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I am continuing my journey on the Culinary Cruise with Princess Cruises Featuring Sabina Bandera, Carlos Salgado, Bill Esparza & Jeffery Merrihue.  I will elaborate more on these culinary experts and what they do.

“To embark on our Culinary Cruise is to nourish your culinary curiousity. Learn the secrets of the kitchen by watching award-winning chefs in action. Taste flavor pairings that you never imagined were possible with our locally inspired menu options. On this journey, a celebration of the world’s best cuisine begins” Princess Cruises.

When I left off my last blog post on Princess Cruises, Day 1.  We had an amazing night sleep aboard the Ruby Princess.  I see why Princess Cruises is known for the most comfortable beds at Sea.  They were so comfortable.

We woke up fairly early and one of the first things I did was walked outside to see the water. Balcony rooms are my favorite, because the views are incredible.

The cruise ship was in the middle of the water in Santa Barbara.  A peaceful and refreshing view.

Before leaving the ship, I grabbed coffee at the International Cafe .  International Cafe is opened 24 hours a day.

Serving up an array of small bites, gourmet beverages, treats and items such as salads and sandwiches at lunch time.  Baked croissants and an assortment of pastries to choose from for breakfast and decadent desserts to enjoy in the afternoon.
International Café

We took a tender to shore to start our Culinary Excursion.  The tender was smooth and the weather was absolutely perfect.

My friend Patricia and I enjoyed the ride to shore.  We were beyond excited to start the tour.

The sights and sounds of Santa Barbara was absolutely stunning.  California has been on my radar to visit for a long time.

The sandy beaches were to die for.  The palm trees and sunshine had me wanting to stay forever.  I knew that the day was going to be amazing and we hadn’t even began our tour.

We gathered together and headed to the chartered bus.  After being seated, Bill Esparza began to share a little about what we should expect on our excursion in Santa Barbara.  Bill is the cookbook author of L.A. Mexicano. “He is a professional musician, writer and blogger whose travels throughout Latin America have made him a leading expert in Latin American Culture.  He fell in love with cooking at his grandmother’s table and on childhood trips to his family’s hometown of Aguascalientes, Mexico where he was introduced to street food”.

Our first stop was Old Mission Santa Barbara Mission.  “Founded by Spanish Franciscans in 1786, the commanding presence and graceful lines of this majestic mission leave no doubt why she is called “Queen of Missions”.

We stopped and toured the area on our own and took a few pics.

A historic spot.

Our next stop was Handlebar Coffee Roasters.  Handlebar is a Coffee shop created by two former cyclist.  “As former professional cyclists, two wheels paved the way to many great opportunities. From racing in Europe, meeting each other, to arriving in Santa Barbara and calling it home. We switched gears in 2011 and directed our focus to roasting some of the best coffees in the world and offering them to you. Our goal is to link our appreciation for the coffee farmers to you, through each fresh roasted bag”.

Handlebar Coffee Roasters was a really cool coffee shop.  With seating both indoor and outdoor.

I loved the setup of the coffee shop.  We tried the drip coffee and I have to say the coffee had a nice punch too.  A caffeinated, smooth cup of coffee.  So good!

I also tried the buttery croissant.  The croissant was flaky, buttery and delicious. Handlebar also serves a variety of pastries daily.

After a quick stop, we headed outside and our tour guide began telling us about the area where the coffee shop was located.

The Santa Barbara Courthouse was our next stop.  “Called the most beautiful government building in American.  This impressive Spanish-Moorish style landmark completed in 1929.  Occupies a square block in downtown Santa Barbara”.

This building was stunning.  So much history.

With incredible views all around.  This stop was amazing.  We loved the intricate details of the building.

Our next stop was the Santa Barbara Public Market.  “The Santa Barbara Public Market, located at 38 West Victoria Street & Chapala, is a contemporary urban marketplace offering locally & regionally sourced food, wine, and beer. Nestled in the thriving performing and cultural arts district of downtown Santa Barbara, the Public Market is Santa Barbara’s premiere dining destination for locals and visitors alike. With such a diverse collective of merchants under one roof, the Santa Barbara Public Market offers a truly unique experience to dine, drink, gather and host special events”.

The market was really nice.  Several different shops all under one roof.

Before sitting, I took a little time to walk around and see what was in the Public Market. Wine + Beer offers an outstanding collection of the finest wines, handcrafted ales and beer.  Offering tasting experiences as well as retail sales.

