Cocktail Corner: Easter Dining and a Toast to Spring!

A Spirited Toast to All Things Alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg  

Spring is in the air, so what better time to sample some of the lovely new libations at our local watering holes. Hop on over and give these spring cocktails and dining options a taste:

Bella Vista at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore, courtesy photo.

Bella Vista at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore, courtesy photo.

Ty Lounge at Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara has a delicious Smoked Apricot Daiquiri—featuring Zaya 12 Year Rum, Apricot Puree, Chipotle Simple Syrup and Lemon—that will tingle your tastebuds. Bella Vista Restaurant at the Biltmore is always an elegant spot for brunch, but they’re an extra “Hoppy” Easter celebration for the whole family at Santa Barbara’s most beautiful al fresco setting, with an abundant holiday buffet, featuring traditional favorites as well as an extensive selection of seafood, salads, house-made pastas and carvings. Click here for reservations.

The Bottomless Bellini at Belmond El Encanto, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

The Bottomless Bellini at Belmond El Encanto, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

The beautiful rooftop Easter Brunch at the Canary is a special place to celebrate the holiday with breathtaking views, great food and live music. Finch & Fork Executive Chef James Siao has seasonal brunch items available like Create-Your-Own Omelets, a Pastry and Bread Bar, Seafood and Carving Stations, and an indulgent dessert table. Reservations can be made by calling 805/879-9100.

The Bottomless Bellini Brunch at Belmond El Encanto is another great way to toast the holiday season. The Moët & Chandon Impérial Champagne is flowing every Sunday, with delectable California-coastal cuisine and live jazz music. A seasonal selection of shared appetizers starts the experience. Then, select from à la carte entrées like Seared Local Swordfish or Riviera Clam Bake. Following this sumptuous meal, head to The Wine Room where an irresistible selection of desserts awaits. Click here for reservations.

Cocktails at the Outpost at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

Cocktails at the Outpost at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

Outpost at the Goodland is also serving brunch this Easter, where Chef Nick Bajal will be serving a buffet full of brunch favorites. Start with one of his tarts, like the PB&J or Summer Squash with cherry tomatoes and cheese, or the Crab Biscuit with uni butter. Then move on to Baked Egg Frittata with ham, asparagus and goat cheese, Chicken & Waffles with tabasco maple syrup and Build-Your-

Breakfast at Viva!, courtesy photo.

Breakfast at Viva!, courtesy photo.

Own Tacos. And don’t forget to order a brunch cocktail like a house Bloody Mary or lead bartender Chris Burmeister‘s signature Smokemosa (made with Scotch, orange juice and sparkling wine). Call 805/964-1288 to reserve your Easter brunch seat. 

Spice up your spring at Viva!, which is now serving both brunch and breakfast (and excellent Mimosas in three flavors—cranberry, peach or raspberry—Bloody Mary’s and “Turtle Juice” with homemade agua fresca and Cruzan Rum) on its beautiful patio with the turtle filled pond in La Arcada. Try the Upside Down Pancakes, assorted Breakfast Burritos, Southwest Scramble or Breakfast Tacos for some inspired modern Mexican cuisine. Click here for reservations.

Sunday Champagne Brunch at the Stonehouse at San Ysidro Ranch is always a treat, but their Easter Brunch menu is especially spectacular. It features specialties like Jumbo Lump Crab Benedict, Pepper Crusted Wagyu Striploin and Citrus Cured King Salmon, along with sparkling wine, mimosas and bellinis. Call 805/565-1700 for reservations.

Loquita, photo by Kaitlin Chamblin.

Loquita Tortilla Espanola, photo by Kaitlin Chamblin.

Loquita‘s three-course Easter brunch begins with a choice of Charcutería  y Queso or Manchego Tasting, followed with a choice of one Tapas per guest—Patatas Bravas,  Ensalada de Cítricos, Chorizo Picadillo, or Tortilla Espanola. That’s followed by Torrijas–Spanish French Toast with Cara Cara Orange & Crema Catalana—and a choice of their splendid Sangria–Sangria Rojo with Tempranillo, Torres Orange Brandy & Lemon;  Sangria Blanco with Albarino, Gin & White Peach or house Agua Frescas. Click here for reservations.

