A Standing Ovation for The Silver Bough

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

The Silver Bough culinary team, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

By Leslie Dinaberg

Like its Irish mythological legend, The Silver Bough—the entry into the Celtic otherworld, believed to offer everlasting youth, beauty, health and joy, and a rich paradise of delights, where food was ever abundant and where travelers were treated as kings and queens—is an impressive bounty of elegantly prepared food and dramatic culinary theatrics. This intimate, eight-seat tasting menu fine dining experience is one of the most ambitious restaurant endeavors I’ve ever experienced.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

From the moment you enter the Montecito Inn, the new home of The Silver Bough, you are transported into an exquisite, magical world of high-class indulgence. The evening starts in the lobby lounge, where a personal concierge offers you specialty libations or champagne from a custom-made bar cart.  

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

Promptly at 7 p.m. (there’s only one seating per night, Thursdays-Sundays), you are escorted in a dark, theatrically anointed room, with an intricately designed Silver Bough-themed table as the focal point. Handcrafted and modeled after a voluminous Ginkgo tree, completed with painted brass butterflies and a glass top, the table—as well as the dishes, silverware, candelabras and serving pieces—was custom designed by award-winning American artist Michael Aram. Here the overture for the journey officially begins, with the host acting as narrator, guiding guests through the story of The Silver Bough and correspondingly gorgeous canapes that are almost too beautiful to eat—but I force myself, to the delight of my taste buds.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

At the end of the canape courses, a curtain I didn’t notice before is dramatically opened, revealing the main stage, a 16-foot, kitchen-facing Brazilian Quartzite chef’s counter, with Owner/Executive Chef Phillip Frankland Lee and his team of chefs there to greet us. There are from three to five executive-level chefs at your service on any given night. 

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

Owner/Executive Chef Phillip Frankland Lee at The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

Each chapter in the main room starts out with an introduction of the ingredients. Act 1, the seafood chapter, previews a platter of moving King Crab legs, live spiny lobster, sea urchin, caviar and more.

The theme—that guests are to be treated royally—is impressively executed, as we watch Chef Lee and his team prepare each dish as if it were a precious work of art. Indeed, this meal is probably museum worthy. With the precision of a jeweler, Chef Lee adds gold leaf to the Sturgeon Caviar, which sits atop a gorgeous concoction of Lobster Gelee, Hazelnut Cream and Smoked Eel.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

And, in a dramatic dance that takes place for each of the 18 courses, the chefs have mastered  impressive choreography to ensure that each dish gets to each patron (along with thoughtfully selected wine or nonalcoholic beverage pairings) at precisely the same moment. Additional seafood dishes, each more incredible than the next, include Live Spiny Lobster Tartare, topped with local Sea Urchin and puffed quinoa; Pommes Souffle stuffed with Lobster innards whipped with Crème Fraiche, and topped with Sea Urchin and Carnations; and Vermillion Crudo. The Act 1 finale, which includes almost every ingredient used in the seafood chapter, is a delicious preparation of lightly grilled King Crab in sea urchin emulsion, with sourdough bread crumbs and caviar.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

Act 2, an equally impressive series of land-based courses, is again introduced with a peek at the ingredients, including Kings Pigeon from Flying H Ranch in Carpinteria, Olive Wagyu Ribeye, pasture-raised venison, caviar and an abundance of truffles.

Dishes include Kings Pigeon Breast with Pistachio Crust; a Liver Tartlette with a tasty Mini-Parker House Roll; a Kings Pigeon Leg. Both the Aged Venison Saddle with brown butter Roasted Chestnuts and the Venison Tenderloin with butter roasted Chantrelles smell every bit as terrific as they taste. In fact, the whole dining room is designed for amazing aromatics. Despite the huge number of courses, each one continued to dazzle both my eyes and my nose. 

