Sunday, March 1, 2015

Hello Crabby!

We make dinner home often, if not often enough. So I figure we're like most people, pleased take-out exists, but quick to feel guilty, too. The plate above we made at home, but we also completely relied on the kindness of strangers. That's crab cakes over some some arugula (pretty much 4 out of 5 dishes in our house include arugula, if just in the salad alongside--peppery greens, what more could one want?). Topped with a sauce whipped up from Vegenaise, Hitching Post's Smoked Tomato Pesto (onions, garlic, smoked, tomatoes, lime juice, spices), and capers for yet more acid and texture. And then a kale-Brussels sprouts salad that's vaguely Caesar-ish and all together delish.

We even cheated on the crab cakes, buying them from the Santa Barbara Fish Market pre-made. They come from a place called Handy, based out of Maryland with crab out of Thailand, but even with all that airfare, they sure are good. Very little filler, no shell, all sweet crab. Fry 'em up in some sunflower oil (about 5 minutes a side) and they're browned and crisp and fresh.

And then you want a bit of everything in a bite, it's one of those meals. The arugula, dressed in a bit of very good olive oil (in our case from Global Gardens) and a bit of Maldon smoked sea salt, because a hint of smoke in every meal makes us feel more primal, etc., complicates the fish in lovely, uncomplicated ways. (Crab cake as zen koan.) The sauce adds richness, acid to the oil. Color. And who doesn't want more smoke and tomato on pretty much anything neutral?

Better yet, this all took nothing to do. (It helped the kale salad was left over from Friday's dinner, and what's nice is the still chilled from the fridge dressing adds an emulsified richness.) Sure, you can buy crab meat and cook up garlic and red pepper and mix it all with panko and herbs and find it doesn't hold (those recipes who pretend you can do this without any egg are just cruel teases), but if someone wants to make you no-filler good ones to buy and fry....

As for the wine, that Refugio Ranch Ineseno is a blend to make everyone love white wine, no matter how much they prefer red. Roussane over Viognier, it's all Rhone white grape goodness, rich but not too, bursting with exotic fruits and spices and making the meal more exotic than it would be on its own.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Words in Weirder Ways

So this blog is titled George Eats and it should include Drinks. And maybe writes, as that's the only eating and drinking you get to read about here.

But sometimes the writing isn't about eating and drinking as is the case today at Zocalo Public Square where I've got the poem of the day, some lines about where I lived over 20 years ago. My ode to "Centre County."

Still Stirs Your Cocktail

Once there was just a tomato, then heirlooms boomed, and now there are more than 250 varieties. Once cocktail makers only knew one bitters — Angostura — but now the world is brilliantly, broadly bitter, especially if you go and check out Still (37 E. Ortega St.; [805] 883-1080;, Santa Barbara’s new shop for barware and cocktail accessories. Among his other products, owner Jeremy Bohrer offers tastes of his many bitters, like a savory gumbo one from El Guapo in New Orleans, and then he’ll talk you through possible uses. It’s just one way this new spot at the corner of Anacapa and Ortega streets is a mixologist’s dream.

Want to read the rest then do so at the Indy's site.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

(Don't) Sip This: Viniq

Viniq: Ever have the urge to drink a lava lamp? Well, here’s your chance.

Want to read the rest then do so at the Indy's site.

World of Pinot Noir: Pairings with Mushrooms and Uni

While the annual World of Pinot Noir event might be best known for its two days of grand tastings featuring wines from over 200 producers, it also takes its job exploring the world, not just the taste, of pinot quite seriously. For instance this year's version of the annual event, to be held March 6th and 7th at the Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara, has scheduled a Foodie Frenzy Seminar Pairing, exploring a classic pinot noir match with mushrooms, along with a push of the spiky envelope -- uni.

Want to read the rest then do so at KCET's Food Blog.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Sip This: Mezcal Amarás

Mezcal Amarás: Mezcal might be having its moment, and this import by Anchor Distilling certainly will help convert anyone assuming mezcal is merely tequila’s burlier, brawnier cousin. It’s a joven (young) style made from 100% Espadín agave from Oaxaca. Amarás translates as “you will love,” and that’s not just advertising bluster — think of this as a smooth, sipping tequila with campfire notes (anyone a fan of peaty Islay scotch wants to get this mezcal immediately).

Want to read the rest then do so at the Indy's website.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Designing a Wine List for Different Restaurant Scenes

It might be easy to imagine away, with the pull of a cork or two, all the work it takes to be Wine Director for the Toscana Group's restaurants Toscana and Bar Toscana in Brentwood, and SY Kitchen in Santa Ynez. But first you have to account for the years of study. For Emily Johnston, the person who is that Wine Director, that meant studying French and Italian in college, then wine at ALMA Scuola Internazionale di Cucina's Wine Academy in Parma, Italy. As she puts it, "There's a lot of work that goes behind putting together and maintaining a wine list, from spread sheets to inventory. It's not just sitting around under the sun drinking wine."

Want to read the rest then do so at KCET's Food Blog.