Ojai, CA // Super Love Weekend!
Rahim has been working a ton with his super awesome start up job (yay Open Drives!), so he told me a few weeks ago to book anywhere for a random weekend we were both free. Since we randomly ended up in Mammoth I thought it best to pick something nearby-ish to save money on airfare, which is how we ended up in lovely Ojai!
I will say what we saved in airfare we spent on the Airbnb and neither of us are mad about that. We stayed in this adorable guest cottage from Homeaway and it couldn't have been more perfect. Even though it's a guest cottage you're completely secluded from the main house by a fence and you never interact with the main tenants, so don't let that deter you. In fact, Kim sent me a lovely pre-check-in email, and we arrived to an adorable polka dot bag filled with local tangerines and a bag to bring to the farmer's market with us Sunday. A true gem, I would highly recommend staying here if you get the chance!
The weekend started off strong with a drive up the coast during sunset. Turns out baby velociraptor (my car) can have some pep to her with the right force applied! We stopped at V's Restaurant in Malibu on the way up and magically found an amazing parking spot. They put us in an adorable booth in the back and our food was delicious - especially the ahi tuna tartare. Word from the wise though: we hit a DUI checkpoint about a mile and a half after this. Make sure you don't drink & drive folks! (we did not obviously :)). Once we snuggled into our adorable Airbnb it was lights out for the night.
Since I've never been to Ojai I was fortunate enough to have my wonderful wanderlusty friend @margaritaflorez give me the rundown, so I must admit a ton of what we did was upon her suggestion! That included our morning breakfast and Farmer and the Cook (that face above is Rahim telling me it's annoying to take photos all the time lol!) followed by lattes at Coffee Connection. The food was delicious at Farmer and the Cook, especially for having no meat! We ate outside there and then moseyed to the outdoor patio at Coffee Connection. Both of these places are quintessential Ojai in look and feel!
After that we had our noon appointment at Ecotopia, which is a big secluded area in the local Matilija Canyon hot springs. This place does not allow photos or posting on social media but it is absolutely worth the see. There's a really cute path to a creek and then the hot springs are super relaxing. Don't forget your towels like we did and make sure you get a reservation! Once you're done you get to select something from their garden on the way out too - we obviously took more tangerines (you want something with water after hot spring-ing it up!).
Even if you're not going to hit up Ecotopia, I would recommend the drive anyway. You pass by the Matilija Reservoir and the Ojai Pixie Tangerine Farm (we wanted to go on this tour but they weren't open sadface). We actually did this drive twice because Rahim lost his bracelet in the hot springs. If you go there and find a braided leather bracelet with a silver skull charm please let me know!
You also pass by the Deer Lodge, which we simply couldn't resist after round 2 of passing. This bar is AWESOME. The decor is totally lumberjack / biker - I mean it's a "farm to table" bike bar haha - with log cabin feel and animal heads. The craft beer selection was vast and they let you mix and match whatever you want into a flight. I highly recommend the Honey Avocado Wheat if it's still on tap! The food was also really tasty. Rahim had fish and chips while I had fried truffle parmesan green beans which was seriously just as delicious as it sounds.
Next up was the Ojai Olive Oil Company Farm - they make incredible olive oil and gives tours on Saturdays in their lovely patio garden area! Our guide was the original owner of the farm (her son now runs it) who calls herself a "world citizen" but is mostly French. She did a fantastic job explaining how the olive picking process works and how olive oil is made. The biggest takeaways were a) always buy olives from a glass jar not a can and b) always use extra virgin olive oil. We got to taste their entire selection and ended up with some olive oil from their Spanish tree and Raspberry vinegar. Even if you don't stay for the tour definitely take a look around cause the area is gorgeous.
I could seriously just go on forever about the quantness and beauty of Ojai. There are tangerine trees EVERYWHERE and everything is just so relaxing. Every building in the town is gorgeous and unique, while still fitting in with the overall aesthetic. We ate at Azu for dinner and literally sat for 3 hours just enjoying each others' company and the delicious food and wine. Everyone we met was so friendly and the sleepy lifestyle makes Ojai the perfect destination for a weekend getaway.
In the morning we walked around the farmers market which was abuzz with happy people and strawberries from the Oxnard festival going on this weekend! We had brunch at Noso Vita which was delish and then headed on over to the Ojai Vineyard Tasting Room to pick up wine for our friends watching Watson (and ourselves, let's be real). It turns out if you buy 2 bottles your tasting is free...so down 5 taster glasses went! My favorite was the Rose of course, followed by the Syrah and the Reisling. Their Pinot wasn't my favorite but that was one of three and they rotate frequently.
Even the GAS STATION is cute! The below two pictures are from the one we stopped at right off the main drag. I wish my house was this cute, let alone the local GAS STATION!
Our final destination before heading home was my friend Jessie's self proclaimed Oyster Fest at the Jolly Oyster in Ventura. I had never heard of this before but boy am I glad I know now! Jolly Oyster parks two trucks at this park in Ventura - one is a food truck with prepared dishes, and the other is pure oyster heaven. The Jolly Oyster company grows (harvests?) their own oysters and they have 3 kinds which range from small to large. It turns out they also have a Torrance location, which I will need to eat at stat.
Jessie brings a group of oyster-loving individuals once a year to chow down on said oysters and share other delicious food. The Jolly Oyster serves their own mignonette (new word I learned - basically the delicious vinegar mix you put on your oyster) and Jessie made one as well which was fantastic. The group was also grilling oysters, some with garlic and some with blue cheese! In addition to the spread of cheeses, meats, fruit and crackers, Jessie made a clam bake which I didn't try but everyone was raving about.
One of the most fun parts was learning how to shuck the oyster. It turns out I'm a natural! You just find the hole, stab and twist :). I think I probably ate close to 15 oysters myself and I am not mad about it at all. The best part? Once you're done eating your delicious little oyster, you just chuck the shell into the graveyard of shells surrounding the park! What a mother-shucking good time.
Home. Passout. So tired now.