Enjoy the Holidays at Loquita

Paella from Loquita, photo by Laura Ray.

Paella from Loquita, photo by Laura Ray.

Executive Chef Peter Lee of LOQUITA and POQUITA—the new hot spots Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone—has special celebratory menus for Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. If you haven’t had the pleasure of checking these restaurants out yet, the holidays are a perfect time to do so.

In addition to the complete menu that Loquita has made popular with bold flavored Mediterranean dishes of olives, lemons, tomatoes, peppers, vinegars, Jamon and Sherries, simply executed and beautifully plated, on Christmas Eve, Chef Lee’s specials feature Bunuelo de Bacalao—Salt Cod, Potato, Lemon & Nora Chili Aïoli; and Cannelloni with Mushroom, Foie Gras; Bechamel & Manchego. Reservations are recommended and are available from 5–8:30 p.m.

Loquita, photo by Rob Stark.

Loquita, photo by Rob Stark.

Then, on New Year’s Eve, Loquita presents elegant New Year’s Eve specials, in addition to their acclaimed menu, perfect for an end of year celebration. Selections include Foie Gras with Figs, Dandelion Greens & Celery Root; Paella con Costilla – Iberico Pork Ribs with Artichokes, Mushrooms, Iberico Soffrito, Grilled Lemon & Herb Aïoli; and Cochinillo Asado – Suckling Pig with Asparagus, Mushrooms & Mojo Verde. Loquita’s chefs will display a live “performance art,” preparing the Paella con Costilla outdoors on the patio in a huge paella pan for all guests to experience. Reservations are recommended and are available from 5–10:45 p.m.

Also now open is Poquita, the little sister of Loquita, a perfect choice for both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve for those seeking a spontaneous evening. Drop in while exploring the Urban Wine Trail, drinking in the colorful ambiance of the Funk Zone.

Loquita, photo by Rob Stark.

Loquita, photo by Rob Stark.

Poquita serves many of the same delicious pintxos, tapas, cheeses and charcuterie as Loquita at their artful, standing-room-only pintxos bar, ideal for casual small bites without the structure of a reservation. Hours are 5 p.m. – midnight.

Also starting on New Year’s Day, Loquita begins serving Sunday Brunch. Chef Lee introduces his inspired daytime menu of exquisite Spanish specialties created with a Santa Barbara sensibility—a Paella Pan Skillet with either Mushroom, Tomato, Spinach, Potato, Eggplant, Chermoula & Eggs; or Chorizo with Bell Pepper, Tomato, Potato, Broccolini, Parsley & Eggs; Benedicts on Pan De Cristal in two versions – Jamon Serrano, Spinach, Eggs & Chorizo Hollandaise; or Cured Salmon, Pickled Red Onion, Eggs & Lemon Hollandaise. Try Lee’s two spins on the Tortilla Espanola – Traditional with Potato, Onion, Frisee & Herb Aïoli; or Especial with Avocado, Piquillo, Potato, Onion, Mushroom & Chorizo. Loquita brunch hours are 10 a.m.–2 p.m. and will continue every Sunday after the new year. 

To view all holiday menus visit Holiday Menus or www.loquitasb.com/nye.

Loquita, photo by Rob Stark.

Loquita, photo by Rob Stark.

Loquita, “an endearing Spanish colloquial term for a wild, fun loving young girl, is a playful love letter to the Spanish origins and history of Santa Barbara.” The space is designed by San Francisco restaurateur and designer Doug Washington, who created the distinctive styling at The Lark, Lucky Penny, Les Marchands, Santa Barbara Wine Collective and Helena Avenue Bakery. Architect Joe Andrulaitis and the Young Construction team led by Rick Musmecci completely restored the historic building that has served as numerous restaurants and the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission over the past century. Interior finishing touches by Stephanie Greene Fuller incorporated handsome furnishings fabricated by Brothers of Industry of Carpinteria.  

Loquita, photo by Rob Stark.

Loquita, photo by Rob Stark.