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

While I hesitate to choose a favorite in a menu so filled with delights, perhaps with most memorable dishes were the two made with Legendary Olive Wagyu Ribeye. According to Chef Lee, the Silver Bough is only restaurant in the world to have this beef, and it’s no wonder. Billed as “the rarest steak on the planet,” it currently retails for more than $200 a pound and is sourced via Santa Barbara resident Ethan Lowry, co-owner of the online meat seller Crowd Cow. 

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

A mouthwatering cheese course of Andazul Goat’s Milk Blue with Fried Sourdough, Warm honey and Black Truffle bridges the savory and the sweet worlds with amazing flavors. 

The Act 3 finale, the domain of talented Pastry Chef Margarita Kallas-Lee, who is married to Chef Frankland Lee, begins with a Citrus vanilla Tea emulsion combining blood orange sorbet with basil blossoms and black lime. Additional jewel box-worthy dessert courses include the Strawberry Duck Liver Mousse, a Chamomile Custard with Shaved Truffles, Candied Bee Pollen and 24k Gold Leaf, and literally, a jewel box of Mignardises, comprised of a Kalamansi Pate de Fruit, a Blood Orange Pate de Fruit, a Strawberry-Creme Fraiche Bon Bon and a Tarragon-Buttermilk Bon Bon.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

Not quite ready to end such an enchanted evening, the chefs invite us to continue to imbibe and enjoy after-dinner drinks and aperitifs with the team, which was quite fun and the perfect capper to an amazing culinary experience.  

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

The all-inclusive tasting menu has a ticket price of $550/person, with a non-alcoholic specialty pairing available for $450/person (both inclusive of tax and gratuity). Obviously, this price point isn’t something most of us can indulge in every day, but I’m hopeful that a one-of-a-kind, gastronomic, theatrical experience like this will find its audience. 

For more information, visit silverboughmontecito.com 

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 1, 2019.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

The Silver Bough opening culinary team, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

The Silver Bough, photo by Joel Schmelzer.

Body-Mind Connection

UCSB Campus Bluffs, painting by Chris Potter.

UCSB Campus Bluffs, painting by Chris Potter.

BMCA somatic movement conference focuses on embodiment and brain research, with an indigenous education element

By Leslie Dinaberg

Monday, August 5, 2019 – 10:15

Santa Barbara, CA

Bringing together more than 70 presenters from around the world, the Body-Mind Centering Association (BMCA) presents its 34th annual interdisciplinary laboratory, research and workshop conference at UC Santa Barbara August 6-11.

brooke smiley.  Photo by Peter Aguilar.

brooke smiley.  Photo by Peter Aguilar.

Hosted by brooke smiley, a lecturer in the Department of Theater and Dance, this somatic movement conference features an array of workshops, panel discussions, presentations and performances. The theme, “Self and Other,” reflects the conference emphasis on the evolving indigenous embodiment in relation to dance, song and land.

“I wanted to create a focus on what it means to value our differences and also bring focus to our interconnectedness,” said smiley.

She anticipates approximately 130 participants at the conference, which is open to the public. “It’s interesting because we have a lot of people from different realms: science, dance, academia, choreographers, dancers, therapists and infant movement development specialists,” smiley said. “Movement research takes a lot of different forms out in the world. As host, I’ve been able to be supported in bringing a focus to an indigenous educational awareness about the land here, specifically before UC Santa Barbara was here, and the dances and the songs that came from the bodies in relationship to this land.”

With that awareness in mind, the Friday, Aug. 9 plenary session led by smiley, titled “Embodying Land in Dance and Song: Addressing Decolonization in Indigenous Ceremony and Performance,” includes a panel from the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. An indigenous dance artist herself, smiley was recently named a 2019/2020 Advancing Indigenous Performers Fellow by the Western Arts Alliance, a program made possible by a lead grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and additional support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Among the conference highlights:

• A two-part presentation by BMCA founder and Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen. “Engaging Self and Other through Embodiment, Part I” will begin at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10. Part II will take place at 9 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 11.

• 2019 Guggenheim Scholar Ann Cooper Albright’s two-part “Cultivating the 3R’s: Responsiveness, Resistance, Resilience” (Aug. 6 at 2 p.m. and Aug. 7 at 9 a.m. ). Cooper is professor and chair of dance at Oberlin College.

