Local Lowdown: Page Turners

By Leslie Dinaberg

Summer is the perfect time to pull up a lounge chair, a hammock, or a perfect spot in the sand and dig into one of these great reads by local authors.

From contemporary novels and memoirs, to playfully illustrated children’s books, to juicy airplane reads, and delicious cookbooks, to lurid crime and intriguing real lives, there’s something here for every reader to dig into this summer.

What are you waiting for?

Armchair Travels & Adventures


Neal Rabin’s “23 Degrees South: A Tropical Tale of Changing Whether,” courtesy photo

Set in the beautiful yet nefarious paradise of Brazil, Neal Rabin’s debut action-adventure novel, 23 Degrees South: A Tropical Tale of Changing Whether, is a laugh-out-loud escapade through South America as 20-something childhood friends Hart and Simon find themselves far from their comfortable California homes in the favelas and jungles of Brazil. The summer Olympics, Maytag appliances, plane crashes, a priest named Lazarus, rainforest cults and Carmen Miranda all play pivotal roles in this quirky novel. Rabin—the founder of Miramar Systems, a Santa Barbara-based global software company, of which he was CEO for 15 years—writes in a style that evokes comedic elements of Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Robbins, with an original eccentricity that is uniquely his own.

Family Feuds & Fun


Jenna McCarthy’s “Everything’s Relative,” courtesy photo

Three estranged sisters breathe a collective sigh of relief when their controlling mother dies, but that’s just the beginning of the roller- coaster ride of Everything’s Relative, the latest page- turner from funny lady (and former KTYD personality) Jenna McCarthy. The sisters are shocked to discover that their spendthrift mother was hiding a massive fortune—millions of dollars that they can only get their hands on if they work together to transform their lives and carry out their mom’s last wishes.

Tasty Treats


Chef Pascale Beale’s “Les Fruits: Savory and Sweet,” courtesy photo

Chef Pascale Beale’s latest book is perfect for the summer season, with 240 mouth-watering pages and 100 new recipes that are all about fruit. Les Fruits: Savory and Sweet celebrates fruit in all of its many forms and features a multitude of delicious salads such as apple, fennel and watermelon radish, citrus salad with avocado vinaigrette; main courses like apricot and lamb shank tagine and citrus salmon; and desserts such as an Eton Mess, pear and pomegranate Pavlova, and apple and pear strudel, among other yummy delights.

Camping out under the stars is one of summer’s most sublime pleasures, and local “gourmet girls” Gail Kearns, Lindsey Moran and Denise Woolery have a new camping cookbook, Gourmet Girls on Fire, to help make your outdoor adventures even more delectable. Filled with 140 gourmet meals that can be made straight from your campfire, useful tips and recommendations, full-color images, retro-inspired graphics, and recipes that are sure to please a crowd.

Twin sisters Judi and Shari Zucker, also known as the “Double Energy Twins,” became vegetarians at age 11 and wrote their first book, How to Survive Snack Attacks—Naturally!, when they were just 16. Since then, they have written six best-selling health books, in addition to their latest, The Memory Diet, which introduces a powerful, plant-based diet of leafy greens, vegetables, berries, nuts, beans, and whole grains that can slow down or even eliminate cognitive decline.

Lurid Crime

Award-winning Hollywood writer, producer and director John Wilder (who adapted James Michener’s Centennial and Larry McMurtry’s Return To Lonesome Dove, as well as top-rated television series Spenser: For Hire and The Streets of San Francisco) marks his novel fiction debut with the contemporary murder mystery Nobody Dies In Hollywood. Wilder’s private investigator character Michael Drayton is hired by the father of an aspiring actor who was brutally slain alongside a world-renowned movie star in a horrific and seemingly senseless attack. Set against the backdrop of Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, Wilder’s novel connects contemporary culture, over-the-top personalities and timeless personal demons, creating a character that embodies the grit of yesterday and the diversity of today.

