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For a taste of Italy without the hassle of international travel, take a quick trip to Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad and enjoy Pranzo, a relaxed Italian-style brunch served at Vivace. Begin with a peachy Bellini, crisp Negroni or refreshing spritz as you peruse the entree and contorni (side dishes) choices. The Wagyu flat iron steak with horseradish mostarda is an excellent pick, especially when paired with peewee potatoes enhanced by garlic and rosemary. The caper and grilled Meyer Lemon-enhanced branzino alongside caramelized cauliflower with anchovy, currants and pine nuts is another standout. Be sure to select different dishes than your dining partner as they are served family-style for sharing.
Before the main event enjoy simple edible pleasures from the trio of antipasti bars. The crudo bar is a treasure trove of tender seafood delicacies. Try the poached Caledonian prawns with a splash of salsa rosa, or the Skuna Bay salmon with a pinch of sea salt flakes, a squeeze of lemon and a paper-thin slice of jalapeño. Move on to the artisan salumi bar for fresh cuts of house cured meats such as coppa and soppressata paired with creamy-centered burrata and orbs of mozzarella made fresh at the station. Be sure to leave room on your plate for delicate baby beets, grilled asparagus, and a salad of fennel and oranges. Candied pecans, honeycomb and an array of crusty Italian breads accent the spread.
As you linger over the first course, mains and sides arrive. Share, savor and spend your time lingering over the flavors. The antipasti stations will still be there should you desire more. Afterwards, enjoy a sweet finale over dolce, the elaborate dessert course. Visit the self-serve dessert bar and take your choice of classic Italian desserts such as tiramisu, torta al limone, budino al caramello and cannoli.
Pranzo is served every Sunday from 11:30am to 3pm in Vivace’s elegant Mediterranean- inspired dining room, or outside on the breezy ocean-view terrace. Phone 760-448-1234 for reservations.
When I’m looking for a healthier alternative to the standard champagne brunch, I head to Veladora at the Forbes Travel Guide Four Star-rated Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa. The lavish resort is located in the pastoral Rancho Santa Fe community, and is nestled on 45 lush acres dotted by verdant foliage, blooming shrubs, citrus trees, and olive groves. The drive out there puts me in a mellow mood, and by the time I arrive I feel as serene as the setting itself.
The relaxed yet elegant ambiance at Veladora reminds me of a modern hacienda. Plush banquettes (complete with fluffy throw pillows), soaring open-beamed ceilings, a flickering fireplace, and huge windows overlooking the bucolic landscape perfects the scene. As for the cuisine, Executive Chef Eric Bauer incorporates much of what I see in the gardens around me into his menu. He uses locally grown, freshly picked ingredients including herbs, olive oil, and honey sourced directly onsite at Rancho Valencia.
Inspired by the setting, I'll often begin my meal with sense-based slow juices such as Wellness Journey. This slightly sweet juice is a refreshing combination of apples, kale, and celery that makes me feel as good as it tastes. I love to pair this with the Acai Breakfast Bowl, which includes bananas, house-made granola and nutrient-rich bee pollen. For my main I choose the Mediterranean Spinach & Roasted Chicken Salad intertwined with herbed couscous, kalamata olives, pickled onion, cucumber and marinated feta.
My husband enjoys heartier meals such as the San Danielle Prosciutto & Egg Breakfast Flat Bread made with truffle chive cream cheese, shaved asparagus, and eggs served sunny side up. For a sweet finish he selects the pillowy Belgian Beer Waffle complemented by farm-fresh berries, creamy apple butter, and a light dusting of powdered sugar. He likes to pair this with a Valencia Protein Smoothie that combines chocolate, bananas, and peanut butter with a protein boost for a rich and creamy shake that keeps him fueled up and feeling great for the rest of the day.
Veladora is located within Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa at:
5921 Valencia Cir
Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067
Ph: (858) 756-1123