One of the more benignly overlooked truths of human interaction is that none of us ever believes in the reality of other people's inner lives with quite the same egocentric fervor that we believe in our own.
-Daphne Merkin

Local Lowdown: Frankland’s Crab & Co.

by lesliedinaberg on September 25, 2017

Casual, salt water scented delights await visitors at the Frankland's Crab & Co. in the Montecito Inn. Photo courtesy Scratch Restaurants.

Casual, salt water scented delights await visitors at the Frankland’s Crab & Co. in the Montecito Inn. Photo by Jaycob Layman.

By Leslie Dinaberg

The first of three new dining experiences coming to Montecito Inn (1295 Coast Village Rd.) this fall from the renowned Scratch Restaurant team is Frankland’s Crab & Co., a modern-day casual seafood shack inspired by chef Phillip Frankland Lee’s childhood memories of good times with loved ones accompanied by seaside meals of lobster rolls, peel-and-eat shrimp and clam chowder.

The menu focuses on fresh catches (sold by weight) like chilled white gulf prawns, wild-caught king crab legs or Maine lobster—whipped with remoulade and spiked with pickles and celery salt—served in a house-baked buttery brioche roll or simply over lettuce.

Franklands weekend crab boil, photo by Jakob Layman.

Franklands weekend crab boil, photo by Jakob Layman.

Standout fish & chips features a flavorful filet of wild-caught branzino battered in Scrimshaw brew, while “Chowda” is an intense stock made from a variety of shellfish, teeming with jewels like house-cured bacon, crab, lobster and prawn. Riffs on other classics include freshly shucked fried oysters & clams and Mary’s fried chicken roll topped with a tangy Giardiniera. Corn on the cob is brushed with lobster butter (freshly churned butter drawn and steeped with lobster shells). Try a Margarita’s homemade ice cream sandwich for dessert. Yum!  

Franklands Crab & Co., photo by Jakob Layman.

Franklands Crab & Co., photo by Jakob Layman.

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

Lila Downs

by lesliedinaberg on September 25, 2017

 

Mexican-American balladeer Lila Downs, kicks off the 2017-18 UCSB Arts & Lectures season with her deeply affecting voice and dramatic performance style on Wed., Sept. 27, at 8 p.m. at The Granada Theatre. Photo by Marcela Taboada.

Mexican-American balladeer Lila Downs, kicks off the 2017-18 UCSB Arts & Lectures season with her deeply affecting voice and dramatic performance style on Wed., Sept. 27, at 8 p.m. at The Granada Theatre. Photo by Marcela Taboada.

The Los Angeles Times describes Lila Downs as, “A renowned Mexican balladeer known for her wild outfits, wide range and powerful voice, a goose-bump-inducing instrument that can go from playful to grave from one note to the next.”

“Few alternative artists have the dynamic power and range of this bilingual warrior-woman,” states NPR.

Grammy Award-winning Mexican-American balladeer Lila Downs will kick off the 2017-18 UCSB Arts & Lectures season with her deeply affecting voice and dramatic performance style on Wed., Sept. 27, at 8 p.m. at The Granada Theatre. Known for her powerful three-octave vocal range, unique synthesis of indigenous Mesoamerican music with cumbia, soul, jazz, hip hop and stunning wardrobe based on the textiles of Mexico’s indigenous cultures, Downs’ new album, Salón, Lágrimas y Deseo, was released in May to wide critical acclaim.

Mexican-American balladeer Lila Downs, kicks off the 2017-18 UCSB Arts & Lectures season with her deeply affecting voice and dramatic performance style on Wed., Sept. 27, at 8 p.m. at The Granada Theatre. Photo by Marcela Taboada.

Mexican-American balladeer Lila Downs, kicks off the 2017-18 UCSB Arts & Lectures season with her deeply affecting voice and dramatic performance style on Wed., Sept. 27, at 8 p.m. at The Granada Theatre. Photo by Marcela Taboada.