Memorable Memoirs

Part memoir and part inspiration, Aging in High Heels by Beverlye Hyman Fead, deals with the subjects of health, deaths of loved ones, forgetfulness, doctors’ appointments, travel, exercise, nutrition and aging. After being diagnosed with stage IV cancer, Fead found a passion talking to cancer patients, giving back inspiration and writing books. At 81, she shows us how we can live a life with passion, hope and laughter.

O tomodachi

Dick Jorgensen’s “O Tomodachi (Friend),” courtesy photo

In 1954, as a 29-year-old grad student, Dick Jorgensen was selected to be one of four “ambassador” teachers in a first-ever exchange program with Japan. Jorgensen would spend the next two years teaching at the University of Hiroshima, founded in the wake of the dropping of the atomic bomb on that city in 1945. Thus began an incredible journey for a kid from the Midwest. As a work of history, his book O Tomodachi (Friend) provides a perspective on postwar Japan that is both historical and accessible. As memoir, O Tomodachi gives readers a wonderful sense of what it was like for a young American to go off to a foreign land.

Bucket List


Tara Jones’ “100 Things to Do in Santa Barbara Before You Die,” courtesy photo

Tara Jones, owner of the super- fun Eat This, Shoot That! food and photo tour company, has written an excellent guidebook for tourists and locals alike. 100 Things to Do in Santa Barbara Before You Die is a great guide for going off the beaten path and experiencing Santa Barbara like a local. Find one of the best burritos in town inside a liquor store, float over the Santa Ynez Valley in a hot air balloon, knock back a cold brew with the animals at the zoo, or get a massage in a salt cave to discover just how diverse Santa Barbara can be. From kids to adults and luxurious to inexpensive, this book is a great way to explore your own little piece of paradise.

Young & Young-at-Heart

The Extraordinary Pony Cover

Alana Clumeck’s “The Extraordinary Pony,” courtesy photo

Written and illustrated by Santa Ynez resident Alana Clumeck, The Extraordinary Pony is a vibrantly illustrated life-lesson tale that reminds every child to dream big and that nothing is impossible if you believe in yourself.

My Pet Cloud front cover

Kisha Gianni’s “My Pet Cloud,” courtesy photo

A sweet and magical story about a little boy and his pet cloud, My Pet Cloud is written by local interior designer Kisha Gianni and illustrated by her mother, Lyn Gianni. It speaks to a child’s sense of wonder, imagination, friendship and the ability to trust.

Sojourner Kincaid Rolle’s The Mellow Yellow Global Umbrella is a fanciful collection of poems by the City of Santa Barbara’s poet laureate, captivatingly illustrated by artist Karen Folsom.

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

The Art of Food at SB Public Market


Santa Barbara Public Market hosts “The Art of Food” this week: a photography exhibit featuring market merchants, painting class, food + photo tours, a food photography class and more!

As part of this special week of events, Public Market debuts a commissioned photography exhibit by renowned local photographer, Kim Reierson, featuring the stars of the Public Market… the merchants.

Additional scheduled events include:

Sip & Paint with The Painted Cabernet! – Thursday, August 13, 5:30 p.m. – $45

Calling art + wine lovers! Guests are invited to join The Painted Cabernet  for a painting class in The Kitchen at the Public Market! The Painted Cabernet’s instructional artist will walk guests step by step through the painting experience giving one-on-one instruction while giving you the time to sip a little wine, visit with your neighbor, listen to some great music and paint your very own masterpiece to take home at the end of the night! Tickets  include a glass of wine. Additional wine or beer and bites from The Culture Counter will be available for purchase. Call 805/963-9979 for details and to reserve.

Kid’s Corner with Knit Fit – Saturday August 15, 10 a.m.-noon – FREE

Knit Fit will host interactive arts & crafts for kids in The Kitchen, where children can learn how to make creative flower origami and can receive $5 glitter tattoos! Call 805/770-7702 for details! 

Food Photography Lunch & Learn with Chuck Place – Sunday August 16, noon – $45

Join professional photographer Chuck Place (a Seasonscontributor) for a “Lunch & Learn” at the Public Market! This hands on food photography class kicks off with a presentation on light manipulation and how to get the perfect plated shot. Guests will then put their new knowledge to use and turn their cameras to beautifully plated salads provided by Flagstone Pantry! The class wraps up with a Q&A discussion with Chuck, accompanied by a light lunch of fresh salads and complimentary champagne split. Participants are required to bring their own cameras, lenses and 24-inch reflector if they have one. Tripods and cable releases are also recommended but not necessary. Class includes lunch and a split of champagne. Advance reservations are required. Call 805/770-7702 for details and to reserve.

