I made it through LA’s tangle of freeways before dawn. Groaning oil wells sprouted from both sides of CA Route 46 at the Lost Hills Oil Field. The ominous shapes became eerily animated as the sun’s first rays began to backlight them.
Route 46 goes due west from I-5, through lush grazing land and geologic outcroppings that eventually will become part of California’s Coastal Range. The angled, early morning light, and a sky heavy with rain, provided an intense atmospheric landscape that was a harbinger of the spectacular scenery yet to come along CA Route 1, through Big Sur to Monterey.
In a few hours I arrived at À Côté, a boutique restaurant of considerable renown, in Oakland. Bar Manager Michael Moreno’s eclectic and most impressive wine, beer and spirits list took a while to read. What a joy to find a 13 year old Bladnoch single malt Scotch. This distillery just recently shirked off its mothballed status and reopened, reclaiming its title as “Scotland’s most southerly distillery.” Dinner started with Croque Monsieur (French ham and Gruyere), then glided into the delectable Catalan pork ribs with tangerine-pomegranate glaze and Borlotti beans. For dessert, I chose another Scotch seldom seen on menus – a Laphroaig 10 year old, Chateau Margaux cask finish.
Tomorrow: Yosemite National Park and the Ahwahnee Hotel.