Local Dish: A Flavorful Feast at Finch & Fork

Finch & Fork's Kanpachi Crudo, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Finch & Fork’s Kanpachi Crudo, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Some good news for Goleta: longtime Finch & Fork Executive Chef James Siao has taken on the dual role as Executive Chef of the Canary Hotel‘s sister property, Outpost at the Goodland. For the past five years, Siao has done an excellent job creating elevated comfort food at Finch & Fork. Our recent meal was no exception. 

Executive Chef James Siao, courtesy photo.

Executive Chef James Siao, courtesy photo.

Leaving our menu in Siao’s very capable hands, we started the evening off with the beautifully bright Kanpachi Crudo, made with avocado and cilantro crema, pickled pearl onions, jicama, yuzu and jalapeño. This was followed by a seasonal salad of Burrata & Heirloom Tomatoes, complimented with stonefruit, kale & pistachio pesto and outstanding grilled bread.

Finch and Fork Burrata and Heirloom Tomatoes, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Finch and Fork Burrata and Heirloom Tomatoes, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

I could have died and gone to heaven quite happily right there, but Siao continued to bring out wonderful dishes, including a creamy Fresh Ricotta Cavatelli made with spinach, peas, preserved lemon and pecorino; and an incredibly flavorful Cauliflower, with romesco, hazelnut dukkah (an Egyptian nut and spice mix) and lemon.

Finch & Fork's Fresh Ricotta Cavatelli, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Finch & Fork’s Fresh Ricotta Cavatelli, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

The entrees (yes … there was still more!) were also terrific. A colorful Duck Breast with carrot cardamom puree, farro, onions and blackberry gastrique and perfectly prepared Sea Scallops with gold beet relish, grapefruit, chorizo vinaigrette and sliced avocado.

Finch & Fork's Cauliflower, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Finch & Fork’s Cauliflower, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

I can’t wait to see what Siao does with the Outpost menu. According to Spokeswoman Nicole Lazar, “Siao looks to add dishes that fit perfectly into the laid-back and sociable setting, including playful interpretations of classics. At Outpost, expect to see more sharable plates that highlight the season’s best, and focus on vibrant, flavorful ingredients. He and the culinary team at Outpost are currently working on new menus, starting with dinner, so stay tuned for exciting new creations.” 

Finch & Fork's Sea Scallops, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Finch & Fork’s Sea Scallops, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

For more information on Finch & Fork (31 West Carrillo St. at the Canary Hotel in downtown Santa Barbara), visit www.finchandforkrestaurant.com. For more information on Outpost (5650 Calle Real at the Goodland hotel in Goleta), visit www.outpostsb.com

Finch & Fork's Duck Breast, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Finch & Fork’s Duck Breast, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on September 14, 2017.

Cocktail Corner: New Lead Mixologist Brings Creative Concoctions to Outpost

Cocktails from Outpost at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

Cocktails from Outpost at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

Mary Valdez has taken the helm of the renowned bar program at Outpost at the Goodland, bringing a host of fun and creative new items to the already stellar menu. 

Cocktails from Outpost at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

Cocktails from Outpost at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

We checked out the first in what will be a series of seasonal beverage menus  last week, leaving ourselves in Valdez’s very capable hands. First up was her personal favorite, In Full Bloom, a refreshing and playful cocktail featuring Hendricks Gin, fresh lemon, orgeat, prickly pear shrub, angostura bitters and tonic. We also liked The Day Drinker, made with Ketel One Vodka, St. Germain, fresh watermelon and a housemade citrus cordial. The classic Aviation—made with Beefeater Gin, luxardo maraschino, lemon and creme de violet—was complex  yet balanced. We also enjoyed  the Maria Maria, made with Del Maguey Vida, jalapeno infused agave, citrus cordial, mint and ginger beer.  

Agave is Valdez’s preferred spirit of the moment, but house shrubs, syrups and fresh produce also play important roles in each drink.

Mary Valdez is the new lead bartender at Outpost at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

Mary Valdez is the new lead bartender at Outpost at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

Other seasonal standouts include the Rhubarbarian, a refreshingly spicy and citrus forward sipper with El Jimador blanco, Cointreau, togerashi, rhubarb syrup, lime and rhubarb bitters, and the herbaceous and tart Live Long and Prosper, which mixes rosemary infused Tito’s, blackberry-lime cordial and Aperol. The summer menu (which will last through September, says Valdez) includes the Easy Like a Sunday Morning, which mixes Espolon reposado, Aperol, ancho chile, and their Goodland Special, a grapefruit IPA which was brewed for them in collaboration with M Special.

Valdez has a decade of bartending experience under her belt, working behind bars on both coasts, and spending the last few years at Outpost where she was part of the opening team. Her cocktail preparation style is balanced but surprising, adding something unexpected into every creation.

