Liv Life and Family set off on our California Summer Vacation last week with a long list of "to do's". Cameras in hand and the iPad set on "maps" we departed San Diego and made our way north to the 405. With plans to visit numerous Universities on our route, UCI (Irvine) became the first stop on the College Tour part of our itinerary. A lovely, fairly new campus greeted us as we enjoyed the grounds nearly all to ourselves while exploring the college and my husband and I reminisced about college life. Loading back into the car, our heading continued north to our final destination of the day, Santa Barbara.
|Liv at the Santa Barbara Mission|
Catching my eye, I watched a family of four with the parents and younger sister hugging the older sister as she turned and walked away, waving over her shoulder as she left - all of it a sight that made the experience all too real for this mom. It seems only yesterday that my little boy was running around playing Buzz Lightyear or begging me for a Light Saber fight like Darth Vader. Now he's more interested in golf and surfing, and not particularly in doing any of it with me. I plan to hold on to these last few years as tightly as I can, knowing that the inevitable is on its way, and that in no time at all that mom standing on the corner watching her child walk away will be me...
In any case, this trip was not about letting go (yet!) and as we settled ourselves into our State Street hotel I was beyond thrilled to see the block just outside closed off for the weekly Farmer's Market. How could I get so lucky??
Leaving the kids to rest up, my husband and I quickly changed and headed out to see what we could see. A full two blocks of Lower State Street were blocked off for the event where tables lining the streets were filled with fruits and vegetables of all kinds. Flower stalls were interspersed along with additional tables overflowing with local honeys and jams while musicians played varying instruments along the way.
Purchasing a few of my favorite extraordinarily fragrant tuberoses I moved on to the berry table. Brilliantly hued baskets of organic raspberries, blueberries and blackberries made their way into my bag along with a jar of low-sugar strawberry/raspberry jam for my mom.
Another table filled with corn and most interestingly, eggplant colored bell peppers had me almost wishing I was home so I could load up and cook with these gorgeous fresh ingredients. Then came the herb table... an entire table filled with nearly every herb you could think of lending a beautiful fragrance to the air and sending even more ideas into my head of all the wonderful recipes I could use them in.
With our stomachs rumbling, dinnertime was upon us. Gathering the kids we made our way down State Street to a recommended restaurant and within moments after arriving we were certain we had made the correct choice in dining venues. Jane, located at 1311 State Street, offers inside dining as well as an adorable 2nd level balcony with views of the State Street below. We did not have reservations, but luckily had arrived early enough to be seated immediately and were promptly endowed with perfectly sweetened Fresh Squeezed Lemonade for the kids and an ideally fruited White Wine Sangria for the adults. (Dining early we had no trouble without a reservation, however by 7 PM the restaurant was packed, I would recommend reserving if your dining plans have you eating at peak dinner hour.)
|Fresh Squeezed Lemonade on the left, White Wine Sangria on the right|
My husband joined her with a fillet of his own, though he enjoyed the oyster mushroom cream sauce over the top rather than on the side. My son and I both chose the Grilled Marinated Skirt Steak with Roasted Onion, Cracked Pepper & Madeira with me making it to nearly three bites before I proclaimed the tender beef one of my best meals ever. A side of gratined potatoes, both extraordinarily tender and flavorful yet still retaining a nice firmness (in other words, perfectly cooked!), along with steamed vegetables rounded out our plates bringing smiles all around.
After reading reviews online I had little doubt that the Coconut Cake would be my dessert of choice as Liv quickly jumped at the Vanilla Creme Brulee. Both desserts lived up to our expectations and we were frankly thrilled that the boys were too full for sweets. Shortly Liv and I were holding our full stomachs as well, and my son enjoyed the rest of my cake later in the evening when the teenage late night hunger pangs set in.
Jane leaped on my short list of all time favorite restaurants and will be my dining destination of choice when I return to the lovely town of Santa Barbara. From the upscale yet casual decor to the friendly, spot on service to the beautifully prepared food, Jane has it all going on. And best of all? Jane, herself. Greeting us with a smile as we walked in she had us seated in no time and checked on us throughout the meal. Jane, thank you for a wonderful evening!