The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.
-Chinese Proverb

Cocktail Corner: New Luna Terraza at The Biltmore

by lesliedinaberg on April 29, 2017

Four Seasons Resort the Biltmore Santa Barbara's new Luna Terraza offers a unique, intimate spot for dining and cocktails. Courtesy photo.

Four Seasons Resort the Biltmore Santa Barbara’s new Luna Terraza offers a unique, intimate spot for dining and cocktails. Courtesy photo.

A Spirited Toast to All Things Alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg  

One of the swankiest spots in town, Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore, got even more wow-worthy with the recently opened Luna Terraza, which offers an exclusive and intimate outdoor private space just outside of the recently renovated Ty Lounge.

Lucky me, I got to try it out last week. My friend Nancy and I felt like royalty for the night as we were escorted onto the beautiful new terrace. Suitable for parties of up to eight guests, the stunning Luna Terrace feels like a journey to Morocco, complete with cushy curtains and couches in a rich palette of red, blue, camel and gold.

Enjoying a cocktail at the Four Seasons Resort the Biltmore Santa Barbara's new Luna Terraza. Courtesy photo.

Enjoying a cocktail at the Four Seasons Resort the Biltmore Santa Barbara’s new Luna Terraza. Courtesy photo.

Guests can enjoy several “Elite Experiences” including Tangier Bottle Service, Private Brunch, Casablanca Romance and Moroccan Feast.

An ultra premium cocktail experience, the Tangier Bottle Service includes:

—Rolling cart with private bartender service

— Choice of premium liquor bottle service and accompaniments

— Moroccan Mezze of dips served with grilled flatbread and fried pita

— Exclusive use of private terrace for up to 8 guests

—Option of sunset or moonlit service ( 3 hour limit, cost: $500)

Additional highlights from the menu include: Mezze featuring dips, such as yogurt herb, charred eggplant and warm housemade hummus (the best I’ve ever tasted); Moroccan Mezze plate, which comprises a whole roasted cauliflower (delicious), Moroccan chicken skewers, grilled lamb kefta and vegetable tagine; and a Private Brunch, with a Bloody Mary bar including a selection of house-made garnishes like hickory smoked bacon, mozzarella pearls, pickled asparagus and fried jalapeno. Bottomless Bellinis or Mimosas are also available, along with Chef Marco Fossati’s select brunch menu with seafood platter.

For more information, click here.

Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

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 April 28, 2017.

Cocktail Corner: Bottlest Winery Bar & Bistro

by lesliedinaberg on April 22, 2017

The Bottlest Bistro Bathtub Martini, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

The Bottlest Bistro Bathtub Martini, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

A Spirited Toast to All Things Alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg  

I pride myself on being a bit of a cocktail connoisseur, but last week I saw one of the cleverest cocktail embellishments I’ve seen: a little rubber ducky floating in the Bathtub Martini at the new Bottlest Winery Bar & Bistro in Buellton. Made with Andrew John’s Premium Gin and a twist of lemon, this isn’t the only clever cocktail on the menu.

The Bottlest Bistro Lavender Gin Paloma, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

The Bottlest Bistro Lavender Gin Paloma, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Gin is clearly having a moment, as evidenced by the lovely Lavender Gin Paloma (made with house-infused lavender gin, simple syrup and grapefruit juice) on the Bottlest menu.

We also liked the Dirty Flamingo (made with Giffard pamplemousse liqueur and crushed Prosecco), the Happy Canyon Daiquiri (comes standard with Real McCoy 3 year rum, lime, simple syrup and a dehydrated lime wheel, but can also be upgraded with Mount Gay Eclipse or even Plantation 5 Year Old Grand Reserve), and The Vandenberg (made with Milagro Silver Tequila, lime, simple syrup and a soda sidecar).

The Bottlest Margarita with Pinot Noir Salt Rim, courtesy photo.

The Bottlest Margarita with Pinot Noir Salt Rim, courtesy photo.

Also getting rave reviews is the Bottlest Margarita, made with Sauza Blue Reposado Tequila, orange liqueur, and a Pinot Noir salt rim—a clever touch that brings the wine and cocktail worlds together, as does this delicious new restaurant.