Outpost at the Goodland Hotel is located 5650 Calle Real, Goleta, www.outpostsb.com.

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 September 1, 2017.

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.

Outpost Menu Highlights New Flavors for the New Year

Bao Buns at the Outpost, courtesy photo.

Bao Buns at the Outpost, courtesy photo.

The New Year brings a new menu to Outpost at the Goodland, where Chef Nick Bajal has added seasonal dishes to his already very tasty menu.

Start with one of the new starters, like the Plantain Empanada with pork carnitas, tomatillo broth, and queso fresco; or the Crispy Chicken Thighs with miso potato salad, Korean chili cucumber and grilled lime. Next, move on to larger plates, like the Acorn Squash with red quinoa, shaved heirloom carrot, ginger vinaigrette, crispy lotus root and pickled fresno chili; the Confit Duck Leg with coriander vinaigrette, greens, mirin roasted apples and parsnip; or Lamb with braised red cabbage, nori butter peas and crispy white sweet potato.

Outpost has also made some changes to the “Pick Three” smaller bites section, offering a variety of street tacos and bao-buns, like a Mushroom Bao-Bun with hoisin leeks, scallions and sesame seeds, and the Seafood Scrapple Bao-Bun with uni aioli and green onion.

Don’t miss dessert! New to the menu is a tasty Mexican Spiced Chocolate Pudding with salted caramel whipped cream and crispy sugar cookie.

Outpost at the Goodland is located at 5650 Calle Real, Goleta, www.outpostsb.com.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on January 26, 2017.

Local Dish: Fall Desserts at Finch & Fork and Outpost

Fried Carrot Cake is part of the fall dessert menu at Outpost at the Goodland. Courtesy photo.

Fried Carrot Cake is part of the fall dessert menu at Outpost at the Goodland. Courtesy photo.

There’s something about this cooler weather that makes sweets taste even sweeter. Lucky for us, our local chefs have some new treats to share this fall.

At Outpost at the Goodland  (5650 Calle Real, Goleta) Chef Nick Bajal has added a few new things to the dessert menu, including Rice Flour Cake Tres Leche (with Puffed Black Rice and Yuzu Cream); Kaffir Lime Flan (with Chocolate Crumble and Marinated Strawberries); Matcha Green Tea Eclairs (with Coconut Eclairs and Grilled Peach); Mexican Spiced Chocolate Pudding (with Salted Carmel Whipped Cream and Crispy Sugar Cookie) and Fried Carrot Cake (with Burnt Orange Sauce, White Chocolate Creamed Cheese and McConnell’s Vanilla Ice Cream).

Over at Finch & Fork (31 W. Carrillo St.), Chef James Siao also has some new sweets to savor: Sticky Toffee Cake (with Local Dates, Brown Butter Whipped Cream and Maple Almond Popcorn); Cream–sicle (with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mousse and Ginger Orange Crumble Orange Granita) and S’more Pot De Crème (with Chocolate and House Made Marshmallow Graham Cracker Crumble).

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on November 15, 2016.

Summer Editor’s Pick: New Chefs in Town

Chef Peter McNee, courtesy photo.

Chef Peter McNee, courtesy photo.

I’m looking forward to tasting what two new executive chefs will bring to our region’s excellent foodie scene.

Chef Peter McNee comes to Convivo restaurant and bar at the newly renovated and reopened Santa Barbara Inn (1029 Orilla Del Mar). Describing his style of food “Nomad Italian,” which “draws from different styles and traditions along the way,” McNee comes from the well-regarded “Ill Fornaio” group of restaurants, so I can’t wait to taste what he brings to Santa Barbara (convivorestaurant.com).

Outpost Chef de Cuisine Nick Bajal, courtesy photo.

Outpost Chef de Cuisine Nick Bajal, courtesy photo.

I’m also eager to see what Outpost at the Goodland’s (5650 Calle Real, Goleta) new lead chef Nick Bajal brings to the table at the laid-back eatery, which is known for its fresh coastal dishes and inspired street food. Bajal steps up as chef de cuisine after working as Outpost’s executive sous chef since 2015 (outpostsb.com).

—Leslie Dinaberg

This story originally appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

Cocktail Corner: Goodbar Grooviness

The Goodbar, courtesy photo.

The Goodbar, courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

Goodbar, the Goodland Hotel’s super cool lounge, is shaking things this spring.  Here’s what they have going on:

Spirited Flight Night Mondays

Branch out of your comfort zone and try something new! Guests get 20% off all flights on Monday nights. Try the Numero Uno featuring Partida Blanco, Herradura Reposado, and El Tesoro Anejo, or The Connoisseur with Pierre‎ Ferrand 1840, Park VS,  and Remy VSOP.

Weekly Good Hour

Every Monday – Friday from 4 – 7 p.m., snag discounts on small bites, like Charred Shishito Peppers or Chicken Wings, and beverage offerings like the House Margarita, Daiquiri and Bee’s Knees for $7. Happy Hour is also available at Outpost.

