Local Lowdown: Pico

Pico is located in the Los Alamos General Store, courtesy photo.

Pico is located in the Los Alamos General Store, courtesy photo.

By Leslie Dinaberg

Headquartered in the wee Western-style town of Los Alamos and sharing its 1880s vintage building with The Los Alamos General Store is PICO, a farm-to-table foodie destination that’s quickly building a buzz among diners up and down the coast.

Owners Will Henry and Kali Kopley, a husband and wife duo, chose the building because of its history and place in Los Alamos’s timeline. It continues to fulfill its original destiny as a mercantile through the retail portion of General Store, which includes a 2,000-bottle wine shop. The restaurant side of the business takes its name from historical figure Salomon Pico, an infamous local bandit said to have been part of the inspiration behind the legend of Zorro.

Housemade charcuterie from Pico, courtesy photo.

Housemade charcuterie from Pico, courtesy photo.

PICO’s seasonal menu is a tribute to the symbiotic farmer-restaurant relationship, using strictly in-season ingredients and primarily showcasing the bounty of Santa Ynez Valley. Dishes are created based on the food items at hand from local farmers and ranchers, all under the guidance of Chef Drew Terp.

Terp’s top-notch credentials include Michelin-starred kitchens from Napa (Auberge du Soleil) to New York City (Alain Ducasse at the Essex House, Masa and barMasa), Spain (under Chef Pedro Subijana at Akelare), Las Vegas (barMasa and Shaboo), Washington, D.C. (Jaleo) and most recently with the now-shuttered Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos. Terp makes all of his ingredients in-house—including the ketchup and mustard.

Pico's Seared Duck Breast, courtesy photo.

Pico’s Seared Duck Breast, courtesy photo.

PICO recently added a 2,000-square-foot outdoor area with additional seating, a fire pit, a chicken coop, bee hives and raised gardens, bringing the locally sourced menu even closer to home.

With the outdoor area, “the restaurant’s eggs come from right outside our back door; our bees will provide honey for our dishes and drinks, as well as our house-made condiments and provisions; and the garden will offer up home-grown herbs and produce, to supplement the fabulous ingredients that we receive from our local providers,” says Terp.

Current menu highlights include charcuterie (locally sourced meats, house-made by Terp) and cheese plates with delicious bread from the neighboring Bob’s Well Bread Bakery; starters like pork cannelloni with béchamel, manchego and asparagus with house-made bacon and a 63 degree egg, and mushroom salad with bacon and arugula; and entrées such as a juicy heart of rib eye, served sliced over crispy potatoes, cedar-wrapped halibut with morels, English peas and Meyer lemon or grilled local lamb loin with ratatouille mille feuille and polenta. 

Pico's creative menu features approachable Californian cuisine sourced from locally-farmed, seasonal ingredients, courtesy photo.

Pico’s creative menu features approachable Californian cuisine sourced from locally-farmed, seasonal ingredients, courtesy photo.

As for the wine, Will Henry is co-owner of Lumen Wines (with esteemed vintner Lane Tanner), and the list includes their labels, along with other gems. Definitely leave room for dessert, which includes house-made ice creams (also available from the mercantile) with mouth-watering flavors like dulce de leche, tarragon and granddaddy’s favorite (bourbon-Wild Turkey 101), the chef’s homage to his grandfather.

PICO at The Los Alamos General Store, 458 Bell St., Los Alamos, 805/344-1122, losalamosgeneralstore.com.

Originally published in the Fall 2017 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine

Cocktail Corner: Meet the Winemakers of Los Alamos

Mike Roth & Craig Winchester’s Lo-Fi 2014 Chenin Blanc are among the Los Alamos wines being poured at Bob's Well Bread Bakery on Feb. 4.

Mike Roth & Craig Winchester’s Lo-Fi 2014 Chenin Blanc are among the Los Alamos wines being poured at Bob’s Well Bread Bakery on Feb. 4. Courtesy photo.

A Spirited Toast to All Things Alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg 

Take a road trip to Los Alamos next weekend when Bob’s Well Bread Bakery presents Meet the Winemakers of Los Alamos on Saturday, February 4.

This popular monthly tasting series invites guests to come meet the people behind some of Los Alamos’ best known wineries, including Angela Osborne of A Tribute to Grace, Mike Roth and Craig Winchester of Lo-Fi Wines and Ryan Roark of the Roark Wine Company.