Hibiscus Lemonade and Lew's Gimlet from Bottlest Bistro, courtesy photo.

Hibiscus Lemonade and Lew’s Gimlet from Bottlest Bistro, courtesy photo.

The restaurant is new (with a fabulously elevated menu from former Head Chef of Barbareño Owen Hanavan), but the space (in conjunction with Terravant Winery) still offers its trademark “Wine Wall” of 52 constantly changing wines available by the taste, half glass or full glass. This is a definitely a destination that’s well worth the drive!

Cheers! Bottlest Winery Bar & Bistro is located at 35 Industrial Way in Buellton (805/686-4742, bottlest.com/bistro).

Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Bottlest Bistro Old Fashioned cocktail, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Bottlest Bistro Old Fashioned cocktail, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Leslie Dinaberg

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 April 21, 2017.

Cocktail Corner: Easter Dining and a Toast to Spring!

by lesliedinaberg on April 10, 2017

A Spirited Toast to All Things Alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg  

Spring is in the air, so what better time to sample some of the lovely new libations at our local watering holes. Hop on over and give these spring cocktails and dining options a taste:

Bella Vista at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore, courtesy photo.

Bella Vista at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore, courtesy photo.

Ty Lounge at Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara has a delicious Smoked Apricot Daiquiri—featuring Zaya 12 Year Rum, Apricot Puree, Chipotle Simple Syrup and Lemon—that will tingle your tastebuds. Bella Vista Restaurant at the Biltmore is always an elegant spot for brunch, but they’re an extra “Hoppy” Easter celebration for the whole family at Santa Barbara’s most beautiful al fresco setting, with an abundant holiday buffet, featuring traditional favorites as well as an extensive selection of seafood, salads, house-made pastas and carvings. Click here for reservations.

The Bottomless Bellini at Belmond El Encanto, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

The Bottomless Bellini at Belmond El Encanto, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

The beautiful rooftop Easter Brunch at the Canary is a special place to celebrate the holiday with breathtaking views, great food and live music. Finch & Fork Executive Chef James Siao has seasonal brunch items available like Create-Your-Own Omelets, a Pastry and Bread Bar, Seafood and Carving Stations, and an indulgent dessert table. Reservations can be made by calling 805/879-9100.

The Bottomless Bellini Brunch at Belmond El Encanto is another great way to toast the holiday season. The Moët & Chandon Impérial Champagne is flowing every Sunday, with delectable California-coastal cuisine and live jazz music. A seasonal selection of shared appetizers starts the experience. Then, select from à la carte entrées like Seared Local Swordfish or Riviera Clam Bake. Following this sumptuous meal, head to The Wine Room where an irresistible selection of desserts awaits. Click here for reservations.

Cocktails at the Outpost at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

Cocktails at the Outpost at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

Outpost at the Goodland is also serving brunch this Easter, where Chef Nick Bajal will be serving a buffet full of brunch favorites. Start with one of his tarts, like the PB&J or Summer Squash with cherry tomatoes and cheese, or the Crab Biscuit with uni butter. Then move on to Baked Egg Frittata with ham, asparagus and goat cheese, Chicken & Waffles with tabasco maple syrup and Build-Your-

Breakfast at Viva!, courtesy photo.

Breakfast at Viva!, courtesy photo.

Own Tacos. And don’t forget to order a brunch cocktail like a house Bloody Mary or lead bartender Chris Burmeister‘s signature Smokemosa (made with Scotch, orange juice and sparkling wine). Call 805/964-1288 to reserve your Easter brunch seat. 

Spice up your spring at Viva!, which is now serving both brunch and breakfast (and excellent Mimosas in three flavors—cranberry, peach or raspberry—Bloody Mary’s and “Turtle Juice” with homemade agua fresca and Cruzan Rum) on its beautiful patio with the turtle filled pond in La Arcada. Try the Upside Down Pancakes, assorted Breakfast Burritos, Southwest Scramble or Breakfast Tacos for some inspired modern Mexican cuisine. Click here for reservations.

