Cocktail Corner: Lots of Local Food & Libations

The Pullman Room at The Lark, photo by Rob Stark.

The Pullman Room at The Lark, photo by Rob Stark.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg 

There are a lot of fun spring festivities going on in town this month. Here are few worth checking out:

March 6: Wild Brew Fest 

Cultivate Events (CE), The Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival (SBFF) and Soho Restaurant & Music Club (Soho) host their first annual Wild Brew Fest on Mar. 6. The event is at Soho, 1221 State St., from 3-6 p.m.

Wild Brew Fest serves various traditionally brewed and fermented alcoholic beverages including spirits, beer, cider, mead and wine. Visitors can enjoy these drinks en plein air with snacks featuring the freshest and finest food of the county. Wild Brew Fest also features do-it-yourself stations such as a pickle station where guests can learn the art of fermentation, courtesy of the Pacific Pickle Works and Pure Order Brewing Company, and Valley Brewers‘ home-brew station.

For information and tickets visit

March 12: Buellton Wine and Chili Festival

Give your taste buds a thrill at the 2016 Buellton Wine and Chili Festival where over 20 chili/salsa chefs and 30 wineries will compete! Come and see these amazing individuals battle it out to win prizes such as the Best Red Chili, Chili Verde, and Homemade Salsa. And have your say with the People’s Choice Awards for both wine and chili categories. Ticket price includes a souvenir wine glass, unlimited tastings, and live music. Make it a family event and spend the day eating good food and playing games like horse shoes, table tennis, and bocce ball. Bonus: children under 12 get in for free!

The event takes place from noon to 4 p.m. at Flying Flags RV Resort, 180 Avenue of the Flags, Buellton. If transportation is a concern, take the Brew Bus from Santa Barbara for $25. Leaves at 10:15 a.m. from Figueroa Mountain Brewery, 137 Anacapa St.) and brings you back at the end of the festival.

Presqu'ile Photomontage, courtesy Presqu'ile.

Presqu’ile Photomontage, courtesy Presqu’ile..

March 12: Presqu’ile Winery’s Tri-Tip Cook-Off

Presqu’ile Winery hosts its first annual Presqu’ile Tri-Tip Cook-Off,  featuring a stellar lineup of top-ten local culinary talents, including Chef Nick Barainca, the Auten Boys and more. Manning the grills in our beautiful al fresco setting, each will prepare their own inspired take on tri-tip for our guests and a panel of distinguished culinary judges.

To purchase tickets, contact Estates Manager Cameron Porter at (805) 937-8110 ext. 103 or

March 16-20: Taste of Solvang

In its 24th year, Taste of Solvang  is a fabulous destination for food and wine lovers alike. Some of the highlights include the Taste of Solvang Blind Tasting Challenge on March 17 at 6 p.m. at Wandering Dog Wine Bar, where guests will challenge their palates while learning more about wine as they match up varietals, regions, alcohol percentage, vintage and price points. Tastings will include four half-glasses of red wine and cheese pairings.

Saturday, March 19 brings the Solvang “Tasting Trail” (various locations, 11 a.m.–4 p.m.), where guests will sample and shop their way through Solvang as dozens of food businesses welcome Tasting Trail guests with edible treats. The Tasting Trail will overlap with this year’s Wine & Beer Walk, (various locations, Saturday 2–7 p.m. and Sunday 12–4 p.m.) so attendees may simultaneously take part in both food and drink activities. The Wine & Beer Walk features 15+ wine & beer tasting spots, and is a great way to discover new favorites, and sample local, boutique wines and craft beers as you work up a hunger for more Taste of Solvang happenings.

Courtesy Wandering Dog

Courtesy Wandering Dog Wine Bar.

March 20, 6 p.m.: The Lark Presents “Local Treasures Dinner” With Telegraph Brewing Company

The Lark Executive Chef Jason Paluska teams with Brian Thompson of Telegraph Brewing Company for an exceptional tasting menu of seasonal and locally sourced products designed to complement the acclaimed brewery’s signature beers and ales. Thompson, Founder and Brewmaster of Telegraph will be on hand to describe how adjustments in process and recipe manifest themselves in the beer’s flavor profiles. Telegraph Brewing Company is the recipient of numerous Gold, Silver and Bronze awards from the Great American Beer Festival and the Beer World Cup.

The dinner begins with Steelhead Ocean Trout Crudo with Thai Chile & Avocado Mousse, Hearts of Palm, Pickled Kumquat and Candied Coriander Seed paired with Telegraph White Ale; followed by Grilled Delta Asparagus with Bone Marrow Hollandaise, Meyer Lemon Peel, Crispy Sunchokes and Nasturtium paired with Telegraph California Ale.  The main course is Paluska’s succulent Roasted Pork Belly Porchetta with Creamy Hominy, Red Cabbage, Escabeche Pickled Vegetables, Crispy Pig Ears, Preserved Lime and Oregano paired with Telegraph Los Padres Saison. Completing the dinner is a dessert of Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras & Warm Donuts with Hibiscus Caramel and Duck Fat Pecans, created by Executive Pastry Chef Jeff Haines and paired with Telegraph Reserve Wheat with Hibiscus.

Served in The Lark’s private Pullman Room (pictured), pricing for “Local Treasures” with Telegraph Brewing Company is $111 per person, all inclusive of taxes and service charge. Tickets may be purchased by calling The Lark at 805.284.0370 or visit Local Treasures at The Lark.  Seating is limited.

The Lark is located at 131 Anacapa St. in the Funk Zone.

Steve and Crystal Clifton, courtesy photo.

Steve and Crystal Clifton, courtesy photo.

March 22, 6:30 p.m.: Les Marchands and Palmina Wine Dinner

Another delicious event in Funk Zone is Les Marchands and Palmina Wines celebration of Spring with a five course paired dinner and an intimate evening with Palmina’s Steve and Crystal Clifton. For more than 20 years the pair has produced compelling, food friendly wines that showcase the tremendous versatility the Santa Barbara County wine growing region has to offer.  Add Chef Weston Richards into the equation and you get an exquisite five-course menu to compliment and showcase the depth and brilliance of the Palmina line-up! Chef Weston’s menu will be revealed later this week, but reservations are now being taken.

The cost is $99, excluding tax and gratuity, and seating is limited. To purchase tickets and reserve your seats, email

Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant is located at 131 Anacapa St., Suite B. in the Funk Zone.

Hope to see some of you there. Cheers!

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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 Magazine on March 4, 2016.