It was a bit windy this past Sunday, as evidenced by Whitney’s black hair being blown around. Growing up on the East Coast, I was never exposed to such variable weather.
In New Jersey, if it is 50 degrees at my mom’s house, it’s 50 at my dad’s house. Yet in California, because of elevation changes and the proximity of mountains and the ocean, it can be 70 at my house in Goleta, 65 at Goleta Beach, 75 downtown, and 85 in the valley – all in a 15-20 mile radius as the crow flies. And my Hearst Castle experience a few weekends ago was no different.
Even when the weather is undesirable in Santa Barbara, it still beats the hell out of 90% of the places in the United States. That’s an awfully nice sentence, no? I hope as long as I live here I never forget how lucky I am (don’t read that as I’m moving home, Mom).
Usually, when we head downtown for an afternoon, we bring skateboards or bikes and park at the top of the hill on Shoreline Drive, in one of the lots by Shoreline Park. Then we cruise down the hill to Leadbetter Beach and follow the bike path down Cabrillo Blvd to West Beach.
There are plenty of ways to pass time, and on this particular day, because of the wind, we turned onto State Street and had a tasting at Kalyra Winery, which is behind Union Ale (only been once to Union Ale, over a year ago, so I’ll withhold judgment, although I do remember its pizzas to be delicious).
As a member of Kalyra (which I am), you have the benefit of free tastings for yourself and a handful of guests, so stopping in is always a pleasure. That sounds like a sales pitch, but it is true – it feels more like a bar than a tasting room, with friendly wine pourers and an Australian Outback decor separates it from any other winery I’ve visited in Santa Barbara County. Don’t go to Kalyra is you’re a wine snob – it’s not that kind of atmosphere.
After a slow-paced, conversation-driven wine tasting, and after a tourist knocked over all four of our skateboards, we crossed town to the Brewhouse for a bite, located next to the Neighborhood (great place for beer pong, ping pong, pool, corn hole, sports, etc.) We had a pitcher of the “brown,” and it was excellent. I would definitely stop by and sit at the bar for a beer. Having heard good things about the food, I ordered the “Special Chicken Sandwich,” chicken, goat cheese and veggies on grilled sourdough bread.
My friends enjoyed their food (lamb burger with mint jelly, turkey dip, mahi mahi sandwich), but I was not as impressed. It tasted all right – although I would hesitate to go any further than that. My meal brought back memories of a bad panini, all bread and lacking any real burst of flavor. Go for a beer and an appetizer.
Warmed by the beer, we embraced the wind one last time, stopping to take in the view from Leadbetter.
The sun peaked out for a few minutes, and when the clouds took over again we walked up the hill to our car.
I went home and opened a bottle of Kalyra’s Cashmere Blend and decided I’d wait until today to write this story.