Trivia Night Wednesdays

Bring out your A game every Wednesday during Trivia Night. The lounge’s billiards table and backgammon boards will also be available for those looking to get in the game. Trivia starts at 7 p.m.

Blur The Line Thursdays

Grab a cocktail from the bar and listen to a variety of live musicians on the verge of greatness. Music starts at 7 p.m.

Industry Night Sundays

Every Sunday from 5 p.m. to close, all industry patrons can enjoy 20% off their bill with business card. And there’s also yummy Sunday Ramen Night at Outpost.

Goodbar at the Goodland is located at 5650 Calle Real, Goleta, www.outpostsb.com. 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 April 1, 2016.

Cocktail Corner: Seasonal Cocktails at the Goodland & Potek Pop-Up

Outpost at the Goodland Red Rooster Highball, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Outpost at the Goodland Red Rooster Highball, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Goleta’s hippest hangout has upped its game even further recently, both The Goodbar and Outpost at the Goodland (5650 Calle Real, Goleta) have bold, fun new cocktail menus from lead bartender Chris Burmeister.

The already extensive—and very creative—menu now includes a dozen new sippers between the two bars. My friend Laura and I got to taste them recently, along with some sensational seasonal bites from Executive Chef Derek Simcik.

First up (from the Outpost menu) was the sweet and spicy Red Rooster Highball. Made with Sriracha Mango Cordial mixed with Aviation Gin, Marie Brizard Orange Curacao and fresh lime juice, this is a pretty, aromatic and delicious drink!

The Goodbar Feelin' Renegade, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

The Goodbar Feelin’ Renegade, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Feelin’ Renegade—and who wouldn’t be after that Red Rooster Highball—the next cocktail was a lovely balance of Cynar, house falernum, cinnamon syrup, fresh pineapple and fresh lime. It tastes like Santa Barbara’s autumn in a glass, mixing the traditional fall flavors with bright fruits and citrus (from the Goodbar menu).

Also from the Goodbar is the Backseat Driver, an expertly blended concoction of  Maker’s mark, housemade English bishop, averna, fresh lemon, demerara and angostura bitters.

Spoon Fight at the Outpost, courtesy photo.

Spoon Fight at the Outpost, courtesy photo.

Another Goodbar star was West of Autumn, made with sweet potato maple syrup, blended with Barrel Aged Flor de Cana Rum, Amaro Montenegro, Dolin Sweet Vermouth and chicory-pecan bitters, this comforting and delicious drink made my tastebuds sing.

Also new at the Goodbar is Eve’s Fault, which features George Dickel Rye, LeCompte Calvados and Kronan Swedish Punsch, a flavorful liqueur with hints of toffee, smoke, molasses and leather. Served with a large Apple Cider ice cube, this well-balanced cocktail hits is perfect for the season.

Tullamore Dew and Cold Press on Draft from the Outpost, courtesy photo.

Tullamore Dew and Cold Press on Draft from the Outpost, courtesy photo.

When the weather gets cold, the coffee gets spiked, and Outpost has a unique twist on traditional Irish Coffee with its Tullamore Dew and Cold Press on Draft, topped with hand whipped Chartreuse cream.

Also on the sweet side, available at both Outpost and the Goodbar is Burmeister’s Housemade Irish Cream. The classic, creamy sipper is amazing, served neat, on the rocks or with hot coffee.

Check out the website at outpostsb.com/menu/ for the complete menus.

Housemade Irish Cream at the Outpost and Goodbar, courtesy photo.

Housemade Irish Cream at the Outpost and Goodbar, courtesy photo.

Everything the Outpost Chef Simcik makes is music to my tastebuds, but diners are really in for a treat next week, when he’ll pop up at Potek Winery (406 E. Haley St. #1) for an intimate wine dinner on Dec. 11 at 7 p.m.

The four-course menu, perfectly paired with Potek’s notable wines, includes:

Thai Crab Salad

shaved avocado, green curry coconut, roe, shrimp puff

Pairing: 2013 Kick On Riesling

Brulee Bone Marrow

foie, pickled carrot, balsamic, mustard seeds

Pairing: 2012 Tierra Alta Grenache

Beef Cheek 

Seasonal bites from Outpost at the Goodland, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Seasonal bites from Outpost at the Goodland, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

squid ink, umami bomb broth, quail egg, root vegetables

Pairing: 2013 Sanford and Benedict Old Vine Pinot Noir

Trio of Desserts

Ritz Crackers and Foie

Reese’s Bacon Cup

Mango con Chili

Pairing: 2014 Potek Kick On Ranch Riesling Ice Wine from Barrel

Seating is extremely limited, and can be reserved by purchasing tickets at muniwine.com. The cost is $75 per person.

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 December 4, 2015.