Sunday Champagne Brunch at the Stonehouse at San Ysidro Ranch is always a treat, but their Easter Brunch menu is especially spectacular. It features specialties like Jumbo Lump Crab Benedict, Pepper Crusted Wagyu Striploin and Citrus Cured King Salmon, along with sparkling wine, mimosas and bellinis. Call 805/565-1700 for reservations.

Loquita, photo by Kaitlin Chamblin.

Loquita Tortilla Espanola, photo by Kaitlin Chamblin.

Loquita‘s three-course Easter brunch begins with a choice of Charcutería  y Queso or Manchego Tasting, followed with a choice of one Tapas per guest—Patatas Bravas,  Ensalada de Cítricos, Chorizo Picadillo, or Tortilla Espanola. That’s followed by Torrijas–Spanish French Toast with Cara Cara Orange & Crema Catalana—and a choice of their splendid Sangria–Sangria Rojo with Tempranillo, Torres Orange Brandy & Lemon;  Sangria Blanco with Albarino, Gin & White Peach or house Agua Frescas. Click here for reservations.

The Easter Brunch at Les Marchands features an array of menu items from Chef Weston Richards, including House-Made Ricotta with Seasonal Jam & Brioche Toast; House-Made Chorizo & Butternut Squash Frittata with Parmesan Cheese; Breakfast Poutine with Sausage Gravy, Cheddar Cheese & Poached Egg;  and Tres Leches French Toast with Cinnamon Whipped Cream & Berries, among others. Guests can also  indulge in specialty cocktails like the Easter Pamplemousse Spritz with Charbay Ruby Red Grapefruit Vodka, Fresh Squeezed Grapefruit Juice, Muddled Basil Leaf, Topped with Crémant Rosé, Splash of Soda and Grapefruit Garnish, as well as variety of other cocktails, wines and beers. For reservations, click here.

Breakfast at the Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach is always beautiful

Breakfast at the BoatHouse, courtesy photo.

Breakfast at the BoatHouse, courtesy photo.

(can anyone beat that view!). Try one of their many Breakfast Benedicts (Classic, Pork Belly, California or Smoked Salmon style Eggs Benedict, all with breakfast potatoes) or French Toast with a “Pancake Breakfast Cocktail” (Tullamore Dew/Butterscotch schnapps, OJ chaser and a strip of smoked bacon) for a special Easter treat. They don’t take reservations, so go early and plan to take a stroll on the beach to work up an appetite.

If an Easter lunch is your preference, head to Santa Ynez, where Alberto Battaglini of S.Y. Kitchen presents five new spring cocktails inspired by the warming temperatures, first of the season local market produce, herbs and botanicals: the Chamomile Sour; Spring

Pear & Honey Bramble pear-infused gin, honey liquore, pear, lemon, gomme syrup, crème de mure, courtesy S.Y. Kitchen.

Pear & Honey Bramble, photo by Elisabetta Antonacci, courtesy S.Y. Kitchen.

Negroni; Rio Nexpa; Rustic; and the Pear & Honey Bramble. Try the T-Bone Truffle Sliders, Wild Mushroom Papardelle or Yellow Beet Salad for lunch. You won’t be sorry! The wrap-around patio is an especially lovely spot to toast the season as well. Click here for reservations.

The Lark offers a tasty array of Easter holiday dinner specials such as Deviled Easter Eggs, Grilled Texas Quail and Roasted Banana Panna Cotta, as well as debut spring menu that includes Brillat Savarin Triple Crème Brie, Colorado Lamb Sirloin Tartare; Dungeness Crab Risotto; Slow-Roasted Niman Ranch Ribs; and ‘Shrimp & Grits’ with Fresh Caught Kauai Prawns. Toast the holiday with craft cocktails, like the new-to-the-season Hummingbird and Jackrabbit; as well as house specialties like Alice’s Flip; JP’s Paloma; Black Manhattan; The Mule; Old Aztec; El Topo; Industry Sour; and the Dirty One-Thirty-One. Click here for reservations.

