Public Gardens for Private Inspiration

Public Gardens for Private Inspiration, originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021.

If you’re looking for ways to be water savvy at home, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s Water Wise Home Garden section ( is the place to go. This small-scale, realistic setting shows off easy-growing, beautiful California native trees, shrubs, and plants that are drought-tolerant wildlife habitats. An excellent selection of natives is available for purchase at the on-site Nursery, which helps to support the work of this valuable nonprofit.
1212 Mission Canyon Rd.

The Chumash Point Ethnobotanical Preserve on Santa Barbara City College’s East Campus ( is a practical lab for the school’s
environmental horticulture students, as well as a great resource for locals to get a
peek at a garden that emphasizes native plants that have medicinal, nutritional, and
spiritual importance to the Chumash. 721 Cliff Dr.

If you’re looking to create your own rose garden, the A.C. Postel Memorial Rose
Garden across from the Santa Barbara Mission is a wonderful source of inspiration.
More than 1,500 rose plants in every possible hue are usually in bloom between April
and November, making these carefully tended flowerbeds a favorite spot for a stroll.
420 Plaza Rubio

The 37 acres of horticultural wonders at Lotusland ( showcase a number of rare species and exotic specimens, including an impressive array of drought-friendly plants in the succulent garden. A sweeping collection of cacti is also on display in another themed area, along with the oft-photographed euphorbia, cactus, and succulent plantings
in front of Ganna Walska’s iconic pink residence, designed with the help of respected landscape architect Lockwood de Forest. Reservations required. Call (805) 969-9990.

Considered a true masterpiece of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, Casa del Herrero’s grounds ( were designed in an eclectic mix of Moorish style and Country Place Era by noted landscape architects Ralph Stevens, Lockwood de Forest, and Francis T. Underhill. Included on the National Register of Historic Places, this estate features intricate pebbled pavings and a long watercourse that leads to colorfully tiled fountains, with charming spaces for flower beds, arcades, rose gardens, and a number of orchards. 1387 E. Valley Rd. Reservations required. Call (805) 565-5653.

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021. To see the story as it originally appeared, click here.

Cocktail Corner: Beer Pairing Dinner at Rodney’s Grill + Seven More Fun Events

Rodney's Grill pairs a four-course tasting menu with hand crafted beers from The Bruery. (courtesy photo)

Rodney’s Grill pairs a four-course tasting menu with hand crafted beers from The Bruery. (courtesy photo)

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

Santa Barbara Beer Week is winding down this weekend, but the suds continue to pour around town, including at Rodney’s Grill (at The Fess Parker – A Doubletree by Hilton Resort, 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd., 800/879-2929), where executive chef Kirk DeLong believes nothing tastes quite like an ice-cold hand crafted beer to quench summertime thirst.

With that in mind, DeLong promises to take beer to a whole new level with the resort’s  first ever Beer Pairing Dinner complementing a four-course tasting menu with hand crafted beers from Orange County’s The Bruery.  The festivities take place July 26 at 7 p.m.

The Bruery CEO Patrick Rue, who founded the company six years ago, will be on hand to give a brief overview about the signature beer pairings. The Bruery is a boutique craft brewery specializing in barrel-aged and experimental ales.  Founded as a small, friend and family run business in 2008, The Bruery takes its unique moniker from Rue’s family surname.

Rodney's Grill, courtesy Fess Parker a Doubletree by Hilton Resort

Rodney’s Grill, courtesy Fess Parker a Doubletree by Hilton Resort

Chef DeLong will share highlights from his inspired American dishes and the fresh regional produce and ingredients which complement the beers being poured.

The menu, which sounds amazing, includes:

Sea scallop, habanero-red pepper gazpacho, and kiwi-dragon fruit chutney paired with Trade Winds Tripel

Hoisin duck breast, pomegranate risotto, rainbow Swiss chard, and port jus paired with Saison Rue

Sea bass, heirloom tomato, tempura beech mushroom, and saffron-fennel broth paired with Mischief

Hawaiian sweet bread pudding, and Rori’s Artisanal Creamery vanilla bean ice cream, paired with Sucre

This dinner isn’t the first collaboration between the Parker and Bruery brands. “The Fess Parker family have a long time tradition in the wine and hospitality business in Santa Barbara County, and are delighted to be working collaboratively with the family-owned business The Bruery.  The two have worked collaboratively on the release of  ‘Confession,’ a sour- style beer fermented with Riesling grapes that tastes like wine, and is ranked high among beer critics,” says director of sales & business development Beth Olson of The Fess Parker – A Doubletree by Hilton Resort.

Advance reservations for the tasting event are required by calling the resort’s concierge at 805-884-8533 or via open table at The cost of the dinner is $79 per person (plus tax and gratuity) with discounts for The Fess Parker Winery’s Wine Club and The Bruery’s “Hoarders and Reserve Societies” members.


