A Standing Ovation for The Silver Bough

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

The Silver Bough culinary team, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

By Leslie Dinaberg

Like its Irish mythological legend, The Silver Bough—the entry into the Celtic otherworld, believed to offer everlasting youth, beauty, health and joy, and a rich paradise of delights, where food was ever abundant and where travelers were treated as kings and queens—is an impressive bounty of elegantly prepared food and dramatic culinary theatrics. This intimate, eight-seat tasting menu fine dining experience is one of the most ambitious restaurant endeavors I’ve ever experienced.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

From the moment you enter the Montecito Inn, the new home of The Silver Bough, you are transported into an exquisite, magical world of high-class indulgence. The evening starts in the lobby lounge, where a personal concierge offers you specialty libations or champagne from a custom-made bar cart.  

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

Promptly at 7 p.m. (there’s only one seating per night, Thursdays-Sundays), you are escorted in a dark, theatrically anointed room, with an intricately designed Silver Bough-themed table as the focal point. Handcrafted and modeled after a voluminous Ginkgo tree, completed with painted brass butterflies and a glass top, the table—as well as the dishes, silverware, candelabras and serving pieces—was custom designed by award-winning American artist Michael Aram. Here the overture for the journey officially begins, with the host acting as narrator, guiding guests through the story of The Silver Bough and correspondingly gorgeous canapes that are almost too beautiful to eat—but I force myself, to the delight of my taste buds.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

At the end of the canape courses, a curtain I didn’t notice before is dramatically opened, revealing the main stage, a 16-foot, kitchen-facing Brazilian Quartzite chef’s counter, with Owner/Executive Chef Phillip Frankland Lee and his team of chefs there to greet us. There are from three to five executive-level chefs at your service on any given night. 

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

Owner/Executive Chef Phillip Frankland Lee at The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

Each chapter in the main room starts out with an introduction of the ingredients. Act 1, the seafood chapter, previews a platter of moving King Crab legs, live spiny lobster, sea urchin, caviar and more.

The theme—that guests are to be treated royally—is impressively executed, as we watch Chef Lee and his team prepare each dish as if it were a precious work of art. Indeed, this meal is probably museum worthy. With the precision of a jeweler, Chef Lee adds gold leaf to the Sturgeon Caviar, which sits atop a gorgeous concoction of Lobster Gelee, Hazelnut Cream and Smoked Eel.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

And, in a dramatic dance that takes place for each of the 18 courses, the chefs have mastered  impressive choreography to ensure that each dish gets to each patron (along with thoughtfully selected wine or nonalcoholic beverage pairings) at precisely the same moment. Additional seafood dishes, each more incredible than the next, include Live Spiny Lobster Tartare, topped with local Sea Urchin and puffed quinoa; Pommes Souffle stuffed with Lobster innards whipped with Crème Fraiche, and topped with Sea Urchin and Carnations; and Vermillion Crudo. The Act 1 finale, which includes almost every ingredient used in the seafood chapter, is a delicious preparation of lightly grilled King Crab in sea urchin emulsion, with sourdough bread crumbs and caviar.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

Act 2, an equally impressive series of land-based courses, is again introduced with a peek at the ingredients, including Kings Pigeon from Flying H Ranch in Carpinteria, Olive Wagyu Ribeye, pasture-raised venison, caviar and an abundance of truffles.

Dishes include Kings Pigeon Breast with Pistachio Crust; a Liver Tartlette with a tasty Mini-Parker House Roll; a Kings Pigeon Leg. Both the Aged Venison Saddle with brown butter Roasted Chestnuts and the Venison Tenderloin with butter roasted Chantrelles smell every bit as terrific as they taste. In fact, the whole dining room is designed for amazing aromatics. Despite the huge number of courses, each one continued to dazzle both my eyes and my nose. 

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

While I hesitate to choose a favorite in a menu so filled with delights, perhaps with most memorable dishes were the two made with Legendary Olive Wagyu Ribeye. According to Chef Lee, the Silver Bough is only restaurant in the world to have this beef, and it’s no wonder. Billed as “the rarest steak on the planet,” it currently retails for more than $200 a pound and is sourced via Santa Barbara resident Ethan Lowry, co-owner of the online meat seller Crowd Cow. 

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

A mouthwatering cheese course of Andazul Goat’s Milk Blue with Fried Sourdough, Warm honey and Black Truffle bridges the savory and the sweet worlds with amazing flavors. 

