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Cocktail Corner: Central Coast Wine Classic

by lesliedinaberg on August 23, 2017

Courtesy Central Coast Wine Classic.

Courtesy Central Coast Wine Classic.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

This week brings the 32nd Annual Central Coast Wine Classic, as well as the 75th birthday celebration of its Founder & Chairman Archie McLaren. A benefit for the Talley Winery Fund for Vineyard & Farm Workers, the Friends of Hearst Castle and the Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts, this weekend is a celebration of great wine as well as great generosity.

First up, on Thursday, August 24 is a Rare French Wine Dinner taking place in the private dining room of the LIDO at Dolphin Bay Hotel & Spa in Pismo Beach.

The dinner begins with a toast featuring the extraordinary Limited Edition 2006 Lanson “Clos Lanson” Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne in Magnum. According to organizers, “In 2016, Champagne Lanson winemaker Hervé Dantan decided to release 7,870 bottles (Only 655 cases!) of 2006 Clos Lanson, which are all individually numbered. Considered as ‘one of the most exciting new wines of the entire Champagne’ region by the well-known Champagne expert, Richard Juhlin; indicated as the ‘Haut Brion’ of Champagne in Drinks Business, Clos Lanson is a precious and rare wine from the one hectare comprising the only vineyard in the city of Reims. This exceptional and rare Champagne, which Dantan unequivocally states is ‘certain to delight the most demanding connoisseurs,’ was aged for nine years prior to release, and the Magnums will be released to great anticipation and fanfare this year during Vinexpo in Bordeaux.”

Courtesy Central Coast Wine Classic.

Courtesy Central Coast Wine Classic.

Dolphin Bay Resort Executive Chef Jacob Moss will present a creative six course menu that showcases the remarkable rare wines, all of which were provided by Don Schliff, a longtime supporter of the festival and Retired CEO of Imports for Wine Warehouse. Among the highlights: 2014 Didier Dagueneau ‘Silex’ Pouilly Fume; 2006 Marquis de Laguiche Montrachet in Magnum; 1999 Armand Rousseau Clos de Beze in Magnum; 1970 Chateau Lynch-Bages, Pauillac in Magnum; 1989 Hommage a Jacques Perrin Chateau de Beaucastel in Magnum; 1990 M. Chapoutier Le Pavillon Rouge and 1967 Chateau d’Yquem, Sauternes.

Friday, August 25 offerings include a choice of two winery dinners:

A Farm to Table Dinner at Talley Vineyards & Winery in the Arroyo Grande Valley, Prepared by Chef Brian Collins and featuring San Luis Obispo Wine Country wineries, plus special Edna Valley and Arroyo Grande Valley Vintners who are Wine Classic supporters. Participating wineries include: Center Of Effort, Chamisal,Laetitia, Niven Family, Saucelito Canyon, Talley, Tolosa and Verdad.

Courtesy Central Coast Wine Classic.

Courtesy Central Coast Wine Classic.

Also on Friday, August 25 is a superb group of iconic California Vintners at Lido Restaurant at Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa in Pismo Beach. The wineries include Alma Rosa from the Santa Rita Hills, Au Bon Climat in the Santa Maria Valley, Babcock in the Santa Rita Hills, Eberle from Paso Robles, Pisoni from the Santa Lucia Highlands and Pride Mountain at the confluence of Napa and Sonoma Counties.

Courtesy Central Coast Wine Classic.

Courtesy Central Coast Wine Classic.

The 32nd Annual Auction, on Saturday, August 26 at the ACI Jet Services Hangar at the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport, features an impressive array of wines and upscale experiences available to bid on, as well as a super silent auction and multi-course gourmet luncheon.

The super silent auction includes many large format etched and hand-painted bottles from magnums to salmanazars representing the unique blends created for the Wine Classic over the years. The live auction will include not only unique etched and hand-painted large format artist bottles, but also rare wines from throughout California and around the world, many donated by McClaren from his private cellar.

The auction luncheon is prepared and presented by Wine Classic’s family of chefs including: Chef Rick Manson of Chef Rick’s Ultimately Fine Foods, Chef Frank Ostini of Buellton Hitching Post and Chef Michael Hutchings of Michael’s Catering in Santa Barbara.

