Local Lowdown: Flip Your Disk at Cachuma Lake

Cachuma Lake disk golf is fun for all ages. Photo courtesy County of Santa Barbara.

Cachuma Lake disk golf is fun for all ages. Photo courtesy County of Santa Barbara.

Add flipping frisbees to the long list of fun recreational activities of­fered at Cachuma Lake, which now has an 18-hole championship level disc golf course! The 2.25-mile course is designed to challenge both newbies and experts, with multiple basket positions available to make the course different each time you play.

This rapidly growing sport—disc golf is the 4th fastest-growing sport in United States, behind MMA, Roller Derby and Parkour, according to parkeddiscgolf.org—has rules that are similar to golf, with a set course and baskets set up as targets. Players seek to complete the course—which begins and ends in front of Cachuma Store—in the lowest number of total throws.

Play is free with a $10 parking fee. Cachuma Lake is located off scenic Hwy. 154 in Santa Barbara County.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, visit countyofsb.org/parks/cachuma.sbc.

Leslie Dinaberg

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

Local Dish: Smithy Kitchen + Bar

The outdoor patio at Kitchen + Bar is a beautiful place to dine, day or night. Photo courtesy Smithy.

The outdoor patio at Kitchen + Bar is a beautiful place to dine, day or night. Photo courtesy Smithy.

There’s nothing better than good food in a beautiful setting, and the new Smithy Kitchen + Bar (7 E. Anapamu St.) has both! I’ve dined on the lovely outdoor patio—under its gorgeous canopy of 100-year-old olive trees—twice in the last few weeks—once on a cold night and once on a warmish one—and the well-placed heaters make it a comfortable and cozy spot to be in almost any weather.

Designer Steve Hermann has redone the former Somerset space in an upscale yet approachable style, with a more “Santa Barbara” vibe and every day price point. Originally a blacksmith shop, hence the name “Smithy,” this prime downtown location (near the Granada Theatre, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Public Library and Sullivan Goss Gallery) is now a great spot for lunch, dinner with friends and family, nighttime drinks and bites or a leisurely Sunday brunch. There’s also a special Easter Brunch menu, if you’re eager to check it out this weekend.

Smithy's "Baby I'm a Star" cocktail and roasted sunchokes with chanterelles, brown butter hazelnuts and butternut squash puree, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Smithy’s “Baby I’m a Star” cocktail and roasted sunchokes with chanterelles, brown butter hazelnuts and butternut squash puree, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Chef Lauren Herman’s new menu is delicious, and nothing is over $20. We loved the mussels and clams with shallot, garlic, crispy pork belly, and bok choy served with grilled toast. The sauce was so savory we asked for extra toast (homemade) to lap up every last bite. The pastas were also terrific. Try the Cavatelli combined with pork ragu, mustard greens and tomato confit for a hearty dish. The squid ink casarecce in lobster bisque with uni and nori breadcrumbs was also fabulous.

The vegetables really shine as well. We loved the fried delicata squash with cauliflower, bagna cauda, calabrian chili and anchovy aïoli, as well the roasted rainbow carrots with spiced cashew butter, coconut yogurt and carrot top pistou. I also enjoyed the sunchokes, roasted with chanterelles, brown butter hazelnuts and butternut squash puree. Overall, everything was tasty and ideal for sharing.

Smithy's Polenta Dumplings and Mushroom Flatbread. Photo by Kay Cheon, courtesy Smithy.

Smithy’s Polenta Dumplings and Mushroom Flatbread. Photo by Kay Cheon, courtesy Smithy.

Partners in life and in the kitchen, Lauren Herman’s wife, Christina Olufson, is a terrific pastry chef.  The flourless chocolate cake with crushed honeycomb was amazing, as was the butterscotch pumpkin cake. Our friends at a nearby table also raved about the brioche doughnuts, so those are definitely on my list to try next time. 

