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Dreaming in DelMar
May, 2012 - Issue #91
The Do Not Disturb sign hanging from the door on our room at L'Auberge Del Mar nicely summed up our recent weekend there - "Dreaming to the sound of the waves."

It's an uncommon commitment to service that transforms the humble door hanger into poetry. But at L'Auberge (French for "inn") Del Mar, that commitment is evident in every detail, allowing you the luxury of relaxation and the freedom to dream.
The resort is nestled in the heart of Del Mar, a two-square-mile city north of San Diego known for its seaside horse racing track "where the turf meets the surf."

Overlooking Del Mar Beach, L'Auberge invites the ocean in to mingle with its guests. That begins in The Living Room, or what other hotels call the lobby. It's well suited to getting acquainted.

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L'Auberge Del Mar

Dark wood floors and white beamed ceilings frame the homey space. Cozy chairs and couches encourage soft conversation punctuated by ocean breezes, or simple contemplation of the view off the terrace. Cocktails from the adjacent bar, or fresh cupcakes from the front desk, complement either choice.

The commitment to comfort extends to the guest rooms of course. Designer Barclay Butera created a setting of casual elegance, blending subtle oceanic decor with rich woods and white marble fire places. In our room, plantation shutters opened on to a small balcony where we sat and watched surfers bobbing in the swells.
L'Auberge Del Mar received a AAA Four Diamond Award, and Conde Nast ranked it among the "Best Luxury Resorts" in the country. Awards for Kitchen 1540, the resort's superlative restaurant, are inevitable.

Executive Chef Scott Thomas Dolbee blends the familiar with the unexpected to create a self-described dining "adventure" in farm-to-plate cuisine. Any worthwhile adventure begins with an open mind, and that's certainly true at Kitchen 1540.

Take the first course. Who said a salad must contain lettuce? Toss out that rule with yesterday's iceberg and savor an organic beet salad marked by the unique flavors of caramelized yogurt, Valdeon blue cheese, pistachio brittle and arugula.

Main courses also offer the possibility of exploration. Roasted Tai snapper is accompanied by butternut squash puree, bacon, root vegetables and apple cider reduction. Prefer to go down a heartier road? Opt for the fork-tender braised Kurobata pork shoulder paired with whipped potatoes and celery, and accented by pickled onion and a subtle mustard.

And how might your adventure end? With a twist, of course - apple funnel cake with goat cheese ice cream. Don't question it. Just order it, and experience the combination of cinnamon sweetness played off against tart creaminess.

Whatever you choose, know the perfect beverage will be available to accompany your selection. Intriguing craft beers, like the certified organic Eel River Porter, are always available. And the wine bar's Cruvinet offers 24 varieties by the glass.

Given L'Auberge's proficiency for pampering, which includes Spa L'Auberge, it's tempting to stay in and never venture outside. But the surrounding area offers plenty of incentives for exploration. Quaint shops and boutiques are a short stroll away. Spectacular golf courses, including Torrey Pines, site of the 2008 U.S. Open, are nearby. And Torrey Pines State Reserve is just three miles south.

The 2,000-acre natural area is criss-crossed with eight miles of trails that wind past the distinctive trees and descend the cliffs to the pristine beaches below. While the sun, sand and salty air can be invigorating, a lengthy hike may land you by the pool or in the spa for recuperation.

Then again, you may need a nap. In which case, simply hang the sign on the door and let L'Auberge Del Mar do what it does best - deliver sweet dreams.
Eric Harnish lives in Castaic.
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L'Auberge Del Mar

Dreaming in Del Mar
L'Auberge Del Mar
866-289-0445
www.laubergedelmar.com

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
858-755-2063
www.torreypine.org
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