Courtesy Central Coast Wine Classic.

Courtesy Central Coast Wine Classic.

On Sunday, August 27 is the VIP Departure Brunch at the Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa in Pismo Beach, featuring a  special Champagne and caviar from Graham Gaspard of Black River Caviar as a fond farewell to this extravagant event. For more information, visit centralcoastwineclassic.org.

Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on August 23, 2017.

Cocktail Corner: Wine & Fire Weekend

by lesliedinaberg on August 18, 2017

Wine & Fire Weekend, courtesy Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance.

Wine & Fire Weekend, courtesy Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

Sta. Rita Hills Wine Alliance hosts the annual Wine & Fire Weekend Aug. 18-20. In addition to special events and tastings throughout the weekend at member wineries, there is also a Barn Party at Dierberg Star Lane on Friday Aug. 18, where member wineries will share their library stashes, large format bottles and small production wines to get you warmed up for the weekend.

Participating Wineries include: Babcock Winery, Bratcher Winery, Brewer-Clifton, Byron Winery, Crawford Family Wines, Dierberg, Fiddlehead Cellars, Flying Goat Cellars, Foley Estates, Hilliard Bruce, Hitching Post Wines, Ken Brown, La Voix Winery, LaMontagne, Loring Wine Company, Lutum Wines, Montemar, Peake Ranch, Sanford Winery & Vineyards, Seagrape Wine Company and Spear. Plus, antipasti and wood fired pizzas by Bello Forno, a cheese buffet presented by Central Coast Specialties and great music by the T-Bone Ramblers will set the pace for a weekend of wining and dining.

Wine & Fire Weekend, photo by Jeremy Ball, Bottle Branding, courtesy Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance.

Wine & Fire Weekend, photo by Jeremy Ball, Bottle Branding, courtesy Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance.

Next up on Saturday morning is a Focused Tasting and Lunch Featuring the Vineyards of Santa Rosa Road. The morning will begin with a Sparkling Reception, followed by a “virtual” tour as you travel through the mile markers of Santa Rosa Road. The event takes place at El Jabali Vineyard and Matt Kettmann, from Wine Enthusiast, will act as tour guide.

Vineyards and producers representing: Bentrock – Bratcher, Babcock, El Jabali – Alma Rosa, Fe Ciega – Longoria / Fiddlestix Vineyard – Dragonette, Fiddlehead, Hitching Post / La Rinconada – Sanford / Lafond Vineyards – Lafond, Sweetzer Cellars / Peake Ranch – Peake Ranch Wines / Quinta Santa Rosa Vineyard – Prodigal / Radian – Ken Brown, Crawford Family Wines, Montemar / Rancho La Vina – Seagrape, Temperance Cellars, LaMontagne / Rio Vista Vineyard – Thorne, Flying Goat, Montemar, Temperance Cellars / Rita’s Crown Vineyard – Babcock,  Sweetzer Cellars / Sanford and Benedict Vineyard – Hitching Post, Sanford and Ken Brown.

Wine & Fire Weekend, photo by Jeremy Ball, Bottle Branding, courtesy Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance.

Wine & Fire Weekend, photo by Jeremy Ball, Bottle Branding, courtesy Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance.

After the tour is lunch and a sampling of Rose wines produced by the members.

Finally, on Sunday, Aug. 19 is the Grand Tasting, where more than 40 wineries and sizzling local chefs and farmers will be on hand for an evening of chilling and grilling at the beautiful, historic La Purisima Mission, located on the edge of the AVA. Babe Farms, Campbell Farms, Central Coast Specialty Foods, Homegrown Cowboy, The Hitching Post II, Los Amigos BBQ, Tollhouse BBQ, Scratch Kitchen, The Ballard Inn and the Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers will be serving up an amazing selection of local food favorites!

Participating Wineries: Alma Rosa, Ave, Babcock, Bratcher Winery, Brewer-Clifton, Byron Winery, Buscador, Clos Pepe Estate, Crawford Family Wines, Dragonette, Fiddlehead Cellars, Flying Goat Cellars, Foley Estates, Hilliard Bruce, Hitching Post Wines, Ken Brown, Kessler-Haak Wines, Kitá Wines, La Voix Winery, Lafond Winery, LaMontagne, Liquid Farm, Longoria, Loring Wine Company, Lutum Wines, Montemar, Moretti Wines, Pali Wine Company, Peake Ranch, Sanford Winery & Vineyards, Seagrape Wine Company, Spear, Sweetzer Cellars, Temperance Cellars, Thorn – The Prisoner Wine Company, Transcendence and Zotovich Vineyards & Winery.

