Cocktail Corner: Cheers to Chaplin’s Martini Bar

The perfect martini at Chaplin's Martini Bar, courtesy photo.

The perfect martini at Chaplin’s Martini Bar, courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Looking for an intimate spot for a private tête-à-tête? The new Chaplin’s Martini Bar at the Montecito Inn offers a step back in time—to Charlie Chaplin‘s era—with a nicely curated menu of classic cocktails and a big dose of retro charm. 

Both the hour and the era are quickly forgotten when you step into this cozy lounge, which was briefly home to Frankland’s Crab & Co, is now a quietly sophisticated cocktail lounge. This new concept from Scratch|Restaurants Chef-Owners Phillip Frankland Lee and Margarita Kallas-Lee has a speakeasy vibe meant to hearken back to the Montecito Inn’s early days.

The "master of ceremonies" at Chaplin's Martini Bar mixes up a variety of golden era-inspired cocktails, courtesy photo.

The “master of ceremonies” at Chaplin’s Martini Bar mixes up a variety of golden era-inspired cocktails, courtesy photo.

At the center of the room, a “master of ceremonies” shakes and stirs a clever cocktail menu– including the perfect, old school martini. Also available are the gin-focused, 1920s-era Corpse Reviver #2 (Tanqueray Gin, Lemon, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao, Kina L’Aéro d’Or), Bee’s Knees (Tanqueray Gin, Lemon, Honey), French 75 (Tanqueray Gin, Lemon, Simple Syrup, Sparkling Wine) and Hanky Panky (Tanqueray Gin, Fernet-Branca, Carpano Antica).

The French 75 at Chaplin's Martini Bar, courtesy photo.

The French 75 at Chaplin’s Martini Bar, courtesy photo.

The late 1930s provide the inspiration for Scotch and Whiskey cocktail offerings: the Rusty Nail (Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch, Drambuie, Angostura) and Vieux Carré (Old Overholt Rye Whiskey, Angostura, Peychaud’s Bitters, Carpano Antica, Vermouth Rouge, Pierre Ferrand 1840).

The Rusty Nail at Chaplin's Martini Bar, courtesy photo.

The Rusty Nail at Chaplin’s Martini Bar, courtesy photo.

From the 1940s – 1960s, Rum and Vodka cocktails are the center of attention, with the Kangaroo Kicker (Charbay Vodka, Carpano Dry), and Air Mail (Bacradi Superior, Mint Leaves, Honey Syrup, Lime Juice, Sparkling Wine).

The Air Mail at Chaplin's Martini Bar, courtesy photo.

The Air Mail at Chaplin’s Martini Bar, courtesy photo.

All of the craft cocktails are priced from $12 – $15 (a deal by Montecito standards), and a large selection of wine, craft beer and spirits are also available.   

“Margarita and I have been spending the majority of our time in Montecito at The Monarch (the excellent new restaurant at the hotel), and I have consistently been told by locals that they miss the previous bar that once occupied this space,” says Chef-Owner Phillip Frankland Lee. “I wanted to restore what many felt was absent, but with my spin; a place you’d want to get dressed up for, but where cocktails and conversation are ultimately your only focus.”        

The bar snacks available also have a retro vibe, and include French cheeses and Italian charcuterie, homemade sourdough and accoutrements; Endive Salad with candied walnuts and shaved apple; Jumbo Shrimp with a housemade cocktail sauce; Steak Tartare with cornichons, quail egg and shallots; and Local Oysters served On the Half Shell or Rockefeller style.

Oysters at Chaplin's Martini Bar, courtesy photo.

Oysters at Chaplin’s Martini Bar, courtesy photo.

It’s hard to believe that just weeks ago this place was brightly lit crab shack. The transformation is quite dramatic. Designed in collaboration with Montecito Inn Co-Owner and Designer Danny Copus, Chaplin’s design features warm tones, with wood-trimmed booths in tufted jet-black leather and dark, coffee-colored oak bar. 1960s era James Bond would be quite at home here—it feels like the perfect spot for an assignation.