The cocktails are also worth noting, with creative names like “Ortega Undead II: The Resurrection”  (tequila blanco, lime , thai chile, wild elderflower, falernum and chili-salt rim), “From Tokyo to Mars” (iwai japanese whiskey and bittered grapefruit cordial) and “Baby I’m a Star” (pear and fennel, vodka, fino sherry, absinthe, lemon and peychauds bitters) that are just as delicious as they are irresistible for wordsmiths.

One of several communal dining tables at Smithy Kitchen + Bar, courtesy photo.

One of several communal dining tables at Smithy Kitchen + Bar, courtesy photo.

While I loved the aesthetic of Somerset, Smithy is definitely a more welcoming space, not to mention significantly less expensive. The building’s original exposed brick walls with white weathered board and batten walls, rustic reclaimed table tops, and original school house chairs create a beautiful restaurant that is both airy and open, yet still feels intimate. As is becoming a trend, there are three separate communal tables and bar seating, as well as an additional 130 seats located inside and out, offering a myriad of dining possibilities. The nights I was there, there were large groups of people (both young and less young), lots of couples and smaller groups, as well as some solo diners.

Smithy's Kale Salad. Photo by Kay Cheon, courtesy Smithy.

Smithy’s Kale Salad. Photo by Kay Cheon, courtesy Smithy.

“We want Smithy to provide a dining oasis in the heart of Santa Barbara,” states owner and designer, Steve Hermann.  “We hope to become that bar/restaurant that feels like home for all of our guests’ dining and drinking needs, whether small or large.  Our food is delicious yet accessible, and our environment is welcoming and comfortable.  We’d like to create a new history with Smithy that matches the history of our iconic Santa Barbara location.”

Smithy is located in downtown Santa Barbara at 7 East Anapamu St.  Call 805/845-7112 or visit Open Table for reservations. The restaurant is open Monday through Friday for lunch from 11:30 – 2:30 p.m.; dinner from 5p.m. – close; and Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.  Happy hour runs daily from 4 – 6 p.m.

Leslie Dinaberg 

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 29, 2018.

Interior shot, courtesy Smithy Kitchen + Bar.

Interior shot, courtesy Smithy Kitchen + Bar.

Bar interior shot, courtesy Smithy Kitchen + Bar.

Bar interior shot, courtesy Smithy Kitchen + Bar.

Cocktail Corner: Spring Delights at S.Y. Kitchen

Fennel & Raspberry Sour (fennel vodka, fresh raspberry, lemon, lime, simple syrup and dill) is one of the new spring cocktails at S.Y. Kitchen. Photo by Elisabetta Antonacci.

Fennel & Raspberry Sour (fennel vodka, fresh raspberry, lemon, lime, simple syrup and dill) is one of the new spring cocktails at S.Y. Kitchen. Photo by Elisabetta Antonacci.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg 

S.Y. Kitchen Mixologist Alberto Battaglini takes his spring cocktail inspiration from local market produce, herbs and botanicals. He’s created three new seasonal cocktails to delight your senses.

The Fennel & Raspberry Sour—made with fennel vodka, fresh raspberry, lemon, lime, simple syrup and dill—has a nice balance of sweet and herbal flavors, as does the Pineapple & Basil Mojito—made with the Real Mccoy three year Private Barrel Rum, pineapple, basil, lime and sugar. Mescal is one of the hottest ingredients in cocktails right now, and Battaglini combines it with tequila, basil, jalapeño, cucumber and salt to create La Gritona, a handcrafted blend designed to pair perfectly with S.Y. Kitchen Executive Chef Luca Crestanelli‘s seasonally driven Italian cuisine.  

Pineapple & Basil Mojito (with the Real Mccoy 3 year private barrel rum, pineapple, basil, lime and sugar) is one of the new spring cocktails at S.Y. Kitchen. Photo by Elisabetta Antonacci.

Pineapple & Basil Mojito (with the Real Mccoy 3 year private barrel rum, pineapple, basil, lime and sugar) is one of the new spring cocktails at S.Y. Kitchen. Photo by Elisabetta Antonacci.