For more information, visit staritahills.com/wine-fire.

Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on August 18, 2017.

Cocktail Corner: August Ridge Vineyards Opens Tasting Room in La Arcada

by lesliedinaberg on August 5, 2017

Manager Elise Kimball (left) and Hope Riley welcome visitors to the new August Ridge Tasting Room in La Arcada. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Manager Elise Kimball (left) and Hope Riley welcome visitors to the new August Ridge Tasting Room in La Arcada. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

A little gem of a tasting room recently opened its doors in La Arcada.  August Ridge Vineyardsa family-owned winery ten miles outside of Paso Robles in Creston, specializes in Italian varietals (Sangiovese, Barbera, Nebbiolo, Pinot Grigio, Primitivo and more).

The winery was started by John Backer and Jill Zamborelli Backer back in 2001, but their shared passions for food and wine have even deeper roots. John’s family has been growing grapes in California since the 1800’s, while Jill’s family brought their Italian food and wine traditions over from a small town just outside of Rome.

The charming new August Ridge Tasting Room in La Arcada. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

The charming new August Ridge Tasting Room in La Arcada. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

I tried both the regular and estate reserve tasting flights (with some assistance from my husband), and was pleased with the offerings from this small production winery. In particular, their flagship wines were delicious. Try the 2012 Jovial, an estate reserve super Tuscan blend with the tasty aromas of red cherry and plum, and the 2012 Ingenious, another estate reserve blend, primarily Nebbiolo-based, with a robust, earthy flavor.

These wines are all lovingly produced in very small quantities, so we are fortunate to be able to taste them right in our own backyard.

August Ridge Tasting Room hours are as follows: 

Charley is on hand to greet visitors at the August Ridge Tasting Room in La Arcada. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Charley is on hand to greet visitors at the August Ridge Tasting Room in La Arcada. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Wednesday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

Sunday-Monday: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Tuesday: closed

The tasting room is located at 5 E. Figueroa St. in La Arcada. Stop by and say hello to Tasting Room Manager Elise Kimball and her adorable doodle dog, Charley. For more information visit augustridge.com.

Cheers! Click here for more Cocktail Corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

 Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on August 4, 2017.

Cocktail Corner: Brave & Maiden Tasting Room Breaks Ground

by lesliedinaberg on August 2, 2017

Brave & Maiden tasting room, courtesy image.

Brave & Maiden tasting room, courtesy image.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

Brave & Maiden Estate recently broke ground on its new winery and tasting room, which will be located on the winery’s 60-acre estate along Refugio Road in Santa Ynez. The sustainably farmed vineyard takes its name from the “Legend of Nojoqui” (pronounced Naw-ho-wee), an indigenous incarnation of Romeo & Juliet. Set at the nearby Nojoqui Falls, the legend recounts the story of star-crossed lovers who choose death over separation.

The new facility and tasting room has been in the works for many years. Brave & Maiden Estate was established in 2011 and occupies the land they purchased in 2010. Planted to 46 acres of vineyards—including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache, and Sauvignon Blanc—Brave & Maiden’s wine program, led by winemaker Paul Hobbs, has found success in both restaurants and bottle shops throughout Southern and Central California, earning accolades for their single-vineyard estate wines and red blends.

Entrance to Brave & Maiden tasting room, courtesy image.

Entrance to Brave & Maiden tasting room, courtesy image.

The new facility will offer an entirely new tasting experience, along with a production facility for up to 8,000 cases. “We are thrilled to see the project get underway,” says Jason Djang, Managing Director. “The plans have been in the works for some time, so we’re excited to finally see earth moving and our vision coming to fruition.”

The project is designed by renowned wine country architect group Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects, known for projects such as Harlan Estate Winery, Larkmead Winery and Meadowood Napa Valley, among others. The space is Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects’ first project on the Central Coast, and is designed to prominently showcase views of the picturesque vineyard overlooking the Santa Ynez Mountains.