“As we worked on the design, I wanted the room to feel like a secret; but one worth sharing with your friends,” Danny Copus. “Chaplin’s Martini Bar is a place where you can trade the limelight for candlelight, and we are very excited to have it here at the Montecito Inn.”

Chaplin’s Martini Bar, 1295 Coast Village Rd., Montecito, chaplinsmartinibar.com818/906-9609, open daily from 4 p.m. – midnight, without reservations.  

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 October 26, 2018.

Local Dish: Outpost’s New Executive Chef Hits a Home Run

Outpost Executive Chef Damien Giliberti, photo by Nicole Lazar.

Outpost Executive Chef Damien Giliberti, photo by Nicole Lazar.

Outpost at the Goodland recently promoted Damien Giliberti to Executive Chef, and if our recent meal was any indication, the Kimpton-run property made a great decision to put the kitchen in his capable hands.

The property’s former Executive Sous Chef, Damien Giliberti, a native of Northern New Jersey, worked at Finch & Fork for four years, then Outpost for the past two years. He draws his culinary inspiration from his Italian-American upbringing, where his family owned and lived next to their pizzeria. A graduate of Johnson and Wales University in Miami, he worked in kitchens from North Carolina to Miami, before heading West to Santa Barbara, where he now specializes in contemporary and rustic American cuisine with touches of Latin and Asian influences.

Outpost’s Fried Brussels Sprouts with Yellow Curry, Roasted Garlic Aioli and Chili Flakes, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Outpost’s Fried Brussels Sprouts with Yellow Curry, Roasted Garlic Aioli and Chili Flakes, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Our dinner started out with one of my favorite dishes of the night, Fried Brussels Sprouts with Yellow Curry, Roasted Garlic Aioli and Chili Flakes. Brussels Sprouts are, as they say, “having a moment” on local menus, but this preparation was both unique and delicious, with the warm notes of curry trumpeting the beginning of the fall season.

Outpost’s Tuna Crudo with Yuzu Dressing, Fuji Apples, Avocado Puree, Red Radish and Chili Oil and Some Like It Hot cocktail, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Outpost’s Tuna Crudo with Yuzu Dressing, Fuji Apples, Avocado Puree, Red Radish and Chili Oil and Some Like It Hot cocktail, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Next up was a bright Tuna Crudo dish with Yuzu Dressing, Fuji Apples, Avocado Puree, Red Radish and Chili Oil, followed by another fall favorite, Carmelized Sweet Potato with Tumeric Yogurt, Crispy Chickpeas and Garam Masala. 

Outpost’s Carmelized Sweet Potato with Tumeric Yogurt, Crispy Chickpeas and Garam Masala, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Outpost’s Carmelized Sweet Potato with Tumeric Yogurt, Crispy Chickpeas and Garam Masala, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

We also loved the Pork Belly Bao Buns (even my sometimes vegetarian friend indulged) with Pickled Cucumber, Jalapeno Kewpie, Sesame Seed, Cilantro and Hoisin Sauce. The larger entrees—Pork Chop with Carmelized Fuji Apples, Spicy Mustard Aioli and Upland Cress; and Salmon with Romanesco Puree, Roasted Heirloom Carrots, Sauteed Sugar Snap Peas and Chipotle Hollandaise—were also very tasty.

Outpost’s Pork Belly Bao Buns with Pickled Cucumber, Jalapeno Kewpie, Sesame Seed, Cilantro and Hoisin Sauce, photo by Leslie Dinaberg

Outpost’s Pork Belly Bao Buns with Pickled Cucumber, Jalapeno Kewpie, Sesame Seed, Cilantro and Hoisin Sauce, photo by Leslie Dinaberg

Other new menu highlights include the Lamb Burger with Date Chutney, Harissa Yogurt, Pickled Red Onion and Watercress; and Grilled Strip Loin with crispy Red Potatoes, charred Mexican Green Onions and Chimichurri Sauce.

