Monday, September 12, 2011

never say never

Last week found me traipsing around the southern coast of California. It was a pleasure to escape the rainy, soggy East Coast and experience life in the land of sunshine.
Sunflowers at the Solana Beach farmers market in sunny California.
Miles of beautiful, accessible coastline define this area.
A wooden pier that juts far out into the Pacific ocean. It seems so improbable to this Atlantic coast girl.
What struck me so deeply about this coast line is how accessible it is to the general public. It is possible to drive right alongside the coast for miles and miles enjoying constant sea views. On a whim you can pull up to any beautiful beach and FIND PARKING! What? That is crazy. Anyone who has tried to hit the Hamptons or the Jersey Shore in summer can relate to my astonishment.
You can choose between busy surfer beaches or long stretches of solitude.

So what are they eating in the land of coastal bounty? The Mexican influence is felt here with Tijuana less than an hours drive away. I sampled some great fish Tacos at a casual restaurant on the pier in San Clemente. Hot sauce and salsa are as available as mustard and ketchup at every roadside eatery.
Freshly brewed herbal teas were hard to resist for this tried, thirsty visitor.
No bargains to be found on heirloom tomatoes but the amazing taste seemed worth the price.
Cactus paddles! How cool. I did not have a kitchen at my disposal so I could only fantasize about what I might do with them.
We had some great meals at the restaurants we stopped in along the way. Among the most memorable meals was the rich and deeply satisfying eggplant Parmesan at Vigilucci's in Carlsbad; Del Mars famous waterfront restaurant Jake's red lentil mulligatawny soup with pickled zucchini garnish and the French inspired menu at Paon Restaurant and Wine Bar's with its Yellowfin Tuna Tartare and an Indian Spiced Prawn Salad.
Torrey Pines State Natural Reseve in La Jolla offers breathtaking views on all its hiking trails.
Hike down these steep bluffs, many areas provide staircases, and sprawl out on the wide sand beaches.
Swami Beach in Encinitas, CA
The entire time we traveled up and down this stunning coast the locals kept bragging about their great weather and how it NEVER rains, but for a few very specific weeks in the winter. Well, great! On our last day as we lounged on the beach the clouds began to gather and to our very trained east coast eyes we knew to pack up the beach towels and get off the sand. Sure enough the sky opened up and we stood under our "sun umbrella" giggling as we watched an incredulous So Cal population experience in collective disbelief the watery deluge. In between the showers we managed a last stroll along the STUNNING Swami Beach in Encinitas. Lush vegetation hugs the bluffs of this protected cove making this a very special place worth seeking out.
A trip to southern California is sure to please with its great food, beaches and hiking. Be sure to pack your umbrella!

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