Eat This, Shoot That Food Photography Tour of the Public Market! – Saturday August 15 & Sunday August 16 – $39

Eat This, Shoot That!, the premiere food photography tour guide in town, will be hosting several exclusive tours through the Public Market! The brainchild of Tara Jones, a college photography teacher and local foodie, Eat This, Shoot That! tours are like no other, and this will be the first of its kind at the Public Market! The 45-minute tour will lead participants through the Public Market, stopping at various merchants for photo ops along the way. Participants will learn helpful tips and tricks on how to take better photos of food, and of course sample the food they shoot along the way! Two tours a day will be offered on both Saturday, August 15 (3 p.m. & 4:30 p.m.) and Sunday, August 16 (3 p.m. & 4:30 p.m.). Tours include food samplings from several Public Market merchants. Participants will also receive wristbands that grants them Happy Hour pricing at Wine + Beer all day! Call 800/656-0713 or visit Eat This, Shoot That! at the Public Market for details and to reserve.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on August 11, 2015.

Cocktail Corner: Lights, Camera, Cocktails

Grassini's beautiful tasting room in El Paseo was one of our stops on the Eat This, Shoot That! tour. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg

Grassini’s beautiful tasting room in El Paseo was one of our stops on the Eat This, Shoot That! tour. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg

Wining and Dining With Eat, This Shoot That!

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

Jamie Slone was a fun wine tasting stop on the Eat This, Shoot That! tour. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Jamie Slone was a fun wine tasting stop on the Eat This, Shoot That! tour. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Combining food and wine with photography is a great way to tour Santa Barbara, even for locals. We recently went on the new Eat This, Shoot That! trek through the Presidio neighborhood and the new Wine Collection of El Paseo and it was so much fun.

Led by photographer and foodie Tara Jones, owner of Eat This, Shoot That!, our tour met up at the historic De la Guerra Plaza, then we made our way to Hoffmann Brat Haus in Paseo Nuevo, where we were treated to a sausage sampler, including the classic German Hoffmann Brat, the Beer Brat, the Spicy Brat and the Mango Habanero, among others. Not only was the food tasty, but Jones offered some useful photo tips like, “when photographing food you should try different angles to put the plate in the foreground and the setting in the background,” and “spritz a little bit of water or lemon on the items to make them look even more appetizing.”

Our next stop was Jamie Slone Wines, (23 E. De la Guerra St.) a beautiful tasting room where, in addition to tasting limited production varietals from the best local vineyards, they also had visual aids—big, beautiful maps—to help explain the terroir and terrain and relate it to the excellent wines we were tasting.

Jim Clendenen’s Au Bon Climat was our next stop, and his distinctive wines—we tasted Chardonnay and Pinot Noir—didn’t disappoint. Nor did our much-needed nibbles at C’Est Cheese, just a quick walk through the Presidio neighborhood. As we walked the cobblestone pathways of this historic area, Jones offered local lore about the area’s rich culture, as well as pointing out a few short cuts that were new to me!

Some of the nibbles from C'Est Cheese. #regram @fit_lexy.

Some of the nibbles from C’Est Cheese. #regram @fit_lexy.

Margerum Wine Co. was our next tasting spot. Owner/winemaker Doug Margerum (one of the top local names in the industry) was there to greet us that day, which made our stop even more special. We also enjoyed tasting wines at Grassini Family Vineyards, (El Paseo, Suite 6) always a welcoming and charming experience, and Happy Canyon Vineyard, where Executive Winemaker Sean Pitts shared both wine and horse (the family is every bit as passionate about polo as they are about wine) stories with the group.

It really was a great way to spend the afternoon! To learn more, visit EatThisShootThat.com.

Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns. Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on May 1, 2015.

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.”