Outpost’s Pork Chop with Carmelized Fuji Apples, Spicy Mustard Aioli and Upland Cress (left), and Salmon with Romanesco Puree, Roasted Heirloom Carrots, Sauteed Sugar Snap Peas and Chipotle Hollandaise, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Outpost’s Pork Chop with Carmelized Fuji Apples, Spicy Mustard Aioli and Upland Cress (left), and Salmon with Romanesco Puree, Roasted Heirloom Carrots, Sauteed Sugar Snap Peas and Chipotle Hollandaise, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

“Working and living in Santa Barbara has allowed me to experience first-hand how food brings people together. It feels good to be a part of a community like ours, and to connect with our guests through food,” says Giliberti.

With food like this, let’s hope he continues to feed our community for a good long time!  

Outpost at the Goodland  is located at 5650 Calle Real, Goleta. For more information, visit www.OutpostSB.com.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on September 14, 2018.

Cocktail Corner: CA Brew & BBQ Festival

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Summer may be coming to a close, but the festival season continues. Next up, on Saturday, September 29 is the lovely, oceanfront California Brew & BBQ Festival

Featuring more than 50 top breweries, cider makers and wineries, as well top Santa Barbara chefs competing for Best BBQ honors, the Chase Palm Park Field location makes this an ideal place for a day full of sun, sea, beer, BBQ and music.

California Brew & BBQ Festival, photo by Luis Esparza.

California Brew & BBQ Festival, photo by Luis Esparza.

One2Tree, a soulful reggae band, and Neighborhood Thieves, and alternative rock and pop group, keeps the beat for this all-day feast for the senses where beer is king.

General admission includes:

  • All beer, cider and wines tastes
  • BBQ and food samples from local restaurants and food purveyors
  • Souvenir pint glass
California Brew & BBQ Festival, photo by Luis Esparza.

California Brew & BBQ Festival, photo by Luis Esparza.

Limited VIP tickets include all of the above, plus:

  • VIP Pavilion catered by Patxi’s Pizza with pizza, salads and appetizers
  • Rare brews offered in the VIP area
  • Wines
  • Oceanside seating with an unobstructed view of the stage
  • VIP Restrooms
California Brew & BBQ Festival, photo by Luis Esparza.

California Brew & BBQ Festival, photo by Luis Esparza.

For a complete list of beer and beverage vendors, click here.

For a complete list of food vendors—including BBQ competitors, who will be sampling tri-tip—click here.

California Brew & BBQ Festival, photo by Luis Esparza.

California Brew & BBQ Festival, photo by Luis Esparza.

Not only is this guaranteed to be a day full of fun, the California Brew Festival also benefits the Surf Happens Foundation, whose mission it to enrich the lives of local youth through environmental education and the sport of surfing.

Cheers! Click here for more Cocktail Corner columns.

California Brew & BBQ Festival, photo by Luis Esparza.

California Brew & BBQ Festival, photo by Luis Esparza.

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 September 14, 2019.

Cocktail Corner: Saddle Up to Hitching Post Wines

Top Row: Hitching Post Wines Exterior, Hitching Post Wines Interior. Middle: Frank Ostini and Olive deliver lunch; l-r Frank Ostini, Jami Ostini, Charlotte Hartley and Gray Hartley. Bottom: Hitching Post Wines Interior, the Hitching Post Burger and Triple Fried Fries. Photos by Rob Stark, courtesy Hitching Post Wine.

Top Row: Hitching Post Wines Exterior, Hitching Post Wines Interior. Middle: Frank Ostini and Olive deliver lunch; l-r Frank Ostini, Jami Ostini, Charlotte Hartley and Gray Hartley. Bottom: Hitching Post Wines Interior, the Hitching Post Burger and Triple Fried Fries. Photos by Rob Stark, courtesy Hitching Post Wine.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

You know the saying, “location, location, location?” Well, sometimes it takes a while for the right one to become available—but in the case of Hitching Post Wines‘ long-awaited tasting room, it was well worth the wait!  