Cheers to the season! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

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 April 7, 2017.

Cocktail Corner: Santa Barbara Food and Wine Weekend

by lesliedinaberg on April 1, 2017

Santa Barbara Food and Wine Weekend, photo by Coast Photography.

Santa Barbara Food and Wine Weekend, photo by Coast Photography.

A Spirited Toast to All Things Alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg  

If your ideal weekend involves food, wine and philanthropy in a beautiful setting, then the 4th Annual Santa Barbara Food and Wine Weekend April 7-9 at the Bacara Resort & Spa is the spring event for you.

Sponsored by The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts, this three-day weekend features a dazzling array of culinary celebrities and wine wunderkinds and pays tribute to the late Julia Child. Among the featured rock stars are wine pioneer Richard SanfordChef Nancy Silverton, and Child’s Great-Nephew, author Alex Prud’homme.

Some of the weekend highlights include:

Richard Sanford hosts a "Celebration of Santa Rita Hills" dinner as part of the Santa Barbara Food and Wine Weekend, courtesy photo.

Richard Sanford hosts a “Celebration of Santa Rita Hills” dinner as part of the Santa Barbara Food and Wine Weekend, courtesy photo.

“Celebration of the Santa Rita Hills” Dinner on Saturday, April 8 at 7 p.m.
This year’s Grand Dinner features wine pioneer Richard Sanford as the guide for a “Celebration of the Santa Rita Hills.” The evening traces the evolution of this unique Santa Barbara appellation, founded by Sanford, as eight wines from four Santa Rita Hills wineries will be paired with a special four-course menu created by Bacara’s Executive Chef Vincent Lesage.

Featured Wineries & Guests include hosts Thekla and Richard Sanford, along with Jeanette and Nick de Luca, from Alma Rosa Winery; Diana and Rick Longoria, from Longoria Winery; Sonja Magdevski and Greg Brewer, from Brewer Clifton and Diatom Wineries; and Justin Willett and Mandy Willett, from Tyler Winery.

Santa Barbara Vintners’ Wine Reception with Chef Nancy Silverton on Friday, April 7 at 7 p.m.
Join celebrated Los Angeles chef and multiple James Beard Award-winner, Nancy Silverton, and the Santa Barbara Vintners Association for a magical evening of tastes and sips. The Bacara’s ocean view Angel Oak restaurant makes a glorious setting for this extensive wine tasting reception featuring local wines and a specially curated menu by the talented Chef Silverton.

Scratch Kitchen's Phillip Frankland Lee and Margarita Kallas-Lee will do a cooking demonstration as part of the Santa Barbara Food and Wine Weekend, courtesy photo.

Scratch Kitchen’s Phillip Frankland Lee and Margarita Kallas-Lee will do a cooking demonstration as part of the Santa Barbara Food and Wine Weekend, courtesy photo.

Cooking Demonstration with Scratch Bar & Kitchen on Saturday, April 8 at 10:15 a.m.
Join the husband and wife duo behind the new Scratch Bar Montecito coming to Montecito Inn later this year, Executive Chefs and Owners Phillip Frankland Lee and Margarita Kallas-Lee. Experience how their collaboration in the kitchen has inspired the menu for their award winning restaurant and sample a preview of their latest Santa Barbara installment. Philip was named “Best Young Chef in America” by San Pellegrino and holds the record with The Food Network for Most Consecutive Wins, beating out the competition on Chopped, Guy’s Grocery Games and Cutthroat Kitchen. A few of Margarita’s accolades include Zagat’s “30 Under 30” and being nominated for the Young Gun award.

Craft Brewer’s Garden on Saturday, April 8 at 2 p.m.

The Bacara’s lush Ocean Lawn hosts tastings of craft cider, mead, beer, kombucha, spirits and cocktails—all produced locally. With your tasting you’ll have the opportunity to meet the talented brewers and mixologists to discover what makes their delicious libations unique. In between sips, savor bites of the specially-made culinary pairings. To complete the experience, live music by Rent Party Blues will entertain and enchant.

For more information and a complete schedule of events, click here.