In addition to Downs’ performance, there will be an opening night celebration starting an hour before the show, featuring live music and dance from Chinelos of Santa Bárbara and Southern California in front of the Granada Theatre, plus Oaxaca-inspired drink specials next door at The Good Lion

For additional information or to purchase tickets, call 805/893-3535, visit www.ArtsAndLectures.UCSB.edu or contact The Granada Theatre at 805/ 899-2222 or granadasb.org

Leslie Dinaberg

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

Cocktail Corner: California Brew Festival

by lesliedinaberg on September 22, 2017

Courtesy California Brew Festival.

Courtesy California Brew Festival.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

As a winemaker friend once told me, “It takes a lot of beer to make good wine.” So I guess that means that bringing the California Brew Festival here to wine country is long overdue. 

More than 40 breweries will come together to pour hundreds of craft brews from all over the world at the inaugural festival, which takes place on October 7 at Chase Palm Park.  Expect thousands of beer lovers to pour into Santa Barbara for a day of sun, sea, beer, food and music. Guests grab their 16 oz. glass and start sipping just a frisbee throw away from the sparkling Pacific, while One2Tree, a soulful reggae band, keeps the beat.

Courtesy California Brew Festival.

Courtesy California Brew Festival.

Featured breweries include: 10 Barrel Brewing Co.; Angel City Brewery; Avery Brewing Co.; Ballast Point Brewing Co.; Bell’s Inspired Brewing; Brass Bear Brewing and Bistro; The Brewhouse; Captain Fatty’s Craft Brewery; Coedo; Coronado Brewing Co.Draughtsmen Aleworks; Figueroa Mountain Brew Co.; Firestone Walker Brewing Company; Garage Project; Hollister Brewing Company; Knee Deep Brewing Co.; Lagunitas Brewing Company; M. Special Brewing Company; Pure Order Brewing Co.; Rincon Brewery; Rogue Ales & Spirits; Saint Archer Brewing Company; Santa Maria Brewing Co.; Stone Brewing Co.; Tap It Brewing Co.; The Dudes’ Brewing Company; Third Window Brewing Co.; Topa Topa; Unibroue and Ventura Coast Brew Co.

Courtesy California Brew Festival.

Courtesy California Brew Festival.

California Brew Festival benefits Surf Happens Foundation, whose mission it to enrich the lives of local youth through environmental education and the sport of surfing.

The event takes place on October 7, from 2-5 p.m., with V.I.P. entrance at 1 p.m.

Courtesy California Brew Festival.

Courtesy California Brew Festival.

General Admission Ticket ($75) includes:

    • All beer, cider and wines tastes
    • Souvenir pint glass
    • Food samples from local restaurants and food purveyors
    • Live music by Neighborhood Thieves and One2Tree

VIP Ticket ($100) includes all of the above plus:

  • VIP Pavilion catered by Patxi’s Pizza with pizza, salads and appetizers
  • Rare brews only offered in the VIP area
  • Wines by Buttonwood Farm Winery
  • Oceanside seating with an unobstructed view of the stage
  • VIP Restrooms
  • Complimentary pretzel necklace

Tickets can be purchased here. 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 September 22, 2017.

Local Lowdown: Beyond Borders

by lesliedinaberg on September 18, 2017

Image from UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum "The Schoolhouse and the Bus: Mobility, Pedagogy and Engagement," the work of Suzanne Lacy & Pablo Helguera. Photo by Suzanne Lacy.

Image from UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum “The Schoolhouse and the Bus: Mobility, Pedagogy and Engagement,” the work of Suzanne Lacy & Pablo Helguera. Photo by Suzanne Lacy.

The Latin America-Southern California Connection: Pacific Standard Time

By Leslie Dinaberg

An ambitious artistic celebration of the vibrant cultural linkages between Southern California and Latin America takes place across the state this fall, from Santa Barbara to San Diego, Santa Monica, Palm Springs and beyond.

Backed by more than $16 million in grants from the Getty Foundation, the series of thematically linked exhibitions—Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA—spans more than 70 institutions, including local exhibitions at Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art, Santa Barbara Historical Museum and UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum.

