From frosty beer & NY pie to organic salad – Santa Barbara, a town of contrasts…

Many places on this beautiful planet are well-known for a particular culinary style. Whether this descends from the people who live there now or the historical & geographical references of a specific locale, there’s often one dish or type of food that you can be guaranteed to find. So far on the trip we’ve had amazing re-inventions of classic dishes in Seattle, street food to mow down your own best friend to get to in Portland and a burrito that was a credit to it’s south-of-the-border roots in San Francisco.

Now here’s the thing about Santa Barbara…after 24 hours in this college-student-come-eye-wateringly-rich-residents town, I have no idea what it’s traditional or local food is because, frankly, you can get whatever you want, pretty much whenever you want it. That’s true of lots of places you might say and yes, to a point it is, but even in places like London, New York & Paris where the food offerings are diverse, there is also something in each place to call a culinary trademark. Here in this pretty Spanish Colonial styled town, we dined twice, we dined well and we dined in two places that could not be more varied in their menu, their environment and their specialties.

Let’s start with the one we all have a craving for now and then…pizza. I’m not talking one you pop in the oven on a Friday night and watch hungrily through the glass fronted doors as cheese bubbles & makes a break for freedom over the side of your baking tray. I’m not even talking the really naughty one that you order from Papa John’s when nothing but a hot, crispy, doughy, cheese smothered disc of deliciousness will do. I’m talking New York style pizza – a vast expanse of thin crust (unlike its chubby Chicago cousin) which is coated with the ripest, sweetest tomato sauce and smothered with creamy mozzarella. I’m talking Uncle Rocco’s NY Pizzeria on State St.

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Pacific Catch; the perfect place to get your local stripes in San Francisco…

Right chaps, today’s post starts with me getting something off my chest, out in the open and laid bare for you all to see.

I simply can’t hold it back anymore…I have an admission to make.

I love San Francisco.

I do. I really really do. I heart it in all it’s blue-skied, green-grassed, natural-and-man-made glory.

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When we put it on the roadtrip list, I thought I’d like it. I thought ‘hey yeah, San Fran looks pretty cool and sunshiney and pretty…woo hoo!’

Psssh, what did I know? Those words are pale and insipid compared to the compliments this city should be getting.

It’s gorgeous. It’s clean. It’s friendly. It’s full of happy, healthy, glowing, outdoorsy people but it also has libraries, museums & galleries for those who prefer to work up a sweat by the turning of pages or the viewing of world class exhibits.

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You can eat pretty much anything you crave from a global menu of deliciousness; you can blend in with the locals at any number of coffee houses & cafes; you can string your camera round your neck and proudly proclaim your tourist proclivities at the wharf, the parks and the piers. You can get your photo taken with Yoda for heaven’s sake. Oh SF, you slay me.

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