A native of Verona, Battaglini dreamed of a restaurant career when he was still in elementary school. Attending Scuola Alberghiera, he learned the fundamentals of cooking and food service, and soon learned that being a chef was not for him. He did, however, start his ardent love affair with spirits, which took him to Gatwick, London where he met his mentor in mixology, Ian Slater. Battaglini then further honed his mixology passion and skills in Spain and Mexico before meeting up with his old school friend Chef Crestanelli at Bar Toscana in Brentwood.

This spring, as one of the few finalists in the western division, Battaglini competes for the regional win for the United States Bartenders Guild which moves on to the national competition in June.

La Gritona (tequila, mescal, basil, jalapeño, cucumber and salt) is one of the new spring cocktails at S.Y. Kitchen. Photo by Elisabetta Antonacci.

La Gritona (tequila, mescal, basil, jalapeño, cucumber and salt) is one of the new spring cocktails at S.Y. Kitchen. Photo by Elisabetta Antonacci.

Battaglini says, “The soul of mixology is found in all the old recipes that we twist with modern ingredients and tools, to play with tastes and to give every customer an extraordinary experience.”

Check them out at S.Y. Kitchen (1110 Faraday St., Santa Ynez), and let us know what you think.

Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

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

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

Local Lowdown: Rock N Roll Tequila

Courtesy Rock N Roll Tequila.

Courtesy Rock N Roll Tequila.

The handcrafted glass guitar bottles are eye-catching, but it’s the crisp distinct taste of Rock N Roll’s three premium tequilas that will really knock your socks off.

The company was founded by Santa Barbara local Andy Herbst, an entrepreneur, surfer and soccer player, who came to the U.S. in the 1960s from South Africa and went to Santa Barbara High School and Santa Barbara City College, where he says he majored in surfing. After a successful career as a music promoter, Herbst traveled to the highlands of Mexico, where he was introduced to the smoothest, purest blue agave and soon turned his passion for tequila into creating his own label. His partners in the venture, which launched in 2017, include businessman Scott Woolley and NFL great Dan Marino, who played quarter­back for the Miami Dolphins and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“After tasting Rock N Roll Tequila, I knew it was a quality spirit, and I wanted to be a member of the team,” says Marino. “It is great to be associated with a high-quality prod­uct at a reasonable price, and it doesn’t hurt to have an iconic name like Rock N Roll!”

Amped Mojito with Cristalino, courtesy Rock N Roll Tequila.

Amped Mojito with Cristalino, courtesy Rock N Roll Tequila.

Crafted by Master Distiller Jose Aceves, a third-generation tequila producer, Rock N Roll’s 100% pure blue agave comes from deep in the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. The bottles, which feature a unique patented top known as the “roadie,” provide the consumer a complimentary two shots of Platinum Te­quila that come in three varieties:

Platinum: Hand crafted, triple distilled, made with 100% pure highlands blue agave, giving it a delicious, smooth taste.

Mango: Double distilled with 100% pure highlands blue agave and the highest-quality natural mango flavor, giving it sweet citrus notes and a super smooth finish.

Cristalino: This Añejo Tequila is barrel-aged for two–three years and filtered to perfection, making it cleaner and healthier. Cristalino is also made with 100% pure highlands blue agave, featuring classic notes of French oak and vanilla.

At press time, Rock N Roll Tequila is served in Santa Barbara at Viva Modern Mexican (1114 State St., 805/965-4770), Foxtail Kitchen & Bar (14 E. Cota St., 805/845-6226) and O’Malley’s (523 State St., 805/564-8904) and sold at Santa Barbara Liquor and Crafts (501 Anacapa St., 805/966-6716), as well as additional venues throughout the Central Coast.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, visit rocknrolltequila.com.

Rock N Roll Recipes:

FOR WEB EXCLUSIVE COCKTAIL RECIPES, CLICK HERE.

Leslie Dinaberg

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

Visions of the Gaviota Coast

Beach Shack by Kevin Gleason. Image courtesy SCAPE.

Beach Shack by Kevin Gleason. Image courtesy SCAPE.