• Two evenings of dance performances (Aug. 7 and 8 at 8 p.m.) in 1151 Humanities and Social Sciences Building. Admission is free.

Founded in 1985, the BMCA is a professional organization dedicated to exploring, sharing and expanding body-mind centering work. Members reside around the world, including the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.

Additional conference details and registration information is available at https://bmcassociation.org/conferences/2019-bmca-conference. A complete schedule of events can be found at https://bit.ly/2JHR7YJ.

Originally published in the UCSB Current on August 5, 2019.

From Social Media to Pedagogy

With a spotlight on undergraduate research, a new campus journal covers a wide range of topics

A new journal aimed at promoting the research achievements of the campus’s undergraduate students has launched, featuring contributions from nine students in six different fields of study.

The Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (URCA) Journal demonstrates the range of interests and talents of UC Santa Barbara faculty and students, according to Professor Anne H. Charity Hudley, director of undergraduate research and the project’s faculty advisor. “Each article is specifically tailored — thanks to the author, their mentor and our URCA peer review board — for a general readership in order to support the mission of the URCA office, which is to encourage students from all backgrounds and interests to come together as a scholarly community,” she said. “It’s been exciting to see that happen in person and online.”

URCA Journal Editor in Chief Sydney Leigh Martin, left, and Journal Editor Sarah Allen-Sutter. Courtesy photo.

Sydney Leigh Martin served as the editor-in-chief, assisted by Sarah Allen-Sutter as journal editor. “The URCA  journal is this new, innovative, academic thing and is the only journal on campus that is interdisciplinary,” said Martin, who graduated in June with a minor in professional editing and will begin law school at UC Irvine in the fall.

“We received papers from a lot of different disciplines, including a wide range of humanities and fine arts, math, life and physical sciences and social sciences,” Martin continued, noting that about a third of the submissions for the inaugural journal were selected. “It’s a wide range of research but a lot of it focuses on UCSB students. There are specific case studies that people do that are really innovative.”

She emphasized that undergraduate research journals are produced by undergraduate students. While Charity Hudley advised the editors, the reviews were all done by students because, as she explained, “if it’s an undergraduate research journal then students should be able to decide who goes in and who goes out and those students are the best indicator as to whether or not that paper is accessible to a general population.”

The review board consisted of the two editors and nine URCA peer advisors: Lesly Silva, Jordan Mitchell, Sabreena Sukhram, Erika Prado, Brenda Wu, David Lowe, Jasmin Morales, Wendy Santamaria and Xochitl Briseño. It is anticipated that this will be an annual publication.

The 2019 UCSB Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Journal publications include:

A Black Feminist Approach to Recreational Pole Dancing by Brianna A. Robinson, Department of Feminist Studies; Faculty Mentor, Laury Oaks

Unpaid Interns: ‘Breaking Persistent Barriers’ Without Employee Status and Anti-Discrimination Protections by Chelsea Borg, Department of History; Faculty Mentor, Nelson Lichtenstein

White by Association: The Mixed Marriage Policy of Japanese American Internees by Ashlynn Deu Pree, Department of History; Faculty Mentor, Adrienne Edgar

Impact of Ethnic Studies Pedagogy on Latinx Student Achievement by Jose Tapia, Department of Chicanx Studies; Faculty Mentor, Veronica Fematt

Literacy and Social Media: Young Adult Readers in Goodreads Online Communities by Emma Anderson, Department of English; Faculty Mentor, Elizabeth Heckendorn Cook

Investigating the Potential of Interactive Digital Learning Tools by Chinmay Surpur, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences; Faculty Mentor, Richard E. Mayer

Effects of Stress on Cognition and Performance (ESCAPE) by Chinmayee Balachandra, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences; Faculty Mentor, Michael B. Miller

Exposure to Multicultural Environments: Influence on Social Relationships and Altruistic Behavior by Paola Rivera, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences; Faculty Mentor, Vanessa Woods

How Remittances Are Changing Poverty Spending in Central America by Kuvimbanashe Edwin Chikukwa, Department of Political Science; Faculty Mentor, Kathleen Bruhn

Created as an open-access publication in order to expand the reach of the undergraduate research, the journal is available at https://www.duels.ucsb.edu/research/urca/journa

Originally published in the UCSB Current on July 26, 2019.