“We’re proud that the Getty is once again making it possible for institutions across Southern California to do justice to a vast and complex subject, with this exploration of the vital traditions of Latin American and Latino art,” says Jim Cuno, president of J. Paul Getty Trust, referring to the 2011-2012 iteration of Pacific Standard Time, a Southern California collaboration that focused on art in Los Angeles from 1945-1980. He continues, “Working together, as we did in the first Pacific Standard Time initiative, can we begin to encompass the richness and dynamism of an art created in multiple countries and on two continents.”

Valeska Soares, Any Moment Now… (Spring), 2014, courtesy Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel, São Paulo, on view at Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

Among the local Pacific Standard Time highlights is “Valeska Soares: Any Moment Now,” a survey of the New York-based Brazilian artist’s work comprised of unique environmental installations combining sculptures, photography, video, and performances at Santa Barbara Museum of Art (Sept. 17-Dec. 17).

Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara breaks new ground with “Guatemala from 33,000 km: Contemporary Art from 1960-Present,” the first survey of modern and contemporary art from Guatemala, exploring a previously unexamined rich period of artistic production that began during the “long civil war” of the late 1950s and extends to the present day. The three-part exhibition is presented at MCASB’s galleries, Santa Barbara Community Arts Workshop (SBCAW) and Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art at Westmont College (Sept. 17-Dec. 17).

Darío Escobar, Untitled, 1998, Cardboard, plastic, gold leaf, and pigments, 7.875 x 3.5in, Courtesy the Artist. On view as part of "Guatemala from 33,000 km: Contemporary Art, 1960 - Present" at MCA Santa Barbara.

Darío Escobar, Untitled, 1998, Cardboard, plastic, gold leaf, and pigments, 7.875
x 3.5in, Courtesy the Artist. On view as part of “Guatemala from 33,000 km: Contemporary Art, 1960 – Present” at MCA Santa Barbara.

Sacred Art in the Age of Contact at Santa Barbara Historical Museum brings together, for the first time, a diverse body of objects from Santa Barbara-area collections exploring the relationship between art and spirituality in both Chumash and Spanish traditions. Also presented at UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum, “Sacred Art” highlights the themes of sacred geography, language, materiality and resistance. It also investigates the mutually transformative interaction between these traditions, which have immediate implications on the ways in which the cultural dynamics of Santa Barbara County are understood today (Sept. 15-Jan. 14).

Also on view at UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum is “The Schoolhouse and the Bus: Mobility, Pedagogy and Engagement,” the work of Suzanne Lacy & Pablo Helguera. This exhibition pairs for the first time the work of two leading practitioners of the Social Practice Movement, an art medium that focuses on engagement through human interaction and social discourse. This exhibition juxtaposes key examples of the artists’ works and incorporates installations, photography, drawing and performance, alongside archival documentation that serves to highlight overlapping themes, including immigration, race and social organizing (Sept. 16-Dec. 8).

For more information and a complete list of events and exhibits visit pacificstandardtime.org.

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

Cocktail Corner: Kings Carey Wines

by lesliedinaberg on September 16, 2017

Kings Carey's first wine releases include (L-R) 2014 Grenache, 2015 Grenache and 2016 Rose of Grenache. Courtesy photos.

Kings Carey’s first wine releases include (L-R) 2014 Grenache, 2015 Grenache and 2016 Rose of Grenache. Courtesy photos.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

No matter how many times I’m reminded that you can’t judge a book by its cover, I’m still a sucker for an interesting wine label, so I was particularly intrigued by the samples I recently received from Kings Carey Wine, the new label by Liquid Farm Winemaker James Sparks.

It turns out the eye-catching labels are by Philadelphia-based illustrator and artist, Hawk Krall.

Kings Carey Grenache 2014 label, designed by Hawk Krall.

Kings Carey Grenache 2014 label, designed by Hawk Krall.