Enjoy beautiful art and support a good cause at “Visions of the Gaviota Coast,” the Sixth Annual SCAPE Art Benefit for Gaviota Coast Conservancy and Naples Coalition. Held at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara Resort and Spa (8301 Hollister Ave., Goleta), the art sale goes from Friday, March 30 at 2 p.m. through Saturday, March 31 at 5 p.m. The two-day exhibit features a reception on Friday (5-8 p.m.) with live music, silent auction, appetizers and wine with donation.

More than 150 Southern California Artists Painting for the Environment (SCAPE) artists and fine art photographer Reeve Woolpert will participate in this benefit art exhibition showcasing the stunning Gaviota Coast. Painter and exhibit juror Richard Schloss has many years of collaboration with the renowned Oak Group artists. The funds raised will assist Gaviota Coast Conservancy and the Naples Coalition in continuing their successful efforts to protect this majestic 72 miles of open coastline, providing a pristine habitat for over 1,400 species, including the endangered snowy plover. Forty percent of all art sales will benefit the two nonprofit organizations.

Gaviota Coast Conservancy and Naples Coalition have recently achieved big victories towards the protection and preservation of the Gaviota Coast. Ritz-Carlton Bacara Resort and Spa is hosting the event, and donating an overnight stay and spa treatment for the raffle (no need to be present to win). “We consider it an honor to call the Gaviota Coast our home,” says Shashi Poudyal, general manager. “Bacara will continue to partner with the Gaviota Coast Conservancy to be a great steward of this land.”

Free parking is provided (follow the signs), or you can valet park.

To donate directly to the Gaviota Coast Conservancy: http://gaviotacoastconservancy.org/donate

To donate to Naples Coalition: http://www.savenaples.org/donate

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 28, 2018.

Cocktail Corner: Adult Easter Fun With Seasonal Jello Shots

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg 

When it comes to Easter celebrations, why should the kids have all the fun? Our friends at Seagram’s Escapes have provided some alcohol-infused jello recipes that will sure to enliven the egg hunt on Sunday.

Jamaican Me Happy Watermelon Slice Jello Shooters, courtesy Seagrams.

Jamaican Me Happy Watermelon Slice Jello Shooters, courtesy Seagrams.

 

Jamaican Me Happy Watermelon Slice Shooters: Impress guests and make memories with these adorable and delicious adult treats that look just like fresh watermelon wedges! 

Prep time: 25 minutes

Cook time: 5 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes + 6 hours chilling time

Makes: 40 pieces 

2 bottles (11.2 fl. oz. each)  Seagram’s Escapes Jamaican Me Happy

10  limes

2 pkg (3 oz each)  watermelon gelatin dessert crystals 

1 tsp black sesame seeds (optional) 

1. Scrub limes and cut in half crosswise. Use a paring knife to loosen flesh from skin. Scoop out flesh, scraping with a spoon to reveal clean white pith. Place each hollowed-out lime half in cup of a muffin tin.

2. Place gelatin dessert crystals in medium heatproof bowl. Pour 2/3 cup boiling water over crystals; stir for 2 minutes or until dissolved. Stir in Seagram’s Escapes Jamaican Me Happy. Divide mixture evenly among lime halves. Chill for 6 hours or until set.

3. Use a sharp knife to cut each lime in half. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds, if using. (Can be made up to 1 day in advance. Store covered in refrigerator.)

Tip: If you like, juice the halved limes before scraping out membranes. Use lime juice in meat marinades, salad dressings, lime curd or ice pops.

Strawberry Daiquiri Jello Shooters, courtesy Seagrams.

Strawberry Daiquiri Jello Shooters, courtesy Seagrams.

Strawberry Daiquiri Jelly Shooters: Be the life of the party and pass around these fun adult shooters served in hollowed-out fresh strawberries. 

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 5 minutes 

Total time: 25 minutes + 4 hours refrigeration

Makes: 50 pieces 

1 bottle (11.2 fl. oz.) Seagram’s Escapes Strawberry Daiquiri

50 large strawberries, hulled (about 3 lb)

1 pkg (3 oz) strawberry gelatin dessert crystals 

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 cup sugar

2 limes, thinly sliced

1. Cut small slice off the tip of each strawberry so it sits flat. Use melon baller to hollow out each strawberry from hull end. Set aside. 