“I was inspired by a quote I read in a recent issue of Food & Wine magazine that said ‘Spain is a country with a big heart, a big thirst for wine, a big appetite for great food and a big affinity for art, music and sports.’ Those who live, work and play in Santa Barbara share these values,” says Sherry Villanueva, Managing Partner for Acme Hospitality, the group behind the restaurant. Bringing a Spanish restaurant to the Funk Zone has been something she has envisioned since the space first became available more than two years ago.

“Santa Barbara’s rich Spanish colonial history has defined our city in ways that span architecture, food, wine and even informs our community celebrations. It’s the right time to dedicate our next restaurant to the incredible culture and food that Spain is known for, but interpreted by a contemporary California sensibility that is our company’s signature,” says Villanueva. “It’s no wonder that Spain is recognized as one of the greatest countries for food and dining today.

The restaurant is located at 202 State St., 805/880-3380.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on December 19, 2016.

Cocktail Corner: World of Pinot Noir Makes a Delicious Gift

Photos courtesy World of Pinot Noir.

Photos courtesy World of Pinot Noir.

A Spirited Toast to All Things Alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg 

If you’re looking to splurge on a gift for that special someone, who happens to be a wine lover, why not plan your Pinot Noir adventure together and take them to the World of Pinot!

I get to go to a LOT of wine festivals and this event, which takes place March 3 – 4 at the Bacara Resort & Spa, is definitely one of my favorites.

There are two days of tastings, seminars and dinners where guests can taste wines from more than 200 wineries —all Pinot Noirs—from areas including Burgundy, Mendocino, Monterey, New Zealand, Oregon, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo and Sonoma. It’s the ultimate tasting experience!

Courtesy World of Pinot Noir

Courtesy World of Pinot Noir

Right now there’s even a special holiday gift offer available until January 3. Enter code “Pink” to receive a discount on the Rosé Lunch and Grand Tasting on Friday, March 3. Enjoy a selection of Pinot Noir Rosé wines with lunch prepared by Bacara’s culinary team in the new Angel Oak restaurant, then continue your journey of Pinot Noir at the Grand Tasting.

Also on special for the holidays is the Sparkling Brunch and Grand Tasting on Saturday, March 4. Kick off your day with bubbles! A selection of sparkling wine and Champagnes will be featured with brunch prepared by Bacara’s culinary team in the new Angel Oak restaurant. Then continue on to the Grand Tasting. Enter code “Bubbles” to receive your special discount.

Additional highlights include: Hirsch Seminar and Tasting; Kosta Browne 20th Anniversary Dinner; Louis Latour Tasting & Dinner; Edna Valley Winery Collective Dinner; Cheese Seminar featuring Sonoma Wines; Vintage Burgundy Dinner with the Guild of Sommeliers; Rock Stars of Pinot Noir featuring Merry Edwards and the Hitching Post Vertical Tasting & Barbecue; as well as the Grand Tasting on both Friday and Saturday.

Click here for the entire lineup of events or visit worldofpinotnoir.com for more information. Hope to see you there! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

 Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on December 16, 2016.

 

Seasons Greetings: AwesomeBox = A Great Gift

Here are some examples of AwesomeBox designs, courtesy photo.

Here are some examples of AwesomeBox designs, courtesy photo.

It’s always tough to find affordable, creative gifts for loved ones—especially during the holiday season—but the AwesomeBox (www.awesomebox.com) is something unique and well, ahem, awesome. More than a simple photo album or personalized photo gift (both of which are also great for the holidays), AwesomeBox allows users to build a customized box of memories, stories and photos packaged into a one-of-a-kind printed gift.

It’s also a great group gift to collaborate with family or friends, because you can send out invitations to multiple people to contribute their photos and their memories. In fact, one of the most unique parts about the AwesomeBox experience is how easy it is to get everyone involved in the gift giving process.

Receiving a special gift like an AwesomeBox can evoke a powerful response, courtesy photo.

Receiving a special gift like an AwesomeBox can evoke a powerful response, courtesy photo.

I made one to surprise one of my family member this year, and lots of people are getting in on the fun. In fact, recently, fans have collaborated to make AwesomeBoxes as gifts for Beyoncé, DrakeJon Stewart and Leonardo DiCaprio’s birthdays, and fans are currently making one for Taylor Swift. But, you don’t have to be a celebrity to get an AwesomeBox.