James Sparks! Hawk Krall! Do these guys sound like movie character names or what! But they’re also both very talented. Krall’s work was familiar to me from the beloved and vanished foodie mag Lucky Peachbut he’s been working his artistic magic for more than a decade. He’s well known for his food illustration, in particular, as well as his humorous editorial illustration, gallery showings and installations.

Kings Carey Rose 2016 label, designed by Hawk Krall.

Kings Carey Rose 2016 label, designed by Hawk Krall.

In SAVEUR Magazine, another foodie fave, Krall pens and illustrates a recurring series of pieces in the publication, “Hawk’s Illustrated America,” which “follows his journeys through the back roads of the U.S. in search of our country’s most obscure and delicious regional specialties.”

Of course, this wine is more than just a pretty package. We tasted the first three wines—a 2014 Grenache (John Sebastiano Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley AVA); a 2015 Grenache (John Sebastiano Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills AVA); and a 2016 Rosé of Grenache from new Santa Ynez Valley AVA vineyard, Brick Barn—and enjoyed every last drop.

“I’m trying to produce ‘untypical’ wines of typicity,” says Sparks. “It’s not that this region can’t produce these types of wines; it’s just that you don’t see it very often. These are not fruit bombs. These are clean expressions of the fruit at-hand.” 

In addition to his private Kings Carey label, Sparks continues to create Liquid Farm’s variety of wines (currently five Chardonnays, a Rosé of Mourvèdre, and two Pinot Noirs). 

The Kings Carey winery space is located in Lompoc. Visits and private tastings are by appointment only, and reservations may be made by emailing info@KingsCarey.com.

Kings Carey Wines may currently be found in these locations:

Restaurants & Bars
Cecco Ristorante | 475 First St., Solvang, CA 93463
First & Oak | 409 First St., Solvang, CA 93463
Community Craft | 2446 Alamo Pintado Ave., Los Olivos, CA 93441
Bell Street Farm | 406 Bell St., Los Alamos, CA 93440
Scratch Kitchen | 610 N. H St., Lompoc, CA 93436

Retail
Nielsen’s Market | 608 Alamo Pintado Rd., Solvang, CA 93463

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 September 15, 2017.

Local Dish: A Flavorful Feast at Finch & Fork

by lesliedinaberg on September 15, 2017

Finch & Fork's Kanpachi Crudo, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Finch & Fork’s Kanpachi Crudo, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Some good news for Goleta: longtime Finch & Fork Executive Chef James Siao has taken on the dual role as Executive Chef of the Canary Hotel‘s sister property, Outpost at the Goodland. For the past five years, Siao has done an excellent job creating elevated comfort food at Finch & Fork. Our recent meal was no exception. 

Executive Chef James Siao, courtesy photo.

Executive Chef James Siao, courtesy photo.

Leaving our menu in Siao’s very capable hands, we started the evening off with the beautifully bright Kanpachi Crudo, made with avocado and cilantro crema, pickled pearl onions, jicama, yuzu and jalapeño. This was followed by a seasonal salad of Burrata & Heirloom Tomatoes, complimented with stonefruit, kale & pistachio pesto and outstanding grilled bread.

Finch and Fork Burrata and Heirloom Tomatoes, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Finch and Fork Burrata and Heirloom Tomatoes, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

I could have died and gone to heaven quite happily right there, but Siao continued to bring out wonderful dishes, including a creamy Fresh Ricotta Cavatelli made with spinach, peas, preserved lemon and pecorino; and an incredibly flavorful Cauliflower, with romesco, hazelnut dukkah (an Egyptian nut and spice mix) and lemon.

Finch & Fork's Fresh Ricotta Cavatelli, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Finch & Fork’s Fresh Ricotta Cavatelli, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

The entrees (yes … there was still more!) were also terrific. A colorful Duck Breast with carrot cardamom puree, farro, onions and blackberry gastrique and perfectly prepared Sea Scallops with gold beet relish, grapefruit, chorizo vinaigrette and sliced avocado.

