspondingly gorgeous canapes that are almost too beautiful to eat—but I force myself, to the delight of my taste buds.
At the end of the canape courses, a curtain I didn’t notice before is dramatically opened, revealing the main stage, a 16-foot, kitchen-facing Brazilian Quartzite chef’s counter, with Owner/Executive Chef Phillip Frankland Lee and his team of chefs there to greet us. There are from three to five executive-level chefs at your service on any given night.
Each chapter in the main room starts out with an introduction of the ingredients. Act 1, the seafood chapter, previews a platter of moving King Crab legs, live spiny lobster, sea urchin, caviar and more.
The theme—that guests are to be treated royally—is impressively executed, as we watch Chef Lee and his team prepare each dish as if it were a precious work of art. Indeed, this meal is probably museum worthy. With the precision of a jeweler, Chef Lee adds gold leaf to the Sturgeon Caviar, which sits atop a gorgeous concoction of Lobster Gelee, Hazelnut Cream and Smoked Eel.
And, in a dramatic dance that takes place for each of the 18 courses, the chefs have mastered impressive choreography to ensure that each dish gets to each patron (along with thoughtfully selected wine or nonalcoholic beverage pairings) at precisely the same moment. Additional seafood dishes, each more incredible than the next, include Live Spiny Lobster Tartare, topped with local Sea Urchin and puffed quinoa; Pommes Souffle stuffed with Lobster innards whipped with Crème Fraiche, and topped with Sea Urchin and Carnations; and Vermillion Crudo. The Act 1 finale, which includes almost every ingredient used in the seafood chapter, is a delicious preparation of lightly grilled King Crab in sea urchin emulsion, with sourdough bread crumbs and caviar.
Act 2, an equally impressive series of land-based courses, is again introduced with a peek at the ingredients, including Kings Pigeon from Flying H Ranch in Carpinteria, Olive Wagyu Ribeye, pasture-raised venison, caviar and an abundance of truffles.
Dishes include Kings Pigeon Breast with Pistachio Crust; a Liver Tartlette with a tasty Mini-Parker House Roll; a Kings Pigeon Leg. Both the Aged Venison Saddle with brown butter Roasted Chestnuts and the Venison Tenderloin with butter roasted Chantrelles smell every bit as terrific as they taste. In fact, the whole dining room is designed for amazing aromatics. Despite the huge number of courses, each one continued to dazzle both my eyes and my nose.
While I hesitate to choose a favorite in a menu so filled with delights, perhaps with most memorable dishes were the two made with Legendary Olive Wagyu Ribeye. According to Chef Lee, the Silver Bough is only restaurant in the world to have this beef, and it’s no wonder. Billed as “the rarest steak on the planet,” it currently retails for more than $200 a pound and is sourced via Santa Barbara resident Ethan Lowry, co-owner of the online meat seller Crowd Cow.
A mouthwatering cheese course of Andazul Goat’s Milk Blue with Fried Sourdough, Warm honey and Black Truffle bridges the savory and the sweet worlds with amazing flavors.
The Act 3 finale, the domain of talented Pastry Chef Margarita Kallas-Lee, who is married to Chef Frankland Lee, begins with a Citrus vanilla Tea emulsion combining blood orange sorbet with basil blossoms and black lime. Additional jewel box-worthy dessert courses include the Strawberry Duck Liver Mousse, a Chamomile Custard with Shaved Truffles, Candied Bee Pollen and 24k Gold Leaf, and literally, a jewel box of Mignardises, comprised of a Kalamansi Pate de Fruit, a Blood Orange Pate de Fruit, a Strawberry-Creme Fraiche Bon Bon and a Tarragon-Buttermilk Bon Bon.
Not quite ready to end such an enchanted evening, the chefs invite us to continue to imbibe and enjoy after-dinner drinks and aperitifs with the team, which was quite fun and the perfect capper to an amazing culinary experience.
The all-inclusive tasting menu has a ticket price of $550/person, with a non-alcoholic specialty pairing available for $450/person (both inclusive of tax and gratuity). Obviously, this price point isn’t something most of us can indulge in every day, but I’m hopeful that a one-of-a-kind, gastronomic, theatrical experience like this will find its audience.