The Act 3 finale, the domain of talented Pastry Chef Margarita Kallas-Lee, who is married to Chef Frankland Lee, begins with a Citrus vanilla Tea emulsion combining blood orange sorbet with basil blossoms and black lime. Additional jewel box-worthy dessert courses include the Strawberry Duck Liver Mousse, a Chamomile Custard with Shaved Truffles, Candied Bee Pollen and 24k Gold Leaf, and literally, a jewel box of Mignardises, comprised of a Kalamansi Pate de Fruit, a Blood Orange Pate de Fruit, a Strawberry-Creme Fraiche Bon Bon and a Tarragon-Buttermilk Bon Bon.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

Not quite ready to end such an enchanted evening, the chefs invite us to continue to imbibe and enjoy after-dinner drinks and aperitifs with the team, which was quite fun and the perfect capper to an amazing culinary experience.  

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

The all-inclusive tasting menu has a ticket price of $550/person, with a non-alcoholic specialty pairing available for $450/person (both inclusive of tax and gratuity). Obviously, this price point isn’t something most of us can indulge in every day, but I’m hopeful that a one-of-a-kind, gastronomic, theatrical experience like this will find its audience. 

For more information, visit silverboughmontecito.com 

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

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

The Silver Bough opening culinary team, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

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.

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.

Local Dish: Santa Barbara Restaurant Week

Courtesy Santa Barbara Restaurant Week.

Courtesy Santa Barbara Restaurant Week.

Experience and explore the best of Santa Barbara’s food scene at a great price during the second annual Santa Barbara Restaurant Week from February 22-March 3. This ten-day events will showcase the vast culinary world of Santa Barbara with restaurant options ranging from Asian to Farm-to-table to Vegan and more. Prix-fixe menu options include a $25 two-course lunch and a $40 three-course dinner option. In addition, some local wine tasting rooms are offering special tasting experiences.

Sama Sama, courtesy Santa Barbara Restaurant Week.

Sama Sama, courtesy Santa Barbara Restaurant Week.

The list of participants include:

Lunch

Bluewater Grill

Tyger Tyger

Jane Santa Barbara

Jane at the Marketplace

 Helena Avenue Bakery

 Convivo (at Santa Barbara Inn)

 Due Lune Cucina

 Tre Lune Ristorante

 Olio e Limone Ristorante

 Bella Vista at the Four Seasons Resort the Biltmore

The Middle Child

The Monarch (at Montecito Inn)

Lucky's, courtesy Santa Barbara Restaurant Week.

Lucky’s, courtesy Santa Barbara Restaurant Week.

 Dinner

Blackbird (at Hotel Californian)

 Joe’s Cafe

 The Brewhouse

The Monarch (at Montecito Inn)

 Sama Sama

 Jane Santa Barbara

 Jane at the Marketplace

 Roof Top Bistro & Bar

 Smithy Kitchen & Bar

 The Dining Room at Belmond El Encanto

 Les Marchands

 Loquita

 The Little Door

 Bella Vista at the Four Seasons Resort the Biltmore

Tre Lune, courtesy Santa Barbara Restaurant Week.

Tre Lune, courtesy Santa Barbara Restaurant Week.

 Convivo (at Santa Barbara Inn)

 Due Lune Cucina

 Olio e Limone Ristorante

 Toma

 Tre Lune Ristorante

 Cava

 Los Arroyos Montecito

 Los Arroyos Goleta

 Bluewater Grill

Chuck’s Waterfront Grill

 Lucky’s

 Wine Cask

 Corktree Cellars

Santo Mezcal

The Middle Child

Tasting Rooms

Jamie Slone Wines

Grassini Family Vineyards

Cebada

Visit SBRestaurantWeeks.com for more details. 

This year, proceeds from restaurant registration will help support ProStart, a two-year culinary arts and hospitality management program developed by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and run by restaurant associations on a state level. Over 127 public high schools in California use this curriculum reaching 9,000 students. Santa Barbara Restaurant Week’s donation will specifically go to the California Restaurant Association Foundation’s ProStart  program.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on February 20, 2019.

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks Jan. 27-Feb. 10

Root 246's Creekstone Ranch Burger is one of the specials on the menu at Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks, taking place Jan 27 to Feb 10. Courtesy photo.