Seeing the World Through Bacon-Flavored Glasses, photo by Tyler Moselle

Seeing the World Through Bacon-Flavored Glasses, photo by Tyler Moselle

Coming up this weekend is the always delicious Santa Barbara French Festival, where great food, wine, mimosas, crepes, delicious pastries,  music, dance (including the awesome Moulin Rouge dancers from the Solstice Parade!) —and, of course, the infamous Poodle Parade, all come to Oak Park July 12 and 13 to celebrate Bastille Day and all the things that make the French cultural history so rich.  11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Oak Park, 300 W. Alamar.  Admission is free and the Festival is a non-smoking event.  For more information, email or call 805/963-8198.

On Monday night (July 14), raise your glass to Babes, Books & Booze and join funny women/authors Jenna McCarthy, Karen Rizzo and Starshine Roshell as they talk about social media over sharing, ungraceful aging, maternal intensity and their new books in what’s sure to be a lively conversation at Municipal Winemakers (22 Anacapa St.) on Monday, July 14 at 7 p.m. The first glass is on the publishers, but be sure to RSVP to

When you’re in wine country, you can’t pass up the opportunity to taste the best wines around. Luckily, that chance comes easily at the 11th annual California Wine Festival from Thursday, July 17 to Saturday, July 19. Celebrate with gourmet food and live music galore. Raise a glass of red, pink, or white (or all!) to a great weekend by the sea! This always fun festival has multiple events and venues. Call 866/273-4148, or visit complete details.

What goes better than bacon and wine, bourbon and beer? Dare we say, nothing! After an incredibly successful inaugural event last year, Bacon and Barrels is back! From July 18-10, enjoy some of the most delectable bacon dishes from the Central Coast’s best, while mixologists, bacon food trucks, live music, local vendors and a piggy petting zoo make this a weekend you’ll never forget. Saarloos & Sons Field, 2971 Grand Ave., Los Olivos. 805/996-0652,

Fantastic fermented food will be showcased at Cultivate Events‘ 4th annual Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival on Saturday, July 19. Kimchi, kombucha, kefir, pickles, beer, sauerkraut, wine, cider, cultured vegetables, and sourdough bread galore will take over Fairview Gardens (598 N. Fairview Ave., Goleta), accompanied with talks with fermented foods experts, hands-on how-to demonstrations, artisan fermented foods samples, and the opportunity for all ages to learn about the importance of local, organic, and sustainable agriculture and the fermentation process. The festival runs from 10 a.m.–6:30 p.m. For more information, call 805/722-5324,  or visit, where Santa Barbara Seasons’ readers can get a discount to the festival by putting in the word “SEASONS” in the promo code box when purchasing tickets.

For its fourth year, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden‘s Wine and Cheese Botanic Lecture Series is bringing together the local scientific community for talks about Santa Barbara ecology. The July 19 edition of the Lecture Series features Santa Barbara Creeks‘ Supervisor George Johnson and his update on the Mission Creek Restoration Project from 4 to 6 p.m. Johnson will highlight the importance of Southern California steelhead trout in the state’s waterways, particularly Mission Creek. Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards is the sponsoring winery. Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, is located at 1212 Mission Canyon Rd. For more information click here.

Who doesn’t love sangria? The Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation sure does. They are hosting the 3rd Annual Sangria Soiree in order to raise money to help families of children with cancer. It is at the Villa at Sunstone Winery at 125 Refugio Rd., Santa Ynez, CA on July 20 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. This event is quickly becoming a favorite of Santa Ynez locals, as guests enjoy sampling of paella from Viva Paella and tapas by Paloma Restaurant. Spanish style flatbreads prepared by The Chef’s Touch are served with cheese platters from Ono Catering.These foods appear alongside tequila and sangria made from wines by Sunstone WineryPalmina Wines and D’Alfonso-Curran Wines. Radio personality Tyler Story hosts this beautiful afternoon, and music by the acoustic flamenco guitar is also present. Not  to mention, several fantastic raffle tickets can be purchased, with prizes such as private cooking classes, a helicopter tour and a spa day. For more information call 805/ 962-7466. Or, buy tickets online here.

Whew!  That’s a lot going and I haven’t even gotten to Fiesta yet. Viva la July! Cheers!

Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on July 11, 2014.

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.”

Share the Gift of an Experience

GiftofExperience1-704x400Nothing beats the gift of a memorable experience…except perhaps one that you can share with your loved ones. Here are some holiday gift suggestions that can be appreciated together.

Santa Barbara Beautiful

When it comes to enjoying our gorgeous city, the options truly are endless. One of the best ways to soak in the soul of Santa Barbara is to get out on the water. In the early winter months, Condor Express whale-watching charters follow migrating California Gray Whales as they pass through the channel (805/882-0088, and Adventure Sailing Charters (805/794-8703, boats to the Channel Islands, as well as surf trips.