Finch & Fork's Cauliflower, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Finch & Fork’s Cauliflower, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

I can’t wait to see what Siao does with the Outpost menu. According to Spokeswoman Nicole Lazar, “Siao looks to add dishes that fit perfectly into the laid-back and sociable setting, including playful interpretations of classics. At Outpost, expect to see more sharable plates that highlight the season’s best, and focus on vibrant, flavorful ingredients. He and the culinary team at Outpost are currently working on new menus, starting with dinner, so stay tuned for exciting new creations.” 

Finch & Fork's Sea Scallops, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Finch & Fork’s Sea Scallops, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

For more information on Finch & Fork (31 West Carrillo St. at the Canary Hotel in downtown Santa Barbara), visit www.finchandforkrestaurant.com. For more information on Outpost (5650 Calle Real at the Goodland hotel in Goleta), visit www.outpostsb.com

Finch & Fork's Duck Breast, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Finch & Fork’s Duck Breast, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

—Leslie Dinaberg

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

Cocktail Corner: A Taste of Italy with DoctorWine

by lesliedinaberg on September 11, 2017

The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2017 California Tour, photos by Leslie Dinaberg.

The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2017 California Tour, photos by Leslie Dinaberg.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

As far as I’m concerned, one of the only things more fun than enjoying a great wine and food pairing is enjoying it with smart people who are willing to share their knowledge and make the experience even more delicious. When DoctorWine himself, Daniele Cernilli—a highly acclaimed expert on Italian wines and the author of The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2017—came to town last week, I was thrilled to be able to break bread with him and taste wines from some of his favorite producers.

Our tasting at Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant was definitely a treat.

The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2017 California Tour, photos by Leslie Dinaberg.

The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2017 California Tour, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Named one of the “50 Most Influential People in the Wine World” by Decanter Magazine, Cernilli is a journalist by trade, and in addition to being a regular contributor to Italian newspapers, trade and consumer publications, he has written a number of technical books on wine and wine tasting. In addition to multiple editions of The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine, his books include, among others, Memorie di un degustatore di vini (Memories of a Wine Taster), a chronicle-memoir of his first 25 years as a taster with this opinions on many Italian and foreign wines, and Vitigni del Mondo (World Wine Grapes), written in collaboration with Dario Cappelloni, which is the most complete catalog of wine grapes ever published in Italy.

In other words, he knows his stuff, and so did the eight wine producers who accompanied him on a tour of California.

First up was Torre Rosazza – Pinot Grigio Colli Orientali del Fruili DOC 2016. Torre Rosazza is one of the largest producers in Europe, and Pinot Grigio has been cultivated in Friuli for centuries with great results that showcase the area’s hilly terrain. Luisa Bortolotto, the winery’s Export Manager was on hand to answer questions. Paired with a delicious salad of gems lettuces, heirloom tomato, cucumber, mint and  mouth-watering herb creme fraiche, this wine was fresh and very drinkable.

DoctorWine Daniele Cernilli leads The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2017 California Tour luncheon at Les Marchands, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

DoctorWine Daniele Cernilli leads The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2017 California Tour luncheon at Les Marchands, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Next up were two wines paired with a delicious summer corn chowder: Querciabella – Chianti Classico DOCG 2013 from Tuscany, along with Owner Giacomo Neri; and Feudo Maccari – Saia Nero d’Avola Sicilia DOC 2014 from Sicily.

Querciabella, as DoctorWine explained, has been organic since 1988, long before there were any regulations around the practice and this very classic, 100% Sangiovese Chianti was quite lovely with a balance of fruity and savory notes. The Feudo Maccari wine, made from 100% Nero d’Avola grapes was very complex and full bodied, but quite well balanced, and also paired very well with the soup.

Our main course was the Les Marchands fabulous take on Steak Frites, with pan seared hangar steak, wild argula, salsa verde and French fries. It paired really well with three different wines: Poliziano Asinone Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG 2012 from Tuscany/Montepulciano, accompanied by Owner Francesco Carletti (“King of the old Tuscan wines is the Nobile,” says DoctorWine, and it did indeed have some royal flavor); Pio Cesare Barolo DOCG 2013 from Piedmont, a lovely 100% Nebbiolo classic Barolo; and Velenosi Roggio Del Filare Rosso Piceno Superiore DOCG 2012 from Marche. 

Finally a lovely assortment of cheese and Helena Ave Bakery breads accompanied the last two wines: the Robert Parker 100-point-rated Casanova di Neri – Tenuta Nuova Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2012 from Tuscany/Montalcino, along with General Manager Roberto La Sorte (yes, it was excellent); and the Bertani – Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2007 from Veneto/Amarone, accompanied by Technical Director Girdano Formenti. DoctorWine explained that the Bertani was a classic Amarone, made the traditional way, in vineyards devoted entirely to producing drying grapes. The grapes are set aside to dry on (racks made from bamboo canes and then they ferment in concrete and age in barrels for seven years. It’s a complicated process, but so very worth it.

Want to learn more about Italian wine? Cernilli’s website, www.doctorwine.it,  is entirely bi-lingual (Italian-English) and is designed especially to give an Italian perspective to a global public. Check it out and let us know what you think.

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 September 5, 2017.

Cocktail Corner: New Lead Mixologist Brings Creative Concoctions to Outpost

by lesliedinaberg on September 11, 2017

Cocktails from Outpost at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

Cocktails from Outpost at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

Mary Valdez has taken the helm of the renowned bar program at Outpost at the Goodland, bringing a host of fun and creative new items to the already stellar menu. 

Cocktails from Outpost at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

Cocktails from Outpost at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

We checked out the first in what will be a series of seasonal beverage menus  last week, leaving ourselves in Valdez’s very capable hands. First up was her personal favorite, In Full Bloom, a refreshing and playful cocktail featuring Hendricks Gin, fresh lemon, orgeat, prickly pear shrub, angostura bitters and tonic. We also liked The Day Drinker, made with Ketel One Vodka, St. Germain, fresh watermelon and a housemade citrus cordial. The classic Aviation—made with Beefeater Gin, luxardo maraschino, lemon and creme de violet—was complex  yet balanced. We also enjoyed  the Maria Maria, made with Del Maguey Vida, jalapeno infused agave, citrus cordial, mint and ginger beer.  

Agave is Valdez’s preferred spirit of the moment, but house shrubs, syrups and fresh produce also play important roles in each drink.

Mary Valdez is the new lead bartender at Outpost at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

Mary Valdez is the new lead bartender at Outpost at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

Other seasonal standouts include the Rhubarbarian, a refreshingly spicy and citrus forward sipper with El Jimador blanco, Cointreau, togerashi, rhubarb syrup, lime and rhubarb bitters, and the herbaceous and tart Live Long and Prosper, which mixes rosemary infused Tito’s, blackberry-lime cordial and Aperol. The summer menu (which will last through September, says Valdez) includes the Easy Like a Sunday Morning, which mixes Espolon reposado, Aperol, ancho chile, and their Goodland Special, a grapefruit IPA which was brewed for them in collaboration with M Special.

Valdez has a decade of bartending experience under her belt, working behind bars on both coasts, and spending the last few years at Outpost where she was part of the opening team. Her cocktail preparation style is balanced but surprising, adding something unexpected into every creation.

Outpost at the Goodland Hotel is located 5650 Calle Real, Goleta, www.outpostsb.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 September 1, 2017.

Cocktail Corner: 7th Annual Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival

by lesliedinaberg on September 11, 2017

Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival, courtesy photos.

Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival, courtesy photos.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years, but the 7th  Annual Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival (SBFF) is coming up this weekend and it looks like it’s going to be even better than ever. For those of you who’ve never attended, SBFF is an annual gathering that showcases the history, benefits, and preparation of fermented foods while encouraging attendees to learn, engage, share, eat and drink!

Touted as “every bit as fun as it is healthy,” SBFF features four stages offering hands-on fermentation experiences, educational panels and presentations, tastings, live music and more. New this year are DIY Fermentation Stations, “so the whole family can make ferments and enjoy the endless activities on our festival schedule,” say festival Co-Founders Lynn Hartman and Katie Hershfelt. “Get there early and plan to stay all day.”

Exhibitors  include a number of food artisans, brewers and health experts including brewLAB, Biomic Sciences/RESTORE, Wild at Heart Ojai, Fermentality and others. Do-It-Yourself fermentation stations will offer lacto-fermentation recipes including cherry tomato bombs, sweet lipstick peppers, carrot coins and spiced squash pickles. Expert panelists will discuss the latest research around gut health, the microbiome and childhood development, among other critical topics. A complete list of panelists can be found here.

My personal favorite section, the Farm-to-Bar, will feature extended hours to sample locally made adult beverages from more than 40 purveyers, including:

  • 101 Cider House
  • Ascendant Spirits
  • Boochcraft
  • brewLAB
  • Captain Fatty’s Brewery
  • Cutler’s Artisan Spirits
  • Draughtsmen Aleworks
  • Farm to Bar
  • Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company
  • Lama Dog Tap Room + Bottle Shop
  • Leashless Brewing Company
  • Libertine Brewing Company
  • Martian Ranch & Vineyard
  • Smoke Mountain Brewery
  • Telegraph Brewing Company
  • Test Pilot
  • The Apiary Meadery and Ciderworks
  • The Good Lion
  • Third Window Brewing Company
  • Valley Brewers
  • Ventura Independent Beer Enthusiasts
  • Wylde Honey Wines
  • and more!

This year’s festival will be held on Sunday, September 10, at Rancho La Patera & Stow House (304 N. Los Carneros Rd.) in Goleta from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tickets are available at www.sbfermentationfestival.com/tickets.

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 September 8, 2017.

House of Clues is a Great Escape From the Ordinary

by lesliedinaberg on August 30, 2017

The Escape Room's Pirate Ghost Ship, courtesy photo.

The Escape Room’s Pirate Ghost Ship, courtesy photo.

Escape room games are super popular and Santa Barbara finally has its own one-of-a-kind venue: the House of Clues, 629 N. Salsipuedes St., 805/229-9179, TheHouseofClues.net.

Co-owners Assel Abdrakhmanova and Oscar Zevalos (they also have a third partner, Whitman Heining) were designing props and sets for themed events and escape rooms for outside clients when they decided to create their own, custom, one-of-a-kind attraction.

“We knew we could do a better job and make it even better and more challenging,” says Zevalos.

Their goal is eventually to franchise their concepts, with Santa Barbara as the first location, and I think they’ve got a winner. Not only was our “Pirate Ghost Ship” game well designed and challenging, it truly was exciting and fun for our entire group—which included my college age niece and her boyfriend, as well as my husband and I, and my sister and brother-in-law.

The author and her family, having barely escaped the Pirate Ghost Ship, courtesy photo.

The author and her family, having barely escaped the Pirate Ghost Ship, courtesy photo.

The “fun for all ages” claim seems truly legit as evidenced by the enthusiastic group of 13-year-old boys who went before us. This would also be a great team building activity for companies, students, group of friends, date nights and other group events.

The way that escape rooms work is they combine mental puzzles with physical challenges and a beat-the-clock element keeps things moving along quickly. With 45 minutes to escape from a given room (which is actually a series of rooms), you are under constant video and audio surveillance and can communicate with the game master at any time, as well as receive clues when needed. Every move counts, and nothing is as it seems. The game was much more challenging than any of us were expecting and we needed a few helpful tips from Assel to move us along in places.

In addition to the “Pirate Ghost Ship,” the House of Clues also has a “Psycho Dentist” game on the menu with another theme on the way soon.

Currently operating Mon.-Thurs. from 5-10 p.m., Fri. from noon- 11.30 p.m. and Sat.-Sun. from 10a.m.-11:30 p.m., the House of Clues is a great new addition to the local scene. Cost is $35 per person, children must be at least eight years old to play, and an adult must accompany those under age 15. For more information, visit TheHouseofClues.net.

Leslie Dinaberg                

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