Mind, Body, Soul

Mind, Body and Soul, published in 805 Living, July/August 2019.

Click here to read these stories as they appeared in 805 Living magazine, July/August 2019. 805 Living MBS Jul-Aug 2019

Cheers for Wildlife Conservation

This story as it appeared in 805 Living, July/August 2019. Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Zoo.

This story as it appeared in 805 Living, July/August 2019. Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Zoo.

Something cold, refreshing, and eco-friendly is brewing at the Santa Barbara Zoo (sbzoo.org) this summer. Sales of Zoo Brew, a custom California pale ale produced by Ventura Coast Brewing Company (vcbc.beer), have already exceeded expectations, says zoo culinary programs manager Emily Largey. While the zoo gets the profits, the beer serves an even more important role as a vehicle to educate adults about animal conservation efforts. “Learning isn’t just for the kids,” Largey says. “The conservation messaging on the first can is ‘Drink beer, save wildlife.’ Each season we’ll roll out a new beer and a new label featuring an endangered or protected animal at the zoo.” 

This story originally appeared in the July/August 2019 issue of 805 Living.

805 Living Pulse Jul-Aug 2019 (click here to see the story as it appeared in 805 Living)

 

 

Local Dish: A Chic Update at the Goodland

The Outpost at the Goodland dining room, courtesy photo.

The Outpost at the Goodland dining room, courtesy photo.

By Leslie Dinaberg

Keeping the carefree, casual vibe intact, Goleta’s Outpost Restaurant and Goodbar at the Goodland recently updated their digs to brighten up the space, making the chic, California-themed Kimpton hot spot even cooler. Sunny new yellow tones in the dining room and a removable roof addition over the outdoor seating make it feel like summer year-round at the Outpost. The excellent fare includes easily shared plates like fried brussels sprouts with yellow curry, and roasted seabass lettuce cups, as well as larger entrees like the juicy strip steak, tasty salmon or hearty lamb burger.  

Sunset at the patio at the Goodbar at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

Sunset at the patio at the Goodbar at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

Right across the lobby, the Goodbar’s spaciously redesigned patio is a great stop to watch the sun set as you sip from its excellent crafted cocktail menu. Creative libations like the Aviation Gin-based “Park Your Car Don’t Drive” and “Who’s Your Daddy?”—made with Del Maguey Vida Mezcal—share the spotlight with a nice variety of spirits (tasting flights are available too) and a fine array of local wines and beers. 

Outpost at the Goodland, Goodbar at the Goodland, 5650 Calle Real, Goleta, outpostsb.com.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 2, 2019.

The patio at the Goodbar at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

The patio at the Goodbar at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

Local Lowdown: Ambassadors of the Environment

Sara Welsh and campers at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara's Ambassador's of the Environment program. Courtesy photo.

Sara Welsh and campers at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara’s Ambassador’s of the Environment program. Courtesy photo.

Ritz-Carlton Bacara’s and Ocean Futures Society’s new educational program engages all ages. 

By Leslie Dinaberg

It was one of those “I have to pinch myself to make sure this is really happening” experiences, walking beside environmental legend Jean-Michel Cousteau on an “ecohike” along the beautiful Gaviota Coast that borders the Ritz-Carlton Bacara. The impressively spry 80-year-old explorer and founder of the Santa Barbara-based nonprofit Ocean Futures Society has joined forced with the Ritz-Carlton Bacara to bring a new Ambassadors of the Environment program to the property.

Jean Michel Cousteau, courtesy Ritz-Carlton Bacara.

Jean Michel Cousteau, courtesy Ritz-Carlton Bacara.