The Easter Brunch at Les Marchands features an array of menu items from Chef Weston Richards, including House-Made Ricotta with Seasonal Jam & Brioche Toast; House-Made Chorizo & Butternut Squash Frittata with Parmesan Cheese; Breakfast Poutine with Sausage Gravy, Cheddar Cheese & Poached Egg;  and Tres Leches French Toast with Cinnamon Whipped Cream & Berries, among others. Guests can also  indulge in specialty cocktails like the Easter Pamplemousse Spritz with Charbay Ruby Red Grapefruit Vodka, Fresh Squeezed Grapefruit Juice, Muddled Basil Leaf, Topped with Crémant Rosé, Splash of Soda and Grapefruit Garnish, as well as variety of other cocktails, wines and beers. For reservations, click here.

Breakfast at the Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach is always beautiful

Breakfast at the BoatHouse, courtesy photo.

Breakfast at the BoatHouse, courtesy photo.

(can anyone beat that view!). Try one of their many Breakfast Benedicts (Classic, Pork Belly, California or Smoked Salmon style Eggs Benedict, all with breakfast potatoes) or French Toast with a “Pancake Breakfast Cocktail” (Tullamore Dew/Butterscotch schnapps, OJ chaser and a strip of smoked bacon) for a special Easter treat. They don’t take reservations, so go early and plan to take a stroll on the beach to work up an appetite.

If an Easter lunch is your preference, head to Santa Ynez, where Alberto Battaglini of S.Y. Kitchen presents five new spring cocktails inspired by the warming temperatures, first of the season local market produce, herbs and botanicals: the Chamomile Sour; Spring

Pear & Honey Bramble pear-infused gin, honey liquore, pear, lemon, gomme syrup, crème de mure, courtesy S.Y. Kitchen.

Pear & Honey Bramble, photo by Elisabetta Antonacci, courtesy S.Y. Kitchen.

Negroni; Rio Nexpa; Rustic; and the Pear & Honey Bramble. Try the T-Bone Truffle Sliders, Wild Mushroom Papardelle or Yellow Beet Salad for lunch. You won’t be sorry! The wrap-around patio is an especially lovely spot to toast the season as well. Click here for reservations.

The Lark offers a tasty array of Easter holiday dinner specials such as Deviled Easter Eggs, Grilled Texas Quail and Roasted Banana Panna Cotta, as well as debut spring menu that includes Brillat Savarin Triple Crème Brie, Colorado Lamb Sirloin Tartare; Dungeness Crab Risotto; Slow-Roasted Niman Ranch Ribs; and ‘Shrimp & Grits’ with Fresh Caught Kauai Prawns. Toast the holiday with craft cocktails, like the new-to-the-season Hummingbird and Jackrabbit; as well as house specialties like Alice’s Flip; JP’s Paloma; Black Manhattan; The Mule; Old Aztec; El Topo; Industry Sour; and the Dirty One-Thirty-One. Click here for reservations.

Cheers to the season! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

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 April 7, 2017.

Local Dish: Les Marchands Expands Food Offerings

Clockwise: Cheddar- Herb Fries with Dill Crème Fraiche, Couscous Salad, Brussel Sprouts Caesar Salad Photo credit Laura Ray

Clockwise: Cheddar- Herb Fries with Dill Crème Fraiche, Couscous Salad, Brussel Sprouts Caesar Salad
Photo credit Laura Ray

Best known for having an impressive variety of wines and exceptional wine education classes and special events, Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant has expanded its menu options to include an everyday lunch menu created by Chef Weston Richards

The lunch menu includes snacks like Pastrami Fries and Cheddar-Herb Fries with Dill Crème Fraiche.

Also available is a Couscous and Tomato Salad with feta, olives, avocado and Moroccan spice, the Brussel Sprouts Caesar Salad, and a Cold Fried Chicken Sandwich with blue cheese dressing and house-made pickles served on Helena Avenue Bakery brioche. Chef Weston’s Weekly Cheese and Charcuterie Selections are available for lunch and throughout the day. 