Located right next door to the famed Hitching Post 2 restaurant in Buellton (which was so memorably immortalized in the movie Sideways), Hitching Post Wines just opened their first-ever tasting room, after almost 40 years of winemaking. The spacious new nearly 12-acre property, formerly occupied by Loring Wine Company, belongs to Frank and Jami Ostini and Gray and Charlotte Hartley. The new tasting room is housed in a mid-century farmhouse with trailing walkways and outdoor seating areas with a view of the Santa Ynez Mountain landscape—including the Ostrich Farm next door. Throughout the property are walkways and casual picnic areas that invite guests to linger over a bottle of wine while taking in the dramatic landscape. Dogs are welcome too.

Bottles on display at the Hitching Post Wine Tasting Room, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Bottles on display at the Hitching Post Wine Tasting Room, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Longtime friends, Gray Hartley and Frank Ostini have been making wines in Santa Barbara County since 1979. Hartley, a former Alaskan salmon fisherman and Ostini, chef and owner of the Hitching Post 2 Restaurant, came together through their love of wine and winemaking. Over the years what was once their backyard hobby has turned into a highly acclaimed winemaking venture, with Pinot Noir as their primary focus. 

Currently, the winery produces about 17,000 cases a year.

Outdoor seating at the Hitching Post Wine Tasting Room, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Outdoor seating at the Hitching Post Wine Tasting Room, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

The Traditional Tasting at Hitching Post Wines offers a flight of five Hitching Post Wines consisting of Pinks 2017, Hometown Pinot Noir 2016, Cork Dancer Pinot Noir 2015, Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir 2015 and Gen Red 2016, priced at $15 per guest.

A Reserve Tasting, priced at $20, includes five wines—Highliner Pinot Noir 2015, Perfect Set Pinot Noir 2015, Bien Nacido Pinot Noir 2015, Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir 2015 and Four Top  2012. The caveat of the Reserve Tasting will be its ever-changing menu featuring rare single-vineyard bottling and special older vintages of Hitching Post.

Hitching Post Wines also offers customized Private Winemaker Tastings with Gray Hartley and Frank Ostini for $60 per guest (by appointment only).

A sign welcomes visitors to the new Hitching Post Wine Tasting Room.

A sign welcomes visitors to the new Hitching Post Wine Tasting Room.

The other beauty of this location is easy access to Hitching Post 2’s Santa Maria Style BBQ food pairings. Classics from the restaurant include HP Burgers, Triple-Fried French Fries, Santa Maria BBQ Artichokes and Grilled Corn Quesadillas. Coming soon, the public will experience an expanded lunch menu served from a refurbished 1970s Vintage Airstream trailer, relocated from Seaside, Florida, and converted into a first-class Santa Maria BBQ kitchen on wheels.

In the coming months, look for the phase two restoration of the rear building into a public wine bar with an enclosed patio overlooking the river with mountain views and a natural stage, ideal for live performances. The classic Airstream trailer and Hitching Post Santa Maria grills will offer a broader menu, cooked onsite surrounding by casual seating. Also planned is a phase three restoration and remodel of the original barn that oversees the Santa Ynez Mountains specifically for private Hitching Post events.

Inside the Hitching Post Wine Tasting Room, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Inside the Hitching Post Wine Tasting Room, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Hitching Post Wines is open Sunday – Thursday from  11 a.m. – 5  p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.  Food service from The Hitching Post 2 is available from 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. daily, with limited cheese and charcuterie available for purchase in the tasting room. Hitching Post Wines is located at 420 E. Hwy. 246, Buellton. 

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 August 31, 2018.

Cocktail Corner: Taste of the Town Santa Barbara Benefit for the Arthritis Foundation

Once again, the beautiful Riviera Park will host the 37th annual Taste of the Town Santa Barbara benefitting the Arthritis Foundation on Sunday, September 9, from Noon-3 p.m. Courtesy photo.

Once again, the beautiful Riviera Park will host the 37th annual Taste of the Town Santa Barbara benefitting the Arthritis Foundation on Sunday, September 9, from Noon-3 p.m. Courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

The Taste of the Town Santa Barbara Weekend features two signature culinary events, so why not eat and drink to your heart’s content on September 7 and 9!