Based on four principles—everything is connected, everything runs on energy, there is no waste in nature, and biodiversity is good—through various adventures and activities, the Ambassadors of the Environment program allows participants to discover the Gaviota Coast’s natural wonders both on land and sea, including kelp forest, a diversity of birds, the intertidal zone, and traditional Chumash culture.

The Ocean Futures and Ritz-Carlton relationship is longstanding (with programs in Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Catalina Islands, Polynesia, and the Cayman Islands, among others), but the local program is new. 

“I am very excited to have our newest Ambassadors program here at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara, in my backyard,” says Cousteau, who lives in Santa Barbara with his wife, Ocean Futures Co-Founder Nancy Marr. “This region is among the richest and most interesting in the world, with amazing natural wonders. With our great team, guests will have an amazing experience that both enriches and educates them.” 

Sara Welsh and campers at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara's Ambassador's of the Environment program. Courtesy photo.

Sara Welsh and campers at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara’s Ambassador’s of the Environment program. Courtesy photo.

The activities—led by a team of naturalists personally trained by Cousteau and his longtime chief scientist, the charismatic Dr. Richard “Murph” Murphy—include options specially tailored to elementary school age children, young adults, families and adults. The onsite program supervisor Sara Welsh and her team are clearly stoked to be at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara. Having witnessed their infectious enthusiasm very clearly engage an often-jaded cadre of travel journalists, I can only imagine how excited the lucky kids and their families will be when this group leads them on new environmental adventures with programs like “Whale of a Tale,” “CSI: Coastal Scene Investigator,” and “Creatures of the Night,” among others.

“Having the advantage of being near Santa Barbara, there is a coastline there which is pretty unique on the planet,” says Cousteau. “We are helping people because of the knowledge that we are able to share, exploring and seeing what lives there whether they are birds or fish or kelp forests. … For me it’s a privilege not only to live here, but to make sure that the Ritz-Carlton is sharing all our knowledge and information with the young people, and their parents.” 

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara is located at 8301 Hollister Ave. For more information, visit ritzcarlton.com and oceanfutures.org.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 1, 2019.

Bossie’s Kitchen: Something to Moo About 

Bossie's Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com. Courtesy photo.

Bossie’s Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com. Courtesy photo.

By Leslie Dinaberg

Old Bossy, the iconic cow atop the Live Oak Dairy Building (and former home to McConnell’s Ice Cream) on Milpas street, has a cool new restaurant in the herd: Bossie’s Kitchen, from Chef-Owners Lauren Herman and Christina Olufson.

Featuring delicious seasonal farmer’s market salads and sides, garlic-herb rotisserie chicken, grilled market fish, mac ‘n cheese, Korean fried chicken and more, this casual, counter-style restaurant focuses on fresh comfort food, with everything made in house, including the breads for the sandwiches. Herman’s savory dishes are a perfect complement to Olufson’s delicious breads and sweets. Everything from carrot cake to cookies, and buttery biscuits to brownies and pastries is baked daily on site. 

Bossie's Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com. Courtesy photo.

Bossie’s Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com. Courtesy photo.

Open Tuesday-Sunday for dinner, with  lunch on weekdays and brunch on weekends, Bossie’s features local beers (currently Figueroa Mountain, Captain Fatty’s, Third Window and Topa Topa) on draft and a variety of California wines, with special happy hour pricing on drinks and small bites from 4:30-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday.

As the closest restaurant within walking distance to the Santa Barbara Bowl, Bossie’s plans to have pre- and post-show happy hour specials on concert nights, with a limited menu available till 11 p.m.

Bossie's Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com. Courtesy photo.

Bossie’s Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com. Courtesy photo.

“The reception has been fantastic—we’ve been getting so much love from our neighbors, and we are so humbled and grateful,” says Herman. 

Locals first tasted the couple’s cuisine at Somerset, which later became (and remains) Smithy Kitchen + Bar on Anapamu Street. Both chefs also bring fine dining experience with Los Angeles’ James Beard award-winning Lucques Group to the new, casual concept at Bossie’s, their first restaurant as owners.