Root 246’s Creekstone Ranch Burger is one of the specials on the menu at Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks, taking place Jan 27 to Feb 10. Courtesy photo.

The Santa Ynez Valley has so many great restaurants, and the upcoming annual foodie celebration is the perfect time to check out a new one or revisit and old favorite.

Part of Visit California’s California Restaurant Month, this year’s Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks feature three-course meal deals—all $20.19—at a record 32 restaurants in the six Santa Ynez Valley towns of Ballard, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, and Solvang.

Why is it two weeks long?

“We continually heard from local restaurants and from diners that the only way to improve Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks is to offer more of it,” says Shelby Sim, President/CEO of Visit the Santa Ynez Valley. “The event has been successful from year one, expanding well beyond what can be fit into just one week. It is exciting to continue to see it grow.”

Representing each of the Santa Ynez Valley’s six distinct communities, 32 restaurants will participate in Restaurant Weeks in 2019. In addition to the offerings of the Valley’s restaurants, many Santa Ynez Valley wineries will offer wine and small bite pairings in their tasting rooms for $20.19. And special lodging deals are available at hotels throughout the Valley.

“Santa Ynez Valley’s food scene is rapidly evolving in terms of both quality and quantity; it’s even challenging the region’s reputation for world-class wines. Our restaurants these days—rule,” says Sim. 

The Courtyard at S.Y. Kitchen | Photo Credit Rob Stark

The Courtyard at S.Y. Kitchen | Photo Credit Rob Stark

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks menus shine with farm-fresh examples of wine country’s seasonal bounty, with tasting menus crafted by celebrated chefs. Exemplary, and locavore, Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks dishes include S.Y. Kitchen executive chef Luca Crestanelli’s “Bird’s Nest Lasagna” (with fontina cheese, roasted butternut squash, chanterelle mushrooms), his “Fried Sous Vide Organic Egg” (with cheese fondue and chicory), and his “Saffron Gnocchetti (with butter and sage, optional bone marrow, raspadura cheese). At The Bear and Star in Los Olivos, chef/partner John Cox’s Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks menus include the likes of his “Wagyu Empanada” (with black beans and Cotija cheese), utilizing proteins pulled from nearby Fess Parker Ranch.

In Solvang, new chef de cuisine at Root 246, Crystal “Chef Pink” DeLongpré, puts her locally- and sustainably-sourced, TV chef touches on an “American Lamb Burger” (Bellwether Farms Jersey ricotta, house-pickled mustard seed, smoky tomato jam, served with fries or Chef Pink’s famous Brussels sprouts), which is destined for the eatery and lounge’s Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks menu.

Norman, courtesy Skyview Los Alamos.

Norman, courtesy Skyview Los Alamos.

The food-centric hotspot of Los Alamos will boast chef and restaurant participants like the town’s culinary founders, chef Jesper Johansson of Plenty on Bell and chef Clark Staub at his Full of Life Flatbread enterprise; chef Drew Terp of PICO fame; chef Conrad Gonzales’ Valle Fresh; and Norman restaurant and bar, the dining and drinking component at mid-century motor lodge marvel, Skyview Los Alamos.

At Buellton’s pioneering Santa Ynez Valley food-scape player, Industrial Eats, chef/owners Jeff and Janet Olsson will celebrate the foods of—with 100% of proceeds benefitting—the People of Yemen. Yemeni dishes will comprise the bistro’s Restaurant Weeks menu, with specialties like Shourba Bilsen (lamb broth lentil soup with coriander), Hor’ee (braised beef shank with basmati rice), and Bint Al-Sahn (dough cake with honey).

Dates of participation vary by establishment, but the list of participating restaurants, wineries, and lodging properties includes:

Ballard

The Ballard Inn & Gathering Table, 2436 Baseline Ave., 800/638-2466

Buellton

Campfire Café at Flying Flags RV Resort & Campground, 180 Avenue of Flags, Buellton, 805/688-3716

Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.,45 Industrial Way, 805/694-2252

Firestone Walker Brewing Co., 620 McMurray Rd., 805/697-4777

Hitching Post II, 406 E Hwy 246, 805/688-0676

Industrial Eats, 181 Industrial Way, 805/688-8807

La Tequila Mexican Restaurant, 35 W. Highway 26, 805/697-7776

Santa Ynez Valley Marriott, 555 McMurray Road, 805/688-1000

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks is taking place Jan 27 to Feb 10. Courtesy photo.

