Two days after our wedding, the Goodlaffs hopped on a nearly empty Southwest flight, bound for Burbank, CA.
We rented a car, and for the next five days, we worked our way back up the California coast, stopping at anything that looked interesting, eating as much food as we could, and sleeping in as much as possible. It was bliss!
From Burbank, we drove a bit out of the way, to Pasadena. Pasadena is not en route to Santa Barbara (where we were headed), but it has one claim on my affections that Mr. Goodlaff just didn't understand. The Hat:
Well known for its pastrami dip sandwiches, The Hat is one of those must-eat places when I'm in the Los Angeles area, so naturally, I wasn't even thinking about it when we landed. But I'd sent Mr. Goodlaff taunting pictures of the tastiness during my dress-buying excursion in December, so when we were considering where to go for lunch, he mentioned The Hat. It wasn't too far out of our way, and not being on any time schedule, we trekked out to Pasadena for some tastiness.
I don't even have to tell you it was good, right? And now I'm hungry for a pastrami sandwich...
After a rather large lunch, we turned around and headed in the right direction--northwest towards Santa Barbara. Around Simi Valley, we started seeing signs for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, and my curiosity was piqued. I am a huge West Wing fan (and a history geek), and the opportunity to see what a presidential library was all about was just too good to pass up. Mr. Goodlaff and I decided to go check it out.
My geekery was much rewarded. For a very brief minute, we got to stand in a replica of Reagan's Oval Office. I really wanted to climb over the railings and sit behind the desk, but I restrained myself.
Guess what else the Reagan Presidential Library has?
Air. Force. One. That's right. The Goodlaffs boarded Air Force One. We got to walk where presidents walked! It was really cool, but not anything like the one on The West Wing (wait, TV is not based on real life? What?!?!). I was actually surprised that it wasn't a little nicer, especially since it's used by the Commander in Chief, but I guess the really nice planes are saved for the CEO's of Fortune 500 companies... We did get to take an official souvenir picture at the door to Air Force One, but didn't buy one because a) we looked a little goofy, and b) it was a total rip-off.
The library was situated at the top of a hill, with an amazing view of the Simi Valley:
Mr. Goodlaff and I toured the museum and learned all about Reagan's life from birth to death and saw numerous exhibits on his presidency. We participated in interactive exhibits about State Dinners, where I discovered that my etiquette is apparently lacking, and I don't know where to properly place my napkin at the end of the meal. I got to step behind a podium and pretend to give an Inagural Address by reading off of those glass-pane teleprompters. Mr. Goodlaff and I also got to see White House China, presidential gifts, Nancy Reagan's clothes, and even a piece of the Berlin Wall.
We also got a picture with the president! There was also a pretty cool chance for a photo-op inside the museum, and let me just say, for the record, this is just about the only horse you'll ever see me on. Fake, plastic, and bolted to the ground--that's my kind of horse.
From our time there, it was obvious that a presidential library is not by any means an objective, unbiased look at a president's time in office. Some less savory elements of Reagan's presidency were glossed over, and the section on communist and dictatorial world leaders was flat-out propaganda. Still, it was a really interesting look at a presidency, and I'd love to tour another presidential library someday.
When we finally got to Santa Barbara, we checked in to our hotel, The Harbor View Inn, where both the room and the view were stunning:
Why yes, that is a view of the ocean from our balcony...
The hotel had left us a few lovely surprises:
Naturally, we popped open the bubbly, sat on the balcony and watched the ocean for a while, hardly believing that there wasn't something or other to craft, a list to check, or a vendor to contact.
Once we were settled in our room, we pretty much collapsed:
Mr. Goodlaff and I looked through the hotel's book of suggested eateries, and used an app called Urban Spoon to look for a suitable dinner location, ultimately deciding on Bouchon in Santa Barbara, which specialized in "California Wine Country Cuisine."
Bouchon = Amazing. I wish I had taken a picture of my food, because it was, quite possibly, the best meal I've ever had. The Four Onion French Onion Soup was to die for, my braised short ribs were amazingly tender, and the sauteed pea tendrils came over potatoes gratin surrounded by this amazing pan jus. There was a sauce on the plate, too; I don't remember what it was, except it was also awesome. Mr. Goodlaff indulged in some Ahi with lemon mashed potatoes and a saffron cider vinegar gastrique. Dessert was a custard-like tart with blood oranges and some kind of coulis sauce, but by then the food had already blown my mind, so more concrete details of the dessert somewhat escape me.
Towards the end of the meal, our waiter, who was gracious and helpful, asked if there was anything else he could do for us, and Mr. Goodlaff, being a smart ass, told our him that he wanted to be taken into the kitchen and have the chef show him how to make our awesome food. The waiter's reply? "Oh, well, we have our recipes online." All that mind-blowing food and recipes too? For budding foodies like ourselves, there is literally nothing better than having access to recipes so far beyond our skill level that attempting them will probably mean we will end up lighting our kitchen on fire!
We returned to hotel stuffed and elated. The Goodlaffs were also exhausted, and while I would like to tell you we whooped it up out on the town in Santa Barbara, it would be a lie. We were asleep by 10 PM, playing the part of the old, married couple already.
What's the best meal you've ever had?