First up is Taste of the Town Santa Barbara Connoisseurs’ Circle Gala Dinner on Friday, September 7,  at Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort. At this VIP tasting event with a select group of Taste of the Town wine and beer partners, guests will enjoy appetizers, as well as a four-course gourmet dinner prepared by 2018 Honorary Chefs Matt Johnson (San Ysidro Ranch), David Rosner (Monarch at the Montecito Inn), Steven Giles (formerly of Sage & Onion and Le Gavroche London), David Cecchini (Cecco Ristorante), and a guest chef from Hilton Hotels & Resorts.

Taste of the Town's 2018 Honorary Vintner is Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat, courtesy photo.

Taste of the Town’s 2018 Honorary Vintner is Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat, courtesy photo.

The evening takes place in the beautiful oceanview Rotunda and includes special wine pairings from 2018 Honorary Vintner Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat.

In addition, guests will have the opportunity to meet 2018 Youth Honoree Shannon Morehouse and 2018 Honorary Artist Chris Potter, and enjoy a live auction and dancing under the stars. Seating is limited so advance reservations are highly recommended.

Sunday, September 9, brings yet another opportunity to indulge for a good cause. The popular Taste of the Town Santa Barbara features unlimited samplings from the area’s finest restaurants, caterers, wineries, breweries and spirits providers, with a silent auction of lifestyle items, photo booth and live jazz entertainment by the David Tovar Trio.

One of the 2018 Taste of the Town Honorary Chefs is Matt Johnson, executive chef at San Ysidro Ranch. SB Seasons file photo by Amy Barnard.

One of the 2018 Taste of the Town Honorary Chefs is Matt Johnson, executive chef at San Ysidro Ranch. SB Seasons file photo by Amy Barnard.

Confirmed food purveyers include: Ca’Dario, Chefs on a Mission, Country Catering, Finch & Fork, Finney’s Crafthouse, Flightline, Green Table, High on the Hog Catering, Lilac Patisserie, Michael’s Catering, Mizza Artisan Pizza, opal Restaurant & Bar, Pascucci’s, Santa Barbara Yacht Club, SBCC Culinary, The Little Door, The Little Kitchen, The Nook, The Nugget Goleta, The Palace Grill, The Secret Ingredient and Via Maestra 42.

Confirmed wine, beer and spirits purveyers include: Alexander & Wayne, Alma Rosa, Arthur Earl, Artiste, Au Bon Climat, Brander, Brewer-Clifton, Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, Demetria Estates, DV8 Cellars, Gainey, Giessinger, Grassini, Islands Brewing Company, Jaffurs, Ken Brown Wines, Kessler-Haak, Margerum Wine Company, Melville, Presqu’ile, Qupe, Refugio Ranch, Roblar, Temperance Cellars and Whitcraft Winery.

It all takes place from noon-3 p.m. at Riviera Park, 2030 Alameda Padre Serra, Santa Barbara.

Taste of the Town's confirmed wine, beer and spirits purveyers include: Alexander & Wayne, Alma Rosa, Arthur Earl, Artiste, Au Bon Climat, Brander, Brewer-Clifton, Cutler's Artisan Spirits, Demetria Estates, DV8 Cellars, Gainey, Giessinger, Grassini, Islands Brewing Company, Jaffurs, Ken Brown Wines, Kessler-Haak, Margerum Wine Company, Melville, Presqu'ile, Qupe, Refugio Ranch, Roblar, Temperance Cellars and Whitcraft Winery. Courtesy photo.

Taste of the Town’s confirmed wine, beer and spirits purveyers include: Alexander & Wayne, Alma Rosa, Arthur Earl, Artiste, Au Bon Climat, Brander, Brewer-Clifton, Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, Demetria Estates, DV8 Cellars, Gainey, Giessinger, Grassini, Islands Brewing Company, Jaffurs, Ken Brown Wines, Kessler-Haak, Margerum Wine Company, Melville, Presqu’ile, Qupe, Refugio Ranch, Roblar, Temperance Cellars and Whitcraft Winery. Courtesy photo.