2. Place gelatin dessert crystals in medium heatproof bowl. Pour 1/2 cup boiling water over crystals; stir for 2 minutes or until dissolved. Stir in Seagram’s Escapes Strawberry Daiquiri and lime juice. Divide mixture evenly among strawberries. Chill for 4 hours or until set. (Can be made to this point up to 1 day in advance. Store covered in refrigerator.) 

3. Just before serving, place sugar in small shallow dish. Roll the top of each strawberry in the sugar to resemble a rimmed glass. Cut lime slices into wedges. Garnish each strawberry with a lime wedge.

Tip: To fill hollowed-out strawberries without making a mess, transfer liquid strawberry mixture to a squeeze bottle or use a clean turkey baster.

Calypso Cream Jello Cubes, courtesy Seagram's.

Calypso Cream Jello Cubes, courtesy Seagram’s.

Layered Calypso Colada Cream Jelly Cubes: Feel like you’re in the islands anytime with these jelly shots made with a cool and creamy coconut base, topped with a clear blue layer of Seagram’s Escapes Calypso Colada, as breathtaking as the ocean. 

Prep time: 25 minutes

Cook time: 5 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes + 10 hours chilling time

Makes: 24 squares 

2 bottles (11.2 fl. oz. each) Seagram’s Escapes Calypso Colada

2 tbsp sugar

1 envelope (7 g) unflavored gelatin

1 can (14 oz) coconut milk

3 pkg (3 oz each) berry blue gelatin dessert crystals 

2 tbsp coarse sugar

2 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut

24 fresh blackberries 

1. Combine sugar and gelatin in small heatproof bowl. Pour 1/2 cup boiling water over mixture; stir constantly until granules are completely dissolved. Stir in coconut milk until well combined. Pour into 8 inch square cake pan. Chill for 4 hours or until set. 

2. Place gelatin dessert crystals in medium heatproof bowl. Pour 1 cup boiling water over crystals; stir for 2 minutes or until dissolved. Stir in Seagram’s Escapes Calypso Colada. Let stand for 10 minutes.

3. Slowly pour blue mixture over set coconut mixture. Chill for 4 to 6 hours or until firm. Run a thin knife around the inside of cake pan to separate jelly from sides. Carefully invert onto parchment paper; tap pan gently to release jelly. Use a large sharp knife to cut into 24 cubes. Invert cubes onto serving platter. (Can be made to this point up to 1 day in advance. Store covered in refrigerator.)

4. Just before serving, stir together coarse sugar and coconut; sprinkle over cubes and top each with a blackberry.

Strawberry Guava Jello Shots, courtesy Seagram's.

Strawberry Guava Jello Shots, courtesy Seagram’s.

Strawberry Guava Jelly Shots: Add an element of class and sophistication with these decorative jellies that are bursting with vibrant tropical flavors, and look as beautiful as they are delicious. 

Prep time: 45 minutes

Cook time: 5 minutes

Total time: 50 minutes + 6 hours refrigeration

Makes: 18 pieces 

2 bottles (11.2 fl. oz. each) Seagram’s Escapes Jamaican Me Happy

3 envelopes (7 g each) unflavored gelatin

1/2 cup guava juice

12 strawberries 

1. Pour 1/2 cup cold water into medium heatproof bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over water. Let stand for 5 minutes. Pour in 1/2 cup boiling water; stir until dissolved. 

2. Stir in Seagram’s Escapes Jamaican Me Happy and guava juice. Place bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice water. Let stand for 25 to 30 minutes or until mixture begins to set.

3. Dice strawberries. Place in 18 decorative 1 oz molds. Divide jelly evenly among molds. Chill for at least 6 hours or until set. (Can be made up to 1 day in advance.)

4. Dip molds into warm water for 5 seconds. Invert jelly shots onto serving platter, gently shaking to release. 

Tips: Decorative molds can be purchased from specialty baking and cooking equipment shops and online retailers. Substitute Seagram’s Escapes Peach Fuzzy Navel for a delicious twist. 

