Olafur Arnalds: Music as Beautiful as Sunday Brunch at The Hotel Del Coronado

I pretty much consumed my daily recommended value of calories, sugar, and fat all on one plate...and this was the  sixth plate I ate.

I pretty much consumed my daily recommended value of calories, sugar, and fat all on one plate…and this was the sixth plate I ate.

Occasionally, while engaged in the humdrum existence of everyday living, the mundane is transcended by a moment of sublime, ethereal beauty. In the past 24 hours I have been fortunate to partake in not one, but two moments that I will no doubt remember for the rest of my life.

Yesterday started off the way any lazy summer weekend should: with a late wakeup call, followed by a drive to the beach. It just so happened that the beach I went to was hosting a Switchfoot concert, so Nick (he of onion ring orgasm fame), my brother Eli and I walked further up until we reached a less occupied break. After an hour or so, I left Nick and Eli behind and made the two hour drive to Pomona, where I saw Olafur Arnalds perform at The Glass House. Sublime barely begins to describe his music. Arnalds weaves classical influences such as Chopin with sparse, austere notes that evoke the volcanic, wind-whipped terrain of his native Iceland. This piece from his new album For Now I Am Winter exemplifies the soft piano that lays the foundation for much of his music, with the strains of cello and violin adding a haunting, sorrowful depth.

Before seeing Arnalds in concert (and getting his autograph), I arrived with enough spare time to explore Pomona. There’s a lovely section of the city that is dedicated to the arts, and I stumbled across art galleries, record stores, and a used bookstore. Previously, the only reason I knew Pomona even existed was because it is home to Cal Poly Pomona, the less-glamorous sister campus of Cal Poly San Louis Obispo. It’s nice to know that the good people of Pomona have all sorts of wonderful pastimes to occupy their weekends.

After arriving home late at night and sleeping in today, I went to the timeless Hotel Del Coronado with Eli, my dad, and my stepmother Lori to celebrate her birthday as well as Eli’s admission to UC Berkeley. Normally, we’re not really into splurging, but considering how monumental both occasions were on their own, it was fitting we celebrated them both simultaneously. $80 USD for a single person’s meal seems like a lot–that’s more than I plan to spend per day in Europe–but parents were created for a reason, and I happily ate my money’s worth. With the exception of the oysters on the half shell, which were a little rubbery and clearly shipped from very far away, every single piece of food I consumed was of exceptional quality. I took a photo of each plate (including dessert, which you got to see at the very top), and labeled each item I ate, but I will share my 5 favorite foods from the buffet, and you can see them for yourself here.

1. Leg of Lamb – Given a juicy medium-rare cut, I avoided garnishing it with the multitude of tempting sauces and instead opted to sprinkle finely ground Himalayan pink salt on it. Each piece melted on my tongue.
2. Blueberry Creme Brulee – Eli found this delicious take on the French classic in the dessert section, and it was love at first bite. Except you couldn’t really bite it, because the custard simply dissolved into pools of eggy, blueberry-y deliciousness the moment you spooned it into your mouth.
3. Beef Shortrib – This dish was prepared a little bit more than most of them–it featured a cippolini onion garnish, and chimichurri topping. The meat itself was braised to perfection and was paired off nicely with the underlying sweet potato puree.
4. Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler-The pieces of rhubarb carried this one over the top. I put it on my plate almost as an afterthought but wished I had taken a bigger slice of it.
5. Shellfish Pozole Soup – I didn’t take a bowl for myself, but Eli gave me some of his and it was fantastic. The tomato stock was mildly spicy, but it had a wonderfully hearty cornmeal finish and the dollop of cream Eli added rounded it off beautifully.

Whether you’re a resident of San Diego or just visiting, there must be some occasion worth brunching here for, and I’ll happily bet your $80 meal ticket that you won’t be disappointed.

So, now that I’ve had my say, what do you think? Did you listen to the Olafur Arnalds track and have a life-changing epiphany? Did you find yourself thinking that $80 for a single meal is crazy, no matter how good the food may have been? Let me know!

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