Santa Barbara Getaway- Part 4 – Foley Wines and Ollalieberry Cobbler
I awoke at my retreat center to the sound of a completely different set of birds than the ones I awaken to at my home in Los Angeles. My little cottage is surrounded by centuries’ old live oaks. As I sit on the patio rimmed with rosemary, Mexican sage and aloe, to write and sip my morning coffee, I see a little red headed bird flitting back and forth in a tree just in front of me.
On this morning’s agenda- a brief stroll through Montecito, it’s farmer’s market day. Again, I recognize the names of farmers I shop at the Santa Monica market, but this market is quite a different experience than my typical crowded Santa Monica market experience. There are a handful of people strolling through leisurely, the farmers leave their stalls to chat with each other. And there’s a busy little bakery/café next to the market, and a nursery I pop into beyond that.
Then it’s a drive up the coast to the wine country. I could take the slightly shorter route through the San Marcos Pass, but today I prefer the coastal route. Driving up 101, I’m treated to the sight of rolling green hills with occasional grazing horses to my right, and the vast Pacific to my left. I exit at the blue highway, 246, to visit Foley Wines in Buellton, where I hope to catch up with Angela who pours there, and left Santa Monica years before to live and farm in nearby Lompoc. When I visited a few years back, she invited me out to her house to pick up a few pints of ollalieberries- a much prized Central Coast specialty with a brief season- which found their way into a delicious cobbler.
This is farm country, driving west on 246, I pass a couple of lavender farms, grazing horses and cattle, a farm with a sign “Pigs for Sale” out front, even the occasional grazing ostrich. Foley Wines’ tasting room is housed in a sprawling hacienda surrounded by its vineyards. Even though I arrive early in the day, groups of tourists are beginning to fill the room-I typically visit wine country earlier in the week. There are two tastings offered- an all white, and a mixed red and white. I opt for the mixed, although when I note that one of the other wine tourists comments on how delicious the 2009 Steel Chardonnay (which is on the all white list) is, the woman pouring gives me a taste of that wine, too. The mixed list closes out with 2 Pinot Noirs, the Rancho Santa Rosa from both the 2007 and 2008 vintages. I am sometimes “iffy” about Pinot Noirs, but this is Pinot country (as all of you who saw Sideways know), and these are wonderful. It’s beginning to grow a bit too raucous for me inside, but fortunately, there’s a little patio just outside the tasting room where I can sit and savor my tastes of the excellent wines out on the patio overlooking the vines.
Back on the 246 I decide to drop in on the All American Danish small town of Solvang. I’ve been coming here since my adolescent days, when the kitschy windmills and Scandinavian petits fours were then the attraction. And for a while into adulthood, the town was a must stop location for wine tasting, but three years ago when I spent my Independence Day holiday there, and escaped the parade going down the main drag inside Stolpman Wines tasting room, the woman pouring told me the town decided to limit the number of wine tasting rooms. Stolpman moved out to Los Olivos shortly after that, presumably to be nearer the more premium wineries. I wander around a bit, but the town is overrun by tourists, the windmills et al, are a little too much kitsch for me now, and my taste buds have outgrown the overly sweet pastries, so it was back on the road to Montecito for me.
Oh- and Angela and the ollalieberries- well, Angela’s moved on to Firestone Wines further up the Santa Ynez Valley which I won’t get to this trip, although I’ll put it on my list for next time. I did chat with her by phone, but unfortunately she had a houseful of visiting family, and no time to harvest the few ollalieberries left on the vines- “but please call me again next year – in June- that’s the peak season” she says. Recipe for the ollalieberry cobbler is below.
I love this cookie dough type cobbler crust, which I ripped from the pages a magazine many years ago. I’ve used it with many different types of fruit, so if like me, you miss that brief window of opportunity to nab some ollalieberries, use that other California specialty, boysenberries, or blackberries.
I often make a double recipe of the topping to use a bit more for a thicker crust, but then there is some leftover topping. Not that terrible a problem to have, though. You might just have to make a few individual cobblers.
- 4 cups fresh ollalieberries
- 5 tablespoons sugar
- 3/4 cups fresh squeezed orange juice
Cookie Dough Crust
- 1/2 pound butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Cinnamon sugar (1 tablespoon and cinnamon mixed into 2-3 tablespoons of sugar)
1. Mix berries with sugar and juice, and pour into a quart baking dish.
2. Cream butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. mix in egg and vanilla, then mix in flour.
3. Drop large spoonfuls of the batter over berry mixture. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for @35-40 minutes. About 5 minutes before removing from the oven sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the top of the cobbler.