So I turned forty last week. To me, it marks another good year of life; I'm not worried about the whole 4-0 business. Husband felt somewhat differently. He started asking me what I wanted to do for my birthday months ago. And I wasn't sure and I wasn't sure and then I had a thought. I haven't spent a night away from Little Girl since she was born. I love her to pieces, but a little time away seemed like a good thing, so I asked for two days all to myself. And Husband agreed. He's a good husband.
The evening before my birthday, I shared a truly delicious cake (and my favorite champagne!) with my extended in-law family. Husband did good procuring the cake: almond cake layers with a chocolate mousse filling and a praline layer for some crunch, topped quite dramatically with white and milk chocolate curls. People moaned as they ate it.
I woke up on the great day itself, opened a few presents with Little Girl's help, ate breakfast (leftover birthday cake, of course!), kissed Little Girl and Husband good-bye, and hopped in the car that Husband had gotten scrubbed inside and out the day before. Again -- I've got the best husband in the world. Y'all can just be jealous.
I had almost no plans except that I wanted to eat some great food and do whatever else seemed good at the time. The exceptions to the "no plans" were that I wanted to have lunch at a great sushi place we've been to a few times in Santa Barbara (my in-laws live outside of Los Angeles, so that was my starting point) and I wanted to hit the evening farmers' market in San Luis Obispo. One out of two is what I got. "Our" sushi place doesn't exist any more and I settled for a good-but-not-great Vietnamese lunch a couple blocks away. I had some very nice shrimp spring rolls, but an oily and not especially flavorful crispy tofu with lemongrass for my main. It was a wash.
After that, I drove up the coast to Pismo Beach where I tried to get a picture of the display case full of chocolate-covered grasshoppers, bacon-and-cheddar grasshoppers, white-chocolate-covered grasshoppers, etc., but there were inconsiderate crowds in the way of my photo.
I arrived in San Luis Obispo (SLO) a couple hours before the farmers' market started. I needed some extra change for my parking meter and came across Cowboy Cookies within a block of where I parked. What's a girl to do? I had a chocolate-chip/walnut cookie that was delicious, with almost enough walnuts to satisfy my walnut-tooth. Don't laugh. I have one. I wandered the main shopping district for a while, drank an iced coffee while I watched some of the vendors set up, and then was ready for the farmers' market to start!
It was some market. It covers six or seven blocks of the main commercial street in SLO, with live music at every intersection, bicycle valet parking, and thousands of people. I couldn't, of course, buy anything really because I was staying in a hotel. I was hoping to see bread and cheese and fruit for a picnic or breakfast, but bread and cheese were largely absent from this market. BBQ, on the other hand, dominated the two ends of the market that showcased ready-to-eat food. Not being a meat-eater, this didn't interest me except in the sense that seeing a few hundred people in line to buy BBQ is a fascinating thing. Oh, and I like fire. A lot.
For dinner, my interest was caught by a booth at the market that served only to lead people half a block away to Bel Frites, a small storefront cafe that serves Belgian fries and Belgian beer. And that's all. They offer traditional plain fries and a variety of seasoned fries, and a selection of dipping sauces. I chose plain fries with a chipotle aioli and was not disappointed one bit until my fries ran out and there were no more. Then I was disappointed. Honestly, I would go back to SLO just so I could take Husband to eat these fries. I might owe him that much after this trip.
I wandered the market for a while after my fries were gone, drove out to the coast to see the fog roll in instead of a sunset, and then headed back inland to my hotel for the night. I might have had a few small pieces of chocolate before bed. One should always eat healthy, balanced meals on one's birthday, after all.
Stay tuned for Day 2, which featured a lovely lunch in Solvang, the Danish capital of California.