All (yes, ALL) proceeds from Taste of the Town Santa Barbara support the programs and services of the Arthritis Foundation. The Foundation is the only nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of 50 million people (including nearly 300,000 children) with arthritis through health education, advocacy, research, and local juvenile arthritis support. Tickets are available at www.arthritis.org/tasteofthetownsb or by calling the Arthritis Foundation Central Coast at 805/563-4685.

Hope to see you there! Cheers! Click here for more Cocktail Corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie believes variety is the spice of life. Send your suggestions to Leslie@sbseasons.com.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on August 17, 2018.

Cocktail Corner: Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Jon Endow.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Jon Endow.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Get ready for another fun festival when the Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival returns to the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club on Saturday, September 8.

The festival combines polo, local wine, and music for a unique one-day experience that includes musical performances by ZZ Ward, Booker T. Jones, California Honeydrops, Quinn DeVeaux and DJ Sets by Soul Dust Productions.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Andrew Thill.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Andrew Thill.

The Festival features a careful curation of local food and wineries, including Jardesca, Lavender Oak Vineyard, Old Creek Ranch, Sanford Winery, Standing Sun Wines, Summerland Winery and more. In addition to a wine tasting hour from 1 -2 p.m. where attendees will having a chance to sample all of the featured wines, there’s also a VIP champagne and cheese hour from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.

In addition, sommelier guided wine tasting tours will be available on a first come first serve basis and attendees will be guided across all of the wineries of the festival and given an overview, history, and tasting notes at each winery as well.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Andrew Thill.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Andrew Thill.

There are several different levels of experiences and perks available at the Festival, so visit sbpoloandwine.com for all of the specifics.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by David Lominska.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by David Lominska.

In addition, this year, the Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival is the kick-off event to the 8-goal polo series at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club. This will be an official polo game of the series, and is sure to be an incredible match. While not mandatory, the game’s elegant atmosphere will encourage guests to get in touch with their inner Julia Roberts (think the polo match scene in Pretty Woman). The bigger and more elaborate the hat the better, although September 8 is my birthday, so I might just wear my tiara! 

Hope to see you there. Cheers!

Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club is located at 3300 Via Real, Carpinteria.

Nick Waterhouse at Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Andrew Thill.

Nick Waterhouse at Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Andrew Thill.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Jon Endow.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Jon Endow.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Jon Endow.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Jon Endow.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Jon Endow.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Jon Endow.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Jon Endow.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Jon Endow.

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 August 3, 2018.

Local Lowdown: Bibi Ji

Collin Dewell, courtesy Bibi Ji.

Collin Dewell, courtesy Bibi Ji.

The new restaurant from James Beard Award-winning sommelier and winemaker Rajat Parr and acclaimed Chef Jessi Singh (of the popular Babu Ji restaurants in San Francisco, Manhattan and Melbourne), Bibi Ji, takes its name from an Indian term of endearment for women in the family, and pays tribute to the formative women in both Singh and Parr’s lives who cultivated their love for food and hospitality.

This innovative take on Indian food paired with locally made wines and locally sourced seafood with Australian influences all adds up to what is easily one of the most exciting new restaurants to hit downtown Santa Barbara in a long time!

Collin Dewell, courtesy Bibi Ji.

Collin Dewell, courtesy Bibi Ji.

Drawing from his Australian and Indian roots, Chef Singh (who now lives in Santa Barbara) has created a menu featuring his self-proclaimed “unauthentic take” on many traditional American seafood dishes, with a strong focus on using local Santa Barbara purveyors. Currently on the menu are SB UNI biryani, made with local sea urchin and fried rice; local oysters with green mango pickle butter; delicious Hope Ranch black mussels in a curry broth; and melt-in-your-mouth Aussie lamb chops with mint and dill raita and apricot chutney; as well as a zesty array of “unauthentic curries.”

Collin Dewell, courtesy Bibi Ji.

Collin Dewell, courtesy Bibi Ji.