For more information, visit silverboughmontecito.com.
Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 1, 2019.
The rich history and culture of Pasadena is a just a short drive away.
Less than 10 miles away from Downtown Los Angeles, but a world away from the big city vibe, Pasadena beckons with an exceptional blend of architecture, gardens, history, entertainment and dining options that will please even the pickiest of travelers.
Sip & Savor
We started our recent visit with a delicious meal at The Arbour (527 S. Lake Ave., Ste. 120, 626/396-4925, thearbourpasadena.com), where Chef Ian Gresik and his team bring the freshest ingredients from local farms, ranches and fisheries to the table. Sip a specialty cocktail like an Arugula Gimlet (get your veggies and gin in one shot) and nibble on delicious edibles like crab pappardelle pasta or bison steak tartare as you watch the magic happen in a bright, open kitchen.
Step back into time for late night cocktails at Bar 1886 at The Raymond (1250 S. Fair Oaks Ave. 626/441-3136, theraymond.com), a speakeasy style bar with more than 600 off-menu house cocktails, Manhattans, old-fashions, sidecars and sours prepared to perfection. If you don’t see exactly what you’re thirsty for, request a “dealer’s choice” and let the bartender create the perfect drink for you.
A great choice for breakfast is Central Grille ( 219 S. Fair Oaks Ave., 626/449-4499, centralparkrestaurant.net), housed in a 100-year-old flower warehouse, and serving up specialties like salmon skillet hash, braised short rib benedicts, as well as an array of eggs, waffles, pancakes and other breakfast fare.
For a casual lunch, check out Prawn (16 Miller Alley, 626/219-6615, prawncoastal.com/pasadena-ca), Chef Mark Peel’s (Ma Maison, Spago, La Brea Bakery, Campanile) new venture designed to deliver super accessible high-quality seafood. Try the Seattle fish stew, the lobster mac & cheese and the chocolate chip cookies, if they have them!
Tour the Gamble House—a 1908 National Historic Monument from—for a docent-led education in the craftsman tradition. Architect brothers Charles and Henry Greene not only designed the residence, but nearly every detail inside and out—furniture, rugs, lamps and leaded art glass—for David and Mary Gamble of the Procter & Gamble Company (reservations required, 626/793-3334, gamblehouse.org).
Architecture buffs should also check out the Bungalow Heaven Home Tour on Apr. 28 (bungalowheaven.org), where you’ll visit select homes built from 1900 to the 1930s in Bungalow Heaven, Pasadena’s first Landmark District. Designated as one of the “10 Great Places in America” by the American Planning Association, Bungalow Heaven has more than 1,000 historic homes in the neighborhood.
Southern California’s oldest and largest independent bookstore, Vroman’s Book Store (695 E. Colorado Blvd., 626/449-5320, vromansbookstore.com) is a literary landmark well worth exploring.
The historic Pasadena Playhouse (39 S. El Molino Ave., pasadenaplayhouse.org) offers building tours, as well as a wide variety of productions. Slated to open this spring is Tiny Beautiful Things, based on the New York Times bestseller by Cheryl Strayed, and adapted by Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding).
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens (1151 Oxford Rd., 626/405-2100, huntington.org) is a magical place. I could have easily spent several days exploring the 207-acre estate of the late Henry Huntington. The botanical gardens alone have 14,000 varieties of plants on more than 150 acres. Don’t miss the Chinese Garden, where you can stroll around a beautiful lake bordered by Tai Hu rocks and enjoy a landscape that includes five hand-carved stone bridges, a stream, and a canyon waterfall. The Huntington Library includes works from American and British literature, including an original Gutenberg Bible. There’s also the Huntington Art Gallery, showcasing 18th and 19th British and French masterpieces, including “Pinkie” (Thomas Lawrence, 1794) and “The Blue Boy” (Thomas Gainsborough, 1770), which currently offers visitors a glimpse into the technical processes of a senior conservator working on the famous painting as well as background on its history, mysteries and artistic virtues (through Sept. 30).