Add pictures from Instagram, Facebook, your phone or computer, and send out invitations to others to contribute. Then design your cards and sequence them to tell a compelling story. You can even add music to your card to co-create a custom playlist. Best of all, a 10-card AwesomeBox is just $19.

Receiving a special gift like an AwesomeBox can evoke a powerful response, courtesy photo.

Receiving a special gift like an AwesomeBox can evoke a powerful response, courtesy photo.

It’s so simple to create, and the memories last a lifetime. In three simple steps, you’ll have the perfect gift:

1.    Create a private online webpage to honor your special someone.

2.    Invite friends and family to upload photos and heartfelt messages from around the world.

3.    AwesomeBox turns everything into a box of 10 to 100 colorful printed cards that they’ll pour over for years!

We even have a special coupon code where you can save 25%: HOLIDAYGIFT.

Here are some examples of AwesomeBox designs, courtesy photo.

Here are some examples of AwesomeBox designs, courtesy photo.

Check it out, and let me know what you think.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on December 9, 2016.

 

 

Seasons Greetings: Reusable Wrapeez

Wrapeez reusable gift wrap is great for the holidays, courtesy photo.

Wrapeez reusable gift wrap is great for the holidays, courtesy photo.

There’s nothing better than a holiday product that keeps on giving, except perhaps one that also saves you time. 

There’s a new invention called Wrapeez, a reusable stretch fabric gift wrap! That’s right, now, you can have a nicely wrapped gift in less than 20 seconds. 

Just stretch it, wrap it, and reuse it. No scissors or tape required. It easily stretches over different shapes and sizes, such as toys, balls, clothing boxes, gift cards, and more.

Simplify your season with Wrapeez reusable gift wrap, courtesy photo.

Simplify your season with Wrapeez reusable gift wrap, courtesy photo.

Not only is it easy to use, there’s no paper waste, the produce is eco-friendly and reusable. Good for the planet, beautiful, and convenient—now that’s what I call a wrap!  

For more information and to purchase Wrapeez, visit www.wrapeez.com or Amazon.com.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on December 10, 2016.

Cocktail Corner: Mussel Madness in Montecito

Mussel Madness takes place every Tuesday and Wednesday at Ty Lounge, photo courtesy Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore.

Mussel Madness takes place every Tuesday and Wednesday at Ty Lounge, photo courtesy Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore.

A Spirited Toast to All Things Alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg 

Mussels—which pair well with everything from wine and beer to G & T’s and Martinis—are in season year-round in California, and, in a nod to this bounty, Four Seasons Resort the Biltmore‘s new Executive Chef Marco Fossati has introduced an all new Mussel Madness Menu at Ty Lounge  on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 3-10 p.m.

Ty Lounge's G&T Cura, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Ty Lounge’s G&T Cura, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

I was fortunate enough to check out the mussels this week (along with a delicious G & T Cura, of course). What a yummy treat! It’s hard to choose from the all of the unique variations of seasoned mussels served in cast iron bowls accompanied by grilled country bread and French Fries, but luckily, you can’t go wrong. Mussel dishes include The Belgium, with steamed Belgium ale, Dijon Mustard, shallots and herbs;  and the Thai, made with lemongrass, wine, coconut milk and red chili.

Other flavors include Calabrese, with house made nduja sausages, white wine, smoked paprika and white onion; So Cal, with tomato, chorizo, wine and cilantro, French Dijionnaise, with wine, cream, Dijon mustard and parsley; and The Moroccan, made with Riesling, chick peas, Moroccan spices and tomato.  We tried a few and they were each unique and oh-so-very tasty!

Ty Lounge’s Gin & Tonic Bar has a number of delicious variations to pair with the mussels, include my favorite, G&T Cura, made with Cutler’s Gin, Fever Tree Tonic, and assortment of Chef’s Garden Botanicals and a seasonal fruit shrub. Also worth tasting are the G&T Pepino, made with Hendrick’s Gin, Fever Tree Tonic, Juniper Berries, and a cucumber mint honey shrub; as well as the G&T Sueno, made with Nolet’s Gin, Elderflower Fever Tree Tonic, cardamom, peppercorn and a coconut grapefruit shrub.

