Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Guide to Almost 30 Santa Barbara Sparkling Wines


France, as is its wise wont, holds tight to its names. They get Cognac, the rest of the world gets brandy, they get Champagne, we get sparkling wine. That's all about location, national pride, clever marketing; but it doesn't mean a "mere" sparkling wine can't drink as fine. Alas, even in the United States, if people think bubbly, they tend to think northern California: Roederer Estate in Anderson Valley, Mumm in Napa, Piper Sonoma, etc. (All with French roots/ties too.)

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

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Rivera Rolls On


Chef John Sedlar must have had some weird and wonderful dream about dim sum carts morphing into food trucks based on what's happening at his Rivera in downtown LA. Of course, he's always been one to invent and re-invent, none-too-modestly naming his first book Modern Southwest Cuisine. Heck, he's been the driving force behind Museum Tamal, that's how seriously he takes this food, but it seems being serious also means being playful--just check out the edible flowers pressed into the tortillas above. (And that's Indian Butter, not guacamole, because it will be the richest guac you'll ever taste.)

So this is how it works--you can order off the menu, or you can get tempted by the waiters pushing about carts that don't just carry about samples but the actual stuff you can eat, right away. And so you will be tempted and quickly fulfilled, and nothing will entice more than the butternut squash tamal, perfectly cooked and if you get a bite of the pork shoulder and squash and goat cheese all at once you will come close to ordering a second even with your mouth full, all the flavors ricocheting off of and ratcheting up the other flavors.

Of course, Rivera is the kind of restaurant that can give you quinoa and make you like it, with the regular menu flan de elote, a perfect creaminess, just firm enough and then the quinoa, black in this case so providing a fine contrast for the best-butter-yellow flan (every plate is an eyeful with Sedlar), and then also providing a bit of crunchy contrast too. Here's to more savory flans like this one.

Let's not forget that Julian Cox created cocktail list, either, with film- and music-inspired drinks like the Blood Sugar Sex Magic (rye, basil, lemon, red pepper, and not one tube sock) and the Vote for Pedro (rye, Pedro Ximinez sherry, Aperol, dandelion & burdock bitters, flamed orange).

The only thing missing might be a cart for them to roll you out on when you're done.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Santa Barbara's Perfectly Modern Wine Bar


The elements that make a wine shop a good wine shop evolve so fast it would make Charles Darwin's head spin, even before he consumed anything they sold. There's the old-timer shop, a mix of liquor and dusty wine and tequila sold in bottles shaped in everything from skulls to machine guns. There's a more recent iteration, full of inventory and people who can tell you about it, but it's sort of no-frills otherwise, and there's sadly no tasting.

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

Isla Vista's Super Bowls

Sometimes it seems restaurateurs flip a coin choosing a cuisine for new spots, with heads meaning Mexican and tails meaning pizza. That means no one, especially creativity, wins. That’s where Daniel Dunietz stands out, bringing Buddha Bowls (901 Embarcadero del Mar, (805) 961-4555, buddhabowlsiv.com) to Isla Vista.

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

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Malibu Vineyard Owners Fight Proposed Land Use Plan Changes


At a recent tasting of a dozen or so Malibu-based wineries in Westlake Village, each producer generally poured no more than two wines and provided no print material. This prime property is a land, however gorgeous, beyond the niceties of modern marketing. Part of that is these wineries -- who are making some lovely syrahs and cabernets -- have so little wine to begin with; for instance Malibu Vineyards, with its 400 case annual production, claims, "We really don't serve to the public," meaning you need to be on the list or no dice. Colcanyon Estate, at a mere two acres of vines and 103 cases a year (probably not even the amount of wine drunk at Oscar after-parties), has even less wine.

Want to read the rest--and it's a long rest--do so at KCET's Food Blog.

Hungry Cat Goes Crazy for Crabs

After nearly a decade of hosting Maryland-style Crabfests at its Hollywood location, the Hungry Cat is finally bringing the fest to Santa Barbara on August 24. “What David [Lentz, the Maryland-born Hungry Cat chef] wanted to emulate was the Maryland blue crab party,” said general manager Bob van der Veer, “a laid-back vibe with the steamed crabs spread on newspaper on the table.”

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

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Just B.E. at Benchmark

When Maggie’s at State and A closed after only 14 months in existence — didn’t it take longer to renovate the place? — the social mediascape was full of good-riddances for both the high-priced food and the restaurant’s out-of-place tapestries. Thankfully, the prime corner location is returning to a more down-home Santa Barbara vibe now that the Bennetts are in charge. The family, which also owns Brophy Bros., On the Alley, Arch Rock, the Cliff Room, and Farmer Boy Restaurant, just reopened the property as Benchmark Eatery, which is already attracting crowds for great people-watching and a wide variety of food and drinks.

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