Spontaneous Roadtrip for Inspiration

Central Coast, Food Adventures

We knew we wanted to get out of LA for the weekend. The question was… where? After all, we only had two days and didn’t want to spend the majority of that time only on driving. But then again, we also wanted the journey to be as fun as the destination, so anything within a 2-hour driving radius would likely be too close. We had already spent hours googling potential destinations the night before and woke up on Saturday excited but still not knowing where we wanted to go. The solution? Hop in the car anyway and start heading north, destination unknown. It turned out to be not only a great adventure but also a great source of inspiration for NomNomCat.

I had been dreaming about aebleskivers and Martin had never been to Solvang, so we made that our first stop. Cruising past miles of farm land and grazing cows was already enough to make us feel like we had left home.

Velkommen to Solvang!

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Olive Oil Tasting in Los Olivos

Central Coast, Food Adventures, Food Life

On our recent road trip along the California coastline, we stopped by Los Olivos in hopes of finding a place that offered olive oil tasting. The city’s name did not disappoint and a quick Yelp search led us to a quaint little shop just off the 154 called Global Gardens.

What an adorable little store!

For just $5 per person, the friendly storekeeper guides a small group of enthusiasts through a sampling of the many varieties of olive oils and vinegars they have in the store. Each of us was given a mini loaf of ciabatta and a plastic palette numbered 1-12.

So many varieties!

I’ll try to describe the different oils as best I can, but honestly I’m not much of a connoisseur and many of them tasted similar to me. The first one (the Greek Kalamata) is the standard olive oil you could find in any grocery store, but you could really taste the higher quality of the one sold here. The manzanilla blend (from the root manzana for “apple”) had a (surprise, surprise) apple aftertaste. The one that stood out the most to me was definitely the meyer lemon oil. We ended up bringing home a bottle of this. I couldn’t try the walnut oil thanks to my mild walnut allergy, but Martin said it was really nice and subtle in flavor.

The tasting also included other products sold at Global Gardens including a hoisin-based Asian glaze, a Mediterranean seasoning spice blend, and Mediterranean spiced roasted almonds (sorry, the almonds were too delicious and were devoured too quickly to be captured on film). All were delicious and really captured the cuisines for which they were named.

Then came my favorite part — the vinegars! The first one turned out to be our favorite of them all: a peach cinnamon balsamic vinegar. It was tart and light and fruity, plus it comes in the most adorable bottle. We discovered that it paired well with the meyer lemon oil, so we brought home a bottle of this as well. Moving along, the blood orange balsamic was extra tart, and the blueberry balsamic seemed like it would make a really great salad dressing. The black currant and fig vinegars were good and the fruit infusions added a great depth of flavor to the balsamic. Last was a generous drizzle of balsamic reduction, which tasted incredible!

The store itself is adorable, although you’ll be able to cover all of the products on the shelves after about 10-15 minutes of browsing. In addition to the edible products, they also sell olive oil soaps, lotion, and woven baskets perfect for gifting. We enjoyed our little detour at Global Gardens and will definitely be back the next time we’re in the neighborhood.

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Check out Global Gardens: www.globalgardensonline.com

2477 Alamo Pintado Ave
Los Olivos, CA 93441

See their Yelp reviews here.

They are located just off the 154 freeway. Stop by and join the Olive Revolution!

A Docked “Galley” in Morro Bay

Central Coast, Food Adventures

In a recent weekend trip to Morro Bay, we were trying to find a relatively nice sit-down restaurant to dine on Saturday evening. Many of the oceanfront restaurants seemed to cater to tourists and a brief glance of their menus didn’t spark any interest.

After doing a brief search on Yelp!, we decided to check out the menu at The Galley Seafood Grill & Bar and a place to stay at the adjoining inn. Although the inn had booked out along with every inn on that street, the manager recommended we make reservations in advance for The Galley.

The Galley Car

The host, John, was very friendly and took our reservations for 8:30pm. After a few hours of walking around and realizing that Morro Bay is a small retirement ocean-side town that, after the peak summer season, had very little to do, we decided to arrive at The Galley a full hour early. John, who had seen us hovering around over the menu outside deciding in advance what we wanted to order, came out and offered to seat us earlier if other parties had not arrived by 8:15pm. It was difficult not to notice how busy they were despite being in the off-season. We even noticed John turning away other parties due to the number of reservations.

We came back later and by this point, both he and another staff member had recognized us and immediately showed us to our table. We were seated in a corner section in the dimly lit Galley which was frequented by an older and local crowd.

Let’s start with the table bread. Alice and I are both suckers for warm ciabatta and look what they had…mini ciabatta loaves, served with homemade whipped herbed butter.

Mini Ciabatta Loaf

We decided to splurge, ordering up a half dozen oysters that, according to our server Jennifer, came from British Columbia. These things were ginormous, a lot larger than the Fanny Bay varieties served at seafood restaurants in Santa Monica and Venice during happy hour. They were sizable and very briny, delicious.

Oysters On The Half Shell

Alice knew exactly what she wanted for her entree, the Pan Seared Scallops, a Galley specialty. The scallops were moist and perfectly cooked — a beautiful golden sear on the outside, nice and opaque on the inside. The garlic mashed potatoes, made with Yukon Golds, was flavorful and even better with the pan jus drizzled on the plate. The assortment of steamed vegetables were well cooked and nothing was soggy. Bringing a bit of autumn into the kitchen, the “garnish” was a slice of steamed kabocha, wonderfully sweet and starchy.

Pan Seared Scallops

Torn between the Blackened Local Snapper, Pan Seared Scallops, and Rack of Lamb, I asked Jennifer for her recommendation but she made a simple suggestion: get what you crave. Rack of Lamb, rare, was the final verdict. I had to ask her if they would be able to do that because some restaurants refuse to serve lamb rare in fear of diners getting sick, but Jennifer seemed confident that their quality was high enough to serve it however I wanted.

The lamb was amazing, very tender on the inside and seared to a slight crisp on the outside. Again, a very sizable portion with 4 double-ribs. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Kalamata tapenade but that is a personal preference. The garlic mashed potatoes, tucked under the rack of lamb, were a big hit as well but I wish they had given a larger scoop.

Rack of Lamb – Rare

After Alice and I polished off our plates, we finished up with the Grand Marnier Crème Brûlée. I amused myself for the longest time saying the name while waiting for our dessert, it just rhymed so well! (Try saying it out loud, noting that Marnier is pronounced like marn-yay, not mar-nee-er.) I have to say this crème brûlée marginally overtook the Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée we had at Opal in Santa Barbara, which, for its simplicity, was very high in quality. However, the Grand Marnier added an extra citrusy zing that was different from just vanilla beans. Five stars for sure.

Grand Marnier Crème Brûlée

Overall it was a great experience with phenomenal service through the whole night, even before we were seated. The food was excellent and the staff extremely accommodating.  Shout out to John for his amazingness of working to getting us seated earlier than expected and Jennifer for being so attentive to our needs and excellent recommendations. We will definitely be back if we find ourselves in Morro Bay again.

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Check out The Galley: www.galleymorrobay.com/

899 Embarcadero
Morro Bay, CA 93442

See their Yelp reviews here.