Oven Roasted Porchetta, Rosemary Potatoes, Brussel Sprouts and Salsa Verde | Photo Credit Laura Ray

Oven Roasted Porchetta, Rosemary Potatoes, Brussel Sprouts and Salsa Verde | Photo Credit Laura Ray

In addition, Les Marchands has added Porchetta Thursdays, featuring a new Porchetta Dinner in addition to the regular menu options.

 Lunch is served daily from 11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

 Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant is located at 131 Anacapa St., 805/284-0380.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on August 21, 2016.

The Carbs Have Landed! Helena Avenue Bakery Opens in the Funk Zone

Helena Avenue Bakery, photo by Rob Stark.

Helena Avenue Bakery, photo by Rob Stark.

It seems like there’s always something new and fun happening in the Funk Zone, including the recent opening of Helena Avenue Bakery, an artisan bakery offering rustic, wholesome breads and handmade seasonal pastries.

Located in the historic Castagnola warehouse (131 Anacapa St.)  in the rear manufacturing space that opens up to Helena Avenue just off the corner of Yanonali

Helena Avenue Bakery, photo by Rob Stark.

Helena Avenue Bakery, photo by Rob Stark.

Street, the bakery provides custom-baked sweet and savory goods for Lucky Penny, The Lark, Les Marchands and other restaurants, specializing in hand-crafted baked goods made from scratch. The bakery also features a small retail counter open to the public from 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. daily.

The bakery team is led by Pastry Chef Jeff Haines, former Executive Pastry Chef at The Lark. Chef Weston Richards, formerly of Spare Parts, who also has a cult following at Les Marchands for his imaginative creations, oversees the Picnic Counter, the retail section of the bakery, offering take out foods.

Helena Avenue Bakery, photo by Rob Stark.

Helena Avenue Bakery, photo by Rob Stark.

“Having a bakery was a logical progression for us. The key ingredient was putting together the right talent, and we have a passionate and talented team. We’ve been serving the donuts, bagels, scones, muffins and cookies at Lucky Penny for several months now and they’ve been a huge hit,” says Sherry Villanueva of Acme Hospitality, which operates the new bakery as well as The Lark, Lucky Penny and several other businesses in the area.

 The entrance to the bakery is accessed through a shared door of the Santa Barbara Wine Collective.

Helena Avenue Bakery, photo by Rob Stark.

Helena Avenue Bakery, photo by Rob Stark.

 Exclusive Helena Avenue Bakery breads include Baguettes; Country and Country Walnut Batards; Ciabatta; Pain au Lait loaves and buns; San Francisco, Chile Cheese & Olive Sourdoughs; and 100% Whole Wheat loaves. Sweet and savory pastries offered are Egg Croissants with Arugula Pesto and Prosciutto; Apricot Thyme Croissant; Hand Pies with Seasonal Jam; Stone Fruit Galettes; Mini Quiche selections; and cookies varieties of Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter Brittle, Oatmeal Blueberry and Double Chocolate.

The Picnic Counter grab and go items include: House Pickled Veggies, Marinated Olives, Couscous Salad with Cherry Tomatoes, Cucumber & Feta; Potato Salad with Whole Grain Mustard & Castelvetrano Olives; Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad, Parmesan & Kale; Focaccia with Roasted Corn, Pasilla Peppers, Queso Fresco & Cilantro; Ham & House-Made Butter on Baguette with Radish; and Cold Fried Chicken Sandwich on Ciabatta, Blue Cheese & Dill Pickles. Also available are specialty Grab & Go house-made Jams, Peanut Brittle and Marshmallows.

Helena Avenue Bakery, photo by Rob Stark.

Helena Avenue Bakery, photo by Rob Stark.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on August 3, 2016.

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 wildbrewfest.nightout.com.

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 cameron@presquilewine.com.

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 dan@lesmarchandswine.com.

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!

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 Magazine on March 4, 2016.