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks is taking place Jan 27 to Feb 10. Courtesy photo.

Los Alamos

Full of Life Flatbread, 225 Bell St., 805/344-4400

Norman, 9150 US Highway 101, 805/344-0080

Pico at The Los Alamos General Store, 458 Bell St., 805/344-1122

Plenty on Bell, 508 Bell St., 805/344-3020

Valle Fresh, 380 Bell St., 805/865-2282

Los Olivos

The Bear & Star, 2860 Grand Ave, 805/686-1359

Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café, 2879 Grand Ave., 805/688-7265

Santa Ynez

The Lucky Hen Larder, 1095 Meadowvale Rd., 805/691-9448

S.Y. Kitchen, 1110 Faraday St., 805/691-9794

Trattoria Grappolo, 3687 Sagunto St., 805/688-6899

Willows Restaurant & Bar, 3400 E. Highway 246, 805/686-0855

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks is taking place Jan 27 to Feb 10. Courtesy photo.

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks is taking place Jan 27 to Feb 10. Courtesy photo.

Solvang

Cecco Ristorante, 475 1st St., 805/688-8880

First & Oak, 409 1st St., 805/688-1703

Fresco Valley Café, 442 Atterdag Rd., 805/688-8857

Hill Haven Provisions, 448 Atterdag Rd., 805/691-9025

Hummingbird Restaurant, 453 Atterdag Rd., 805/403-7100

Leonardo’s Ristorante, 632 Alamo Pintado Rd., 805/686-0846

Los Arroyos Mexican Restaurant & Take Out, 1992 Old Mission Dr., 805/693-2994

Mad & Vin at The Landsby, 1576 Mission Dr., 805/688-3121

River Grill at The Alisal, 150 Alisal Rd., 805/688-7784

Root 246, 420 Alisal Rd., 805/686-8681

Solvang Brewing Co., 1547 Mission Dr., 805/688-2337

Succulent Café Wine Charcuterie, 1555 Mission Dr., 805/691-9444

Toscana Pizzeria, 485 Alisal Road #163, 805/697-7445

Alma Rosa’s eco-chic tasting room in Buellton, built by Allen Construction, incorporates a 15-foot olive tree, local river stone and recycled Douglas Fir. Photo by Patrick Price.

Alma Rosa’s eco-chic tasting room in Buellton, built by Allen Construction, incorporates a 15-foot olive tree, local river stone and recycled Douglas Fir. Photo by Patrick Price.

Wineries

Alma Rosa Winery, 181-C Industrial Way, Buellton, 805/691-9395

Hitching Post Wines, 420 E. Highway 246, Buellton, 805/688-0676

Kalyra Winery, 343 N Refugio Rd., Santa Ynez, 805/693-8864

Loring Wine Company, 201-B Industrial Way, Buellton, 805/691-1300

Pence Vineyards & Winery, 1909 W. Highway 246, Buellton, 805/735-7000

Roblar Winery & Vineyards, 3010 Roblar Ave., Santa Ynez, 805/686-2603

Sunstone Winery, 125 N. Refugio Rd., Santa Ynez, 805/688-9463

 

Lodging

Flying Flags RV Resort & Campground, 180 Avenue of Flags, Buellton, 805/688-3716

Hampton Inn & Suites Buellton/Santa Ynez Valley, 600 McMurray Rd., Buellton, 805/686-1555

King Frederik Inn, 1617 Copenhagen Dr., Solvang, 805/688-5515

The Landsby, 1576 Mission Dr., 805/688-3121

New Haven Inn, 271 Alisal Rd., Solvang, 805/618-8541

Pea Soup Andersen’s Inn, 51 E. Highway 246, Buellton, 800/732-7687

Santa Ynez Inn, 3627 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez, 805/688-5588

Sideways Inn, 114 E. Highway 246, Buellton, 805/688-8448

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Week menus do not include tax, tip, or beverages, and reservations are strongly encouraged. For the latest updates, including menus and dining hours, visit www.DineSYV.com.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on January 24, 2019.

Cocktail Corner: Constellation Pop-Up at Hotel Californian

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Looking for something fun to do to chase those winter blues away. Why not check out the first-ever foodie, wine, mixology & indie music weekend at Hotel Californian (36 State St., Santa Barbara) from January 25-27.