If Gin’s not  your thing, other Ty Lounge cocktail specialties include the Masquerade Ball, with Buillet Rye, Balsamic Reduction, Fever Tree Soda, Lemon Juice, Blackberries and Basil, Barrel Aged In American Oak; and 8 Barrels, made with Four Seasons Select 1927 Barrel Aged Breaker Bourbon, Maple Syrup, Lemon, Spiced Simple Syrup and Nutmeg, served in a hand-smoked glass.

Cheers to mussels!  Ty Lounge—which is surely one of the most beautiful spots in town—is located at Four Seasons Resort the Biltmore, 1260 Channel Dr., Montecito; 805-969-2261; fourseasons.com/santabarbara.

Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

Published in Santa Barbara Seasons on December 9, 2016.

 

Help Secure Isla Vista Youth Projects Forever

Courtesy Isla Vista Youth Projects.

Courtesy Isla Vista Youth Projects.

I had the opportunity to visit the Isla Vista Youth Projects Children’s Center site yesterday on a Women’s Fund site visit and was so impressed by what I saw. For the 2015-16 grant cycle, the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara granted them $75,000 to help them get one step closer to completing the purchase of the Children’s Center, ensuring that 160 low-income child care spaces remain available.

Coincidentally, Isla Vista Youth Projects (IVYP) recently launched a campaign to raise $300,000 to qualify for $300,000 in matching funds to purchase their building in Isla Vista and successfully close Phase I of their capital campaign. Along with the Children’s Center,  Isla Vista Youth Projects serves over 2000 children and families annually providing high quality childcare, education and activities for children 0 – 5 years old.

The IV Youth Projects team is racing to meet this matching fund offer by the end of 2017. To date, IVYP has already raised over $1 million for this capital campaign and a successful $300k for $300k match campaign will close out Phase I of their capital campaign.

“For over 30 years, the Isla Vista Youth Projects has offered the children of Goleta and Isla Vista a safe, healthy and vibrant place to spend their days while their parents were hard at work. This campaign ensures that we can continue to offer this service to thousands of children in the future without the threat of losing our treasured home,” says IVYP Executive Director LuAnn Miller.

“The cost of real estate and skyrocketing rents are direct threats to community serving organizations across the County of Santa Barbara and IV Youth Projects is no different. We have a rare opportunity to match every dollar raised and secure our home forever.” says IVYP Campaign Committee member Dr. Yonie Harris.

IVYP’s capital campaign has already secured support from the likes of the Santa Barbara Foundation, Hutton Parker Foundation, Towbes Group, DiPaola Family Foundation, Kennedy Family, Orfalea Foundation, Mosher Foundation, Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara, Wolfe Family, Casey Family, Cox Communications and more.
For more information on the campaign or how to donate, please, go to www.ivyp.org.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on December 8, 2016.

 

Style File: Yes To Shampoos and Conditioners

Yes To conditionerI try to get my fruits and veggies in wherever I can, and the Yes To line of shampoos, conditioners and skin care products are super clean, widely available, inexpensively priced, top notch natural beauty products. 

I recently tried—and really liked—the Yes To Ultra Moisture Coconut & Argan Oil Shampoo and Conditioner.Yes To Shampoo

The coconut contains hydrating fatty acids that naturally moisture the hair (and skin), it also smells like a tropical vacation. Other products in the line feature Farmer’s Market staples like tomatoes (for acne prone skin), cucumbers (for sensitive skin), grapefruit (for uneven skintone), blueberries (for fine lines and wrinkles), and carrots (to naturally protect and nourish your skin and hair).

Not only can you feel good about getting your fruits and veggies in this way, the Yes To company also states, “Our products are tested on YES TO employees, friends and family, but never (ever) on animals. We are against animal testing and ensure our manufacturers adhere to this same principle. YES TO believes in safe and effective testing alternatives, while ensuring product and consumer safety. Reinforcing our commitment, we are Cruelty-Free and a certified member of the Leaping Bunny Program, the highest standard for companies committed to no animal testing.”