The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts mission is to honor and further Julia’s legacy, which centers on the importance of understanding where food comes from, what makes for good food, and the value of cooking.  Headquartered here in Santa Barbara, the Foundation is a nonprofit which makes grants to support research in culinary history, scholarships for professional culinary training, internships in food writing as well as professional development and food literacy programs.

Hope to see you there! 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 March 31, 2017.

A Day Away: The Oaks at Ojai

by lesliedinaberg on March 31, 2017

Healthy spa cuisine at the Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

Healthy spa cuisine at the Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

Looking for a bit of spring cleaning for the mind, body and soul? The Oaks at Ojai (122 E. Ojai Ave.) is a great place to refresh and recharge your spirit any time of the year. I had a girlfriend getaway for a few days last fall and was pleasantly surprised and charmed at every turn.

Spring is an even better time to visit The Oaks, as April in Ojai brings special celebrations to honor the Pixie Tangerine, a special orange orb grown only in that area. In prior years, The Oaks’s guests have devoured more than 7,000 sweet, seedless Pixies during Pixie month. Expect to find special deals on tangerine tints and scents everywhere this time of year.

The Oaks at Ojai is a great spot for a getaway with friends, courtesy photo.

The Oaks at Ojai is a great spot for a getaway with friends, courtesy photo.

The Oaks is first and foremost a health spa, offering an all-inclusive healthy fitness and weight loss program with up to 15 optional fitness classes every day; hikes; three surprisingly tasty calorie-conscious meals per day, plus snacks and beverages; an on-site health advisor; evening activities and wellness lectures; and complete use of all resort facilities.

Fitness classes are a key component of the packages at The Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

Fitness classes are a key component of the packages at The Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

Other than spa treatments (which are included with some of the package deals), you won’t have to open your wallet for anything additional at The Oaks. Everything is included, which makes it a perfect time to try out new types of fitness classes. In just a couple of days, I was able to take classes in yoga, aqua cardio, Qigong, stretching, Zumba, aqua tone,Pilates and world grooves dance. Hiking, cardio/sculpting, balance, ballet/barre, dance Beliu and ball & band toning are also offered, along with other classes. There’s also a pool and a nicely outfitted weight room, for those who can’t get enough fitness!

A complete menu of spa treatments is available at The Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

A complete menu of spa treatments is available at The Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

The pampering side of the spa experience is also well done, with a nice steam room and sauna available, as well as any spa treatment your heart desires. I had an excellent Skin Authority Signature Facial, as well as a pedicure that lasted several weeks beyond my spa experience.

Fresh local ingredients are on the menu at The Oaks at Ojai, including Pixie Tangerines, which are only grown in the Ojai area. Courtesy photo.

Fresh local ingredients are on the menu at The Oaks at Ojai, including Pixie Tangerines, which are only grown in the Ojai area. Courtesy photo.

The food was also surprising tasty. Quinoa was once a dirty word in our house, but after trying Chef Christine Denney’s clever incarnations, I’m hooked and have tried several ideas from her Recipes From the Heart cookbook. All in all, the 1,200- 1,500-calorie-per-day menu was balanced and tasty, inspired by an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds and lean protein featuring wild fish and poultry, all without a touch of additional salt or refined sugar used in the preparation. Sure, my friend and I brought in our own wine to reward ourselves at night after all of those exercise classes, but it wasn’t because we were actually hungry!

The Oaks at Ojai is located right on the main drag in Ojai, within walking distance of boutiques, restaurants, galleries and more. Courtesy photo.

The Oaks at Ojai is located right on the main drag in Ojai, within walking distance of boutiques, restaurants, galleries and more. Courtesy photo.

An active and inspiring presence at the resort is founder Sheila Cluff, an internationally known fitness expert who created cardiovascular dance in the 1950s, later known as “Aerobics,” and pioneered the concept of the modern destination spa in the 1970s. Now an 80-year-old mother of four and grandmother of seven, Cluff still leads some of the brisk morning walks and hikes at The Oaks and absolutely embodies the lifestyle she teaches.