The Chef’s Tasting Menu—offering a variety of favorite appetizers, curries, naan, rice and dessert for $50 per person—is an excellent way to savor a variety of these exciting flavors.

Bibi Ji, 734 State St., bibijisb.com, 805/560-6845.

Leslie Dinaberg

This story was originally published in the summer 2018 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

Local Lowdown: Mizza Artisan Pizza and Italian Cuisine Opens in La Arcada

Buratta + Heirloom Tomato at Mizza Artisan Pizza and Italian Cuisine, courtesy photo.

Buratta + Heirloom Tomato at Mizza Artisan Pizza and Italian Cuisine, courtesy photo.

“Our goal is to be an Italian pub, no white linen, but a white linen level Italian dining experience without the white linen,” is how owner Brendan Searls (of Viva!, Dargan’s Irish Pub and Restaurant, and Pizza Mizza fame) describes his newest restaurant venture. He and his wife Kourtney decided to open Mizza Artisan Pizza and Italian Cuisine (“Mizza”) when a prime location with a State Street front patio became available in the historic La Arcada Plaza, which is also home to their Mexican restaurant Viva!

“This part of town is going through a renaissance, and this was a unique opportunity that doesn’t come up very often,” says Searls. The newly renovated restaurant space—formerly home to La Arcada Bistro and Barcliff and Bair before that—features handmade artisan pizzas, handmade pastas, salads and a selection of carefully selected house specialties using local fresh produce, locally caught fresh fish, free-range chicken and Harris Ranch CAB meats.

Tagliatelle + Mussels at Mizza Artisan Pizza and Italian Cuisine, courtesy photo.

Tagliatelle + Mussels at Mizza Artisan Pizza and Italian Cuisine, courtesy photo.

Mizza is “ideally situated in the 1100 block of State Street, with beautiful patios on both sides of the restaurant,” says Searls. “We will be striving to provide Santa Barbara with a reasonably priced but a casually excellent dining experience.”

With 80 outdoor patio seats and full bar service available, Mizza is sure to be a popular spot on warm summer afternoons and evenings. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner service daily, with brunch service on Saturdays and Sundays. Mizza Artisan Pizza and Italian Cuisine opened on June 1, and plans for a wine bar are also in the works for later in the summer.

Arugula + Prosciutto Pizza at Mizza Artisan Pizza and Italian Cuisine, courtesy photo.

Arugula + Prosciutto Pizza at Mizza Artisan Pizza and Italian Cuisine, courtesy photo.

Mizza Artisan Pizza and Italian Cuisine, 1112 State St., Santa Barbara, at the entrance to the beautiful La Arcada Plaza.

Leslie Dinaberg

This story was originally published in the 2018 summer issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

Local Dish: Finch & Fork Welcomes New Chef

Finch & Fork Executive Sous Chef Peter Cham, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork Executive Sous Chef Peter Cham, courtesy photo.

Santa Barbara native Peter Cham recently took over the kitchen at Finch & Fork, when longtime Executive Chef James Siao left to expand his culinary horizons overseas at one of Kimpton’s international properties. Lucky for us, Cham has served as Siao’s right-hand-man for more than two years, and is eagerly up to the challenge of taking over the culinary helm at the Canary Hotel’s signature restaurant.

Finch & Fork's Salmon, with preparation, which included beluga lentils, asparagus, pancetta, green peppercorn hollandaise, capers and baby turnip, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork’s Salmon, with preparation, which included beluga lentils, asparagus, pancetta, green peppercorn hollandaise, capers and baby turnip, courtesy photo.

If our recent meal is any indication, Cham is more than up to the task. We put ourselves in his capable hands and sampled an excellent array of flavors, including delicious Blistered Shishito Peppers with charred lime aioli, crispy quinoa; Cauliflower with romesco, hazelnut dukkah and lemon (even my “vegetable adverse” husband liked these flavors); and a mouthwatering preparation of Burrata & Spring Peas with preserved lemon, pickled shallots, mint, tangerine, sunflower seeds and grilled artisan bread that I’m still dreaming about. Not only was this dish perfectly balanced, a portion of its proceeds are even donated to No Kid Hungry, a nonprofit movement of teachers, chefs, community leaders, parents, lawmakers and CEOs with a shared belief: no kid in America should go hungry.