Bossie’s Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 1, 2019.

Bossie's Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com. Courtesy photo.

Bossie’s Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com. Courtesy photo.

Bossie's Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com. Courtesy photo.

Bossie’s Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com. Courtesy photo.

Bossie's Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com. Courtesy photo.

Bossie’s Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com. Courtesy photo.

Bossie's Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com. Courtesy photo.

Bossie’s Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-1700, bossieskitchen.com. Courtesy photo.

Cocktail Corner

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg
(Here is my newest column which I write every Friday for Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine.)

 

© Pac | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Pac | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Popping the Cork for Mother’s Day

One of my favorite things about Mother’s Day is that it’s a terrific excuse reason to have Champagne for breakfast. Of course, you can do this anytime you want—and pretty, pretty please invite me over!—but on Mother’s Day, unless you’re visibly pregnant, no one looks at you strangely when you order a bottle of Champagne with your Eggs Benedict (which is a fabulous pairing, by the way). But here’s an even better reason to toast mom with some bubbly this weekend: new research has just come out that three glasses of Champagne a week can help to improve your memory!

Kentucky Derby Day Drinks

Early Times makes the official Mint Julep of the 2013 Kentucky Derby. (courtesy photo)

Early Times makes the official Mint Julep of the 2013 Kentucky Derby. (courtesy photo)

It’s Kentucky Derby time this weekend, and although all I know about the leaderboard is thatOrb is favored to win, I know enough about Kentucky Derby Day traditions to know whichever horse your money’s on, y’all should be cheering ‘em on with a Mint Julep.

Citrus & Spice Cocktail at The Pan (photo by Leslie Dinaberg)

Citrus & Spice Cocktail at The Pan (photo by Leslie Dinaberg)

Cheers to The Pan

I’m a big believer that variety is the spice of life. If I could tipple “cocktail flights” for every happy hour and nibble appetizers for every meal, I would be doing a happy dance for the rest of my life. I still haven’t found a place that has “cocktail flights” on the menu (sharing sips with friends is the next best thing), but I have found a great small bites place just a hop, skip and jump from the office: The Pan.

Cheers to Prosecco

OGIO prosecco (courtesy photo)

OGIO prosecco (courtesy photo)

I had my first taste of Prosecco just a few years ago, when a friend brought a bottle of Mionetto IL Prosecco to accompany our sushi at one of the summer concerts at El Capitan Canyon.  It was delicious, bubbly and tasted good with potato chips too.

Wine and Cheese Please!

I was thrilled to discover that today is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day. What better way to fight the post-vacation blues than to celebrate this traditional American treat and pair it with some of our favorite local wines?

KAPPA Krush (courtesy of KAPPA Pisco)

KAPPA Krush (courtesy of KAPPA Pisco)

Potions With Pisco Popping Up

I wasn’t too familiar with Pisco last fall, when someone gave me a bottle of KAPPA Pisco, a new Chilean Pisco from the House of Marnier-Lapostolle, producers of Grand Marnier. But since then, this exotic beverage has been showing up more and more.  Especially in Montecito, where it’s behind the bar at Cava Restaurant and Bar and the Biltmore’s Ty Lounge and on the shelves at The Bottle Shop, among others.

 

Cheers to Spring at the Ty Lounge

Four Seasons Biltmore's barrel-aged Negroni (courtesy photo)

Four Seasons Biltmore’s barrel-aged Negroni (courtesy photo)

A great spot for cocktails just got even better. The Ty Lounge (at Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara) has always been a beautiful place to drink in the priceless view of the Pacific, but now mixology pro and manager Chris Nordella has introduced a lively selection of spring cocktails.

Dargans (courtesy photo)

Dargans (courtesy photo)

A Bit of the Blarney About Dargan’s

Irish eyes are always smiling at Dargan’s, one of my favorite downtown pubs (18 E. Ortega St., 805/568-0702). Of course the place will be rocking this weekend in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s a great place to tipple any time of the year.