Cluff has said that she created the retreat to fit the needs of women over 40, and we certainly make up the bulk of the clientele these days. That’s not to say that all ages (and men) are not welcome. The Oaks at Ojai is truly a great place for a girlfriend getaway, but the spa’s approach is casual and welcoming to all, as well as affordable and fun. Plus the charming 1920s Spanish Mission Revival-style hotel fits right in with the artsy laid-back vibe of the town and is right on the main drag of Ojai, within walking distance to boutiques, restaurants, galleries and more. It’s an excellent place to regenerate or spring clean your mind, body, and spirit.  

Leslie Dinaberg

The Oaks at Ojai, 122 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai, 800/753-OAKS (6257), oaksspa.com.

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

Girls Inc. of Carpinteria’s Women of Inspiration Luncheon

by lesliedinaberg on March 31, 2017

Erica Ford, photo by Donna Alberico.

Erica Ford, photo by Donna Alberico.

Erica Ford, CEO and founder of LIFE Camp (Love Ignites Freedom through Education) and Peace is a Lifestyle, is the keynote speaker for Girls Inc. of Carpinteria’s Women of Inspiration luncheon on Monday, April 3 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Girls Inc. campus, 5315 Foothill Rd. in Carpinteria.

Ford grew up in the high-crime neighborhood of Jamaica, Queens in the 1980s, where she attended countless funerals for friends. Tragic violence in her community inspired her to create LIFE Camp, which provides at-risk inner-city youth (ages 13-24) the valuable tools they need to stay in school and out of the criminal justice system.

The foundation also spawned Ford’s Peace is a Lifestyle program, featuring holistic guru and acclaimed author Deepak Chopra, who makes monthly visits to LIFE Camp to talk to and meditate with the group participants. In partnership with Chopra and yoga teacher Eddie Stern, Ford created the Urban Yogis program, inspiring at-risk youth to choose alternative pathways toward positivity and peace. Ford and the Urban Yogis lead yoga in the New York City Public School system, in detention centers, and at the Baisley Park housing project in Queens.

“Each year our luncheon celebrates the achievements of women who are inspiring the next generation of girls to have a voice and to dream big,” says Victoria Juarez, Executive Director of Girls Inc. of Carpinteria. “Erica Ford, our honorees, and Girls Inc. member Andrea Saldana (a 17-year-old student at Carpinteria High School), who will share her story at the luncheon, are each role models in their own right for all girls. We’re proud to recognize these courageous women who embody our mission to teach girls they are valuable, powerful and deserving of every opportunity.”

“I admire organizations likes Girls Inc. that nurture the greatness in young women and girls,” says Ford. “I am honored to play a part in helping garnish support for Girls Inc.’s mission and sharing the vision at the annual Women of Inspiration luncheon. Together we can all make Peace a Lifestyle.”

The Women of Inspiration luncheon also recognizes three honorees with deep roots in community involvement and service, who have proven to be outstanding role models for young women: Nini Seaman, a parent volunteer, local artist, and dedicated Girls Inc. supporter and former board member; Asa Olsson, a local actress who spent 17 years building a unique drama program and performance center at Girls Inc. of Carpinteria; and Mericos Foundation, a supporter of Girls Inc.’s Eureka Program.

The fundraiser luncheon is co-chaired by Nancy Koppelman and Amanda Kastelic. All proceeds will support Girls Inc. of Carpinteria’s mission to inspire girls to be strong, smart, and bold.

Ford will also lead a free-to-the-community/all-ages yoga session with her Urban Yogis Juquille Johnston and Raheem Lewis on Tuesday, April 4 at 4:15 p.m. at the Santa Barbara Courthouse, Sunken Gardens Lawn, 1100 Anacapa St. It features Robbie Nova and DJ Magneto and is open to all ages.

For more information about Women of Inspiration or Yoga on the Lawn, or to purchase tickets to the luncheon, please call 805/684-6364, email vjuarez@girlsinc-carp.org or visit girlsinc-carp.org.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 30, 2017.

Cocktail Corner: Garagiste Wine Festival

by lesliedinaberg on March 25, 2017

Courtesy Garagiste Festival.