Finch & Fork's Burrata & Spring Peas with preserved lemon, pickled shallots, mint, tangerine, sunflower seeds and grilled artisan bread, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork’s Burrata & Spring Peas with preserved lemon, pickled shallots, mint, tangerine, sunflower seeds and grilled artisan bread, courtesy photo.

Also on the No Kid Hungry donation menu is a melt-in-your-mouth Short Rib with parsnip purée, radish, gremolata and dandelion greens. We also really enjoyed the unusual Salmon preparation, which included beluga lentils, asparagus, pancetta, green peppercorn hollandaise, capers and baby turnip.

Finch & Fork's Short Rib with parsnip purée, radish, gremolata and dandelion greens, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork’s Short Rib with parsnip purée, radish, gremolata and dandelion greens, courtesy photo.

Other highlights on Cham’s most recent dinner menu include Fresh Ricotta Cavatelli with house made sausage ragout, braised Tuscan kale, crème fraiche, fennel pollen and parmigiana; Kanpachi Crudo with avocado and cilantro crema, pickled pearl onions, jicama, yuzu and jalapeño; and Sea Scallops with gold beet relish, grapefruit, chorizo vinaigrette and sliced avocado.

Finch & Fork's Cauliflower with romesco, hazelnut dukkah and lemon, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork’s Cauliflower with romesco, hazelnut dukkah and lemon, courtesy photo.

A culinary grad from City College of San Francisco, Cham has worked and staged at some of San Francisco’s most notable restaurants, including Radius, Coi, Quince and Fifth Floor.

“There’s no better chef to take over the kitchen at Finch & Fork,” says James Siao. “Chef Cham is a natural leader who is extremely talented and passionate about what he does. He has always been invested in Finch & Fork and Santa Barbara’s community.”

Cham returned to Santa Barbara from the Bay Area in 2015, where he took post at the popular Hungry Cat before calling Finch & Fork his home. He says he plans to stay true to the high quality menus we’ve come to enjoy at Finch & Fork—”seasonally driven dishes served in simple, unfussy presentations with a touch of whimsy.”

Finch & Fork’s cocktail, The Drive Home, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork’s cocktail, The Drive Home, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork’s cocktail, Rattle and Hum, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork’s cocktail, Rattle and Hum, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork’s Fire Roasted Milk Shake is a great way to top off your meal, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork’s Fire Roasted Milk Shake is a great way to top off your meal, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork, Canary Hotel, 31 West Carrillo St., Santa Barbara, 805/879-9100. For more information, click here.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on June 6, 2018.

Wine Dinner Series at Belmond El Encanto Continues

Belmond El Encanto. Courtesy photo.

Belmond El Encanto. Courtesy photo.

Belmond El Encanto‘s delicious wine dinner series continues this week, with an exclusive dining experience featuring Daou Vineyards and Winery of Paso Robles on Wednesday, June 6.

Regionally inspired cuisine from Executive Chef Johan Denizot is paired with a fantastic selection of wines. A welcome reception begins at 6:30 p.m., followed by a multi-course tasting menu with wine pairings. For a peek at the menu, click here.

The series continues on August 23, featuring Santa Barbara County’s own Au Bon Climat.

On September 20, it’s Venetian Night: Evolution of Amarone (In Italian, the name Amarone literally means “the Great Bitter,” and is a typically rich Italian dry red wine made from the partially dried grapes of the Corvina , Rondinella and other approved red grape varieties).

Finally, Ridge Vineyards, featuring wines from Sonoma County and the Santa Cruz Mountains, is spotlighted on November 1.

The Daou dinner on Wednesday, June 6 is $120 per person. For reservations, call 805/770-3530.

Belmond El Encanto is located at 800 Alvarado Pl., Santa Barbara. For more information about the resort, click here.

Leslie Dinaberg