The following complimentary wines will be paired with Bob’s Well Bread Bakery foods (which are really delicious, by the way!):

  • Angela Osborne’s A Tribute to Grace 2015 Grenache & a Rosé of Grenache
  • Mike Roth & Craig Winchester’s Lo-Fi 2014 Chenin Blanc
  • Ryan Roark’s Roark Wine Company 2014 Malbec

Here’s a little background about the winemakers.

Photo courtesy of A Tribute to Grace / Angela and Grace.

Photo courtesy of A Tribute to Grace / Angela and Grace.

Angela Osborne of A Tribute to Grace is a New Zealand born winemaker who moved to California in 2006 with the dream of making Grenache. New Zealand’s climate is too cool to ripen the beautiful, sun-loving Grenache grape, so she searched the world and ended up in California where both sunshine and entrepreneurial spirit are abundant. In 2007 she sourced her first Grenache fruit 33 miles inland, nestled high above the Pacific Ocean, from the Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard. This high-desert vineyard provides the perfect balance of heat and light. Osborne named her label after her Grandmother Grace, and her most beloved attribute. A Tribute to Grace’s winemaking intention is to capture this spirit, and stay as close to nature as humanly possible. The trio is completed by the grape itself, which encapsulates grace.

Photo courtesy of Lo-Fi Wines.

Photo courtesy of Lo-Fi Wines.

Lo-Fi Wines is a partnership between two lifelong friends, Mike Roth and Craig Winchester, who believe in hand crafted honest wines that are made for every day drinking. Wines to be enjoyed not to be collected. Easy drinking, lower alcohol wines made to pair well with all types of foods, from pizza to paté. Lo-Fi believes in neutral barrels, native yeasts, little to no sulfur additions, and no adjustment of pH. They love whole cluster fermentation and carbonic maceration. Lo-Fi Wines embrace a nothing added, nothing taken away philosophy that gives birth to wines that are young, vibrant and alive. But in all reality, Lo-Fi is less about what it is and more about what it is not. It is not over manipulated. It is not over extracted. It is not over ripe and it is not over priced. Less is more.

Native Texan Ryan Roark of Roark Wine Company studied abroad in France,

  Photo courtesy of Roark Wine Company.

Photo courtesy of Roark Wine Company.

learning the ropes of grape growing and winemaking from a small family winery. The French family managed every aspect of the business from farming, to winemaking, to sales and marketing. After moving to Santa Barbara, he wound up in vineyard management and uncovered a jewel of Chenin Blanc grapes from vineyards planted in the 1960s. He purchased the grapes and made 60 cases at a friend’s winery. That small batch was Roark’s first step in becoming a winemaker. Patterning his approach after the French family, Roark is a one-man show farming his own land, picking the grapes, making the wine, hand bottling the wine and selling it by mail order. He relies on word of mouth. His adherence to simplicity extends to his facility, living in his winery; minimalism lets him cut all the extraneous costs, keeping his wine affordable. Roark Wine Company specializes in small batch winemaking showcasing variety, vintage and place letting the land and fruit speak for itself. 

Since its inception in 2014, locals, travelers and journalists alike have embraced Bob’s Well

Courtesy Bob's Well Bread Bakery.

Courtesy Bob’s Well Bread Bakery.

Bread artisan breads and bakery.Bob’s Well Bread is committed to products that are hand-made with only the finest ingredients and natural starters. No added preservatives will be found in any of their baked items, and they strive to source ingredients locally using farmers and growers who practice the purest growing initiatives. They allow their loaves to take their time, and practice old world European traditions and techniques to make the very best breads and baked goods possible. Their commitment to being “well bread” means doing good things, supporting the community and donating what they don’t sell to local food banks. These practices showcase Los Alamos and the Central Coast and have elevated the region to a respected culinary destination.

Meet the Winemakers of Los Alamos takes place on Saturday, February 4, from 1 – 3 p.m. at Bob’s WELL BREAD Bakery, 550 Bell St., Los Alamos, 805/344-3000

Cheers!  Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

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

 Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on January 27, 2017.


Solvang’s “Scarecrow Fest” and Halloween Fun Start This Week

Scarecrow Fest, Grand Prize Winner, Buellton Valley Pets. Photo by Tenley Fohl Photography.

Scarecrow Fest, Grand Prize Winner, Buellton Valley Pets. Photo by Tenley Fohl Photography.