Courtesy Garagiste Festival.

A Spirited Toast to All Things Alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg  

April Fools’ Day is coming soon, and what better way to celebrate the lighter side of life than one of my favorite wine festivals: the 2017 Garagiste Wine Festival: Southern Exposure.

The unique thing about this event is that it showcases micro-production wines made made by garagiste winemakers, commercial artisan winemakers who handcraft under 1,500 cases a year and pay close, hands-on attention to every wine they make.
Starting in 2011, the nonprofit Garagiste Festivals have introduced hundreds of outstanding artisan winemakers to thousands of passionate wine consumers, members of the trade and media, raising the profiles of many of the winemakers nationally for the first time, and raising thousands of dollars for the education of future winemakers.  The festival benefits the Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture Department.
Courtesy Garagiste Festival.

Courtesy Garagiste Festival.

“Garagistes” (garage-east) is a term originally used in the Bordeaux region of France to denigrate renegade small-lot wine makers, sometimes working in their “garages” (anything considered not a chateau), who refused to follow the “rules,” and is now a full-fledged movement responsible for making some of the best wine in the world.
Here’s the schedule for this fun event:

Friday, March 31: “Rare & Reserve” Kick-Off Party: 6:30-9 p.m. with tastings of limited Club Only, Verticals, Library and Pre-Release bottles

Saturday, April 1: Seminars 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
“What’s Wrong With This Picture? Educate Your Palate About the Most Common Wine Flaws” moderated by winemaker and festival co-founder Stewart McLennan, is led by Marcy Mallette, Winemaker/Technical Representative for Laffort USA

and

“An Exploration of Grenache: Not Just for Blending Anymore” featuring Zac Wasserman (Frequency Wines), Sonja Magdevski (Casa Dumetz) and Cris Carter (Weatherborne), along with their wines.

Saturday, April 1Grand Tasting 2-5 p.m.

Sunday, April 2: Passport Day, where, for the first time ever, local Santa Ynez Valley wineries will be offering special opportunities for Garagiste Festival attendees. Vineyard tours, winery tours, barrel samples, free and discounted tastings, discounted pricing and club-member-for-a-day benefits are just some of the treats being offered by participating wineries.

Courtesy Garagiste Festival.

Courtesy Garagiste Festival.

Get ready for a comfortable and relaxed tasting experience with personal winemaker interaction, high quality wines, first-time and soon-to-break-out discoveries (*seven winemakers will be pouring for the first time), diverse grape varieties and a renegade and fun-loving spirit on display.

Winemakers scheduled to pour include: Artisan Uprising, Ascension Cellars, Bevela Wines, Bradley Family Wines, Brian Benson Cellars, Camlow Cellars, Carivintas, Carter Paul Wines*, Casa Dumetz Wines, Central Coast Group Project, Cholame Vineyards, Cloak & Dagger Wines, Clos des Amis, Coda Wines, Comartin Cellars*, Cordon Wines, Dascomb Cellars, El Lugar Wines, Frequency Wine Co., Golden Triangle, Iter Wines, Jalopy Wine Company*, Jamie Slone Wines*, JP3 Wines, Kaleidos Winery, Larner Vineyards, Levo Wines, Mallea Wines, Mattina Fiore, McKinney Family Vineyards*, MCV Wines, Metrick Wines*, Mollie Wines, Montemar Winery, Ryan Cochrane Wines, Seagrape Wine Co, Serrano Wines, Skyenna Wines*, Tercero Wines, Turiya Wines, Weatherborne and West of Temperance. 

Tickets are very limited and Garagiste Festivals always sell out. To purchase tickets and for more information, visit http://garagistefestival.com.

Hope to see you there! 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 March 24, 2017.

Local Lowdown: Mesa Burger

by lesliedinaberg on March 20, 2017

Photo courtesy Mesa Burger

Iron Chef and Santa Barbara local Cat Cora is certainly on a roll! Her new burger joint, Mesa Burger, is constantly packed with fans awaiting the award-winning chef’s crave-worthy burger creations.