Brave & Maiden winemaker Paul Hobbs, courtesy photo.

Brave & Maiden winemaker Paul Hobbs, courtesy photo.

 “At Brave & Maiden, our goal is to not only be great vintners, but gracious hosts as well,” states Djang. “Hospitality will be central to our DNA as we create a unique and unforgettable experience with our wines, and the estate.” 

The winery and tasting room will open its doors by appointment the second half of 2018—a milestone the Brave & Maiden team feels will expand their goals as a brand.

“Santa Barbara County truly is a world-class wine region and I welcome the opportunity to be involved as the area embraces growth,” says Hobbs.

 “We were humbled by the market’s reception of the brand in 2014, selling out of our first two vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon,” says Djang. “Now, with construction of our new winery underway, we’re eager to open our own doors for guests to experience our wines first-hand. Obviously, we believe in the greatness of Santa Barbara County as a wine region and have invested accordingly.”

Brave & Maiden vineyard, courtesy photo.

Brave & Maiden vineyard, courtesy photo.

For more information, visit braveandmaiden.com.

Cheers! Click here for more Cocktail Corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

 Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on July 28, 2017.

Style File: Beachy Keen Beauty Products

by lesliedinaberg on July 28, 2017

Now that summer is in full swing, here’s a round-up of our absolute favorite can’t-leave-home-without-them products for the season. Take a peek inside our beach bags before you hit the sand.

Just when  you think you’ve seen everything under the sun in the sunscreen, along comes yet another format: Supergoop! SuperPower Sunscreen Mousse SPF 50 is the first ever sunscreen in a mousse formula! The light as air, quick absorbing, water resistant formula delivers broad spectrum SPF 50 with a smile. Blue Sea Kale provides antioxidant protection, while a blend of Shea butter, olive and avocado oils leaves the skin nourished and moisturized. This complex blend of natural oils acts as a daily moisturizer to rehydrate skin. Available exclusively at Sephora (in Paseo Nuevo) & Sephora.com.

If mousse is not your sunscreen preference, what about powder? Colorescience Brush-On Sunscreen offers powerful SPF 30 UVA/UVB protection, alone or over makeup. You can use it instead of makeup for natural-looking coverage and SPF in one simple, on-the-go application and water-resistant, sweat-resistant sun protection.

Protect your hair from the sun and even undo some of the damage caused by heat styling, humidity and sun with Art Naturals Argan Oil Thermal Shield. This blend of natural extracts provides deep layers of moisture while providing a barrier against heat. Spray it on before outdoor activities and it also works as a natural detangler for unwieldy and thick hair.  Key Ingredients include: Anise, Rosemary, Peach, Thyme, Sage and Ginseng. 

Keeping your nails looking pretty and healthy is even more important during the summer, when toes are exposed much of the time. Surya Brasil’s Exotic Animals Nail Polish Collection is a unique nail collection is inspired by nature’s wonderful colors—and each shade is dedicated to a specific exotic animal from all over the world.

The summer sun can dry out your lips, but butter LONDON’s Sheer Wisdom LUSH Lip Oils will protect, firm and restore your lips with a blend of amino acids and a fusion of botanicals that saturate your lips in lush, sophisticated color for a sheer wash of neutral color in one quick swipe. Available online at www.nordstrom.com.

A day at the beach is great, but it’s easy to leave feeling less than fresh. Want to run errands on-the-go without stopping for a shower? Purequosa Organic Cleansing Body  Spray is a unique product that you spray on the skin to hydrate and help to neutralize odor. The ingredients include Colloidal Silver which has antiviral, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Plus, it’s available in three light scents: Coastal, Desert and Rain.

Sometimes you want to have that beach look without actually getting a tan. True Natural Self Tanners offer safe, non-toxic alternatives to tanning that avoid the dangers of UV rays, tanning beds and spray tanning. These award-winning self-tanners use natural ingredients, including vegetable-derived DHA and Erythrulose, to give your skin a gorgeous, natural tan without sun exposure, resulting in a gorgeous tan after only 3-4 hours that lasts up to a week!

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on July 24, 2017.