“This is the first of a new quarterly weekend series that will bring inspiring culinary, musical and cultural experiences to Santa Barbara’s hip Funk Zone neighborhood,” says Niki Jenson, who represents Hotel Californian.  

Featuring chefs, indie musicians, vibey DJ beats and community vintners, this sounds like something that shouldn’t be missed. Highlights include Friday night’s “meet the makers” opening night reception with a vibey beats from Boom Forest, along with Bittercube Cocktails, Potek Wine and light bites.

There will be a Bittercube mixology class—the Seven Pillars of Classic Cocktails—on Saturday in Hotel Californian’s sexy new Djinn lobby bar. Bittercube is a Wisconsin-based line of densely flavored cocktail bitters that are created by hand with real botanicals, taking as long as 25 days to complete the process. 

As part of Hotel Californian's Constellation Pop Up Weekend, Bittercube co-founder Ira Koplowitz will host a mixology class, complete with cocktail tasting and curated snacks. Courtesy photo.

As part of Hotel Californian’s Constellation Pop Up Weekend, Bittercube co-founder Ira Koplowitz will host a mixology class, complete with cocktail tasting and curated snacks. Courtesy photo.

Saturday evening features a chef & winemaker reception and six-course dinner from Guest Chefs Justin Carlisle & Chris Mangless, featuring wines by Russel From of Herman Story (Paso Robles), Vailia Esh of Desparada (Paso Robles), and Dave Potter (who we just featured in the winter issue of Santa Barbara Seasons) of Municipal Winemakers (22 Anacapa St., Santa Barbara).

 

Later that night (Jan. 26) is an indie pop-up concert with Langhorne Slim, Stelth Ulvang of The Lumineers and Chris Porterfield of Field Report.

Stelth Ulvang – Clocktower (live at Scandinavia) from The Sights Of Sounds on Vimeo.

And if that’s not enough excitement, Sunday features a winemaker brunch featuring wines from Dave Potter of Municipal Winemakers.

Tickets are still available, click here to access them (choose among individual event tickets or two VIP Packages). This should be a really fun weekend. I hope to see some of 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 believes variety is the spice of life. Send your suggestions to Leslie@sbseasons.com.

 

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on January 21, 2019.

 

 

Local Dish: Cafe Ana

Cafe Ana, photo by Leela Cyd.

Cafe Ana, photo by Leela Cyd.

The long-anticipated Cafe Ana is now open across the street from the historic Santa Barbara County Courthouse, in the Arts District neighborhood, and we’re so excited to have this new “fine-casual” cafe downtown. 

Located at 1201 Anacapa St., at the corner of Anacapa and Anapamu streets (hence the clever name “Cafe Ana”), the former Coffee Cat location has been reborn into a beautiful, light-filled space offering specialty coffee, a curated wine and beer program, and a vibrant menu from Chef Ryan Whyte-Buck.

Whyte-Buck, formerly of Golda in New York, has created a clever menu inspired by California’s varied culinary landscape. “It feels great to be back home and have all this amazing produce at my fingertips.” says Whyte-Buck, an Ojai-native, “I’m also looking forward to building our community at Cafe Ana, one of the most inspiring things about being a chef is bringing people together with hospitality and food.”

Cafe Ana, photo by Leela Cyd.

Cafe Ana, photo by Leela Cyd.

The menu offers both unusual and classic dishes for breakfast, lunch and light evening fare. Yummy breakfasts include Housemade Yogurt with Granola alongside a classic warm Sausage, Egg, and Cheese sandwich and a platter that includes soft egg, cheese, sliced ham, and a seasonal assortment of sides. A selection of toasts, such as Salmon Conserva Toast, and Avocado & Cucumber Toast with Pickled Onion and Togarashi Shichimi, are available all day.

Lunch features salads like Golden Beets with Snow Peas, and Baby Kale and Roast Carrot and Squash, as well as a selection of sandwiches and heartwarming soups that are perfect for this cooler weather.

Cafe Ana, photo by Leela Cyd.

Cafe Ana, photo by Leela Cyd.

Evening offerings include a variety of small bites like a Housemade Country Pate (I sampled it at the media preview and it was delicious), a Seafood Gratin, a Carta De Musica of the Day (an ultra-thin Sardinian sandwich) and mouthwatering Kettle Chips with Caviar, as well as a variety of other Roe & Caviar options, served by the ounce with accoutrements.

