A PATENT ON AUTUMN ENJOYMENT: We wouldn't dare claim that any single California town owns a particular season outright, because every place has its charms, depending upon the time of the year. (Okay, heat waves maybe bring the charm down a notch most everywhere, granted.) But, come autumn, a number of more rustic villages, some close to mountains, some to the ocean, take on a mellowness and beauty that draw daytrippers from all points. Ojai is one such place, and while its citrus-growing ways can dominate the food lover's springtime visit, its ripening fruits and gold-turning leaves give its fall some distinct rustic-a-tude. Wanting a rustic day away, complete with the cuisine the foodie-nice area is known for, is thus a truly autumnal impulse, and one that can be fulfilled by joining a Ventura Food Tour. The easy-paced walk-around -- which leads to sampling, noshing, and the discussing of various dishes -- offers an Ojai Food Tour that takes on several shops and cafes through the main heart of the city. The upshot? You'll join your guide on a jaunt that includes "stopping at six different shops and restaurants for tastings and conversations with many of the shop owners and chefs that make Ojai the great dining destination that it is."
CONVERSATION... is key to culinary enjoyment, so consider your Ojai eating adventure to be educational as well. Will you return home with a general sense of what locals like to sup on in the region? What grows well? What cooks who live there do best? You will, you will. A ticket is fifty four bucks, things rev up around 10:30 a.m. in downtown Ojai, and the walking and chowing down lasts for three hours. Call it lunch-plus, with some lively socializing and lookie-loo-ing thrown in. You can depart after that, for your home port, but if you're lingering in the area overnight, keep an eye out for the town's famous Pink Moment. It matters not if it is autumn or spring or summer or winter; the mountains surrounding the hamlet still take on a fruit-hued light come sundown. Could the Pink Moment be the visual dessert at the end of your Ojai Food Tour day? Try it and see if you don't feel sated upon seeing this one-of-a-kind sight.