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on December 3, 2016.

 

Cavalia’s Odysseo is One Wild Ride

Odyesseo "Freedom," photo by Jak Wonderly.

Odyesseo “Freedom,” photo by Jak Wonderly.

If you’re looking for a perfect way to entertain the whole family this holiday season, Cavalia‘s new Odysseo show is just the ticket.

Odyesseo "The Fairies," photo by Pascal Ratthe.

Odyesseo “The Fairies,” photo by Pascal Ratthe.

This magical spectacle blends jaw-dropping equestrian artistry with Cirque du Soleil level acrobatics and music, as well as beautiful costumes and incredible set design. It’s really quite a magical experience, and well worth the drive to Irvine, where it’s playing through January 8 (under a giant White Big Top at the junction of the I-405 & the SR-133).

Odyesseo "Finale," photo by Lynne Glazze.

Odyesseo “Finale,” photo by Lynne Glazze.

The production is so unique that it’s hard to describe. “Odysseo marries the equestrian arts, stage arts and high-tech theatrical effects at never-before-seen levels. A veritable revolution in live performance, Odysseo comprises a list of superlatives: the world’s largest touring production and traveling big top, the biggest stage, the most beautiful visual effects, and the largest number of horses at liberty,” according to the promoters.

For once, they aren’t exaggerating in the least.

Odyesseo "Carosello," photo by Dan Harper.

Odyesseo “Carosello,” photo by Dan Harper.

The 65 horses and 48 artists who star in the show take you on a journey into a dreamy world of the planet’s most unforgettable landscapes. This is a show you won’t soon forget. For tickets and information visit www.cavalia.net/Irvine‎.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Odyesseo "The Angels," photo by Andrew Miller.

Odyesseo “The Angels,” photo by Andrew Miller.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on December 4, 2016.

Cocktail Corner: Champagne Tasting at First & Oak

La Grande Réserve, Château de Bligny, by Simon Law, courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

La Grande Réserve, Château de Bligny, by Simon Law, courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

A Spirited Toast to All Things Alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg 

Any event at Solvang’s First & Oak is sure to be a treat, and they’re upping their game even further for the holidays with a special Champagne Tasting event on December 10. The event, which runs from 1-3 p.m., includes tastes of ten sparkling wines and champagnes, and light hors d’oeuvres carefully-crafted by First & Oak’s Executive Chef Steven Snook to pair with the wines.

In addition, First & Oak’s Sommelier, Jonathan Rosenson, will be on-hand to lead guests through the exclusive sparkling wine tasting, explaining how each wine sampled showcases specific points in the wide range of flavor profiles, regions and values.

First & Oak Champagne Tasting featured bubbles include:

2004 Dom Ruinart, Blanc de Blancs, Champagne
2010 Pehu Simonet “Fins Lieux No.1” Blanc de Noirs, Grand Cru, Champagne
2004 Forest Marie Brut Millésimé, Trigny, Champagne

N.V Pierre Peters “Cuvee de Reserve,” Blanc de Blancs, Grand Cru, Champagne
N.V Aubert Et Fils Brut Epernay, Champagne
N.V. Domaine Fouet, “Crémant de Loire,” Brut Rosé Cabernet Franc
2011 Boeckel, “Crémant d’Alsace,” Chardonnay Extra Brut
2009 La Montina Rose Extra Brut, Franciacorta, Italy
2012 Bernhard Riesling Sekt Brut, Germany
2013 Nigl, Sekt Rosé Brut, Kremstal, Austria

The special tasting, which is expected to become an annual event, is $85 per person in advance, or $95 per person at the door (ticket prices exclude tax).  In addition,  a portion of the proceeds ($10 per ticket) will be donated to the Santa Barbara Food Bank.

Reservations for First & Oak’s Champagne Tasting may be made in advance by contacting the restaurant: 805/688.1703 or info@mirabelleinn.com. Limited space available; reservations highly recommended. 

First & Oak is located at 409 First St. (at the corner of Oak Street) in Solvang

Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

 Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on December 2, 2016.