Santa Barbara- the NorCal of SoCal

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If you aren’t familiar with Santa Barbara, I have lovingly dubbed it as the NorCal of SoCal. Meaning, although it’s not a part of Los Angeles County (it’s actually in Santa Barbara county and about 3 hours north of LA proper), many Angelenos and Socal residences take day trips or “staycations” there. It is also known as the American/West Coast riviera for its lush greenery and year-round mediterranean weather. This beach resort town is my home at the most basic level- I was born at Cottage hospital in downtown SB which makes me an inherent “Santa Barbarian” even before a Socal-ette.

Today I decided to take the Amtrak train up to visit my mom in Oxnard. From my place in downtown Long Beach, I took the Metro blue line train to the heart of LA. From there, I connected to the Red line subway to Union station where Amtrak and Metrolink connect. From my Amtrak seat, it was easy to see some of the most beautiful graffiti art I’ve ever seen in Southern California. It’s a view of Cali back-road that’s not easy to see from any freeway. It took about an hour and a half from LA to Oxnard where my mother picked me up and about another 30 minute’s drive to Santa Barbara. The sky was dotted with thick white and silver clouds that welcomed the autumn air around us while the horizon was clear. The Catalina islands were in view and a couple fishing boats bobbed around the calm sea.

Mom and I walked up State street, the city hub of culture and food. As we walked to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, a group of high school boys who were crossing our path broke out into a “Gangnam Style” flashmob! A great break in the day between our chocolate tasting at Chocolats du CaliBressan and the Chagall art at SBMA. For dinner, we decided to revisit one of the most decadent Italian restaurants in the area: Palazzios. This restaurant has featured family-own recipes since 1993. They rightfully boast that no one leaves hungry and they’re right- a half portion of pasta usually lasts me for 3-4 meal! Everything is served family style, while they come around with freshly baked garlic knots. My mother and I each ordered a pasta- mine was aptly named “Fusilli Ooga Ooga” while hers was the simpler “Rigatoni Tender Chicken”. By the time we ate a few garlic knots and shared their famous caeser salad, our pastas came and our inhibitions flew out the window. My pasta was perfect- tender chicken breast, prosciutto slices, caramelized onions and corkscrew noodles bathed in a smoked mozzarella & gorgonzola cheese sauce. A tear pricked my eyes as my mind scrambled to make sense of this umami flavor. The rest of the night was filled with wine, more food, and catching up with the mother. I’ve been blessed enough to have been brought up with a foodie mom, but at that moment in Palazzios, cursed to be wearing jeans~

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