The Coastal Chronical
Alagash (Taken with Instagram)

Alagash (Taken with Instagram)

My Best Food Discoveries (So Far) of 2011

Presenting my mid-year assessment of all the adventures in food and delightful discoveries we’ve made in past six months.  There’s certainly no shortage of diverse, delectable, and downright delicious eats in the 805!  I can’t wait to see what the next six months brings. 

Renaud’s- The glorious, buttery, chocolaty, flaky, and sinful creation that is the chocolate croissant from Renaud’s in Santa Barbara is the next best thing to actually being in Paris.  Le sigh.

Pho Oxnard - The pho here is worthy of poetry, and the appetizers are equally scrumptious.  Actually makes me thankful for those foggy days that inspire soup consumption.

Spencer Makenzie’s- The famed “giant” fish taco is a taste bud extravaganza!  Especially if you splash on plenty of their homemade hot sauces.  Mmmm…spicy! I prefer mine with the fish “tempura style” (read: fried), but you can go all healthy ‘n stuff and get it grilled. I won’t judge.

Brophy Bros.- Their happy hour food trumps pretty much all other happy hour food.  Huge, succulent shrimp cocktail with plenty of horseradish on the side, and gargantuan fish and chips to accompany your bev of choice.  Oh…and they have one of the best outdoor views in town.

Tony’s Pizzaria - Probably one of the priciest pies in town, but consider part of the dough for your dough a contribution to pizza artistry.  Make sure Abel assembles your perfectly handcrafted pizza.  He’s the pizza maestro!

Familia Diaz- Exhausted from a nearby Sunday hike? Or just looking for some place to fill your belleh with an amazing brunch in the Santa Paula area?  Look no further.  How does huevos rancheros topped with super succulent chile verde strike you?  Oh, and the first Sunday of the month is a BBQ brunch buffet, where you can stuff yourself silly with award winning ‘Q.

La Super Rica - No wonder Julia Child was in love with this place.  Yeah…the wait in line can kind of suck.  But it’s totally worth it.  Totally. 

The Gin, Gin Mule cocktail at Cafe Luck in Santa Barbara. It was Yum, Yum Good!  I would have taken a pic of the french fries, but I was too busy inhaling them.  Delicious!! 

The Gin, Gin Mule cocktail at Cafe Luck in Santa Barbara. It was Yum, Yum Good!  I would have taken a pic of the french fries, but I was too busy inhaling them.  Delicious!! 

I Broke Up With My Gym – And a DVD Review

When I was in the (very not fun) transition from working in Santa Barbara and living in LA, to physically moving to Ventura, I decided to join a gym to both maintain a reasonable fitness level and my sanity.  I had gone from the comfy position of living in an apartment with a gym, supplementing my routine with the occasional studio class and home fitness DVD, to becoming a house guest of various family members whose homes I simply did not want to bless with my sweat.  I opted for my local YMCA, largely due to the fact that they had no initiation fees and no contracts.  Without going into too much detail…the Y and I just didn’t mesh (“It’s not you, it’s me.”).  So I find myself back to square one, but in the fortunate position of living beachside with a gorgeous bike/run path, lots of local hikes for weekend exercise, and a growing collection of fitness DVDs.  I may very well end up back at a gym, but in the mean time, I’m doing OK on my own.  And just for fun, below is a review of my current favorite fitness DVD.

 

Strong Body, Fit Body with Erin O’Brien

 

This is a terrific cardio/strength training DVD for the advanced beginner to intermediate exerciser.  I can understand why Erin O’Brien has earned a name for herself among celebrity trainers.  Her enthusiasm is contagious rather than irritating, and her on-camera style, in conjunction with the living room film set, creates the illusion that she is working out at home with you.  And my favorite part?  She actually does the entire workout.  I get so irritated when the instructor demonstrates a couple of reps and then walks over to a back-up exerciser to comment on their form.  What they are essentially saying is they can’t do the whole work out without stopping.  So why should you?  It’s refreshing to see the instructor huff it out with you.  Overall, I’m really pleased with this workout, and look forward to adding some additional DVDs from Erin O’Brien to my collection. 

Workout Breakdown:  This is a circuit training based workout.  After a warm up, Erin takes you through four segments, each involving three different exercises.  The first two exercises use hand weights and utilize both upper and lower body, and the final exercise requires a burst of energy, creating a “cardiovascular response.” Then you do all three together before taking a quick (or not so quick in my case) water break before moving to the next segment.  The killer part?  The final segment is every single exercise from the very beginning at tempo with no stopping.  I’ve done this workout about four times and haven’t come close to making it through without stopping (OK, gasping) for air.  After this bit you hit the mat for some abdominal work also using hand weights, and complete the workout with a nice couple minutes of stretch.

Length of Workout:  About 45 minutes

Degree of difficulty:  Moderate to hard depending on your fitness level

Instructor likeability:  High

Sweat Level:  Lots

Recommend:  Yes!

Breaking in the Beach Chairs

Further expanding on how much we love our new home, we took the advantage of a gorgeous 4th of July holiday and had our very first beach day.  I scored some great beach chair/umbrella sets from Cost Plus (yay coupons!), and was anxious to give them a test drive.  Mission accomplished.

On the walk down I remarked how much more relaxing a beach day is compared to our previous living situation.  Such scenario would likely include: (1) a 40 minute drive (more with heavy traffic); (2) another 30 minutes looking for parking; and (3) potentially up to $10 in fees to park your car. 

Our 4th of July trip to the beach involved:  a ten minute walk on our footsies. 

I love Ventura!

Six Months In: Reflections on Life Out of Los Angeles

So it’s been nearly six months since George and I traded in the big city life for the sleepy beach town.  Can’t say I miss anything other than a few friends.  But I thought six months was a good time to reflect.  Here is what I’ve discovered so far:

  1. I can go to Trader Joe’s, Target, the dry cleaners, and put gas in my car all in the time it took me just to drive to Trader Joe’s while living in LA.  Score for time management! 
  2. My lunch time walks are filled with things like historic parks, beautiful plants, ocean air, and the sound of song birds; lunch time walks in DTLA included such delightful things as filthy sidewalks, noisy buses, and crazy bums.  I like my new version better.
  3. It’s easy and enjoyable to have a “Shop Local” attitude when living in a smaller town.  In one stretch of town which is walking distance from our home, I can buy farmer’s market produce, clothing, furniture, and have dozens of restaurant and bar options that are all privately owned.
  4. Air Quality = 8,000 times percent better.  Give or take. 
  5. I’ve traded in the gym for the bike/walk paths throughout the city (along with home fitness video supplementation).  Who wants to huff along on a treadmill inside a stinky gym when a glorious path alongside the ocean is available?  Not me.  Plus with the dozens of hiking trails and bike paths available for weekend fun, I say adios gymnacio! 

Conclusion?  Small(er) town living rocks!

Meatball sub from Three Pickles in Santa Barbara. Food coma inducing deliciousness!

Meatball sub from Three Pickles in Santa Barbara. Food coma inducing deliciousness!

Russell’s Donuts. Easily the best in Ventura.

Russell’s Donuts. Easily the best in Ventura.

French Press coffee.  Best coffee in Santa Barbara?  Me thinks YES.

French Press coffee.  Best coffee in Santa Barbara?  Me thinks YES.

Spotted in Santa Barbara. Even the street trollies are festive for the holiday!

Spotted in Santa Barbara. Even the street trollies are festive for the holiday!