The Norton Simon Museum (411 W. Colorado Blvd., nortonsimon.org) is known around the world as one of the most remarkable private art collections ever assembled. Industrialist Norton Simon (1907–1993) amassed an astonishing collection of European art from the Renaissance to the 20th century and a stellar collection of South and Southeast Asian art spanning 2,000 years. The current exhibition, Matisse/Odalisque, on view through Jun. 17, features work by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and others.
We stayed at the centrally-located Hilton Pasadena (168 N. Los Robles Ave. 626/577-1000, hilton.com), in a spacious, contemporary room. Also well-regarded are the Langham Huntington (recently named a reader’s choice award winner by Condé Nast Traveler) and the historic Bissell House Bed and Breakfast.
For more information, go to visitpasadena.com.
Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 14, 2019.
Ritz-Carlton Bacara’s and Ocean Futures Society’s new educational program engages all ages.
By Leslie Dinaberg
It was one of those “I have to pinch myself to make sure this is really happening” experiences, walking beside environmental legend Jean-Michel Cousteau on an “ecohike” along the beautiful Gaviota Coast that borders the Ritz-Carlton Bacara. The impressively spry 80-year-old explorer and founder of the Santa Barbara-based nonprofit Ocean Futures Society has joined forced with the Ritz-Carlton Bacara to bring a new Ambassadors of the Environment program to the property.
Based on four principles—everything is connected, everything runs on energy, there is no waste in nature, and biodiversity is good—through various adventures and activities, the Ambassadors of the Environment program allows participants to discover the Gaviota Coast’s natural wonders both on land and sea, including kelp forest, a diversity of birds, the intertidal zone, and traditional Chumash culture.
The Ocean Futures and Ritz-Carlton relationship is longstanding (with programs in Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Catalina Islands, Polynesia, and the Cayman Islands, among others), but the local program is new.
“I am very excited to have our newest Ambassadors program here at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara, in my backyard,” says Cousteau, who lives in Santa Barbara with his wife, Ocean Futures Co-Founder Nancy Marr. “This region is among the richest and most interesting in the world, with amazing natural wonders. With our great team, guests will have an amazing experience that both enriches and educates them.”
The activities—led by a team of naturalists personally trained by Cousteau and his longtime chief scientist, the charismatic Dr. Richard “Murph” Murphy—include options specially tailored to elementary school age children, young adults, families and adults. The onsite program supervisor Sara Welsh and her team are clearly stoked to be at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara. Having witnessed their infectious enthusiasm very clearly engage an often-jaded cadre of travel journalists, I can only imagine how excited the lucky kids and their families will be when this group leads them on new environmental adventures with programs like “Whale of a Tale,” “CSI: Coastal Scene Investigator,” and “Creatures of the Night,” among others.
“Having the advantage of being near Santa Barbara, there is a coastline there which is pretty unique on the planet,” says Cousteau. “We are helping people because of the knowledge that we are able to share, exploring and seeing what lives there whether they are birds or fish or kelp forests. … For me it’s a privilege not only to live here, but to make sure that the Ritz-Carlton is sharing all our knowledge and information with the young people, and their parents.”
Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 1, 2019.
The Santa Ynez Valley has so many great restaurants, and the upcoming annual foodie celebration is the perfect time to check out a new one or revisit and old favorite.
Part of Visit California’s California Restaurant Month, this year’s Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks feature three-course meal deals—all $20.19—at a record 32 restaurants in the six Santa Ynez Valley towns of Ballard, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, and Solvang.
Why is it two weeks long?
“We continually heard from local restaurants and from diners that the only way to improve Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks is to offer more of it,” says Shelby Sim, President/CEO of Visit the Santa Ynez Valley. “The event has been successful from year one, expanding well beyond what can be fit into just one week. It is exciting to continue to see it grow.”
Representing each of the Santa Ynez Valley’s six distinct communities, 32 restaurants will participate in Restaurant Weeks in 2019. In addition to the offerings of the Valley’s restaurants, many Santa Ynez Valley wineries will offer wine and small bite pairings in their tasting rooms for $20.19. And special lodging deals are available at hotels throughout the Valley.
“Santa Ynez Valley’s food scene is rapidly evolving in terms of both quality and quantity; it’s even challenging the region’s reputation for world-class wines. Our restaurants these days—rule,” says Sim.
Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks menus shine with farm-fresh examples of wine country’s seasonal bounty, with tasting menus crafted by celebrated chefs. Exemplary, and locavore, Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks dishes include S.Y. Kitchen executive chef Luca Crestanelli’s “Bird’s Nest Lasagna” (with fontina cheese, roasted butternut squash, chanterelle mushrooms), his “Fried Sous Vide Organic Egg” (with cheese fondue and chicory), and his “Saffron Gnocchetti (with butter and sage, optional bone marrow, raspadura cheese). At The Bear and Star in Los Olivos, chef/partner John Cox’s Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks menus include the likes of his “Wagyu Empanada” (with black beans and Cotija cheese), utilizing proteins pulled from nearby Fess Parker Ranch.
In Solvang, new chef de cuisine at Root 246, Crystal “Chef Pink” DeLongpré, puts her locally- and sustainably-sourced, TV chef touches on an “American Lamb Burger” (Bellwether Farms Jersey ricotta, house-pickled mustard seed, smoky tomato jam, served with fries or Chef Pink’s famous Brussels sprouts), which is destined for the eatery and lounge’s Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks menu.
The food-centric hotspot of Los Alamos will boast chef and restaurant participants like the town’s culinary founders, chef Jesper Johansson of Plenty on Bell and chef Clark Staub at his Full of Life Flatbread enterprise; chef Drew Terp of PICO fame; chef Conrad Gonzales’ Valle Fresh; and Norman restaurant and bar, the dining and drinking component at mid-century motor lodge marvel, Skyview Los Alamos.
At Buellton’s pioneering Santa Ynez Valley food-scape player, Industrial Eats, chef/owners Jeff and Janet Olsson will celebrate the foods of—with 100% of proceeds benefitting—the People of Yemen. Yemeni dishes will comprise the bistro’s Restaurant Weeks menu, with specialties like Shourba Bilsen (lamb broth lentil soup with coriander), Hor’ee (braised beef shank with basmati rice), and Bint Al-Sahn (dough cake with honey).
Dates of participation vary by establishment, but the list of participating restaurants, wineries, and lodging properties includes:
The Ballard Inn & Gathering Table, 2436 Baseline Ave., 800/638-2466
Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.,45 Industrial Way, 805/694-2252
Firestone Walker Brewing Co., 620 McMurray Rd., 805/697-4777
Hitching Post II, 406 E Hwy 246, 805/688-0676
Industrial Eats, 181 Industrial Way, 805/688-8807
La Tequila Mexican Restaurant, 35 W. Highway 26, 805/697-7776
Santa Ynez Valley Marriott, 555 McMurray Road, 805/688-1000
Full of Life Flatbread, 225 Bell St., 805/344-4400
Norman, 9150 US Highway 101, 805/344-0080
Pico at The Los Alamos General Store, 458 Bell St., 805/344-1122
Plenty on Bell, 508 Bell St., 805/344-3020
Valle Fresh, 380 Bell St., 805/865-2282
The Bear & Star, 2860 Grand Ave, 805/686-1359
Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café, 2879 Grand Ave., 805/688-7265
The Lucky Hen Larder, 1095 Meadowvale Rd., 805/691-9448
S.Y. Kitchen, 1110 Faraday St., 805/691-9794
Trattoria Grappolo, 3687 Sagunto St., 805/688-6899
Willows Restaurant & Bar, 3400 E. Highway 246, 805/686-0855
Cecco Ristorante, 475 1st St., 805/688-8880
First & Oak, 409 1st St., 805/688-1703
Fresco Valley Café, 442 Atterdag Rd., 805/688-8857
Hill Haven Provisions, 448 Atterdag Rd., 805/691-9025
Hummingbird Restaurant, 453 Atterdag Rd., 805/403-7100
Leonardo’s Ristorante, 632 Alamo Pintado Rd., 805/686-0846
Los Arroyos Mexican Restaurant & Take Out, 1992 Old Mission Dr., 805/693-2994
Mad & Vin at The Landsby, 1576 Mission Dr., 805/688-3121
River Grill at The Alisal, 150 Alisal Rd., 805/688-7784
Root 246, 420 Alisal Rd., 805/686-8681
Solvang Brewing Co., 1547 Mission Dr., 805/688-2337
Succulent Café Wine Charcuterie, 1555 Mission Dr., 805/691-9444
