Wine Cask. One of the best meals of my life.

This past weekend the sisters and I escaped to Santa Barbara (CA) for a wine weekend. The Little Sister was the mastermind behind this little adventure, booking the hotel (Hotel Oceana) and getting the Middle Sister and I involved. We had a good time and drank a lot of wine but my favorite thing about the weekend was Saturday night dinner at Wine Cask.

If you have ever gone wine tasting before you realize by the end of the day you are kind of..... wined out. The sisters and I were feeling this way as we walked to have dinner at Wine Cask. I also think we were suffering from low blood sugar or too much sun exposure because we were dragging. The Middle Sister had a recommendation to try Wine Cask and had made a reservation for us. We entered through the bar (a happening place) were lead through a beautiful covered courtyard (I want to eat out there next time) and final shown to the beautiful restaurant.

This photo is from the Wine Cask website and shows the restaurant.

Our waiters name was Blake and he was incredible. Imagine going to a table of three (slightly grumpy) girls and asking them what they would like to drink when you work at a restaurant called the WINE Cask and having them tell you they are wined out.... To our credit we did say we were going to rally and just needed a little time. To his (Blake's) credit, he just rolled with it and never steered us wrong.

The menu was two pages and looked delicious. The chef goes to the local Farmer's Market for a lot of the menu and even has market tours on Tuesdays! Blake told us about a few of the specials and I noticed there was a note on the menu about letting the chef know if you were a vegetarian or had special diet restrictions and he would try to accommodate you. The Middle Sister is a vegetarian and I mentioned this to her. It turns out that the chef, Chef Brandon Hughes, loves to make something special for someone who would have to modify a meal if he has time. Blake told us he makes spectacular things and my sister just needed to say what she wouldn't eat. He joked that he would not be serving her a plate of steamed vegetables and so she went with whatever the chef would make her. I think her comments were something like, no tofu, don't like mushrooms, and LOVES cheese.

We started the meal with a half bottle of Flying Goat Pinot Noir and placed our order. Now I have no pictures. The lighting in the restaurant was "dark and romantic" and I just couldn't bring myself to use the flash to take pictures. Next time I will go earlier and get some photos.... or ask to sit by a window...

After placing our order I asked to see a dessert menu. I'm a dessert girl and I wanted to see what they had. I took one look at the dessert menu and asked if I could cancel my meal and just order dessert? Blake (to his credit) told me no and I am so glad he did. Even though I am already planning a trip to Wine Cask that just includes wine and dessert.....

For the first course I had the "Market Soup" which was a cauliflower pureed soup drizzled with avocado oil (I think it was avocado) and prosciutto bits served in a square bowl. It was amazing. The soup was thick and made with a complex vegetable stock. The oil blended perfectly with the cauliflower and brought out a hint of nuttiness. The prosciutto added a little crunch and salt. It makes me want to make cauliflower soup at home and I am not that big of a fan of cauliflower soup, until now!

The Little Sister had the Lyonnaise Salad with smoked egg white, prosciutto, spinach, and warm mushroom-bacon vinaigrette and the Middle Sister had the Farmer's Market Mixed Greens with toasted hazelnuts, strawberries, ricotta, and champagne vinaigrette. Everything was amazing.

I am still thinking of this meal, days later. Wishing I had gnawed on the bones from my rack of lamb. Wishing I had a chance to eat everything on the menu. Thinking that even though my stomach was going to burst when I left the Wine Cask, maybe there was something more I could have eaten....

My main course was the Spring Garlic Marinated Rack of Lamb with BD farms wild greens, tourneed cauliflower and romaine hearts, and romaine pistou. Yeah, I should have gnawed on the bones... This was one of the most amazing things I have eaten in my life. The lamb was medium rare with a crispy outside like it had been prepared over an open fire or grill. The pistou, cauliflower, and wild greens (wilted under the lamb) complemented and completed the meal so well that I would have ordered a second round if I could have eaten it. I am not usually silent at meals (and neither are my sisters) but when our main course arrived a hush fell over our table as we all began to eat. It was like we were attending church and saying a little prayer to the food gods.

For a main course the Little Sister had Roasted Double-Cut Kurobuta Pork Chop with black truffle puree, fingerlings, smoked lardo, and Greek yogurt emulsion. The Middle Sister had something the chef made up that included eggplant ribbons and farmer's market vegetables presented in a stack or layer cake with a cheese sauce and a side "salad" of edamame with slivered beets tossed with a dressing. She said it was spectacular!

By this time I was getting pretty full but the dessert menu had looked so amazing that I had to try something. The Little Sister went with the Butterscotch Pudding with whipped cream and fleur de sel, while the Middle Sister tried the Chocolate and Chevre Doughnuts with crème anglaise and cappuccino ice cream. I am a big chocolate fan, but there was not a dessert on the menu that screamed out "Eat this!". I was thinking of getting the Market Cobbler with cinnamon ice cream and Ojai Valley honey, but the Little Sister said I should get the Hazelnut Crepes with bananas, caramelized hazelnuts, house-made nutella, and banana ice cream. We asked Blake for which one I should try and he said the crepes. I will say they were pretty amazing. The flavors all complimented each other so well. Caramelized hazelnuts need to make an appearance in a lot of restaurants. I can't believe I haven't had them before. The Market Cobbler by the way was a blackberry cobbler. I wish I had an extra stomach so I could have tried them both.

I walked out of Wine Cask and immediately knew this was one of the top ten meals I have had in my life. Days later I am still thinking of it, trying to remember the roasted lamb or see if I can put my finger on all the ingredients in the cauliflower soup. I am even trying to think of the next time I will be in Santa Barbara to see if I can eat there again.

Next time you find yourself in Santa Barbara I highly recommend Wine Cask and think you should start with dessert!


1 comment:

  1. Well I thought you might have included a picture of your food on your blog! No? :( Sounds AMAZING!