The gang had just taken an exhilarating walk through the lower eastside to admire all the homes decorated with Christmas lights. This is my third year doing the annual walk with them and it’s always a fun and magical time. We load up our thermoses with hot spiced cider and trundle down the streets where some families have decorated their homes with masses of lights. It’s overwhelming.
The neighborhood is so popular with its holiday lights that the trolley service in Santa Barbara runs a very successful Christmas light circuit at night, and they are *sold out*. Half a dozen or more trolleys cruise through the neighborhoods, chock full of happy people, gawking and sometimes cheering at all the lights.
After the walk through the cold night air, we’re hungry. After a very brief conversation, really there’s nothing to debate, we agree on La Colmena, a favorite amongst this group. They are open until 9-9:30 pm and it’s only 8:30. We race over!
Jon and Matchoo are fans of the Alhambres plates. These are plates with a big mess o’ meat and goodies on them, and a pile of tortillas, and you assemble your tacos to your liking. You get four tortillas, but order some more because there’s enough filling to make about 5 tacos. These cost about $7.50 so if you gauge the normal price around $1.65 each, you’re saving by getting the plate and filling the tortillas yourself.
Jon got his own alhambres plate, while Matchoo, Say and I shared two plates between us, as we weren’t as hungry.
We picked the asada alhambres plate (upper left photo) and the lomito alhambres plate (upper right). They came with more than just meat.
The asada is spicy grilled beef with onions and assorted grilled peppers, some are a little spicy. Then topped with cheese.
The lomito alhambres is grilled pork with mushrooms and onions, topped with cheese. I like this one the best, as I’d never had the mushroom combination before and their juices flavored the pork and onions so nicely.
We got four tortillas per person, so 12 for the lot and we used them all. The fillings were gorgeous and delicious, very juicy and flavorful. Conversation was reduced to grunts of pleasure and requests to pass the tortillas or salsa or napkins. And everyone gobbled up the salsas, which were their usual awesomeness with varied and complex flavors. The hottest one, btw, is the creamy red/orange. It is HOT. I like the pico de gallo mixed with the marinated onions.
Alicia went with tacos, and now that I’ve tried the alhambres, I prefer the tacos as well. The alhambres is great if you love a larger quantity and really like one item. I like variety, so I can’t have as much of just one item. I’ll will stick with the tacos going forward.
Jon and Alicia come here often, they really love it. They’ve confirmed that the happy hour tacos are still just $1 each, but they are a little smaller in filling and have only one tortilla. So it’s not a straight up 65 cent discount for the same amount you’d get during regularly priced times. Still, it’s a bargain and they still come here often. As do I!
Oh hey, do you want to see some of the Christmas light photos? Sure you do.
Taqueria La Colmena
Tonight was Glühwein and cocktails at the Emerson house. I had my first proper mulled wine at the Christkindlmarket in Germany 1999 while visiting Claudia. At the time it seemed bitter, but it was warming on those snowy nights. I’ve had mulled wine this month from several places and found them much yummier than my memory of it. And this is a good thing. I am a fan now.
We cooked up a little bratwursts with onions, and potato salad as nibbles, to keep with the German theme.
Ingrid also had pastries from Renaud’s. People brought ornaments to decorate the tree. Lots of chatter and drinking of mulled wine took place. Little decorating of the giant gingerbread man took place, poor guy must have gotten cold from being naked.
Love the holidays.
There were two meals, with goose and pheasant, chicken, ribs, piles of roasted root vegetables and several desserts.
I didn’t stay at the hotel, I only ate at the cafe. I had the most amazing profiteroles ever. Not just choux pastry, ice cream and chocolate sauce, but profiteroles that were a work of art. I think there was gold leaf involved. Four little pastries each with a different ice cream, and a warm pot of velvet creamy chocolate on the side.
Service was perfect, we were well attended to by multiple staff and manager, and all we had was desserts and after dinner drinks.
In the corner a man, maybe a guest of the hotel, would saunter over to the piano and play a few tunes. And then someone else would sit beside him and sing.
Afterwards, a quick walk along the beach in the full moon. This was just before Christmas, and everyone had that special “spirit.”
Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel