About lesliedinaberg

When she's not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine, Leslie Dinaberg writes feature articles, columns and grocery lists.

Dance Drives Dialogue

International colloquium in dance and performance studies addresses issues of race and racism in American classical ballet

The beauty and artistry of ballet can belie the sometimes painful truths that exist behind the dance.

Calvin Royal III and Unity Phelan in George Balanchine’s “Agon” (1957), Vail International Dance Festival 2018. Restaged by Heather Watts. Photo by Eric Baiano.

Calvin Royal III and Unity Phelan in George Balanchine’s “Agon” (1957), Vail International Dance Festival 2018. Restaged by Heather Watts. Photo by Eric Baiano.

“Those dances by George Balanchine and other 20th-century neoclassical choreographers reveal how the idiom of classical ballet has institutionalized and subverted American racism,” said Ninotchka D. Bennahum, a professor of dance and performance studies at UC Santa Barbara.

These ballets — such as the iconic, Civil Rights-era Balanchine ballet “Agon” from 1957 — reveal the complex relationship ballet and preeminent cultural institutions share with racial consciousness in the United States before and after World War II, she added. “Dance artists asked to undertake these roles have the capacity, the moral responsibility to shift our consciousness or to raise our consciousness. No work of art belongs solely to its time,” Bennahum said.

These topics and others will be considered when distinguished scholars and world-class performers gather Monday, April 29 in UC Santa Barbara’s ballet studio for the colloquium “Race, Ballet, American Dance,” a day of discussion and demonstration. Co-curated by Bennahum and Stephanie Batiste, an associate professor of English and of Black studies, the conference is the inaugural event of the International Colloquium for the Study of Dance and Performance Studies.

“We will pose the question, ‘What is the value of these actual works of ballet as historical archive?”

Combining elements of live performance and music, discussion and filmography, the multidisciplinary colloquium — which is free and open to the public — will explore the critical role of art in capturing and commenting on American history, specifically examining how racism has been institutionalized in American classical ballet.

“The history of the civil rights movement is written by ballet choreographers and modern choreographers,” said Bennahum. “Dancing bodies play a vital role in getting audiences, in raising public awareness to issues of injustice, to issues of joy and love and sexuality, and things that are not so easy to articulate with words.

“But these are not happenstance dances, these are dances that happened in very particular moments of time,” she added. “The relationship between African American vernacular dance, African American choreographed ballet and Russian, British, American ballet, really became a symbol of race relations in the United States.”

Participants will enter the event through a lobby exhibition featuring an archival collection of photographs curated by Bennahum from the Jerome Robbins Dance Division of The New York Public Library, the largest and most comprehensive archive in the world devoted to the documentation of dance.

“I really feel that it’s very important for students that we show them dancing bodies they cannot see in Santa Barbara,” Bennahum said. “The gravitational center of dance in the world is New York and I just felt we had to bring it to them, and we had to bring it in the form of performance and in the form of art exhibit, images on the walls, so they see that this is an intellectual, academic subject they can study. But it cannot happen without performance because without that the archive is missing. You have to have a sense of the geography of the stage. For these kids learning to dance, to know and feel their way through history, kinesthetic awareness is really significant.”

Further to that end, the colloquium’s featured guests include Heather Watts, former principal dancer of New York City Ballet and a distinguished lecturer, who will present and stage two seminal works: George Balanchine’s “Agon,” with music by Igor Stravinsky, and Jerome Robbins’ “Afternoon of a Faun,” with music by Claude Debussy. The pieces will be danced by Calvin Royal III (principal dancer, American Ballet Theatre) and Unity Phelan (soloist, New York City Ballet), accompanied by New York City Ballet Orchestra pianist Cameron Grant.

“In different ways, at their premieres both Balanchine’s “Agon” (1957) and Robbins’ “Afternoon of a Faun” (1953) addressed issues of race,” said Watts. “I’m looking forward to sharing and examining these works at the colloquium, focusing on their impact felt not only in the mid-century civil rights era in which they were created, but also today as they live on through new generations of dancers.”

Also performing is Alicia Graf Mack, chair of dance at The Juilliard School and former principal dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Alonzo King/LINES. Her piece will be followed by a conversation with Lynn Garafola, professor emerita of dance at Barnard College, Columbia University and “preeminent ballet scholar in the United States who, with her husband (American historian Eric Foner of Columbia University) is a really important race scholar,” noted Bennahum. Garafola also will lecture on the African American Presence in Postwar American Dance.

An artists’ roundtable early in the day will provide insight direct from dancers themselves, while a later artist-scholar discussion will offer a multi-pronged analysis of what has taken place during the conference.

“My research on Black dance often has a lot to do with analysis of form and in terms of movement and repertoire,” Batiste said. “Dancers often think about dance in ways that are really different from how scholars think about dance. Those two approaches to how the body makes meaning together in one space show the value of what scholars bring and what dancers bring to same work of art.”

Batiste gave much of the credit to Bennahum for putting together the colloquium, while Bennahum extended credit to Watts, to donors John and Jody Arnhold and to Majewski. “Dance is very expensive,” said Bennahum. “Classical ballet is very expensive and they have made this possible for the university, and believed that UC Santa Barbara, above every other place in the country, was the place to create a laboratory, a think tank, about race and ballet.

“We’re at a very tense moment in history,” she concluded. “Art plays a significant role in that conversation in these moments in time.”

Originally published in the UCSB Current on April 23, 2019.

Celebrating 60 Years

Six decades strong, Arts & Lectures keeps education at the core of its mission

Ma’s visit to Santa Barbara — which includes a free, open-to-the-public, master class with UC Santa Barbara students, and the above-mentioned lecture, “Culture, Understanding and Survival” — marks a high point for the program.

“Our relationship with Yo-Yo is very special,” said Celesta M. Billeci, A&L’s Miller McCune Executive Director. “I think it’s unique to any program in the country, and I can say with confidence he has a very special relationship with us.” That relationship, she added, extends to Chancellor Henry T. Yang and his wife, Dilling.

This season, A&L has also co-commissioned a project with the Grammy Award-winning Silkroad Ensemble, founded by Ma in 1998. The genre-defying global musicians will perform the world premiere of “Take Their Stands” Friday, April 26, at the Granada.

“This is really research in action in the arts,” Billeci said. “We gave the money to this ensemble to create new work. They’ve created five new pieces they will premiere and will tour all over the world. And we did this here at UCSB. So that’s a real testament to the quality of this program and to being a leader in the arts.”

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Yannick Lebrun and Sarah Daley. Photo Credit: ANDREW ECCLES.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Yannick Lebrun and Sarah Daley. Photo Credit: ANDREW ECCLES.

During the week prior to their performance, the musicians will be on campus working with students in the music, dance and religious studies departments and in the Givertz School of Education.

For example, Silkroad members Haruka Fuji and Sandeep Das will conduct a lecture/demonstration and Kayhan Kalhor will conduct a Dastgah practicum in world music; Kojiro Umezaki and Cristina Pato will hold a workshop with Gevirtz School of Education student teachers; Ahmad Sadri and Wu Tong will lead a meet-the-artist conversation on Asian religious traditions; and Aparna Ramaswamy will share Bharatnatyam dance traditions with students in the theater and dance department.

Education, Billeci stressed, is at the heart of A&L’s programming. “Its purpose is to really be intertwined with the academic program and be a supplement for the academic experience of students on this campus,” she said. “It’s not peripheral; it’s definitely to the core of the academic mission.”

To that end, Billeci, Associate Director Roman Baratiak and their team, particularly program manager Heather Silva, work closely with academic departments and individual faculty members to set priorities for the types of lectures and performances they bring to campus. “The speakers and artists we bring are not just coming here and doing their public presentation,” explained Caitlin O’Hara, A&L writer and publicist. “They’re going to campus for class events or master classes. They’re very heavily enmeshed in the campus as part of their stay.”

Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s recent visit is a prime example. Prior to her public lecture she met with honors students from the College of Letters and Science. “Frankly, I think some of our speakers are shocked at how much we expect them to do,” Baratiak quipped.

“We also present a lot of free events for students,” added Billeci, noting the recent concert with ukulele wizard Jake Shimabukuro in Storke Plaza. “This is the second time we’ve had him do that. He did it before and the students went nuts for him. They just love him. And he just loves them. He’s a great ambassador for our program and for music overall.”

Plans to bring performers to A&L are often in the works years ahead of time. With the dance series, for instance, Billeci meets with faculty members several times throughout the year to understand who they are interested in having come to campus. Professors and lecturers often build class visits into their curricula, and when these companies perform, hundreds of students are in the audience.

“On our lecture side, our education coordinator will reach out to academic departments and individual faculty members and say, ‘Here’s an opportunity,’” explained Baratiak. They can elect to send their students to an event or, if time can be spared in the performer’s or presenter’s schedule, he or she might meet with students. “We have collaborations with the College of Creative Studies, the writing program, pretty much most departments,” he added.

“I think we’ve got one of the most exciting and interesting public lecture programs in the country,” said Baratiak, whose 40-year tenure with the program began when he was a student at UC Santa Barbara. “So it’s obviously something that I think all of us are proud of here at A&L.”

Baratiak is particularly enthusiastic, he added, about the annual free summer film series presented at the Santa Barbara Courthouse in collaboration with the Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture.

The truth is, over the last 60 years, A&L has enabled Santa Barbara audiences to spend time with some incredible individuals and performers: Upton Sinclair, Robert Oppenheimer, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Allen Ginsberg and The Dalai Lama (on three separate occasions), to name a few.

In addition to Yo-Yo Ma, A&L has more recently brought to the local stage Joan Baez, Trevor Noah, Laurie Anderson, Gloria Steinem, Bill T. Jones, the NYC Ballet, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Sonny Rollins and Twyla Tharp.

A&L also presented talks by Pakistani activist and Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai (“We were the only university in the country that got that date,” Billeci pointed out) and comedian Jon Stewart (“We presented him to 5,000 students in the Thunderdome”), and a concert by alumnus Jack Johnson, who performed at Harder Stadium.

The talk by former vice president Joe Biden at the Arlington Theater also stands out. “We were doing a free simulcast for students on the campus, and as soon as it ended he jumped in the car and came to campus to meet with the students who’d watched the simulcast,” recalled O’Hara. “He sat and talked with them. I’ve had so many students talk to me and say how impactful that was.”

Similarly, a recent — and free — lecture by Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo Movement, also was a high point for students, according to O’Hara. So many students wanted to hear her talk that simulcasts to overflow rooms were required to accommodate them.

“If you go back 60 years,” Billeci remarked, “this program is really really amazing.”

On the community outreach side, the A&L initiative dearest to Billeci’s heart is ¡Viva el Arte de Santa Bárbara! The program offers free performances and educational activities to students, at-risk youth and families in Santa Barbara County. “We have made the long-term commitment to bring high quality arts — not average or mediocre — the very best in music and dance to these communities and to the folks who live there,” Billeci said.

Putting on more than 100 events every year is a team effort, and Billeci is quick to credit the contributions of A&L staff, which includes roughly 75 work-study students. “Often Roman and I get a lot of credit, but this does not work without the amazing group of people that make this machine move,” she said. “For the size of this program — a nationally respected, top-five program in the country — this group of people is so dedicated and so hard working and it’s my privilege and my pleasure to work with them every day.”

More information about A&L, including and a schedule of events, is available at www.artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.

Originally published in the UCSB Current on April 19, 2019.

A Day Away: Pasadena

The Huntington Botanical Gardens, courtesy Visit Pasadena.

The Huntington Botanical Gardens, courtesy Visit Pasadena.

The rich history and culture of Pasadena is a just a short drive away.

By Leslie Dinaberg

Less than 10 miles away from Downtown Los Angeles, but a world away from the big city vibe, Pasadena beckons with an exceptional blend of architecture, gardens, history, entertainment and dining options that will please even the pickiest of travelers.  

Sip & Savor

We started our recent visit with a delicious meal at The Arbour (527 S. Lake Ave., Ste. 120, 626/396-4925, thearbourpasadena.com), where Chef Ian Gresik and his team bring the freshest ingredients from local farms, ranches and fisheries to the table. Sip a specialty cocktail like an Arugula Gimlet (get your veggies and gin in one shot) and nibble on delicious edibles like crab pappardelle pasta or bison steak tartare as you watch the magic happen in a bright, open kitchen.

The Antidote cocktail at Bar 1886 at The Raymond, courtesy Visit Pasadena.

The Antidote cocktail at Bar 1886 at The Raymond, courtesy Visit Pasadena.

Step back into time for late night cocktails at Bar 1886 at The Raymond (1250 S. Fair Oaks Ave. 626/441-3136, theraymond.com), a speakeasy style bar with more than 600 off-menu house cocktails, Manhattans, old-fashions, sidecars and sours prepared to perfection. If you don’t see exactly what you’re thirsty for, request a “dealer’s choice” and let the bartender create the perfect drink for you.

A great choice for breakfast is Central Grille ( 219 S. Fair Oaks Ave., 626/449-4499, centralparkrestaurant.net), housed in a 100-year-old flower warehouse, and serving up specialties like salmon skillet hash, braised short rib benedicts, as well as an array of eggs, waffles, pancakes and other breakfast fare. 

Prawn, courtesy Visit Pasadena.

Prawn, courtesy Visit Pasadena.

For a casual lunch, check out Prawn (16 Miller Alley, 626/219-6615, prawncoastal.com/pasadena-ca), Chef Mark Peel’s (Ma Maison, Spago, La Brea Bakery, Campanile) new venture designed to deliver super accessible high-quality seafood. Try the Seattle fish stew, the lobster mac & cheese and the chocolate chip cookies, if they have them!

Gamble House in Pasadena is a 1908 National Historic Monument designed by Architect brothers Charles and Henry Greene. Photo courtesy Visit Pasadena.

Gamble House in Pasadena is a 1908 National Historic Monument designed by Architect brothers Charles and Henry Greene. Photo courtesy Visit Pasadena.

See

Tour the Gamble House—a 1908 National Historic Monument from—for a docent-led education in the craftsman tradition. Architect brothers Charles and Henry Greene not only designed the residence, but nearly every detail inside and out—furniture, rugs, lamps and leaded art glass—for David and Mary Gamble of the Procter & Gamble Company (reservations required, 626/793-3334, gamblehouse.org). 

Interior of Gamble House in Pasadena, a 1908 National Historic Monument available for tours by reservation.  Photo courtesy Visit Pasadena.

Interior of Gamble House in Pasadena, a 1908 National Historic Monument available for tours by reservation. Photo courtesy Visit Pasadena.

Architecture buffs should also check out the Bungalow Heaven Home Tour on Apr. 28 (bungalowheaven.org), where you’ll visit select homes built from 1900 to the 1930s in Bungalow Heaven, Pasadena’s first Landmark District. Designated as one of the “10 Great Places in America” by the American Planning Association, Bungalow Heaven has more than 1,000 historic homes in the neighborhood.

The iconic Vromans Bookstore, photo courtesy Visit Pasadena.

The iconic Vromans Bookstore, photo courtesy Visit Pasadena.

Southern California’s oldest and largest independent bookstore, Vroman’s Book Store (695 E. Colorado Blvd., 626/449-5320, vromansbookstore.com) is a literary landmark well worth exploring. 

The Pasadena Playhouse, courtesy Visit Pasadena.

The Pasadena Playhouse, courtesy Visit Pasadena.

The historic Pasadena Playhouse (39 S. El Molino Ave., pasadenaplayhouse.org) offers building tours, as well as a wide variety of productions. Slated to open this spring is Tiny Beautiful Things, based on the New York Times bestseller by Cheryl Strayed, and adapted by Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding).

The Huntington Art Gallery exterior, courtesy the Huntington.

The Huntington Art Gallery exterior, courtesy the Huntington.

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens (1151 Oxford Rd., 626/405-2100, huntington.org) is a magical place. I could have easily spent several days exploring the 207-acre estate of the late Henry Huntington. The botanical gardens alone have 14,000 varieties of plants on more than 150 acres. Don’t miss the Chinese Garden, where you can stroll around a beautiful lake bordered by Tai Hu rocks and enjoy a landscape that includes five hand-carved stone bridges, a stream, and a canyon waterfall. The Huntington Library includes works from American and British literature, including an original Gutenberg Bible. There’s also the Huntington Art Gallery, showcasing 18th and 19th British and French masterpieces, including “Pinkie” (Thomas Lawrence, 1794) and “The Blue Boy” (Thomas Gainsborough, 1770), which currently offers visitors a glimpse into the technical processes of a senior conservator working on the famous painting as well as background on its history, mysteries and artistic virtues (through Sept. 30). 

The Norton Simon Museum, courtesy Visit Pasadena.

The Norton Simon Museum, courtesy Visit Pasadena.

The Norton Simon Museum (411 W. Colorado Blvd., nortonsimon.org) is known around the world as one of the most remarkable private art collections ever assembled. Industrialist Norton Simon (1907–1993) amassed an astonishing collection of European art from the Renaissance to the 20th century and a stellar collection of South and Southeast Asian art spanning 2,000 years. The current exhibition, Matisse/Odalisque, on view through Jun. 17, features work by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and others.

The Pasadena Playhouse District, courtesy Visit Pasadena.

The Pasadena Playhouse District, courtesy Visit Pasadena.

Stay

We stayed at the centrally-located Hilton Pasadena (168 N. Los Robles Ave. 626/577-1000, hilton.com), in a spacious, contemporary room. Also well-regarded are the Langham Huntington (recently named a reader’s choice award winner by Condé Nast Traveler) and the historic Bissell House Bed and Breakfast.

For more information, go to visitpasadena.com. 

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 14, 2019.

Local Lowdown: Shop Youth Interactive’s State Gallery

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

Pairing student work with local, national and international artists, the nonprofit Youth Interactive’s new Downtown Santa Barbara Gallery is a dynamic new space for the grassroots after school Entrepreneurial Arts Academy students to showcase and sell their work alongside an impressive array of professional artists.  

You’ll find contemporary work in various mediums, from works on paper, sculpture and assemblage to painting, photography and new media. Everything in the store is artisanal and handmade and the proceeds go back to support the youth and the arts in our community. 

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

Home of the original State Theatre and more recently the Unity Shoppe, the large open space celebrates Poetry Month in April with Word Up!, a fundraiser led by Santa Barbara Middle College students during First Thursday Art Walk from 5 – 8 p.m. on April 4. The gallery also showcases the work of Santa Barbara printmaker Bay Hallowell in an exhibition called Truth be Told, showcasing a compilation of works combining art and text. 

Later in April comes an exhibition titled Grounded, a group exhibition of painting, photography and sculpture connecting us to the ground we walk on and celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with works by artists Cynthia James, Ryuijie and Luis Velasquez.

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

Among the youth-led business with their work consistently on view in the gallery are: Infinite Treasures, students create handmade jewelry while learning valuable business skills; Pier Pressure Designs, a team of teens makes beautiful bags out of recycled sails donated by SB Yacht Club, and fabric donated by Patagonia and others; Havok, a group of young entrepreneurs who design original works of art on T-shirts; RBY (Resurrected by Youth), a team of high school kids learning carpentry, business, marketing and general entrepreneurship skills; and The Creative Studio Team, which creates and sells art while managing the gallery. 

Youth Interactive’s State Gallery (1219 State St., Santa Barbara, youthinteractive.us) is open from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sundays, with extended hours during exhibit openings and special events. 

—Leslie Dinaberg

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

 

CALM Celebrity Authors’ Luncheon

The Annual CALM Celebrity Authors’ Luncheon is always a lovely event to support a great cause.

On March 16, more than 600 book lovers will gather for a day of appearances and book signings from a variety of authors, both big-name and local, with all proceeds going to benefit the good work of Child Abuse Listening Mediation (CALM) and raise awareness and funds for its programs and services to prevent and treat child abuse and to promote healing.

Headline authors will be interviewed at the event, including Mindy Johnson (Ink & Paint – The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation), Luis Alberto Urrea (The Hummingbird’s Daughter, The House of Broken Angels), and Kate Quinn (The Alice Network, The Huntress).

There will also be book signings and the opportunity to meet dozens of local authors:

Sheila Aron – I’m Glad I’m Me, Weaving the Thread of Love From Generation to Generation

Julia Bricklin – Polly Pry: The Woman Who Wrote the West

Jane Sherron De Hart – Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life

Jeff Doubét – Creating Spanish Style Homes

Jo Giese – Never Sit If You Can Dance: Lessons From My Mother: Babe

Elizabeth Gould – Your Best Health by Friday

Romy Greenwald – Micken the Chicken

Rich Grimes – Cat Speak

Jo Haldeman – In the Shadow of the White House

Catharine Riggs – What She Gave Away

The event begins with book signings and sales at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 16, followed by a luncheon and author interviews, all taking place at at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort, 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd., Santa Barbara. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit calm4kids.org/events/celebrity-authors-luncheon/ .

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 4, 2019.

Joffrey Ballet

Joffrey Ballet, "Mammatus, photo by Cheryl Mann.

Joffrey Ballet, “Mammatus, photo by Cheryl Mann.

The world-renowned Joffrey Ballet comes to the Granada Theatre for two nights of incredible dance performances of works by George Balanchine and other acclaimed choreographers, presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures on Tuesday, March 5 and Wednesday, March 6 at 8 p.m.

“The Joffrey dancers, costumed and lit and shockingly talented, are like a rock concert for the eyes,” reports Huffington Post.  

Among the repertoire included in on the Santa Barbara stage is one of Balanchine’s earliest experimental works, two pieces by modern ballet master Nicolas Blanc, the unique cinematic vision of Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman, contemporary ballet darling Justin Peck with a work set to a score by Philip Glass and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa‘s stunning depiction of a turbulent cloud formation. These wide-ranging programs display the inestimable skill of the Joffrey Ballet’s dancers, classically trained to the highest standards, and the company’s unique, inclusive perspective on dance. 

Tue, Mar 5 (Program A)

George Balanchine: The Four Temperaments
Nicolas Blanc: Beyond the Shore
Alexander Ekman: Joy

Wed, Mar 6 (Program B)

Justin Peck: In Creases
Nicolas Blanc: Encounter
Alexander Ekman: Joy
Annabelle Lopez Ochoa: Mammatus 

The Joffrey is a world-class, Chicago-based ballet company and dance education organization committed to artistic excellence and innovation. Classically trained to the highest standards, the Joffrey Ballet expresses a unique, inclusive perspective on dance, proudly reflecting the diversity of America with its company, audiences and repertoire, which includes major story ballets, reconstructions of masterpieces and contemporary works.

Founded by visionary teacher Robert Joffrey in 1956, guided by celebrated choreographer Gerald Arpino from 1988 until 2007, The Joffrey Ballet continues to thrive under internationally renowned Artistic Director Ashley Wheater and Executive Director Greg Cameron.

Joffrey Ballet, Beyond the Shore, photo by Cheryl Mann.

Joffrey Ballet, Beyond the Shore, photo by Cheryl Mann.

RELATED EVENT

Community Dance Class with The Joffrey Ballet 

Mon., Mar. 4, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Gustafson Dance, 2285 Las Positas Rd., Santa Barbara

Reservations: 805/563-3262 ext. 1

Co-presented by Gustafson Dance

For tickets or more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at 805/893-3535 or purchase online at ArtsAndLectures.UCSB.eduTickets are also available through The Granada Theatre at  805/899-2222 or granadasb.org.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 2, 2019.

Cocktail Corner: Fess Parker Winery’s 30th Anniversary

Rodney's Vineyard at Fess Parker Winery. Photo courtesy of the Parker Family.

Rodney’s Vineyard at Fess Parker Winery. Photo courtesy of the Parker Family.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

Marking the 30th anniversary of Fess Parker Winery, Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort honors the Parker Family-owned winery’s big milestone with an exclusive dinner, the “Fess Parker Wine Journey,” from 6 – 10 p.m. on Friday, March, 22 in the resort’s Reagan Ballroom.

It’s going to be a fun—and delicious—evening, kicking off with a video presentation and a Q&A with the Parker Family, hosted by yours truly. Since their first vineyard planting in 1987, the Fess Parker family has enjoyed a long, successful history in Santa Barbara County, helping to pioneer the region’s reputation as an international destination for wine, hospitality and discovery, as well as developing many of the county’s prestigious vineyards.

Marcy and Fess Parker. Photo courtesy of the Parker family

Marcy and Fess Parker. Photo courtesy of the Parker family

The Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard now owns and farms more than 125 acres and works with more than 700 acres in Santa Barbara County, focusing on the grape varieties best suited to the region’s unique growing conditions—Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Rhone wines—with its vintages consistently earning 90+ point ratings from top critics around the world.

Eli Parker—a founding family member and former head winemaker reflects on the occasion: “Our greatest hope is that people who have enjoyed our wines over the last 30 years will continue to enjoy them as part of their own family traditions and celebrations. Even more so, we hope that people just discovering Fess Parker wines will appreciate them as the finest expression of the beauty and bounty of Santa Barbara wine country. Continuing to work together toward this objective as a family is a real privilege.”

“We mark this anniversary with equal parts pride and gratitude – pride for the quality we have achieved with our wines in national and international markets and gratitude for the opportunity to grow our business while remaining family held. By playing to our strengths and focusing on working with the Rhône and Burgundian varietals that grow so well here, hopefully we have set ourselves up well for the next 30 years. We are fortunate to have a tremendous winemaking team under the direction of Head Winemaker, Blair Fox, who celebrates his 15th anniversary with the winery this year as well,” says winery President Tim Snider.

From coonskin cap to coonskin cap in one decade is the career of Fess Parker, shown in his costume as "Daniel Boone," March 26, 1964. Ten years ago he played Davy Crockett in a series by the same name. (AP Photo)

From coonskin cap to coonskin cap in one decade is the career of Fess Parker, shown in his costume as “Daniel Boone,” March 26, 1964. Ten years ago he played Davy Crockett in a series by the same name. (AP Photo)

Both Eli Parker and Tim Snider will be on hand at the event, along with winery co-owner Ashley Parker Snider and their daughter Greer Shull, who does marketing for the brand, which also includes the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort, as well as the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn in Los Olivos, which also houses The Bear and Star restaurant, featuring refined ranch-to-table cuisine from Chef/Partner John Cox.

“Our team is honored to host a wine and culinary celebration for Fess Parker Winery’s 30-year anniversary,” says Hilton Santa Barbara General Manager Chris Inman. “Our goal is to create a memorable evening that speaks to seasoned Fess Parker Winery fans as well as a new generation of wine lovers.”

Hilton Santa Barbara Executive Chef Mossin Sugich and his culinary team will prepare a fresh and delicious culinary adventure paired with the Fess Parker’s signature wines. The five-course wine pairing dinner menu includes:

Cocktail Hour Canapes

Poached fingerling potato, caviar and crème fraiche

Foie Gras, Brioche, Fig Jam

Beef Tartare, crostini

Amuse bouche

Black Mission Fig, Mascarpone, jamon de Parma, Sicilian pistachio

Fess Parker Rodney’s Dry Riesling 2016 and Epiphany Grenache Blanc 2017

To Begin

Spring Bounty Dégustation

Spring Onion Flan, pickled ramp, English pea puree, green garlic chips, pea tendril, black olive dirt

lemon oil

Viogner, Rodney’s Vineyard 2017

To Appreciate

Channel Islands Treasures

Spot Prawns & sea urchins, morel mushroom crème, crispy cauliflower, lemon, Tarragon

Chardonnay, Ashley’s 2016

To Continue

State Bird Roulade

Mushroom stuffed Quail, celeriac puree, celery and apple salad, almond oil

Sour Port reduction

Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills 2017

To Indulge

California Spring Lamb

Grilled fat on lamb loin, Pine nut coulis, minted & pickled green strawberries

morel mushroom, fava beans, lamb jus

Syrah, Santa Barbara County

To Conclude

Harrys Berries Strawberry Panna Cotta

Meyer lemon granita, fresh Harry’s Berries

Late Harvest Semillon 2009

All menu items are locally sourced and subject to change based on seasonal quality and product availability.

I hope some of you will join us on March 22 for this very special night honoring the Parker Family and Fess Parker’s legacy.

“Knowing that a career in Hollywood wasn’t necessarily a long-term proposition, creating a family business that all of us could participate in for generations was important to my dad,” says Ashley Parker Snider. “Before he passed in 2010, he was incredibly proud of how far we had come.”

Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort is located at 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd., Santa Barbara. For more information or to purchase a ticket, please call 805/884-8518 or email SBAFP_SpecialEvents@hilton.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 believes variety is the spice of life!

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 1, 2019.

Local Dish: A Chic Update at the Goodland

The Outpost at the Goodland dining room, courtesy photo.

The Outpost at the Goodland dining room, courtesy photo.

By Leslie Dinaberg

Keeping the carefree, casual vibe intact, Goleta’s Outpost Restaurant and Goodbar at the Goodland recently updated their digs to brighten up the space, making the chic, California-themed Kimpton hot spot even cooler. Sunny new yellow tones in the dining room and a removable roof addition over the outdoor seating make it feel like summer year-round at the Outpost. The excellent fare includes easily shared plates like fried brussels sprouts with yellow curry, and roasted seabass lettuce cups, as well as larger entrees like the juicy strip steak, tasty salmon or hearty lamb burger.  

Sunset at the patio at the Goodbar at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

Sunset at the patio at the Goodbar at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

Right across the lobby, the Goodbar’s spaciously redesigned patio is a great stop to watch the sun set as you sip from its excellent crafted cocktail menu. Creative libations like the Aviation Gin-based “Park Your Car Don’t Drive” and “Who’s Your Daddy?”—made with Del Maguey Vida Mezcal—share the spotlight with a nice variety of spirits (tasting flights are available too) and a fine array of local wines and beers. 

Outpost at the Goodland, Goodbar at the Goodland, 5650 Calle Real, Goleta, outpostsb.com.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 2, 2019.

The patio at the Goodbar at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

The patio at the Goodbar at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

Local Lowdown: Ambassadors of the Environment

Sara Welsh and campers at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara's Ambassador's of the Environment program. Courtesy photo.

Sara Welsh and campers at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara’s Ambassador’s of the Environment program. Courtesy photo.

Ritz-Carlton Bacara’s and Ocean Futures Society’s new educational program engages all ages. 

By Leslie Dinaberg

It was one of those “I have to pinch myself to make sure this is really happening” experiences, walking beside environmental legend Jean-Michel Cousteau on an “ecohike” along the beautiful Gaviota Coast that borders the Ritz-Carlton Bacara. The impressively spry 80-year-old explorer and founder of the Santa Barbara-based nonprofit Ocean Futures Society has joined forced with the Ritz-Carlton Bacara to bring a new Ambassadors of the Environment program to the property.

Jean Michel Cousteau, courtesy Ritz-Carlton Bacara.

Jean Michel Cousteau, courtesy Ritz-Carlton Bacara.

Based on four principles—everything is connected, everything runs on energy, there is no waste in nature, and biodiversity is good—through various adventures and activities, the Ambassadors of the Environment program allows participants to discover the Gaviota Coast’s natural wonders both on land and sea, including kelp forest, a diversity of birds, the intertidal zone, and traditional Chumash culture.

The Ocean Futures and Ritz-Carlton relationship is longstanding (with programs in Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Catalina Islands, Polynesia, and the Cayman Islands, among others), but the local program is new. 

“I am very excited to have our newest Ambassadors program here at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara, in my backyard,” says Cousteau, who lives in Santa Barbara with his wife, Ocean Futures Co-Founder Nancy Marr. “This region is among the richest and most interesting in the world, with amazing natural wonders. With our great team, guests will have an amazing experience that both enriches and educates them.” 

Sara Welsh and campers at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara's Ambassador's of the Environment program. Courtesy photo.

Sara Welsh and campers at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara’s Ambassador’s of the Environment program. Courtesy photo.

The activities—led by a team of naturalists personally trained by Cousteau and his longtime chief scientist, the charismatic Dr. Richard “Murph” Murphy—include options specially tailored to elementary school age children, young adults, families and adults. The onsite program supervisor Sara Welsh and her team are clearly stoked to be at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara. Having witnessed their infectious enthusiasm very clearly engage an often-jaded cadre of travel journalists, I can only imagine how excited the lucky kids and their families will be when this group leads them on new environmental adventures with programs like “Whale of a Tale,” “CSI: Coastal Scene Investigator,” and “Creatures of the Night,” among others.

“Having the advantage of being near Santa Barbara, there is a coastline there which is pretty unique on the planet,” says Cousteau. “We are helping people because of the knowledge that we are able to share, exploring and seeing what lives there whether they are birds or fish or kelp forests. … For me it’s a privilege not only to live here, but to make sure that the Ritz-Carlton is sharing all our knowledge and information with the young people, and their parents.” 

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara is located at 8301 Hollister Ave. For more information, visit ritzcarlton.com and oceanfutures.org.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 1, 2019.

Bossie’s Kitchen: Something to Moo About 

Bossie's Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com. Courtesy photo.

Bossie’s Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com. Courtesy photo.

By Leslie Dinaberg

Old Bossy, the iconic cow atop the Live Oak Dairy Building (and former home to McConnell’s Ice Cream) on Milpas street, has a cool new restaurant in the herd: Bossie’s Kitchen, from Chef-Owners Lauren Herman and Christina Olufson.

Featuring delicious seasonal farmer’s market salads and sides, garlic-herb rotisserie chicken, grilled market fish, mac ‘n cheese, Korean fried chicken and more, this casual, counter-style restaurant focuses on fresh comfort food, with everything made in house, including the breads for the sandwiches. Herman’s savory dishes are a perfect complement to Olufson’s delicious breads and sweets. Everything from carrot cake to cookies, and buttery biscuits to brownies and pastries is baked daily on site. 

Bossie's Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com. Courtesy photo.

Bossie’s Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com. Courtesy photo.

Open Tuesday-Sunday for dinner, with  lunch on weekdays and brunch on weekends, Bossie’s features local beers (currently Figueroa Mountain, Captain Fatty’s, Third Window and Topa Topa) on draft and a variety of California wines, with special happy hour pricing on drinks and small bites from 4:30-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday.

As the closest restaurant within walking distance to the Santa Barbara Bowl, Bossie’s plans to have pre- and post-show happy hour specials on concert nights, with a limited menu available till 11 p.m.

Bossie's Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com. Courtesy photo.

Bossie’s Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com. Courtesy photo.

“The reception has been fantastic—we’ve been getting so much love from our neighbors, and we are so humbled and grateful,” says Herman. 

Locals first tasted the couple’s cuisine at Somerset, which later became (and remains) Smithy Kitchen + Bar on Anapamu Street. Both chefs also bring fine dining experience with Los Angeles’ James Beard award-winning Lucques Group to the new, casual concept at Bossie’s, their first restaurant as owners.

Bossie’s Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 1, 2019.

Bossie's Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com. Courtesy photo.

Bossie’s Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com. Courtesy photo.

Bossie's Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com. Courtesy photo.

Bossie’s Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com. Courtesy photo.

Bossie's Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com. Courtesy photo.

Bossie’s Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com. Courtesy photo.

Bossie's Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com. Courtesy photo.

Bossie’s Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com. Courtesy photo.