Well, if you are the type that looks for a romantic place and a romantic travel together with your partner then you stopped at the right place. Here is an overview on what you and your partner can experience in California and so much more.

There is so much happening in food, wine and travel in California that I can hardly keep up with writing about it all. Strangely, I never miss the opportunity of conducting an interview with one of our exceptional winemakers, chefs or persons of interest or the chance to eat great food, drink great wine, and check out California’s beautiful places.

Being a California native (even though I’ve been told on many occasions that my sisters and I speak like Canadians — simply good diction, I always say) has not completely spoiled me. California continues to fascinate me. While visiting the Central Coast last week to check out the Edna Valley Wine Country and visit with Mike Sinor, San Luis Obispo Vintners Association President and master winemaker, I stopped in at Dolphin Bay Resort in Pismo Beach. Pismo Beach is one of those incredibly unique places where the wine country meets the waves in less than 10 minutes. I love it there for many reasons, but this one is an ongoing draw for me. I can visit some of our state’s best winemakers and then return to enjoy my latest acquisitions of the vine and relax by the sea in first class luxury at Dolphin Bay Resort.

Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa

The accommodations at Dolphin Bay are both luxurious and comforting and I was at risk of completely dissolving any appreciation that I had for my own tiny abode back in LA. Dolphin Bay was originally designed as condominiums, so many rooms boast infinite ocean views, romantic fireplaces, indulgent bath facilities, complete kitchens and multiple bedrooms. The property also features a beautiful warm pool, complete gym, an ocean front promenade, beach access, and many pet friendly rooms. The staff was amiable and accommodating to my every need and if they couldn’t do it, they did their best to find someone that could. The suites are available in distinct one bedroom, two bedroom and penthouse configurations. Each has a private entrance opening into designer interiors, beautifully furnished living rooms, dining rooms, and up-to-date kitchens equipped with high-performance signature appliances. The master bedrooms feature exceptional linens and walk-in closets larger than my bedroom at home.

The villas have flat-panel televisions with surround-sound systems and DVD players, private terraces or patios, full laundry facilities, and complimentary high-speed wired and wireless Internet access. The housekeeping services are twice a day, so basically, I was living like royalty and never wanted to go home to my 1100 square foot California bungalow in the middle of the city. For me and I believe for many who travel for business regularly, the luxury to have a choice to prepare my own meals in a kitchen that really allowed me to enjoy the process was the greatest luxury. With a superb glass of Valor Central

Coast Sauvignon Blanc made by Mike Sinor in my hand, a bowl full of sweet Bing cherries that I picked-up from a roadside stand on Highway 1, supreme cheese, rich olives, a crusty baguette from Mezze in San Luis Obispo and Toots Thielemans Cafe Toots playing on the premium sound system, hands-down I was the happiest woman in the world. Who needs San Tropez when I’ve got the best of the California Mediterranean beaming back at me and I don’t have to struggle with my bad French that seems to translate itself into a garble of Central American Spanish uncontrollably escaping from my mouth. It’s too much work at times when what I really need is a good dose of rejuvenation.

La Bonne Vie Spa Patio

While we are on the topic of rejuvenation, the full service spa, La Bonne Vie, is of the highest standards and luxury and I couldn’t wait to spend the day unwinding and reviving myself there. As I entered the spa, the atmosphere was gentle and peaceful; my senses were peaked by the essential oils infusing the air. The therapists all speak in soothing, calm tones and I just about melted on the spot into the cozy chair set up in the private nail care room to await my spa manicure and pedicure. I look forward to having much more to write about at La Bonne Vie than simply my relaxing and pampering spa manicure and pedicure on my next visit. However, by the end of my pampering, my toes glistened like jewels in the sand when I strolled down the beach before my visit to Lido for dinner.

Saving the best for last was Dolphin Bay’s Lido Restaurant with Chef Brian Collins. Brian Collins is a Central Coast native and has worked throughout the Bay Area and Central Coast of California. What I find to be very impressive is that he worked side by side with the legendary Alice Waters of Chez Panisse for five years. In my opinion, Alice Waters is the last word on California cuisine and you’ve got to be an extraordinary culinary artist to work with her. Like Waters, he brings in the best of the locally and organically grown harvests to the Lido kitchen. He hand-picks his growers and ranchers in an effort to find conscientious, responsible and ecologically minded producers. His menu is orchestrated with California’s seasons providing the loveliest, healthiest, and freshest of choices for his delicious meals. I also learned that Chef Brian also conducts monthly cooking classes and the Summertime Fireside Grill each Friday through Sunday from 12 to 8pm.

Lido Restaurant Dining Room

Recently, I enjoyed dinner in the elegant dining room overlooking the blue Pacific. My starter was grilled salmon on a bed of julienned fennel and shallots with creamy reduction sauce and sprinkled with pistachios, followed by roasted potato bisque. My main course was steak charred rare to my specifications, a buttery potato gallette that was so delicious that it almost sent me into audible enjoyment it but didn’t want to be asked to leave the table, and brightly sauteed spinach paired with Alban Patrina Edna Valley Syrah 2007 (need I say more?). A very, very lovely and flavorful combination. My dessert was the ultimately decadent trio of custards that played like a creamy symphony when paired with my favorite Piedmontese Asti d’spumante by Saracco; I was so pleasantly surprised and impressed that Lido knew the “king of Spumante” in Italy. The custard trio consisted of a ginger creme brulee, tangerine panna cotta and chocolate mint pot au creme; it was so pleasurably sinful that I felt like I should go running to the confessional at the San Luis Mission; that’s generally a good reaction from a Catholic. Lido’s wine cellar contains some of the region’s best wines as well as many other superb choices.

Obviously, Dolphin Bay Resort had a great deal to offer me. So many times I looked at a resort’s website only to be thoroughly disappointed when I arrived because the photography and description far outweighed and exaggerated the reality of the establishment (however, one might want to get the name of the advertising firms that pull off some of those grand illusions). Dolphin Bay Resort exceeded my naturally skeptical expectations. It is for those who want to experience an escape into luxury and decadence; it is for those who want great food and exceptional wine while relaxing poolside or overlooking the endless ocean; and even more so, for those like me, who are desperately seeking true relaxation. Dolphin Bay Resort deserves to be listed as one of “Best of California.”

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