First Person: Sullivan Goss Gallery’s Nathan Vonk

by lesliedinaberg on July 17, 2017

 New Sullivan Goss Gallery owner Nathan Vonk is flanked by his colleagues and fellow curators Jeremy Tessmer and Susan Bush.

New Sullivan Goss Gallery owner Nathan Vonk is flanked by his colleagues and fellow curators Jeremy Tessmer and Susan Bush. Courtesy photo.

Preserving the Legacy, Embracing the Future

By Leslie Dinaberg

The link between Burning Man’s annual bacchanal festivities and Sullivan Goss Gallery’s 30-plus-year legacy of celebrating important 19th-, 20th– and 21st-century American art may seem tenuous, but it was a visit to Burning Man that first sparked Nathan Vonk’s interest in art and the friends he made in the desert that first brought him to Santa Barbara.

Armed with a master’s degree in post-modern literature theory, Vonk taught night school at Ventura College and walked dogs during the day. He eventually bought out the owners of the dog business, ran it for a few years and then sold it for a profit, right before the market crashed in September of 2008.

Now fully enmeshed in the Santa Barbara scene, Vonk contemplated going back to school and getting a doctorate in art history or curatorial sciences and asked Sullivan Goss curator Jeremy Tessmer if he “could volunteer some hours at the gallery, so I could see if it was something that I wanted to do in graduate school.” Vonk laughs, “I came in and volunteered for the week, and on Friday, Frank [Goss] offered me a job. I never went back to school, and I’ve been there ever since.”

He continues, “I was the one guy in the whole country who got a new job in October of 2008. When everyone else was going on unemployment and Bear Stearns was crashing, I was one of the luckiest people in the country. I’ve been at Sullivan Goss ever since, and I couldn’t be happier.”

So happy, in fact, that when Goss told the team (which includes Tessmer and fellow curator Susan Bush) he planned to retire after 2016, Vonk bought the gallery because he wanted to make sure the legacy continued, with its staff intact.

If you think of arts in Santa Barbara as an ecosystem, the part that Sullivan Goss fulfills—if that goes away, the whole ecosystem suffers greatly and it’s not a part that someone is going to step in and fill that void. That was a large part of my motivation to take on the risk of running a commercial gallery,” says Vonk.

He and his wife, Erin Smith, have a son, Lowen, who, Vonk says, “has been to more art shows at age 2-1/2 than I think the average Santa Barbaran probably has.”

Part of what Vonk loves about Santa Barbara is its casual, egalitarian nature. “I think we all understand how lucky we are to work in a gallery like this, in a town like this. Shortly after working for Frank, I had the opportunity to go to New York and visit galleries…the whole vibe there is so different than it is in Santa Barbara. If you don’t look like you can afford it, they don’t give you the time of day.…It kind of left a bad taste in my mouth about the whole situation, and it made me all the more excited to come back and work for Frank, because we don’t operate that way. In part we can’t, because the man or woman who comes into our gallery in shorts and flip-flops could very easily be a billionaire, and I don’t know that. So I have to treat everyone like they are billionaires, and I like that.”

Vonk views part of his art-dealer role as acting like a sort of docent, saying, “What we sell are not just pretty pictures; they are pretty pictures that come with a history and a provenance and some other interesting part of them that, hopefully, people who are interested in buying them will understand that if they buy them, they are only going to be a small portion of that object’s history.”

He also clearly loves the work. “One of the great things about Sullivan Goss is that I was sort of an academic, and I loved studying and writing essays and we do all that.… We’ve written four or five books…all the things I wanted from going back to school I got. Plus I got to stay in Santa Barbara so it was even better.”

Originally published in the Summer 2017 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

Cocktail Corner: Local Restaurants Earn Wine Spectator’s Top Honors

by lesliedinaberg on July 14, 2017

The Stonehouse at San Ysidro Ranch, courtesy photo.

The Stonehouse at San Ysidro Ranch, courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

As if there were any doubt that Santa Barbara County is Wine Country, Wine Spectator recently honored 20 local restaurants with their highest honors for excellence.

“Wine Spectator‘s Restaurant Awards recognize restaurants whose wine lists offer interesting selections, are appropriate to their cuisine and appeal to a wide range of wine lovers,” according to the guidelines.