Toscana Pizzeria, 485 Alisal Road #163, 805/697-7445
Alma Rosa Winery, 181-C Industrial Way, Buellton, 805/691-9395
Hitching Post Wines, 420 E. Highway 246, Buellton, 805/688-0676
Kalyra Winery, 343 N Refugio Rd., Santa Ynez, 805/693-8864
Loring Wine Company, 201-B Industrial Way, Buellton, 805/691-1300
Pence Vineyards & Winery, 1909 W. Highway 246, Buellton, 805/735-7000
Roblar Winery & Vineyards, 3010 Roblar Ave., Santa Ynez, 805/686-2603
Sunstone Winery, 125 N. Refugio Rd., Santa Ynez, 805/688-9463
Hampton Inn & Suites Buellton/Santa Ynez Valley, 600 McMurray Rd., Buellton, 805/686-1555
King Frederik Inn, 1617 Copenhagen Dr., Solvang, 805/688-5515
The Landsby, 1576 Mission Dr., 805/688-3121
New Haven Inn, 271 Alisal Rd., Solvang, 805/618-8541
Pea Soup Andersen’s Inn, 51 E. Highway 246, Buellton, 800/732-7687
Santa Ynez Inn, 3627 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez, 805/688-5588
Sideways Inn, 114 E. Highway 246, Buellton, 805/688-8448
Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Week menus do not include tax, tip, or beverages, and reservations are strongly encouraged. For the latest updates, including menus and dining hours, visit www.DineSYV.com.
Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on January 24, 2019.
On the hilltop overlooking the quaint western town of Los Alamos sits a midcentury modern gem of a new hotel—the Skyview Los Alamos. This boutique, 33-room property—including two spacious suites and 16 deluxe rooms with private decks with outdoor showers and fire pits—opened last spring, somehow managing to maintain the historic 1950’s motel vibe, while infusing it with equal helpings of modern conveniences and hipster coolness.
“We were inspired by the western roots of Los Alamos, the midcentury architecture of the motel, and our love of travel,” explains Kimberly Walker, managing partner and co-owner of Skyview Los Alamos.
“Skyview was built in 1959 and changed hands quite a few times over the years,” says Walker. “At one point, locals used to be able to swim in the pool for 25 cents! We’ve heard many people say the Beatles stayed in room 33 at some point.”
Like many others (myself included), Walker had driven past the motel for years and wondered what it was. “We always saw the motel sign going, ‘oh, what is that on the hill?’ But we fell in love with Los Alamos, the food, the wine and the people. When the motel went up for sale, we moved on it quickly. We purchased the property in 2016 and spent two years renovating the motel, sprucing up the grounds, updating the design and restoring its midcentury architecture. We also turned the former asphalt car park into communal native gardens with fire pits to create space for guests to relax and gather,” she explains.
The attention to detail is incredible. Guests are greeted with a cup of locally sourced Dart Coffee or a glass of local wine (and soon the 2.5-acre onsite Skyview Vineyards will yield their own Pinot Noir, overseen by winemaker Mikey Guigni of Scar of the Sea Wines).
Each room is its own bespoke design, with thoughtfully sourced and unique décor, including flat panel televisions, down duvets, leather club chairs and marble-clad bathrooms with hand-painted tiles and farm sinks, as well as luxury amenities such as locally made Fable Soap products in the bathroom and Abba-Zabba candy, Good Zebra munchies and Casamigos Tequila in the mini-bar.
“We completely designed the property ourselves,” says Walker. “My partner, Mike Kyle, oversaw the architectural design and I oversaw the interior design. This is our second project together as a design team—the first was Granada Hotel & Bistro in San Luis Obispo. As with the property in SLO, we let the building’s location and heritage guide the process. We’re proud and excited to have brought it back to its 1950’s glory.”