Cheers to an enjoyable holiday! 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 March 27, 2018.

Local Lowdown: The River’s Journey

Paintings in the Wildling Museum show The River’s Journey: One Year, Six Artists, 92 Miles include work by (clockwise from top left): Holli Harmon, Pamela Zwehl-Burke, Nicole Strasburg, Nina Warner, Connie Connally and Libby Smith.

Paintings in the Wildling Museum show The River’s Journey: One Year, Six Artists, 92 Miles include work by (clockwise from top left): Holli Harmon, Pamela Zwehl-Burke, Nicole Strasburg, Nina Warner, Connie Connally and Libby Smith.

ONE YEAR, SIX ARTISTS, 92 MILES

By Leslie Dinaberg

SIX LOCAL ARTISTS have pooled their talents around one very big idea—our communal connection to and responsibility for our water resources—uniting their unique points of view in a new exhibit, The River’s Journey: One Year, Six Artists, 92 Miles, on view at the Wildling Museum of Art & Nature through July 9.

Initially joining together to experiment with the lesser-known medium of gouache (an opaque watercolor paint), the group— which includes Connie Connally, Holli Harmon, Libby Smith, Nicole Strasburg, Nina Warner and Pamela Zwehl-Burke—is united in a quest to use their art to inform the public about how the Santa Ynez River and the watershed functions and our indi­vidual responsibility to protect its viability.

Rose Compass artists (L-R): Nicole Strasburg, Connie Connally, Libby Smith, Holli Harmon, Pamela Zwehl-Burke and Nina Warner. After the exhibition ends in July, it will travel later in 2018 to Santa Barbara City Hall and Sullivan Goss Gallery. Photo by Monica Wiesblott.

Rose Compass artists (L-R): Nicole Strasburg, Connie Connally, Libby Smith, Holli Harmon, Pamela Zwehl-Burke and Nina Warner. After the exhibition ends in July, it will travel later in 2018 to Santa Barbara City Hall and Sullivan Goss Gallery. Photo by Monica Wiesblott.

“Originally, I was just enthralled with the medium of gouache,” says Strasburg, who saw the potential through the work of artist Thomas Paquette, who had a wilderness-themed show at the Wildling and also has some paintings in The River’s Journey. As Strasburg dug deeper into the subject matter of the watershed, “it became about so much more than painting the landscape.…I just keep reading and researching and discovering new connections.”

The group, now known as Rose Compass (named for the flower-shaped figure on a map and “like the compass rose, our work reflects our individual points of view”), is very dedi­cated to the project. “The three devoted plein air artists have gone out every single Monday for the past two years to paint the water in the area,” says Strasburg.

Libby Smith, Measuring Stick, Alder Creek.

Libby Smith, Measuring Stick, Alder Creek.

They routinely post their musings and progress on the project on the website (rose-compass.com) and are working to secure additional venues to showcase the breadth and depth of their work on The River’s Journey, which visually brings to the forefront questions of stewardship, preservation and conservation.

“Art starts the conversation while providing education and information that can change behavior and expectations at a pivotal moment in our new paradigm of water resource management,” says their collective artist statement. “When artists, scientists and water managers work together, we create a powerful and compelling message that moves the community to make better ecological and civic choices. Awareness, conservation, stewardship and collaboration will all be key to the new paradigm of protecting this resource and ensuring the longevity and viability of our entire community.”

Wildling Museum of Art & Nature is located at 1511-B Mission Dr., Solvang. For more information, call 805/688-1082 or visit wildlingmuseum.org.

Connie Connally, Turkey Vultures.

Connie Connally, Turkey Vultures.

Nicole Strasburg, River Path, Santa Ynez.

Nicole Strasburg, River Path, Santa Ynez.

Holli Harmon, Yellow Kayak.

Holli Harmon, Yellow Kayak.

Nina Warner, Gibralter Dam.

Nina Warner, Gibralter Dam.

Pamela Zwehl-Burke, White Rock.