A Bouquet of Orchid Cocktails

Black Orchid (courtesy photo)

Black Orchid (courtesy photo)

With the  68th Santa Barbara International Orchid Show coming up this weekend, a bouquet of orchid cocktails is certainly in order to celebrate this event.

Chuck's Famous Mai Tai (courtesy photo)

Chuck’s Famous Mai Tai (courtesy photo)

Chuck’s Famous Mai Tai

A lot of places slap the label “famous” onto a cocktail, but Chuck’s Famous Mai Tai is one “famous” libation that’s ready for a “legendary” label. It’s not quite as good as a trip to Maui, but it’s pretty darn close.

Red Carpet Cocktails

For those of us who won’t be at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre this weekend, the competition for Oscar-inspired libations is every bit as fierce as the race for Best Picture. Here are some red carpet cocktails to make your home viewing party a hit!

How to Make a Sidecar with Rachel Maddow and Dita Von Teese

I love pretending I’m Rosalind Russell and ordering old-fashioned cocktails. Must be the journalist’s fascination with His Girl Friday. Phrases like, “How ’bout a Sidecar, doll face?” and “Gimme an Old Fashioned, the old-fashioned way,” just trill off the tongue, don’t they? Anyway, when I stumbled across this video of one of my favorite journalists—MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow—demonstrating how to make a Sidecar, I just had to share it.

Cajun Martini at the Palace Grill in Santa Barbara

Cajun Martini at the Palace Grill in Santa Barbara

Cajun Martini at The Palace Grill

It’s always Mardi Gras at the Palace Grill (8 E. Cota St., 805/963-5000), the closest you can get to New Orleans while staying in Santa Barbara.

The Antagonist at The Marquee

I’ve been really into sweet, hot and spicy cocktails recently and had a fabulously tasty one the other night at The Marquee. The Antagonist is made of chili-infused Absolut Vodka, white peach puree, mixed berry puree and pineapple juice.

Toasting the Film Festival

Even movie stars shine a little brighter when you give them a perfect cocktail. Since the stars will out in full force this week, here’s where I would take some of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival VIPs out for drinks.

Paradise Cafe Margaritas

My childhood smelled like Coppertone, my teenage years like Love’s Baby Soft, and my 20’s smelled like the Margaritas at the Paradise Cafe .

National Hot Toddy Day

It’s National Hot Toddy Day. A “hot toddy” is a warmth-inducing yummy drink made with honey, lemon, hot water, and the spirit of your choice (usually whiskey, brandy, or rum).

 

Alcazar's Heat of Passion cocktail. Courtesy Photo.

Alcazar’s Heat of Passion cocktail. Courtesy Photo.

The Heat of Passion at Alcazar

The sultry Heat of Passion is sweet, hot and spicy and certainly my favorite cocktail at the moment.

Simmering Sangria

Sangria is one of my favorite warm weather libations, but until our recent uber cold front (quite unusual for Santa Barbara) I had never thought about serving it warm.

 

Niche Marketing (Re)defined

Conventional marketing wisdom — from the 80/20 rule to any kind of ROI analysis — tells us that focusing on a target market is necessary for achieving success. “We sort of use the bed of nails theory of niche marketing,” says Pattie Garrahy, CEO of PGR Media (www.prgmedia.com), the strategic marketing, media planning and buying agency for companies such as Tommy Hilfinger, Hathaway and Keds. “It’s a painful theory,” jokes Garrahy. “If you try to be all things to all people, you can’t succeed. You can’t feel the nails. However, if you lie on one nail, you can really feel that one nail. You need to focus to create success.

But where to focus becomes a challenge. “The challenge in choosing the best target markets comes from two directions. First the target market needs to be narrow enough to allow us to efficiently market, to get the most bang for our buck. At the same time, it needs to be large enough to have sufficient sales potential to support the company, reports ClickZ’s (www.clickz.com) Cliff Allen, coauthor of One-to-One Web Marketing (ISBN: 0471404004). ” Many companies, in an attempt to appeal to a large audience — thinking that doing so will increase revenue and profits –dilute their marketing message. Selecting a narrower target market allows a company to focus marketing communications on specific customer needs. As a result prospective customers have more confidence that the company understands their needs; that confidence, in turn leads to a closer relationship and increased loyalty,” continues Allen.