A large part of that glory is the restoration of the original 1950’s era pool, with the iconic neon “Motel” sign casting its glow over water that changes color from green to silver to purple and two shades of blue, with the help of an app. The ownership group, known as Nomada Hotel Group, took care to retain many of the motel’s original elements, like the quirky cactus columns in the porte-cochere, and the actual room keys instead of key cards. A fleet of Linus bikes offers a nostalgic way to explore the downtown area of Los Alamos—which is rapidly becoming a haven for foodies—as well as the surrounding wineries
Forest green doors with a midcentury golden starburst beckon guests to pay a visit to Norman—the excellent full-service bar and restaurant named with a wink to Psycho’s Norman Bates. Norman is well worth the drive on its own, and serves local wines, herb-infused cocktails and farm-fresh fare (think shareable plates and lots of salads, fish and house-smoked meats) both poolside and in the retro-chic reinvented dining room.
The dog-friendly property is a great spot for a romantic getaway but would also be a fun place to gather with a group of friends for a special occasion or just a weekend hangout.
SKYVIEW LOS ALAMOS, 9150 US-101, LOS ALAMOS,
Originally published in the Winter 2019 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.
As you step onto the greens, the beauty and drama of Pebble Beach simply takes your breath away. The fabled course celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2019 by hosting the U.S. Open Championships for the sixth time, and in preparation for the centennial milestone they’ve done loads of improvements and restorations on an already prime vacation destination.
Ranked the #1 public course in America by Golf Digest Magazine along with a #1 rating among the “Top 100 Courses You Can Play in the U.S.” by Golf Magazine, Pebble Beach Golf Links is certainly one of the greatest courses in the world, with a combination of coastal beauty, remarkable architecture and legendary golf history. Golf Digest Magazine describes the course as “not just the greatest meeting of land and sea in American golf, but the most extensive one, too, with nine holes [#4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #17, #18] perched immediately above the crashing Pacific surf.”
We recently got to stay at The Lodge at Pebble Beach—in a gorgeous ocean view room overlooking the 18th hole—and indulged in the legendary guest experience that makes Pebble Beach so special. While golf is obviously King at Pebble Beach, for the non-golfers like me, the other elements are equally royal: starting with the absolutely stellar service. From the moment we rolled up to the door to check in—our road weary Honda taking its place of honor amongst the perfectly detailed BMWs and Teslas—we were treated with the type of gracious hospitality that every inn in the world should aspire to emulate.
I never wanted to leave.
Our casually luxurious, coastally inspired room was comfortable yet completely lavish, with every amenity you could imagine—including full-size, top-of-the-line shampoo and conditioner, which I loved! The ocean-front patio was a perfect spot to enjoy the sunset, watch the whales spout, as if on cue, and toast to the decadence of this plum assignment.
Our room had been recently renovated to expand the window walls to maximize views of the course and the ocean and double the size of the patio and deck to serve as an outdoor living space, as well as new indoor furnishings and accessories, bathroom upgrades, a signature fireplace wall, air conditioning and technology upgrades including 55-inch HDTVs, new lighting, energy management systems and state-of-the-art door locks. The place may be 100 years old, but the rooms are up-to-date in every way imaginable.
Another recent addition is Fairway One, which added 30 oversized guest rooms and cottages fronting the first fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links and a new meeting facility, as well as a 2,500-square-foot meeting room.
“The Lodge and Pebble Beach Golf Links are where our story began in 1919, and now, as we approach our 100th anniversary, the addition of Fairway One will help us continue that legacy for the next 100 years,” says Bill Perocchi, CEO of Pebble Beach Company. The new section includes two gorgeous four-bedroom cottages with 1,000-square-foot living rooms with 17-foot-high wood-beam ceilings, wood-burning floor-to-ceiling stacked stone fireplaces, two king bedrooms, two queen/queen bedrooms, and an outdoor terrace with fire pits, as well as full kitchens.
What a perfect spot to make your home away from home. It’s almost enough to make you want to cook on vacation.
The other culinary options are also plentiful, with six restaurants onsite. Specializing in seafood, Stillwater Bar & Grill is an elegant destination for a relaxing dinner overlooking the fairways. The Tap Room serves a selection of American tavern-style classics, and The Terrace Lounge is a lovely spot to sit back and relax in one of the oversized armchairs while sipping on a cocktail and enjoying panoramic golf course views. Gallery Café offers home-style breakfast and lunch. For cove and ocean views, enjoy lunch at The Beach Club. The Bench is a casual spot overlooking the 18th hole, specializing in crafted cocktails and wood-roasted dishes, with a large central bar and patio tables with fire pits to warm your al fresco dining experience and roast marshmallows for símoreís.