So far, my favorites are the Montecito (made with griddled goat cheese, bourbon glazed mushrooms, house onion ring, truffle aioli, arugula and grilled onions) and the Goodland (with double cheddar, sliced & grilled 805 beer brat, crispy onion strings, applewood smoked bacon and smoked bbq sauce), but we’re slowly working our way through the entire menu.

In addition to turkey patties, great sides and delicious salads, the gluten free buns and veggie (vegan/gluten free) patties are also reportedly quite tasty, as are the local beers and wines on tap.

All in all, Mesa Burger (315 Meigs Rd., 805/963-7492, mesaburger.com) is a welcome addition to the Mesa neighborhood.

Leslie Dinaberg

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

Local Lowdown: The Sun Rises on Somerset

by lesliedinaberg on March 18, 2017

Photo courtesy Somerset

An elegant addition to the downtown Santa Barbara restaurant scene, Somerset is an old world European style grand café created by Steve Hermann Hotels and Restaurants of Palm Springs’ acclaimed L’Horizon Resort and Spa fame. The impressive décor features deep chesterfield sofas, polished zinc tabletops, and 50’s modern vintage chairs and lighting, a swanky combination of mid century and art deco influences.  And then there’s the gorgeous courtyard patio with a canopy of 100-year-old olive trees planted in rubble stone planters designed to create the mood of an old courtyard in Tuscany.

Photo courtesy Somerset.

Photo courtesy Somerset.

Chef Lauren Herman (formerly of the James Beard Award-winning A.O.C. and Lucques in Los Angeles) has created a menu that takes advantage of the bounty of the Santa Barbara coast by sourcing all produce within a 100-mile radius and utilizing daily deliveries by local fish mongers and livestock humanely raised on ranches in the hills above America’s Rivera. A visit to Somerset promises an evening of sure-to-be-memorable farm-driven California cuisine with light French and Italian influences. At press time it was dinner only, but plans to add lunch and brunch to the menu are in the works.  

Somerset, 7 E. Anapamu St., 805/845-7112, somersetsb.com.

Leslie Dinaberg

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

Local Lowdown: Alcazar Wins Official Drink of SB Bragging Rights

by lesliedinaberg on March 14, 2017

The competition heats up as the eventual winners from Alcazar Tapas Bar prepare their entry for 2017 Official Drink of Santa Barbara craft cocktail contest. Photo by Danielle Methmann

It was a heated contest, but Alcazar Tapas Bar’s Ginspiration Point came out the big winner in the 2017 “Official Drink of Santa Barbara” craft cocktail contest.

An homage to Inspiration Point, one of the most famous—and famously beautiful—hiking trails in Santa Barbara’s foothills, this refreshing, citrus-forward cocktail features locally sourced ingredients—from the base spirit, Cutler’s Artisan Spirits Gin, to Nostrum’s Pineapple Turmeric Ginger Shrub—along with Bénédictine, Chartreuse, and fresh produce and herbs sourced from Santa Barbara farmers markets: lime, mint, rosemary flowers and egg white.

“We feel incredibly fortunate to be carrying the torch for Santa Barbara’s cocktail community among some truly gifted barkeeps,” says Alvaro Rojas, owner of Alcazar Tapas Bar, who was joined by bartender Kyle Pete at the competition. “This cocktail is really an homage to the local makers and growers that have made Santa Barbara not only a beautiful place to live but also a world-class pantry of ingredients.”

The cocktail will be on the menus at both Alcazar (1812 Cliff Dr.) and its sister restaurant, milk & honey (30 W. Anapamu St.), for the remainder of the year.

Visit Santa Barbara challenged local restaurants, bars and lounges to develop a new, unique signature mixed drink to celebrate the distinctive attributes of The American Riviera. The other four finalists were “La Reina” by The Boathouse; “Montecito” by Loquita; “True North, The Quintessential Santa Barbara Cocktail” by Olio e Limone; and “The Passion of the Pacific” by Rodney’s Grill at Fess Parker: A Doubletree by Hilton Resort.

I was honored to be part of the judging panel, and they were all quite delicious.

Leslie Dinaberg

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