Ralph Melton (ralphmelton) wrote,
Ralph Melton

West Coast Roadtrip, Jul-15-2011

Friday morning, we went off to Solvang, a tourist town founded by Danish immigrants.

This sight made me wonder: is there a Danish windmill tradition, or is the manufacturer confusing Danish and Dutch the way I am prone to do?

For breakfast, we went to Paula's Pancake House. (Our notes say Polly's Pancake Parlor, but since that's in New Hampshire, I think my notes are wrong.)

Lori ordered the specialty of the house, a Danish pancake. The marvelous thing about this was its size; it was so broad and thin that it was folded over double in order to fit on a large plate. (I do wonder how it gets flipped during cooking.) The pancake itself was light and tasty, but not a wild delight.

Our camera ate the picture of my meal, an omelet with havarti and a Danish sausage called Medisterpølse. (This may be the first time I've had a legitimate reason to use the character "ø".) The omelet looked like an omelet, so the missing picture doesn't lose that much information. The sausage was a pale inch-wide sausage, with only a little seasoning.
I also ordered a side of the "Santa Maria Style Chili Beans", because I'd read of them as a standard dish in Santa Maria Barbecue, but hadn't managed to try them on the previous night. I was disappointed; they looked and tasted exactly like the canned chili beans I can buy in my local supermarket.

Lori loved shopping in the cute little shops of Solvang, and she was chagrined when I had to take her back to the car. But I wanted to get through Los Angeles before evening rush hour, because I was worried about Carmageddon. Our friend Suz had alerted us to the threat of Carmageddon: on the weekend we had planned to spend touring LA, a major section of Interstate 405 was going to be closed for construction, and there were dire predictions that it would bring traffic to a standstill throughout the area. I had done some web-surfing to try to understand the hazard this posed, and I'd read a Q&A from the Los Angeles Times that included this unequivocal line: "Q: Am I screwed? A: Yes." So we decided that our love for LA was not so great as to subject ourselves to this, and we decided to rearrange our schedule to go to San Diego for the weekend.

Even before the portended traffic catastrophe, driving through LA was grueling. It took us almost five hours to get from Solvang through greater Los Angeles to San Juan Capistrano.

We only had time for a brief visit to Mission San Juan Capistrano, one of the first missions founded by Junipero Serra. (We were too late for the last guided tour, but we were able to walk around on our own and at least glimpse most of the mission.)
This particular view is of the grand cathedral, which was finished in the late 1790s, then destroyed by an earthquake in the first decade of the 1800s and never rebuilt.

After some shopping, we found a restaurant in San Juan Capistrano for dinner: El Maguey.

Lori had her first horchata, and decided that she rather likes horchata:

The guacamole we got as an appetizer was very good, with a very rich, creamy flavor.

Lori quite liked her chicken enchiladas with ranchero sauce. She chose them by asking "what's the least spicy item on your menu?" and found that that question did a better job of accommodating her very low spice tolerance than asking "is this dish spicy?"

I ordered the birria, because I had never heard of it before. This was a dish of beef braised with seasonings I couldn't identify. It was super tender and wonderfully savory; I loved it. The house made tortillas were very good too.

For dessert, Lori got flan, because she gets flan most times that the opportunity presents itself. This gave her no reason to change her habit.

I got the churros, because ordering things I'd never eaten before had been a winning strategy so far. They were very fried, crispy, and cinnamon, which I suppose is what you want from a churro. I enjoyed them a lot, but I felt that I didn't need to finish them.

We stopped at a scenic outlook near Camp Pendleton for some more photos of sunset over the Pacific.
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