A selection of house made pastries is available all day, and brunch and a full dinner service are planned for the near future. Prices are reasonable for downtown Santa Barbara, with pastries in the $2.50-4.50 range, the morning menu in the $8-15 range, afternoon menu in the $5-16 and the evening menu in the $8-18 range. We tried an array of bites at the preview, and honestly, all were delicious.

Cafe Ana, photo by Leela Cyd.

Cafe Ana, photo by Leela Cyd.

The food isn’t the only thing to get excited about at Cafe Ana. The beverage program, curated by Owner/Beverage Director Julian Sanders, features coffee and tea from award-winning specialty coffee roaster LAMILL COFFEE. The wine list spotlights vineyards from around the world, along with some local gems such as Tyler, Presqu’ile, and Jalama Canon Ranch. Craft Beer offerings include selections from around the country along with some interesting imports.

An open kitchen and enlarged windows fill Cafe Ana’s interior space with sunlight and warmth, punctuated with decor that brings together a modern Scandinavian feel with traditional touches. A crisp palate of white and black contrasts with warm walnut accents throughout the space. An eight-seat bar frames the main dining room, with additional seating throughout.

Cafe Ana Owners Katherine Guzman Sanders and Julian Sanders, photo by Leela Cyd.

Cafe Ana Owners Katherine Guzman Sanders and Julian Sanders, photo by Leela Cyd.

Cafe Ana is a project from local company Maxwell Hospitality, which was started by third-generation Santa Barbaran Julian Sanders, his wife Katherine Guzman Sanders, and Julian’s father Richard Sanders. Julian, a certified sommelier and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America’s Accelerated Wine and Beverage program, and Katherine, a front-of-house vet turned hospitality publicist, pooled their passion for the industry with Richard’s local commercial development experience to launch their first restaurant.

Cafe Ana is located at 1201 Anacapa St. Current hours are Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. For more information, visit www.CafeAnaSB.com.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on December 20, 2018.

Les Marchands’ “Feast of The Seven Fishes”

Courtesy Les Marchands.

Courtesy Les Marchands.

Chef Weston Richards designs a modern take on an Italian Christmas Eve tradition, served from Friday, December 21 through Christmas Eve, Monday, December 24 at Les Marchands Restaurant & Wine Shop, in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone.

For these four days only, Chef Richards features his contemporary Central Coast feast, adapted with Santa Barbara-sourced seafood. “Feast of The Seven Fishes” first emerged in the United States in the 1900s, when Italian-Americans  celebrated the holidays with a multi-course meal of seven seafood dishes, bringing together family and friends to commemorate Christmas. Expect inspired wine pairings from France, Spain, Germany and Hungary for each course selected by Les Marchands’ Wine Director Hayden Felice, and expertly mixed craft-cocktails from the talented bartenders perfect for guests’ individual tastes.

Here’s the menu for Les Marchands “Feast of The Seven Fishes” 2018 by Chef Weston Richards with recommended wine pairings by Hayden Felice:  

first

Wild American Caviar 

Les Marchands' Chef Weston Richards, photo by Rob Stark.

Les Marchands’ Chef Weston Richards, photo by Rob Stark.

potato chips, crème fraîche, chives

Salt-Roasted Fingerling Potato, House-Smoked Salmon, Egg Yolk

Lassalle Cachet Or Brut 1er Cru NV Champagne

second

Crispy Smelt

blackening spice, saffron aïoli

 Hondarribi Zuri, Getariako Txakolina, Bengoetxe, 2016, Olabarria, Basque Country

 third

(choice of)

Spanish Octopus

charred radicchio, orange, mint, red onion

Grenache Gris/Roussane/Macabeo, Domaine Gardies, Les Glaciaires, 2014, Vingrau, Roussillon

or

Chilled Squid Ink Noodles

dungeness crab, jalapeño, tobiko

Riesling Trocken, Keller, Von der Fels, 2016, Rheinhessen

fourth

(choice of) 

Les Marchands, photo by Kate Winter.

Les Marchands, photo by Kate Winter.

