The Ultimate Brunch
Eeeeeeek...... it's been two years. That's so weird! I have about 18 posts in "draft" that unfortunately have yet to see the light of day. It's quite intimidating starting up again when somehow two years have gone by; mentally, I feel like I've written about every experience but I guess that's the difference between thoughts and posts.
Here I am! Living in California! It all began at Mary's bachelorette weekend (side note: why is my spell check trying to change bachelorette to bachelor? #rude) in Los Angeles last February. Ashley and I flew out from NY for the weekend and decided to stay the week, then decided to apply for this super cute bungalow in Venice Beach, then decided to quit our jobs and move once we were offered the apartment. We had no idea if we would like living here (we do) or if we would find jobs before our "savings" ran out (we did), but now we live beneath the palm trees and it's fab. Is this sufficient background to begin the actual post?
THE ULTIMATE BRUNCH
I love it when a plan comes together. I especially love it when said plan involves a girls' weekend in Santa Barbara on nearly-last-minute notice (okay, two weeks notice, but when you are coordinating four people's schedules, that's a win). And I MOST especially love it when the lodging option you've chosen ends up feeling like you've rented your own private villa.
We stayed at the Hotel Oceana, and the smooth hour-and-a-half drive up the coast on a picture-perfect 65°F day set the tone for the weekend. Check-in was a breeze and we were even upgraded to a room with a harbor view instead of neighborhood (which, by the way, wouldn't have been the worst thing in the world what with all the red-tile roofs and white-washed balconies in sight). We make our way to the room, walking beneath bougainvillea pergolas (love) and past tiled water fountains (love even more) and I decide I like this place. Lo and behold, there is an outdoor sitting area directly outside our door, complete with a bistro table and oversize lounge chairs and a marvelous view including a miniature red-tile tower that makes you feel like you are in the Mediterranean - cue private villa. (To be clear, this was definitely a shared space, but I felt confident in our ability to subtly discourage others' usage if it came to that. Which it didn't. It was a random weekend in February which worked to our advantage.)
Hotel Oceana, Santa Barbara
Notice the tiny tower (Sunday was not quite as sunny)
We picked the hotel mostly because they have no qualms about four adults staying in one room (a la the Gramercy Park Hotel in NYC if you are looking - no small feat most places, nearly impossible in New York). At around $300 (after taxes and fees), the Hotel Oceana would have been a bit of splurge for just two people, but split it four ways and you have yourself a deal! The 2-hour complimentary bike rentals, almost-too-hot hot tub (so much better than not-hot-enough), and heated pool were additional draws. And the location was smack-dab in the middle of everywhere we wanted to be. I even appreciated the bathroom door knob. Details!
Courtyard of Hotel Oceana
After lunching at Brophy Bros., wine tasting throughout the Urban Wine Trail, breaking at the hotel's hot tub (with no one else in sight - second cue for private villa), dining at The Lark, and surviving various injuries sustained from such adventurous activities as bike riding and showering, we were ready to rest up for the highlight of the weekend: Sunday Brunch at the Four Seasons.
Entrance to the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara
I love resorts. I love tiny lanterns marking winding foot paths throughout lush, landscaped grounds. So granted, I was predisposed to have a good experience here. I knew we were in for it when I was drawn to the lemon truffles in a mason jar for sale near the hostess stand. I don't even like lemon-flavored desserts.
We opt to sit outside on the sea-view terrace amidst the warmth of a brick fire pit, surrounded by a garden of wild flowers of the Four Seasons variety, which are more meticulously groomed than wild per se, but you get the picture. Coffee? Yes please. Water? Yes please. Mimosas? Yes please.
It's now time to venture into the buffet room. Before me unfolds a spread of overwhelming variety, but I have my heart set on one item: crab claws. With my eye on the prize, I slowly accumulate delicious morsels as I make my way to the seafood station on the other side of the room. Chicken salad in mini-parmesan bowl, charcuterie (!!!), croissants, lobster eggs benedict, shrimp cocktail...yup. It's all there, on my plate. everything I love. on one plate. I'm actually relieved to discover that both sides of the thirty-foot buffet table hold the same offerings...it would just be too much to handle.
Naturally, we pace ourselves, so I save the sausage, shrimp, bacon, polenta with prosciutto, chicken fingers (timidly taken from the kids section, but I live for chicken fingers), and God knows what else for the second go-around. Oh dear, I think to myself, I haven't a cracker for my goat cheese. Perhaps this hard cheese will do. The only thing that is missing is some clarified butter to dip my crab claws in. Because that's exactly what I need right now - a pot of butter.
Every time I return to our table, there is a magically refilled mimosa glimmering in the sun. At one point, Ashley is sitting with her elbow on the table, chatting away with mimosa glass raised in hand, and our waiter appears to refill it almost without her knowledge. My coffee has apparently gone cold while I was revisting the buffet table, according to our waiter, so he took the liberty of removing it and will bring me a fresh one shortly.
I don't even know where to begin with the desserts. Basically, just imagine a bakery and all of those beautiful, colorful, individual desserts behind the glass. And then remove the glass. I rediscovered my forgotten-love for linzer tartes. Ashley's comment of my plate having everything except fairy dust sprinkled on it becomes reality when I consume a gold-dusted blackberry. There are two types of melted chocolate available for your dipping pleasure (and we're not talking a germ-breeding chocolate fountain here, these are individual mason jars of bittersweet or milk-caramel resting on a hot plate).
The whole experience was so pleasant and decadent (to summarize, I can tell you that I feel like I don't need a wedding after spoiling myself so) and entirely worth it. We spent the ride home with our jeans unbuttoned (do not wear jeans) listening to the calming "Spa" channel on Sirius and vowing to never eat again.