The Stonehouse at San Ysidro Ranch earned The Grand Award, which is Wine Spectator‘s highest honor, given to only 89 restaurants around the world. According to Wine Spectator, this honor is “given to restaurants that show an uncompromising, passionate devotion to the quality of their wine programs. These wine lists typically feature 1,000 or more selections, and deliver serious breadth of top producers, outstanding depth in mature vintages, a selection of large-format bottles, excellent harmony with the menu, and superior presentation. These restaurants offer the highest level of wine service.”

Angel Oak at the Bacara Resort & Spa, Los Olivos Wine Merchant & CafeOpal Restaurant & Bar and Wine Cask all earned The Best of Award of Excellence. “These wine lists display excellent breadth across multiple winegrowing regions and/or significant vertical depth of top producers, along with superior presentation. Typically offering 350 or more selections, these restaurants are destinations for serious wine lovers, showing a deep commitment to wine, both in the cellar and through their service team,” according to Wine Spectator.

“We are thrilled for the honor in our first year of opening,” says Anne Elcon, Director of Marketing & Communications at Bacara Resort & Spa.

Angel Oak Wine Cellar, LaFemme Photography, courtesy photo.

Angel Oak Wine Cellar, LaFemme Photography, courtesy photo.

Also receiving The Award of Excellence, for “wine lists, which typically offer at least 90 selections, feature a well-chosen assortment of quality producers, along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style,” were several other local restaurants: BarbareñoBella Vista at Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara, Bouchon Santa Barbara, Chuck’s Steak House Of Hawaii, Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant, Olio Pizzeria, Olio e Limone Ristorante, S.Y. Kitchen, Sly’s, The Harbor Restaurant, The Hitching Post II, The Lark, Tre Lune and Willows at Chumash Casino Resort.

Cheers! Click here for more Cocktail Corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

 Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on July 14, 2017.

Local Dish: Santa Barbara Author Pens “A Visitor’s Guide to Mexico City Street Food”

by lesliedinaberg on July 13, 2017

Courtesy photo.

Richard Lambert, the local chef behind the beloved (and now gone) Santa Barbara Tamales To Go, has turned his culinary talents toward Mexico City’s colorful street food scene with a new book, A Visitor’s Guide to Mexico City Street Food, that turns the spotlight on the world’s number one travel destination (New York Times).

Lambert lived in Mexico City for much of last year with his daughter Juliet, who owns a restaurant and catering business there, and says he “grabbed the opportunity to eat my way across the city, finding something new on every street. The options are endless when there are an estimated half million street food vendors in the city.”

Cleverly written, with tongue-in-cheek chapter titles like “Tacos are King of the Night” and “The Salsa Tells You Who is Cooking,” Lambert’s 37-page guide provides street food recommendations, descriptive photos, food and health safety tips, and on-the-street videoclips. The ebook also comes with a separate 40-page Spanish-English glossary of food terms, which is particularly useful, as Lambert describes Mexico’s pambazos, tlayudas, arrachera, costras and huitlacoche as “some of the best street foods you’ve probably never heard of, and will have fun discovering.”

Courtesy photo.

For the record, pambazos are a Torta (sandwich) that takes its name from the bread it is traditionally made with, pan basso. Lambert writes, “This peasant roll is chewy-tough and able to hold up well when it is split and fully dipped in guajillo chile sauce and briefly fried. The roll is then filled with potatoes, chorizo, refried beans, lettuce, crema, and garnished with queso fresco. This torta originated in Mexico City.”

He describes tlayudas as “large, thin crusted, fried or toasted tortilla covered with a variety of meats, cheeses, vegetables and salsas. It is often called a Mexican pizza because it looks similar. The tlayuda originated in the state of Oaxaca.”

Arrachera is “thin sliced, grilled hanger steak with spice and cilantro marinade. (A) popular taco filling.” Costras are a “popular late night Mexico City street food item that is like a taco, but the ‘tortilla’ is made of cheese that is melted on a grill and then wrapped around the filling of your choice.”

Courtesy photo.

Courtesy photo.

Huitlacoche, (pronounced “wheet-lah-KOH-cheh”) is “a fungus that invades growing corn kernels and changes them into soft blackish lumps,” writes Lambert. “In the United States, it is called corn smut or devil’s corn, and is treated as a disease. In México, however, it is prized as a culinary delicacy and is even referred to as a Mexican truffle by gourmet chefs. Huitlacoche is used to flavor quesadillas, tamales, burritos, soups, as well as other dishes.”