Pamela Zwehl-Burke, White Rock.

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

Local Dish: Islands Restaurants Sails to Santa Barbara

Islands Hawaiian Burger, courtesy photo.

Islands Hawaiian Burger, courtesy photo.

Family-friendly and surf-inspired, the new Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks is a great fit for La Cumbre Plaza (3825 State St.). Probably best known for specialty burgers, fresh cut fries and tropical drinks, we tried Islands out recently and it didn’t disappoint.

The 4,900 square-foot restaurant (formerly occupied by Marmalade) features an open layout, beach-vibe décor, including surfboard-inspired booths, and a large outdoor patio area, equipped with heaters and a cozy communal fire table.

The expansive menu emphasizes burgers, including the classic Big Wave (your basic burger ingredients), the Hawaiian (topped with fresh grilled pineapple, teriyaki sauce and Swiss cheese), and the spicy Kilauea (a Jalapeño & black pepper crusted burger with pepper jack cheese, chipotle aioli, lettuce, tomato and Island Reds, which are fried onion strings), among others, along with tacos, bowls, fresh salads and fresh-cut Island Fries.

Islands Big Wave, courtesy photo.

Islands Big Wave, courtesy photo.

In the mood for something sweet? Don’t miss the Kona Pie, made with mocha almond fudge ice cream & cookie crust topped with chocolate fudge, whipped cream, roasted almonds and a cherry on top!

Islands Kona Pie, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Islands Kona Pie, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

I can also vouch for the tropical drink selection. Mojitos, Mai Tai’s, Long Island Ice Tea’s, Margaritas, they’ve got it all, as well as locally sourced wine and beer. They have happy hour weekdays from 3-6:30 p.m., with discounted offers on sliders, nachos, beer, wine and cocktails, as well  an all-day happy hour in the bar area as part of March Madness basketball games, in addition to all-day happy hour for Women’s NCAA games for the Final Four (March 30 & April 1). 

Islands Mojito, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Islands Mojito, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

“We’re incredibly proud to open our first restaurant in Santa Barbara, an iconic beach city that resonates with our own coastal culture and origins,” says Michael Smith, president of Islands Restaurants. “We look forward to being a part of this close knit community and offering a spot for visitors to grab great food and drinks with family and friends.”

It’s right in our neighborhood. Perhaps we’ll see you there.

Islands Taco and Onion Rings, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Islands Taco and Onion Rings, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Photo courtesy Islands.

Photo courtesy Islands.

Islands Cheddar Fries, courtesy photo.

Islands Cheddar Fries, courtesy photo.

Islands Hula Burger with Island Reds, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Islands Hula Burger with Island Reds, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 22, 2018.

Bonnie Raitt

Bonnie Raitt, courtesy photo.

Bonnie Raitt, courtesy photo.

Legendary singer-songwriter and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bonnie Raitt brings her unique style to the Chumash Casino Resort’s Samala Showroom at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 23.

A 10-time Grammy Award winner, Raitt is no stranger to a number prestigious lists, including Rolling Stone’s lists of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time and 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Some of her greatest, chart-topping hits include “Something to Talk About,” “A Thing Called Love” and “I Can’t Make You Love Me.”

Joining her for the evening will be the New Orleans-based funk and R&B musician Jon Cleary. He is an accomplished pianist as well as a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and songwriter.

Tickets for all events are available at the Chumash Casino Resort’s Club Indulge or online at www.chumashcasino.com.

Leslie Dinaberg

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

Poetry Benefit for La Casa de Maria

To benefit restoration efforts at La Casa de Maria following the Thomas Mudslide, Poets Enid Osborn, Paul WillisDavid StarkeyChryss Yost, Sojourner Kincaid RollePerie LongoLaure-Anne Bosselaar, Gudrun BortmanLois Brown KleinJohn Ridland, Christopher Buckley and Nancy Lee will read.

Bob Sedivy will play Japanese flute.

The event takes place at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 18, at Unitarian Society, 1535 Santa Barbara St. 

Leslie Dinaberg 

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