Ridgeback Prawns

strozzapretti, prawn bisque, sherry, fava beans, parsley

Valdespino Fino “Inocente” NV

or

Santa Barbara Fisherman’s Stew

local mussels & halibut, grilled bread, herb aïoli

Kékfrankos, Wetzer, 2016, Sopron, Hungary

Reservations may be booked by phone or online at www.opentable.com and are available from 5 p.m. Space is limited. For information call 805-284-0380 or email Info@Lesmarchandswine.comLes Marchands Restaurant and Wine Shop is located at 131 Anacapa St., Ste. B, Santa Barbara, at the Corner of Yanonali and Anacapa Streets.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on December 15, 2018.

Cocktail Corner: Seasonal Sips & Bites at Finch & Fork

In the Pines, photo by Michael Sharp, courtesy Finch & Fork.

In the Pines, photo by Michael Sharp, courtesy Finch & Fork.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

We got the chance to taste Finch & Fork’s seasonal cocktail menu and the late fall/early winter dinner menu, both of which are delicious!

Lead Bartender George Piperis‘s new cocktails embrace the season with sensational sippers like the Daughter of Man with copper & kings brandy, honey crisp apple, black currant, honey and eucalyptus bitters, and the Captain Jack Sparrow with jack daniels rye, chairman’s forgotten cask rum, roasted banana and blackstrap and tobacco bitters. Christmas is definitely in the air with the In the Pines cocktail, made with death’s door gin, cardamaro, cocchi torino and pine pollen, and you can’t help but smile when you taste the frothy and tasty You Got Chocolate in My Peanut Butter, made with peanut butter–washed toki japanese whisky, tempus fugit créme de cacao and peanut butter foam. The little girl in me loved Barbie’s Bath Bomb, garnished with Barbie-sized shoes and made with Hangar One vodka, rhubarb, grapefruit, and a pouf of tarragon air. So fun!

Finch & Fork's Barbie Bath Bomb, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork’s Barbie Bath Bomb, courtesy photo.

All those great cocktails helped up work up an appetite, and Executive Chef Peter Cham‘s tasty selections fit the bill to a tee. Among our favorites were the Sweet Potato Baba Ganoush, a surprising mashup of sweet and savory served with incredible housemade bread and pickled veggies. The Harissa Buffalo Wings are another favorite starter, along with hearty Mushroom Soup made with puffed​ rice, black truffle powder and chives (so aromatic and lovely!).

The Burrata & Roasted Squash with pumpkin seed pesto, pomegranate, vadovan honey and rye croutons is a mouthwatering, original variation on one of our favorite cheese dishes. As for mains, the Fresh Ricotta Cavatelli with pork cheek ragout, poblano sofrito and aged manchego is fabulous. You also can’t go wrong with the Sea Scallops. This season’s version sits on a brown butter cauliflower puree, with romanesco, pickled kumquat and crispy capers. And even better yet, a  portion of the proceeds from the scallops is donated to No Kid Hungry, a movement of teachers, chefs, community leaders, parents, lawmakers and CEOs with a shared belief: no kid in America should go hungry.

Finch & Fork Sweet Potato Babaganoush, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork Sweet Potato Babaganoush, courtesy photo.

Speaking of hunger, Finch & Fork is offering yet another way to make your taste buds sing, when Chef Cham offers a special CHAMily Holiday DinnerGather around the table for an evening that takes you back to his Cambodian roots. The multi-course, family-style dinner features traditional Cambodian cuisine, like Prahok Ktiss and Noum Prajok, served alongside truly great company. The CHAMily Dinner is Saturday, December 8 at 7 p.m. Reservations can be made for $55 per person, which includes a welcome drink from lead bartender George Piperis. Optional wine and beer pairings are available. 

Call 805/879-9100 to make your reservation. Seating is limited. Finch & Fork is located at 31 W. Carrillo St. in the Kimpton Canary

Daughter of Man, photo courtesy Finch & Fork.

Daughter of Man, photo courtesy Finch & Fork.

Harissa Wings, photo courtesy Finch & Fork.

Harissa Wings, photo courtesy Finch & Fork.

Chocolate in my Peanut Butter, photo courtesy Finch & Fork.

Chocolate in my Peanut Butter, photo courtesy Finch & Fork.

Finch & Fork Scallops, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork Scallops, courtesy photo.

Finch in the Pines, photo by Kevin Claiborne, courtesy Finch & Fork.

Finch in the Pines, photo by Kevin Claiborne, courtesy Finch & Fork.

