It is easy to forget how easy it is to drive from San Francisco to Southern California. Not via the express Highway 5 that hurls one along the arid middle of California but rather on Highway 101, a drive that meanders along the western edge of the state.
It is a longer ride but one that sets the tone for the kind of places it carries you to and through. Paso Robles, Atascadero, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara…towns founded as missions. Old Spanish Colonial California. It was the perfect road trip along the California coast to take to visit old friends who now live in Westlake Village – a ‘planned community’ that is known, as it says in Wikipedia, for ‘its affluence and secluded character’ not to mention room for horses.
We had time to check out the Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard. If you love the Art Deco period and want to see how it was best represented in automotive design this is the museum for you. The languid and sinuous lines of the French Curve are brought to life in carefully machined metal i.e. sculpture on wheels. Bugattis, Delages, Delahaye, Hispano Suiza, Talbot-Lagos…
We drove home (not in a Bugatti) the same way that we came but stayed closer to the coast on Highway One. First stop was for breakfast in Santa Barbara at Metropulos. A complete deli with artisan cheeses, meats, prepared salads and sandwiches to go. And a broad selection of imported chocolates and, my favorite, salts.
We stopped at the Hearst Castle’s Visitor Center. I confess that I have never been to Hearst Castle which is odd considering how often I go to Carmel and Monterey BUT there is no easy way to get there from here. You will be tempted to take Highway One but be prepared for a windy road, steep cliffs and getting stuck behind a terrified driver who has a death grip on the steering wheel. But the payoff in terms of scenery is big. There is no more breathtaking road in the states. And it is a drive you will never forget. My ‘payoff’ came in the form of a cup of Earl Gray tea on the porch of the Big Sur Bakery with this view at sunset.
We decided to stay for dinner. We had come so far in the past three days and it seemed a fitting way to conclude our road trip. And how could I resist a menu that states “no phony allergies, bogus intolerances, nutritional nonsense, or provincial preferences”
Wild arugula and radicchio with burrata cheese, pine nuts on grilled sourdough. Wood fired pizza with roasted butternut squash sauce. Smashed potatoes with string beans. Am I turning into a vegetarian? I finally purchased their cookbook which I have been coveting since it was published. How could I resist a cookbook that has an entire chapter devoted to Thanksgiving? And best of all Michelle Wojtowicz autographed it for me.