Neither Jason nor I were able to get dinner reservations anywhere tonight – it is Valentine’s Day and we both didn’t plan far enough ahead. We headed downtown to Elements to see if we could get one of the tables in the bar. Fortunately we lucked out and were able to get a table by the window– so we had a view of the Santa Barbara courthouse. We got married in the clock tower of the courthouse and then we had dinner at Elements, so it is extra fun that we are celebrating Valentine’s Day here. We ordered wine to drink while we were deciding what to order. I had the 2007 Chien Edelzwicker (my favorite white blend of 2008) and Jason ordered a glass of Prosecco. For our first course we had two salads, one was prosciutto and citrus on a bed of watercress and the other was a squid salad on mixed greens. For my entrée, I chose a swordfish fillet with mole and fingerling potatoes and kale. It was, hands down, the best mole sauce I have ever had. If you haven’t tried mole yet, you should go to Elements. It is an intriguing blend of chocolate (bitter, not sweet), cinnamon, chili peppers (usually ancho, pasilla, mulato, chipotle), nuts or seeds, garlic, and onions. It seems that there is no single way to make mole, it is very open to interpretation and experimentation. This mole tasted rich and had a slow, mellow burn with a very slight tang. It was so perfectly balanced – richness and spice dancing in my mouth! During dinner I had a glass of Tercero blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. It was the second glass that I ordered…the first one I am sad to report wasn’t good so I ordered a different wine. Life is too short to drink wine you don’t like. It was a 2006 Syrah from Barrel 27 and it smelled like sherry and wet cardboard. On the palate it didn’t taste bad per se, but it sure didn’t taste good either. It was a new wine at Elements, so the waitstaff couldn’t tell me if this was just an aberrant bottle. I generally like the wines from Barrel 27, so I am inclined to believe that it was just an “off” bottle. Jason ordered the 2005 Beckman Syrah. I am consistently pleased with the wines from Beckman, especially the Syrah and Grenache. Expressive and lush, they are sheer pleasure to drink! We had a chocolate ganache dessert, reminisced some more about our sunny afternoon wedding years ago and then headed home. At home we opened a Paso Robles blend of 55% Syrah, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc and 9% Zinfandel. It was the 2004 RN Estate Cuvée des Artistes. I loved the flavor combination of blackberry, spice, licorice and white pepper. There are some really amazing wines coming out of the Paso Robles area. We went wine tasting there last year in September and were surprised at how many wonderful wineries we found. We’ll be going again this year at least once or twice, in search of more great wine.  Drop me a note if you have any favorites in Paso!