Finch & Fork's Burrata and Cauliflower, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork’s Burrata and Cauliflower, courtesy photo.

In the Pines, photo by Michael Sharp, courtesy Finch & Fork.

In the Pines, photo by Michael Sharp, courtesy Finch & Fork.

Finch & Fork's Black Pepper Cavatelli, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork’s Black Pepper Cavatelli, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork's Daily Special Board, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Finch & Fork’s Daily Special Board, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

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. Send your suggestions to Leslie@sbseasons.com.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on November 30, 2018.

Cocktail Corner: Loquita’s Libations

Loquita's Porrón Hour takes place week days from 5-6 p.m., courtesy photo.

Loquita’s Porrón Hour takes place week days from 5-6 p.m., courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Loquita, the Funk Zone favorite restaurant that celebrates the flavors of Spain, has announced a new bar and wine club program just in time for the holiday season. 

Featuring Porron Hour, a Spanish Sherry Flight and the Loquita Wine Club, Loquita’s Bar Manager David Medina has curated these new beverage programs to enjoy at the restaurant or for your home entertaining.

“Our Porron Hour is designed to share the traditional Spanish method for enjoying wine while also offering an approachable price on some of our most popular wines by the glass. Sampling these selections from our hand-blown wine carafes create a singular experience where our guests can pour directly into their mouths from an outstretched arm. Sounds a bit crazy, but that’s Loquita,” says Medina.

Demonstrating the ancient Spanish tradition of porrón, designed for the ease sharing of wine. Photo by Daniel Julia Lundgren, courtesy Flickr.

Demonstrating the ancient Spanish tradition of porrón, designed for the ease sharing of wine. Photo by Daniel Julia Lundgren, courtesy Flickr.

Porron Hour is offered weekdays from 5 – 6 p.m. Come discover and challenge your palate with varieties of exceptional and lesser-known Spanish wines. A Porron is a traditional Spanish wine pitcher that holds .75 liters and is used predominately in the Northwestern part of Spain—Catalonia, Aragon and Valencia. Porron hour features four distinguished varietals, 2017 Avinyo “Petillant” Cava; 2017 Columna Albariño; 2017 Menguante Garnacha and 2015 Finca Torremilanos “Los Cantos” Tempranillo, priced at $20 per Porron.

Medina is also enthusiastic about the Spanish Sherry Flight.  “This offers our guests an introduction to different styles of Spanish Sherry found only in southwest Spain and they pair so well with our menu.

Loquita Sherry Tasting Flight, photo by Kate Winter.

Loquita Sherry Tasting Flight, photo by Kate Winter.

Loquita’s Spanish Sherry Flight presents this unique Spanish wine made from white grapes grown near the city of Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia, Spain. It’s produced in a variety of styles made primarily from the Palomino grape, and ranges from light white table wines to darker and heavier versions such as Amontillado and Oloroso. The flights are available nightly at the bar or table and are the perfect complement to Chef Peter Lee’s Spanish cuisine. The Spanish Sherry Flight includes four one-ounce glasses of some classics—Osborne Manzanilla, Sanlucar Barrameda; Lustau “Almacenista Obregón” Amontillado, El Puerto; Faustino Gonzalez “Cruz Vieja”, Oloroso en Rama, Jerez de la Frontera; and Barbadillo, Cream, Jerez De La Frontera,  priced at $16 per flight. 

Loquita Parron Hour, photo by Kate Winter.

Loquita Parron Hour, photo by Kate Winter.

And, with perfect timing for the holidays, Loquita launches the Loquita Wine Club. “Spanish wines are quite special and we wanted our guests to share the experience outside Loquita’s doors so we decided to offer a wine club that highlights our favorite Spanish producers,” says Medina.  Each quarter Medina selects wines from renowned regions of Spain, including world-class producers from Rioja, Priorat, Ribeira Sacra, Bierzo and the Canary Islands. Selections will showcase diverse climates, winemaking techniques, both modern and traditional, and include information about each producer and the terroir represented. Loquita Wine Club membership includes quarterly shipments of three bottles. Pricing is $75 – $95 per shipment plus tax and shipping charges.

For more information call the restaurant at 805/880-3380 or email info@loquitasb.comLoquita is located at 202 State St., 805/880-3380, loquitasb.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. Send your suggestions to Leslie@sbseasons.com.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on November 16, 2018.