Flag Stone Pantry Honest to Goodness offers food that is prepared fresh daily in small batches.  Focusing on wholesome, natural and seasonal ingredients.

And there was Empty bowl Gourmet Noodle Bowl, serving up authentic regional noodle bowls.  Specializing in small plates and handmade dumplings inspired by the cuisines of Thailand and Taiwan.

We would be eating at Corazon Cocina.  Corazon Cocina is serving inventive Mexican dishes.  Chef Ramon Velazquez is featuring tacos, ceviche, salads, and more!

The waitress bought out the Guacamole and the Queso Fundido.

The guacamole was made with avocado, serrano chiles, cilantro, onions and toasted market pepitas (a pumpkin seed).  The guacamole had a good balance of flavor. The toasted pepitas added a nice texture to the guacamole.  Served with housemade chips.

The Queso Fundido was incredibly delicious.  Made with melted Jack and Oxaca Cheese, mushrooms, roasted poblanos and caramelized onions.  Served with flour or corn tortillas. Superb.

We tried the Cauliflower taco.  Let me just say this was the best vegetarian taco I have ever eaten.  The Taco was presented perfectly.  An absolutely gorgeous taco.

The Cauliflower taco was made with tempura cauliflowers, ojai micro greens, creama almond arbol, dates and homemade tortilla.  Oh my, the flavors all married well together.  Incredible taco.

The Norteno Taco, included the grilled skirt steak, cheese, guacamole, beans, salsa mulgrosa on a homemade flour tortilla.  An amazing taco.

Our stop at Corazon Cocina was spot on.  Oh my word, everything was incredible.  We left and we were stuffed and ready for a nap.

We hopped on the bus and prepared to head to Wine Country.  Our next stop was Los Olivos.

The ride to Wine Country was absolutely gorgeous.  Hills, Valleys, Greenery and wide opened spaces.  A very scenic route.

“Los Olivos is Nestled among the verdant, rolling hills of Santa Barbara’s wine country. This charming historic town is renowned for its art galleries, wine tasting shops and craft boutiques”.

The wine tasting was held at Sarloos and Sons. “Located at 2971 Grand Avenue. Fun and fresh, step into the Sarloos & Sons tasting room and you’ll find five star wine with a healthy dose of the family’s signature humor and solid style. You’ll leave with a delectable bottle of wine, wishing you could sit around their dinner table”.

We arrived at Sarloos and Sons and were guided to the backyard.  The backyard was incredible.  I absolutely loved the layout of the backyard.  A gorgeous space.  Made us feel right at home.

We were instructed to grab a wine glass and cupcakes which were already portioned for us.  A cupcake and wine pairing is very interesting.  We had never heard of that before, but the group was excited about it.

SAARLOS and Sons Wine Co. Family + Farming + Vineyards + Wines.  Passion in a bottle.  Keith Saarlos began talking to us about their company.  His stories about each wine presented was heartfelt and touching.

I don’t drink wine, so I can’t tell you about the wine, but the cupcakes were incredible. The cupcakes were pretty.  There was a cupcake for each wine that was tried during the tasting.

I did ask a few of the other media/journalist and they were very impressed with the wine and cupcakes pairing.  Many of them purchased wine to go.

Even though I don’t drink wine, I loved this stop.  The story behind why they started the company and all of the family members they wanted to honor through their wine. As well as what the name of each wine means.  So good!

As we were leaving, I stopped by this cute lemonade stand.  The lemonade stand was so cute.  I wanted to go home and have one made for me this summer.  My kids would have loved a stand like this.

I tried the Lavendar lemonade.  The lemonade was mixed with a lavendar syrup that the owner makes himself.  He was so nice.  If you are in the area go over and buy some lemonade and say hi to him.

“Los Olivos Lemons is open and serving Cups of Happiness!  Come by for an all-natural, fresh squeezed, ice-cold, craft lemonade, enhanced with our signature handmade syrups. Located at the corner of Saarloos Paark on Grand Avenue”.

After grabbing my lemonade, I headed to the bus to make it back to port to catch our tender. We arrived back to the port with plenty of time to spare.

This excursion though only for a short period of time was amazing.  I was sad to leave Santa Barbara but I plan to visit again real soon.

During my next blog post on Princess Cruises, I will share about what happens aboard the cruise ship once we were back on board.

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