If that’s not enough to entertain you, there’s a free shuttle service to sister property The Inn at Spanish Bay, offering another six dining options.
Guests are also provided complimentary access to The Beach & Tennis Club at Pebble Beach, a swanky venue near the renowned 17th hole, featuring tennis, workout facilities and a heated pool. Then there’s The Spa at Pebble Beach—one of only 56 spas in the world to receive the coveted Forbes Five-Star Award—offering an array of blissful body treatments that incorporate the healing properties of plants, herbs and minerals indigenous to the Monterey Peninsula.
Pebble Beach’s gorgeous 17-Mile Drive—one of the most scenic rides in the world, encompassing both stunning natural beauty and incredible architecture—is always one of the highlights of a visit to the area, and as guests of The Lodge at Pebble Beach we were able to do the drive in style, test driving a brand new Lexus sports car.
Is it any wonder we didn’t want to leave? I may have to take up golf as an excuse to visit again soon.
For reservations or more information, call 800/654-9300 or visit pebblebeach.com.
This story was originally published in the Fall 2018 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.
The peaceful s eas ide charms of Carmel are an eas y four-hour drive from Santa Barbara.
Where to Stay
Vendange Carmel Inn & Suites (24815 Carpenter St., Carmel, 831/624-6400, vendangecarmel.com) is a charming wine-themed inn with the homey vibe of a bed & breakfas t. Jus t minutes away from res taurants , s hops , galleries and tas ting rooms , this boutique inn’s intimate gardens offer a lovely s etting to enjoy a glas s of wine or a cozy cup of tea. We stayed in the delightful Twisted Roots room. Other partnered wineries and themed rooms include: Blair Estate Wines, Cima Collina Winery, Dawn’s Dream Winery, Galante Vineyards, Holman Ranch Wines, Joullian Vineyards, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Manzoni Cellars, McIntyre Vineyards, Tudor Wines and Ventana Vineyards.
Nes tled upon a s cenic clifftop overlooking the s tunning Big Sur coas t and celebrating its 100th annivers ary in 2017, Hyatt Carmel Highlands (120 Highlands Dr., Carmel, 831/620-1234) offers spectacular views in an amazing s etting. The legendary inn’s impeccable s ervice was evident from the moment we arrived and were greeted with flutes of Pros ecco to the umbrellas that magically appeared when raindrops s tarted to threaten our departure. The gorgeous s liding glas s door views and wood-burning fireplace in our room made it hard to leave this relaxing, romantic getaway.
Where to Eat
At Whaling Station (763 Wave St., Monterey, 831/373-3778) in nearby Monterey, an old-s chool s teakhous e with on-s ite dry-age room, diners choos e their own prime cuts of beef. As you s elect your USDA Prime cut of aged beef from a s ilver tray, then watch them s lice Prime Rib from an antique s ilver carving trolley, it’s eas y to s ee why Whaling Station has been voted the county’s #1 s teakhous e for 40 years in a row.
California Market at Pacific’s Edge at Hyatt Carmel Highlands (120 Highlands Dr., Carmel, 831/622-5450) has a newly remodeled 1,200-square-foot deck, featuring louvered roof and glas s -panel walls with dramatic views of the Pacific Ocean and the Big Sur coas t. The food is jus t as impres s ive as the views , and the extens ive menu features the wares of local producers s uch as Bellwether Farms Creamery in Sonoma, Swank Farms in Hollis ter and Monterey Abalone Company in Monterey.
Things to Do
Wine tasting in Carmel Valley is a great way to s pend an afternoon, with 24 wineries and tas ting rooms to choos e from. Be s ure to s top and s ay hello to Jos h & Julie Ruiz of Twisted Roots Winery & Vineyard (located in Lyons Head Art Gallery, 12 Del Fino Pl., Carmel Valley, 831/594-8282), whos e warm hos pitality at this family-owned tas ting room is jus t as delicious as their old-vine wines . We als o enjoyed s ipping on the patio at Joyce Vineyards Tasting Room (1 E. Carmel Valley Rd., Carmel Valley, 831/659-2885). Golfers love Pebble Beach, and the famous 17-Mile Drive is a s cenic treat. Big Sur and Monterey Bay Aquarium are jus t a s hort drive away as well, offering more than enough entertainment for the entire family.