The beginning of Solvang’s 5th Annual Scarecrow Fest coincides with the Santa Barbara Wine Country Celebration of Harvest Weekend, then there are numerous fall activities planned in the Santa Ynez Valley/Santa Barbara Wine Country, spread throughout the month.

Running from Oct. 10-Nov. 10, some of the festival highlights include:

-The amazing scarecrow contest, where Solvang businesses, organizations and, as a new facet to this year’s contest, Solvang residents, will participate in the contest by featuring a scarecrow of their own creation, posted at their location. You can vote via ballot boxes scattered about the city, for scarecrow winners in six  different categories: “Best Scarecrow in Motion,” “Best Use of Recycled Materials,” “Best Use of a Business Theme,” “Most Danish,” “Spookiest” and “Most Humorous.” Ballots are available at the Solvang Visitors Center and at select Solvang businesses, and feature maps to direct voters to each of the contest’s scarecrows.

Once a “Best Solvang Scarecrow” winner has been chosen, it will be entered into the Santa Ynez Valley-wide competition with the respective winners from Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos and Santa Ynez, to determine the “Valley’s Best Scarecrow” bragging rights.

Solvang Scarecrow Fest, Best of Solvang Lucas & Lewellen, #1 Judges Choice Winner. Photo by Tenley Fohl Photography.

Solvang Scarecrow Fest, Best of Solvang Lucas & Lewellen, #1 Judges Choice Winner. Photo by Tenley Fohl Photography.

The October installment of Solvang’s Third Wednesday, to be held on October 15, which will feature a “Fall Frolic Block Party” at the town’s “West End” including live music, free treats, a local business-supporting “Cash Mob” and free admission to the Wildling Art Museum.

The Oct. 15 “Fall Frolic,” Lemos-sponsored doggie costume contest and parade kicks off at 5:45 p.m., with prizes – $20 Lemos gift certificates – being awarded for best costumes in three categories: “Funniest,” “Scariest” and “Most Original.” To enter the costume contest, human handlers should show up in front of Lemos (1511 Mission Dr.) by 5:45 p.m., with their animal counterparts. Along the “parade” route, a handful of Solvang’s West End businesses will be upping the “free” and “food” antes including Wandering Dog Wine Bar, (1539-C Mission Dr.) which will be offering gratis Rosemary Spiced Nuts, as well as free cider and nibbles in front of Kandra’s Beads (1539-A Mission Dr.).

-The 21st Annual Haunted House and Street Fair, which will thrill visitors with food, fun and spirits, on Oct. 30-31. The Haunted House and Street Fair, to be held at the Solvang Festival Theater (420 2nd Street), will include a “Trunk or Treat” candy-palooza among other tasty and spirited delights.

Additional information is available at www.solvangthirdwednesday.com.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Solvang Scarecrow Fest, Best Use of Recycled Materials, Waste Management, courtesy photo.

Solvang Scarecrow Fest, Best Use of Recycled Materials, Waste Management, courtesy photo.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on October 8, 2014.


Global Gardens Café and Olive Oil Store Opens in Los Alamos

Photo Jeffrey Bloom Photography, courtesy Global Gardens

Photo Jeffrey Bloom Photography, courtesy Global Gardens

Vegetarians and locavores in the Santa Ynez Valley now have an entire restaurant devoted to their cuisine.  Global Gardens’ Caliterranean Café features a fresh, rotating vegetarian menu with daily specials including phyllo “pitas,” stuffed French toast, a “daily dip,” hearty salads, the daily “pickle” and a weekly list of craft beers and local wines.  All menu items are made with Global Gardens’ handcrafted olive oils and balsamic vinegars.  Customers with a sweet tooth can choose from a selection of olive oil desserts including handmade olive oil ice cream, “Ani’s EVOO Ice Cream,” made by owner Theo Stephan’s daughter, Anita.  The sweet treat comes in several flavors such as vanilla bean, coffee and lemon ginger.

The Caliterranean Café celebrates local produce and products.  Stephan says of the café’s new menu, “Eating healthy doesn’t have to taste like cardboard. The bounty of Santa Barbara and the Central Coast makes truly memorable, flavorful vegetarian dishes.”

Global Gardens and the Caliterranean Café is open Thursday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.  They are located at 380 Bell Street in Los Alamos.

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on January 7, 2014.