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.