Happy Anniversary to Les Marchands

Eric Railsback and Brian McClintic: Photo credit | Macduff Everton ©2013

Eric Railsback and Brian McClintic: Photo credit | Macduff Everton ©2013

Tuesday, August 26 is your night to hit the town and join the team at Les Marchands to celebrate their doors being open for one year!

From 5:30–7 p.m. Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant toasts its one year anniversary with an exceptional lineup of Santa Barbara, French and Austrian rosé wines, including Vallin and Lieu Dit, the stunning wines produced by Les Marchands partners Brian McClintic and Eric Railsback.

Selected wines are:

Lieu Dit Rosé Santa Ynez Valley 2013

Vallin Rosé Santa Ynez Valley 2012

Gros Nore Bandol Rosé 2013

Fontsainte Gris de Gris 2013

Jager Rosé Wachau 2013

Abbatucci Faustine Rosé 2013

In addition, Chef Weston Richards will prepare food to stimulate conviviality and complement the wines. His menu features a Cheese Board with Breads and Accompaniments; House-Made and Imported Charcuterie with Weston’s own Mustards, Pickles and Olives; and Crostini with Fava Beans, House Ricotta, Mint and Chili Oil.

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased here:http://lesmarchandswinebar.securecheckout.com/product/detail/OneYearAnni8-26-14.html.

Les Marchands is located at 131 Anacapa St. in the Funk Zone.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on August 20, 2014.

Cocktail Corner: Sublime Summer Sips

Courtesy Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club

Courtesy Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

Sublime Summer Sips are on the menu with a variety of opportunities to wine down on those long summer days.

Pony up for Happy Hour at Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club. The club now welcomes visitors to take in the excitement of world-class polo competition combining the beauty and speed of thoroughbred horses with the thrill and skill of team competition on Friday nights, as well as every Sunday during the summer. Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club, 3375 Foothill Rd., Carpinteria, 805/684-5819, sbpolo.com.

Les Marchands is the place to be on Tuesday June 24, when “the King of Rheingau Riesling,” Johannes Leitz, will sit down to dinner and pour four of his wines.  The German winemaker is considered a modern master by people in the know, and Chef Weston Richards will pair stunning Riesling-friendly dishes such as crispy pig ear salad with frisee, avocado and herbs;crab bisque, red curry and puffed rice; housemade ramen, pork belly, spicy garlic pork broth, brussel sprouts and scallions; and pittig aged gouda, lavender honey and apricots for dessert. Space is limited, so click here for reservations. Les Marchands, 131 Anacapa St. 805/284-0380, lesmarchandswine.com.

Santa Barbara Wine Festival on Saturday, June 28, is a wonderful way to appreciate being out in nature underneath the oaks along Mission Creek at the museum, while enjoying more than 50 tantalizing wines from the Central Coast’s premier wineries—everyone from Alma Rosa to Zaca Mesa is there, often with the winemakers themselves pouring and chatting up the crowd—complemented by fitting pairings of savory and sweet delights from local chefs, caterers, bakers and restaurateurs. Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, 2559 Puesta de Sol, 805/682-4711, sbnature.org.

Local winemaker and owner of Larner Vineyards and Winery, Michael Larner is teaming up with Chef Jason Paluska at The Lark for a Local Treasures dinner, which should be amazing! Expect a complete six-course dining experience, pairing locally sourced ingredients with wines from Ballard Canyon in the Santa Ynez Valley. Seating is limited, so please contact mkremzar@thelarksb.com for reservations. The Lark, 131 Anacapa St., 805/284-0370, thelarksb.com.

Tickets must be purchased by June 22 for the 29th annual Central Coast Wine Classic, a weekend in Avila Beach (July 10-13) centered around fine wine and cuisine that features local wineries and restaurants, and draws crowds from across the country and around the world. Many charities on the Central Coast will be awarded gifts, including the Rona Barrett Foundation, a local nonprofit that seeks to provide a solution to affordable housing and supportive services for seniors in need with the development of the Golden Inn & Village, where seniors may access a variety of care that meets their needs as they age in place. Various Avila Beach locations, centralcoastwineclassic.org.

Cheers!

Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

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.”