Landlubbers will love a membership to Lotusland, which provides priority access to 37 acres of spectacular collections of exotic plants (805/969-9990, Members of Santa Barbara Botanic Garden (805/682-4726, not only get free entry to this living museum, but also support the garden’s mission of conservation, education and scientific research. Garden lovers, not to mention history buffs and architecture aficionados, will love a tour of the historic Casa del Herrero (805/565-5653,, an elegant Montecito estate and National Historic Landmark. For a truly adventurous gift, take to the skies with Santa Barbara Helicopter Tours (805/845-4500,, offering wine tours, whale watching trips and Channel Islands flights.

Wine and Dine

Oenophiles will appreciate the plethora of tasting and transportation options offered by Wine Canyon Tours (805/453-7047,, Sustainable Vine Wine Tours (805/698-3911, and Cloud Climbers Jeep Tours (805/646-3200,, among others. Got a sweet tooth? Santa Barbara Adventure Co.’s Tasty Cupcake and Wine Tour (805/884-9283, is simply delicious.

The Show Must Go On

Why not treat that special someone to passes for Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which runs Jan. 30–Feb. 9 (805/963-0023, and offers a variety of packages that include movie tickets, parties and tributes and awards ceremonies. Classical music aficionados will love series tickets to Santa Barbara Symphony (805/898-9386,, the “Met Live In HD Series” at Music Academy of the West (805/695-7931, or CAMA’s International Series (805/ 966-4324, If the play’s the thing, then the Broadway Series at The Granada is just the ticket (805/899-2222, for big musical performances, while the black-box intimacy of Center Stage Theater (805/963-8198, hosts a terrific variety of plays and performances, including the locals’ favorite Speaking of Stories (805/963-0408, reader theater series.

Catch Some Culture

Museum memberships make great gifts. Santa Barbara Museum of Art (805/963-4364, members have access to the museum’s renowned exhibitions, grand opening events and other special activities, as well as a connection to a vibrant community of art lovers. MCASB (805/966-5373, also cultivates a unique arts community. Its members form a society of contemporary art lovers, patrons and artists who actively participate in the intellectual and artistic life of the museum. Another great way to catch some culture is via UCSB Arts and Lectures Series (805/893-3535,, which has about a dozen terrific ticket series to choose from—or you can build your own.

Get Active

The gift of physical fitness is a gift that keeps on giving. Why not give golf lessons (805/968-1541,, try stand up paddle boarding (805/881-2115,, or yoga at Core Power Yoga (805/884-9642, or Yoga Soup (805/965-8811, Los Padres Outfitters offers beach horseback rides, day rides or pack trips for horse lovers (805/331-5961,, while Rancho Oso (805/683-5110, in the beautiful Santa Ynez Mountains is a great place for beginning riders to get comfortable with gentle horses and on guided trail rides.


Learn to paint (and sip local wine) at The Painted Cabernet (805/963-9979,, a perfect place for a date-night gift. Market Forays cooking classes and culinary adventures are also a great gift for someone who would enjoy a guided shopping tour through local farmers’ markets and the fisherman’s market, followed by a hands-on cooking class and five-course feast (805/259-7229, Brooks Institute Extension (805/690-7629, offers a variety of excellent workshops for photographers of every level to improve their skills.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in the Winter 2013/14 issue of Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine.

Local Arts and Culture Nonprofits Join Giving Tuesday Movement to Encourage Nonprofit Support

image003First there was Black Friday. Then there was Cyber Monday and now we have Giving Tuesday on Tuesday, December 3.

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Ensemble Theatre Company, Ganna Walska Lotusland, Lobero Theatre Foundation, Music Academy of the West, Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation, Santa Barbara Dance Institute, Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Santa Barbara Zoo, State Street Ballet, The Granada Theatre, and Wildling Museum have joined Giving Tuesday, a first of its kind effort that will harness the collective power of a unique blend of partners—charities, families, businesses and individuals—to transform the way people talk about, think about and participate in the giving season.

Coinciding with the Thanksgiving Holiday and the traditional kickoff of the holiday shopping season, the aim of Giving Tuesday is to inspire people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities, give back in better, smarter ways to the causes they support and ultimately help to create a better world.

Launched in 2012, Giving Tuesday welcomed more than 2,500 partners from all 50 states in the U.S. The collective efforts of partners, donors, and advocates helped fuel a 50% increase in online giving. Last year more than 50 million people worldwide spread the word about Giving Tuesday―resulting in milestone trending on Twitter.

Sounds like a lovely idea to us!

For more information about the Giving Tuesday initiative and to search participating nonprofits in the Santa Barbara area, visit

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on December 1, 2103.