This story was originally published in the Winter 2017-18 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.
With more than 40,000 vineyard acres and more than 200 wineries in the region, Pas o Robles is a perfect weekend destination for a wine lover’s getaway.
CAB is definitely king in Pas o Robles wine country, and rich, velvety, complex cabernet s auvignon makes up almos t half of all the grapes grown acros s Pas o Robles .
The offerings range from boutique wineries to high-production facilities , and with s ome as s is tance from the Pas o Robles CAB Collective, we did our bes t to s ample as many CABs as we could.
Where to Sip
Five dis tinct s oil types are the key to the unique wines of Ancient Peaks Winery, whos e es tate Margarita Vineyard is the only one in Santa Margarita Ranch AVA. Originally planted by the Robert Mondavi family, the current ranch owners —the Filipponi, Ros s i and Witts trom families —took control of the vineyard in 2005. In addition to a charming tas ting room and the delicious food at Ancient Peaks Café, the winery offers pers onally guided vineyard tours Wed.-Sun. mornings, followed by a private tas ting and chees e and charcuterie (reservations required). ancientpeaks.com
Hope Family Wines has a dis tinctive lounge-s tyle tas ting room pouring five unique labels : Liberty School, Aus tin Hope, Treana, Candor and Troublemaker. Try the big, intens e Treana red, a clas s ic Pas o Robles blend of cabernet, s auvignon and s yrah. hopefamilywines.com
By appointment only (and worth it) is a vis it to Hoyt Family Vineyards, where you can bring a picnic and feed the goats and chickens as you s ip on s ome amazing wine. Try the sophisticated 2012 cabernet s auvignon, which won Bes t of Clas s in the San Francisco Wine Chronicle. hoytfamilyvineyards.com
Another lovely s pot to s ip is Brecon Estate, a boutique s us tainably farmed es tate winery producing an old-vine cabernet s auvignon. Brecon’s award-winning s mall batches of premium wines s ell out quickly and cannot be purchas ed anywhere els e. breconestate.com
One of the lovelies t views , in a region that’s full of them, is DAOU Vineyards and Winery. Brothers Georges and Daniel Daou s earched all around the s tate to find an unrivaled terroir for producing cabernet sauvignon, a ques t that eventually led them to the gorgeous DAOU Mountain in the Adelaida Dis trict. Res ervations are recommended to sip excellent wine while overlooking the vineyards , with panoramic views from 2,200 feet. daouvineyards.com
Where to Eat
Opolo Winery offers pairings on the patio, as well as delicious homemade s aus age and charcuterie, pizzas , s alads and s uch. Idyllic vineyard tours are als o available, which include the tas ting room, distillery, Inn at Opolo, a walnut orchard and more than 70 acres of vines . opolo.com
Offering excellent wine-country cuis ine in a beautiful s etting, Cello Ristorante & Bar features creative but acces s ible dis hes made from regionally farmed and foraged ingredients , alongs ide an extensive wine list. allegrettovineyardresort.com/dining
A long-s tanding farm-to-table favorite, Thomas Hill Organics s ources a wide variety of ingredients from local purveyors to offer a dynamic array of bold, imaginative dis hes . thomashillorganics.com
Where to Stay
Nes tled among 20 acres that include wine grapes and olive and fruit trees , the eclectically elegant Allegretto Vineyard Resort brings owner Doug Ayres ’ s ingular vis ion to life. The impres s ive property evokes an Italian vineyard es tate, with 171 gues t rooms and suites, a wine bar featuring the res ort’s own private wine label, a s pa, a pool and cabanas , manicured gardens , a beautiful Abbey, hundreds of antiques , a 12,000-s quare-foot piazza, and art and artifacts everywhere the eye can s ee. Allegrettoresort.com
This story was originally published in the Winter 2017-18 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.