If those descriptions don’t make you hungry, flipping through the ebook’s colorful photos certainly will.  A Visitor’s Guide to Mexico City Street Food is $12.95, and may be ordered online here.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on July 12, 2017.

 

Happy Together Tour Returns to the Chumash Casino

by lesliedinaberg on July 13, 2017

Put on your dancing shoes and get ready to go back in time with the Happy Together Tour, featuring an impressive collection of top recording artists from the 1960s.

The Turtles’ Flo & Eddie, The Association, The Cowsills, Chuck Negron, The Box Tops and Ron Dante return together to the Chumash Casino Resort’s Samala Showroom at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 14. With 53 top Billboard hits among these six headliners, this should be fun trip down memory lane.

The Turtles scored their first Top 10 hit with the Bob Dylan cover “It Ain’t Me Babe” in 1965. They would reach the top of the charts in 1967 with “Happy Together,” which would become their best-known hit.

The Association had numerous top hits including “Windy,” “Cherish,” “Never My Love” and “Along Comes Mary.” They are noted for their intricate vocal harmonies by the band’s multiple singers.

Happy Together Tour, courtesy photo.

Happy Together Tour, courtesy photo.

The Cowsills, a family affair that inspired the TV series The Partridge Family, will sing hits “The Rain, the Park and the Other Things,” “Hair,” “Indian Lake” and “We Can Fly.”

Chuck Negron, a former member of American rock band Three Dog Night, is sure to perform a few of the band’s top hits including “One,” “Easy to Be Hard,” “Pieces of April,” “Just an Old Fashioned Love Song” and “The Show Must Go On.”

The Box Tops are best known for their hits “The Letter,” “Cry Like a Baby” and “Soul Deep.” Their unique sound combines elements of both soul music and light pop.

American singer, songwriter and producer Ron Dante is best known as the lead singer of the fictional cartoon band The Archies. The band delivered top hits “Sugar, Sugar,” “Jingle Jangle,” “Bang-Shang-A-Lang” and “Who’s Your Baby.”

This legendary collection of Pop greats from the ‘60s performs at the Chumash Casino Resort, 3400 Highway 246, Santa Ynez. Tickets for all events are available at the Chumash Casino Resort’s Club Indulge or online at www.chumashcasino.com.

—Leslie Dinaberg

 Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on July 11, 2017.

 

Local Lowdown: Carrying a Torch for Tiki Drinks

by lesliedinaberg on July 6, 2017

High Roller Tiki Lounge seating area, courtesy High Roller Tiki Lounge.

High Roller Tiki Lounge seating area, courtesy High Roller Tiki Lounge.

By Leslie Dinaberg

Entering Solvang’s High Roller Tiki Lounge is like taking a trip back to the mid-century era of kitsch culture—perhaps an episode of Mad Men on a tropical vacation crossed with a visit to Disneyland’s Tiki Room. This clever concept shouldn’t be a surprise, given that owner Michael Cobb had a 17-year career with Disneyland before relocating to Solvang in 2007 to found Sort This Out Cellars wine-tasting room, another kitschy charmer inspired by the Rat Pack era when men were men and real women had curves.

High Roller Tiki Lounge, located in the intimate back room of Sort This Out Cellars, is a dimly lit tropical oasis with immaculate attention to detail. The décor offers something to amuse on every available surface, including hula-dancer tchotchkes, a wood-carved “Witco” bar and a replica of P.T. Barnum’s “Feejee Mermaid.” Custom-made swizzle sticks and mermaid mugs also set the stage for a fun array of classic inspired Tiki “Winetails,” ranging from tweaks on the traditional “Mai Tai” and “Blue Hawaiian” to the more adventurous “Solvang Siren” and “This Drink Will Get you Lei’d,” in which, yes, a necklace of flowers does indeed appear when you order it!

This whimsical spin on Tiki bars is a great way to make your Solvang experience even more international—and more fun! 

High Roller Tiki Lounge, 1636 Copenhagen Dr., Solvang, highrollertiki.com.

Originally published in the Summer 2017 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.