OurLAblog

Archive for May 2009

winery viewHere’s a quick and easy guide to taking a fun weekend road trip to Solvang, CA. This is what we did, and it definitely did the trick. Add a few of these things to your Solvang checklist.

PS: If you have your own advice, add it in the comments below!

1. Book the hotel several months early. It’s a tourist spot, so everything books up quickly. It’s also smart to make restaurant reservations a few days in advance for the same reason, even though you might not need them.

2. Leave Friday night after work if you’re in the LA area. You’ll make it before everything closes, and it’s worth it to already be there in the morning.

3. Stay at the Hadsten House Inn. It has the most positive reviews of all the hotels there, and with good reason — it has a sweet location, friendly staff, super-nice rooms, and a supremely good restaurant attached. We mean it. Out of all the restaurants in town, it had the best one we encountered. Win. (link)

4. Make a point to try wine at every opportunity. The first one we tried (Parker Station pinot noir) ended up being our favorite, with a few runners up from the local tasting rooms. Get it by the glass in restaurants, and visit a few of the tasting rooms in town. It’s usually about $10 for 5-7 wine samples, and definitely worth it.

5. Wander around downtown. This is a no-brainer, since that’s what everyone else is doing. But you can easily make a day out of it, so we’re pointing it out.

6. If you rent a surrey bike (those side-by-side, four-wheeled bikes), don’t go too far south. South equals downhill. And downhill is only fun in one direction.

7. Paula’s Pancake House. Go there. (reviews)

8. Wear sunblock. I forgot to, but I soon had an effective reminder about wearing it.

9. Make one day all about outlying wineries. The downtown wineries pale in comparison to the ones that sprawl over hills of grapes, offering amazing views and a huge variety of wine styles. The same prices as downtown usually apply, and most only require reservations for large parties. Fess Parker has good wines, and Rusack Vineyards has a spectacular view from the outside porch.

10. Take pictures. Another no-brainer. But the Danish style downtown area is Disneyland-caliber photogenic, as are the views when you get out into the hills and vineyards. (See our pics)

11. Get a photo in front of the windmill on the corner of Alisal and Molle Way. You know you want to.

12. Go to a bakery. Denmark is known for its pastries, and Solvang continues the legacy of sweet, fluffy, sugary goodness in pretty much anything you get. Especially the Abelskivers that manage to pretty much force themselves down your throat.

13. Also get chocolate. Check.

14. Visit the 1804 Santa Ynez Mission at Mission Blvd and Alisal. It’s an interesting piece of the town’s history, and commands another spectacular view of the valley. (link)

15. Stop at the Nojoqui Falls, a beautiful natural waterfall accessible by a 10-minute walk up a creekside path, located about 30 minutes outside of town. It’s not especially frequented, so you’ll be able to enjoy it.

16. Bring a bottle of wine home with you. (Try not to open it in the car.)

17. After you get home, it’s absolutely nap time.

(See the pics from our Solvang trip)

straight jacketI was walking along a side-street a while ago, on the way to get food from a nearby restaurant. The streets around Hollywood were closed off due to a parade, and there were cars parked and people wandering everywhere. It was early evening, just starting to get dark.

As I was walking, I heard someone talking a close distance behind me. I tried to ignore it. Then I realized they were repeating themselves over and over again.

It was a girl’s voice, and she was saying “He can’t say that to me. He can’t say that to me. He can’t say that to me.”

Then a car drove by. The girl’s voice stopped for a second, then started up again: “That car almost hit me. That car almost hit me. That car almost hit me.” (We were both on the sidewalk, well out of reach of any cars.)

I glanced over my shoulder to catch a glimpse of this strange person. She looked like a homeless girl, walking by herself and carrying a ragged backpack. She noticed me and asked if I had a cigarette. “Sorry, don’t smoke,” I said.

“You’re gay. You’re gay. You’re gay…”

Uh, sure, I’ll just keep walking like before…

Then she changed her outgoing message again. “I’m crazy. I’m crazy. I’m crazy.”

Right you are.

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ahi tuna burgerWhen Moses came down from the mountain, he brought with him the stone tablets containing the strict, new rule system for everyone to follow. And he knew people would be upset. So, unmentioned in the scriptures, he brought something else with him to help make everyone feel better.

It was an ahi tuna burger. I’m not exaggerating at all. Ask any Sunday school teacher. The ahi tuna burger, despite being created by Eastern-themed restaurant Buddha’s Belly and thus having little or nothing to do with Western religion, is more or less a gift from God, sent to pacify the masses and give them refuge from the stress and perils of the world. And it does its job well.

This morsel of divine ambrosia (ok, it’s a tuna patty) envelops tiny hints of ginger, corn and other tasty ingredients. It sits on a buttery Hawaiian bun under two thick tomato slices, a few leaves of crispy lettuce, a large (but never large enough) chuck of avocado, sweet teriyaki sauce, and a nice layer of the restaurant’s spicy mayo, which is akin to the type you find in a sushi place. And if this combo isn’t holy enough, it comes with a golden heap of sweet potato fries, complete with a side of that spicy mayo for dipping.

If you can resist this godly entity of food pleasure, you should seriously consider leading a life of servitude, perhaps in a monastery in the Alpines. Because this, by our carefully reasoned logic, is without a doubt the best burger in Los Angeles.

Do you know of a better one? We dare you. Introduce us to it in the comments below!