A Ballerina Abroad: Day 8 of our Hip and Healthy Guide to LA

words by Saskia Gregson-Williams

Day 8

Since I was little Santa Babara has always been our favourite weekend get-away spot. Only an one hour and 20 minutes from Santa Monica it’s easy to get to and yet, when you are there, you feel like worlds away from the hustle and bustle of LA. After grabbing a little something from the Oceana’s breakfast buffet, we packed our bags for the evening and hit the road by 10:30. With a beautiful costal drive we arrived at the San Ysidro Ranch by midday. Located in the exclusive enclave of Montecito  and the depths of the  Santa Ynez Mountains, the scenery is stunning with breathtaking views of the ocean and channel islands. The  individual cottages named after flowers grown at the ranch are surrounded by aromatic orange and lemon groves, vegetable gardens and lots of blossoming seasonal flowers. The cottages are beautifully appointed, with elegant yet comfortable furniture with a country feel. The staff are all eager to please and always very welcoming. The Ranch is also very animal friendly. When we lived here our Golden Retriever, Rudy, was a regular and knew his way around the colourful gardens very well. As you arrive and check in there are always warm cookies by the desk and a bowl of treats for your pet. Everything is thought off, they really leave no stone unturned.

We settled in to the Gardenia Cottage. All the cottages are beautiful and unique; but with all-day sun a jacuzzi, terrace, siting room and large en-suite bathroom this cottage is our favourite. A very nostalgic place for us all. Unpacked and changed we went down to the Stoneground Terrace restaurant for the famous San Ysidro Brunch served till two pm. A two-course brunch with mimosas and juices included. Having had breakfast we passed up the appetizer (sadly as they looked incredible) and dived straight into an entree. I ordered the pan seared Scottish salmon, drizzled with whole grain mustard sauce and balsamic onions on a bed of wilted baby spinach. This was fresh, light and packed with flavour. Mum ordered the SYR’s Huevos Rancheros, homemade corn tortillas with Blackbeans, egg and organic avocado. Normally this dish comes with chorizo and queso cheese, but being dairy free and semi-veggie she asked for it without and they were very happy to oblige. This dish was also delicious, two very good orders but at the ranch I don’t think you really can go wrong!

After an exquisite brunch on the terrace, we walked up the enchanting garden to the pool. We spent the rest of the afternoon lounging on the sun beds, relaxing, swimming and breathing in the fresh mountain air. Returning to the cottage we sunbathed some more on the cottages private sun loungers, showered then dressed for dinner. Walking down to dinner on the narrow stone paths the garden was illuminated by tea lights. Beautiful.

We again sat outside on the terrace; with lots of heaters the temperature was perfect. Although the menu only has one page, each dish is mouthwatering. In the end I chose the Butternut Squash soup to start, the chefs special. A heavenly bowl of goodness, I love the taste of squash, so this thick warm soup was the perfect choice. For my main I ordered the Halibut, it came with roasted rosemary new potatoes and a tomato sauce. Every mouthful had more flavour than the last, the potatoes were wonderfully seasoned and the halibut drizzled with lemon juice was cooked to perfection. As we ate our five-star meal, the chef made my Dad a bowl of broth and a side order of plain jasmine rice. He said it was the most delicious broth and rice he’d ever tasted. They really are very happy to help and assist you with any dietary requirements. So even a man recovering from stomach flu can enjoy a flavoursome bowl of broth!

We went back to the cottage and watched ‘Its Complicated’. One of my favourite films, set in Santa Babara (very fitting) with Meryl Streep, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, it’s brilliant, hilarious and gives you a wonderful feel for the town. If you haven’t seen it, see it now!

The lights are off in the cottage, and the ranch is silent. Time for bed.