Courtesy of the generosity of my good friend Mary Ellen, we spent a few days at her condo at the beach in Oxnard. Since Wil also isn't working, we were originally thinking to just jump into the car and head northwards, but thought with a 10 week old baby, it might not be that easy. And when your stroller takes up the entire trunk of your Prius, there isn't a lot of room left in the backseat for stuff, certainly not enough stuff to be able to say you don't know when you're coming home. Oxnard/Ventura seemed just far enough to get away, and close enough to be home in 90 minutes if necessary.
Mary Ellen has a fabulous townhouse 600ft from Hollywood Beach in Oxnard. I know it's 600ft from the beach because we tried to look at one that was up for sale, only to discover it was already in escrow, but that's a topic for another day. It's a one bedroom with a loft, bright with light, with palm trees painted in the bathroom and bedroom, and plenty of what Wil would call "indoor palmage." It's her beach house, and all her cups and glasses are plastic with palm tree motifs, as if the idea of glass is just too formal for such a place. In the cupboard, she keeps little notes about Mrs Olsen's Cafe for breakfast and coffee a block away, and the fish market across the street. She keeps them there so that every time someone new stays in the townhouse, she can set the same little notes out without rewriting them, that's how generous she is with her beach condo. It's all wicker and Tommy Bahamas, complete with hula girl lamp (make sure she's turned off, or you'll burn out her batteries) and I'm telling you all this because you will have to imagine the townhouse - I was remiss and didn't take any pictures inside. Those are the cushions on her couch behind Caleb, that's the best I've got.
We arrived on Wednesday afternoon and settled in. I had made reservations at Brooks Restaurant, one of the best in Ventura. Okay, I'm a little biased - Brooks' chef/owner is Andy Brooks, the older brother of my dear friend Alicia, and I have been lucky enough to enjoy his 5-course tasting menu (with wine, thank you very much). Wil started with the Tuna Tempura Roll and I started with the Chopped Romaine Salad, which was generous in its helping. Drinks were mixed a little strong, which I know no one except me complains about. I like a drink to taste like a drink, not a glass of alcohol with some grenadine mixed in for color.
Wil had the Slow Roasted Baby Back Ribs, which were smoky and hot with the Honey Whiskey BBQ sauce, and served with Mexican Street Corn and a Green Chile Mac 'n Cheese. The Mac 'n Cheese was good and interesting in that I didn't notice any green chiles, but there was definite heat in your mouth. As you can see from the picture, Wil hated it. I just managed to get this shot before he cleared the plate. I had the Blue Crab Ravioli. It pains me to say it, but the crab - when you could taste it - was a little too "crabby" if you know what I mean. I say "when you could taste it" because the entire dish was overwhelmed by Old Bay Seasoning. It was all I could taste, and up in my nose like accidentally inhaling pepper. I like to think that maybe this particular plate came over the pass and wasn't tasted before it went out, that the rest of the diners weren't eating Old Bay Ravioli. Despite my plate, Brooks is a great restaurant; if you are ever in the Ventura area you should give it a shot. I know we'll be back. www.restaurantbrooks.com
Otherwise, we hung out at the condo and the next few days were unremarkable. The weather was perfect and mild, we checked out Ventura Harbor and walked Downtown Ventura. I'll leave you with this last picture, which is my favorite of the weekend. We were having a fish/shrimp 'n chips lunch and Andria's in the Ventura Harbor when Wil decided to tap this lemon wedge against Caleb's lips. Dad sure does like to torture his boy! Wil says he can't wait to do it with an anchovy!