Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The "Sideways" Route, My Way: Staying in So

Since the movie "Sideways" came out 10 years ago, I've had "doing" the route that Miles and Jack took through the Santa Inez Valley/Santa Barbara County on my wish list.  Finally, I got to make this journey…and, what fun we had!

"Sideways the Map" of their route is still available online, but is no longer in print.  One page is the map, pictured above, and the second page identifies 18 of the movie locations, with addresses and details of their role in the movie.  

Last week, Jim and I set out for a 5-day trip to the Santa Inez Valley, with "Sideways" on our mind. What we wound up doing was tasting wine and eating at several "Sideways" locations as well as going to places recommended by friends and that we discovered as we explored the area. We "did" "Sideways" our way. 

We stayed in Solvang, a Danish city, which was founded in 1911 by a small group of Danish teachers. Solvang is next to Buellton, the city where Miles and Jack stayed in the movie. When you get off Highway 101 south, you turn left to head into Solvang. Their motel, Days Inn, complete with its windmill, is visible on your right, as you drive down the off ramp. 

We chose Solvang because we could easily walk around the town from our hotel. Miles and Jack's hotel down the road was not as convenient a location. Also, I've been interested in seeing this Danish-themed city but have never been here.

My impression of Solvang has been that it was a Danish-themed tourist spot. Those who just pass through for a few hours, will come away with that impression. There are more Danish Bakeries in the small downtown than I could count, all offering pretty much a similar assortment of Danish pastries. And, most of the architecture has a Danish theme.

But, as is often the case, by staying several days in a town, we got to "know" Solvang and truly enjoyed our time here. Solvang's main street is Mission Drive (Highway 246). One block over to the south is Copenhagen Drive, which is less touristy and has a nice variety of art galleries and shops, as well as Danish attractions.  The streets off both of these main streets take you off the beaten tourist path.

We relaxed and made Solvang our "home." Each early morning, Jim would go out for a long walk and always returned with a discovery or two, including the only building in town that still has a real thatched roof (all the others have replicas of thatch on their roofs). 
and Solvang's Mission Santa Ines.  

Since many wineries do not open until 11 a.m. , we had plenty of time to wander around Solvang and enjoy being "locals."

While, I did find most of the authentic Danish pastries in the bakeries are sweeter than what I enjoy, observing the popularity of the bakeries, I know that my taste is that of a minority. We did stop for coffee and a little something sweet at both Mortensen's and Olsen's Danish Village Bakery. And, we made sure to bring home one of the buckets of butter cookies that all the bakeries sell…it's a good souvenir or gift for your pet sitter or the neighbor who waters the garden and keeps an eye on your house while you are away. 

Mission Santa Ines was founded in 1804. It is the 19th of the 21 missions built in California from 1769 to 1836 by Spanish Franciscan priests, led by Father Junipero Serra. Masses in English are celebrated in the chapel every day; in Spanish on weekends and Holy Days. Visitors can do a self-guided tour of the Mission's museum, chapel, gardens, and cemetery every day 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ($5 fee) and enjoy the exterior of the Mission and its views of the Santa Ynez River Valley and the Santa Ynez and San Rafael mountain ranges any time of day. 

The only Solvang restaurant that Miles and Jack ate in was the Solvang Restaurant, which serves breakfast and lunch daily and is known for Arne's Aebleskivers, a traditional Danish pancake/waffle that is formed into a ball and served with raspberry jam and powdered sugar. Other popular Danish restaurants in town include the Red Viking and  Bit O Denmark.

Danish Sausage and Meatballs are popular lunch and dinner fare. They frequently offer a Danish Smorgasbord, an all-you-can-eat buffet of traditional dishes. Several Danish restaurants feature open-faced Danish sandwiches. 

We enjoyed a some of our meals in Solvang's other restaurants. 

On our first night, we dined in the restaurant at our hotel, Hadsten House. Our meal was excellent, as was the service.  We shared a Fritti of Calamari, Green Beans, and Fennel to start.  Jim had a vegetarian dish, Pasta Leopoldo, and I had the evening's special fresh fish, Grilled Shark. With our meal, we drank local wines: A Bratcher Pinot Noir and a Casa Cassara Pinot Noir.  

Another night, we dined in town at an Italian restaurant, Cecco,

which features pizzas baked in their wood fire oven. We shared a salad and the Cinghiale pizza (wild boar sausage, tomato, smoked mozzarella, and braised kale). 

After visiting Mission Santa Ines, we stopped for lunch, a short drive from the Mission, at the El Rancho Marketplace where we'd been told they had the best deli in town and had considered buying food to take for a picnic at a winery. Seeing their pleasant outdoor patio, we decided to eat right here at the market. 

 Not only did they have an amazing deli, they had beautiful produce and a delightful coffee/tea/gelato/etc cafĂ©.  El Rancho seems to be where everyone in town shops. Prices at the deli are moderate and, while you wait for your order, there is complimentary coffee to sip and food samples to try (they brought out a freshly-baked pizza while we were in line).
I so wanted to buy some of these beautiful fresh sweet onions at El Rancho but managed to talk myself out of them after deciding that, after the long ride home, everything in my car would be infused with onion aroma.

Our next post will follow us on our wine tasting and for more meals in and around Solvang...

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