There are, of course, many ways to define a niche market, but the experts agree that focusing on a narrow target remains the key ingredient to finding your best markets.

Focus on Product Applications

NASA has been marketing commercial technology since the early 1960s, however according to Michael Weingarten, Director of Marketing for the Commercial Technology Program, “up until recently it was kind of a passive marketing program.” All that changed with a direct response program launched in mid-January. Developed in conjunction with Kern Direct (www.kerndirect.com), the campaign is about bringing NASA technologies down to earth, and capturing the attention of the business world.

It All Starts With Research

Research is the first layer of a niche marketing program. As Garrahy describes it, “target intelligence work” is about identifying and defining your target customers and then using that information to develop a messaging and media plan that appeals to them based on their purchasing motivators. The targets for NASA’s direct response campaign were “the industries where NASA’s research would be considered cutting edge” according to Weingarten. “We used external lists of R & D Managers and Presidents and new Product Developers from a wide range of vertical industries that NASA services,” says Russell Kern, president of Kern Direct.

Let a Niche Emerge From a Product Line Extension

Research was also a key component in the formation of Gettyworks (www.gettworks.com), a new line extension from Getty Images (www.gettyimages.com). The original company is a large supplier of photography and commercial illustrations to professional graphic designers, while the spin-off is a B-to-B venture aimed at enabling businesses to produce professional looking materials in-house. According to Kim Freeman, Vice President of Getty Images, “the decision to form and market Gettyworks came about because we noticed a trend in the market.” The research backed up their findings, and a new product was born.

Find an Emerging Niche for a Leading Edge Product

“Technology was enabling an increasing number of users to take advantage of the graphics products that are out there,” says Freeman. “There’s about 30 million businesses on the internet today — 45% of the people we talked to believe they do more of their own business materials than they did just one year ago, and about half of them believe they’re gonna do more in the next year. There seems to be a real opportunity in the market.”

An opportunity in the market was also a motivator for NASA. “Most people don’t even know that technology is available,” says Kern. “What we’ve done is create a direct response lead generation campaign to help let people know that if they want to develop new products or new ideas, there are resources available to them.”

Both NASA’s direct mail campaign and Gettyworks’ initial marketing efforts were aimed at driving traffic to their websites. This will continue to be a trend, predicts Don Eperson, CEO and Founder of Hook Media (www.hookmedia.com), an interactive media planning and buying firm. “We firmly believe that as advertisers continue to grow more comfortable with the media and as the media grows up a little bit, you will see that shift to a higher percentage of total advertising budgets going to online. There are just simply too many people that are using the computer all the time to get their media.

Use Multiple Forms of Media and Promotion Channels

Whatever the core audience that you’ve determined for your product, the marketing plan should derive from the unique characteristics of that market. In targeting teens, for example, Garrahy says that based on their research, they will select “the most highly used or consumed media form, probably something like an MTV and certain vertical titles and certain radio stations in certain markets and geography. We put those pieces together and form plans that are certainly media based but they also include everything from promotions at point of sale through those channels. In today’s world there’s also usually a very strong online piece.”

In the case of NASA, one of the key tools is a magazine called “Spinoff” which features successfully commercialized NASA technology.

“Another marketing strategy is to use education — workshops and seminars — to tell the business community about the 25,000 different technologies that NASA has developed over the years” says Weingarten.

Whether the niche you’ve targeted is demographic, geographic or psychographic, your best markets will emerge if you focus on your product applications, do your research, and stay on top of emerging trends. Whether your niche market develops as an outgrowth of your core business or as a product line extension, flexible, multi-channel marketing strategies are your ultimate keys to success.

Originally published in SAM Magazine in May 2001.