Friday, September 30, 2016

Can You Dig It?

Sure, the pure products of America go crazy. We can buy a separate something for any time and casually toss it away in no time. But the damn things can be fun, too.

Take the photo above. On the left, Hochstadter's Slow & Low Rock & Rye, about which I've already written, but not quite like this. For now you can buy it in single serving 100ml cans, the first ever high proof cocktail wrapped in tin for your pop-topping enjoyment. They're tiny, too, easy to hide--in a Christmas stocking, Cooper Spirits Company already suggests (welcome, holiday shoppers!)--but we all know better. These are going to be huge hits with people on the road, at work, and those who aren't supposed to be drinking (I can put this pre-made cocktail anywhere and it won't spill!).

That said, it is a tasty devil. As I put it last time: "This reinvention of an 1884 recipe adds honey, oranges, Angostura bitters, and rock candy — the nicest way to say sugar, ever — to straight rye whiskey. Nowhere near as gimmicky as it sounds since it starts with a fine rye base and is amped up to 100 proof, this is basically an old fashioned in a bottle; just add ice and an orange peel." OK, make that a can, and who needs the ice or peel? Let it rip. (Maybe, if you're being sophisticated and all, put it in the fridge a bit.)

On the right, in the photo above, you see the Peugeot Les Impitoyables Whisky Tasting Set. Sure, at this point in glass-making someone is out there trying to sell you a different glass to hold the water that you use to rinse out your mouth out after brushing your teeth, so it's easy to be skeptical. But this Peugeot has got some quite clever design. First, that's a metal disc under the glass that cradles the glass well. You store that in the freezer, and then the glass stays cold without any ice. (Of course I go off instructions and store the glass in the freezer too, which might be extreme, but it's been summer.) (Santa Barbara does too have a summer.) So, you get a nice chill without any dilution. And the leather coaster keeps the cold metal from messing up any of your tables, or your work desk, if you like to write with a finger or two of something delightful as a muse.

The glass shape is clever, too, what with the wide reservoir for good swirling to get the scents a-roving toward your nose, and then the chimney that helps whisk it right there. Sure worked for a can of Slow & Low Rock & Rye. Which defeats the purpose of the can, I know. But using two products at once made me feel truly patriotic.

Viva Brings New Life to La Arcada

Brendan Searls is already well-known in Santa Barbara for his role in such establishments as Video Shmideo, Bogart’s, and Dargan’s, but these days, he is most excited about his latest challenge: Viva Modern Mexican Cuisine, located in the La Arcada spot previously occupied by Cielito. “This is truly a hidden gem — we could be in Barcelona, we could be in Prague, we could be in Mexico City,” said Searls, whose official opening weekend was in August during Fiesta. “Where else in this town can you sit and people watch, watch turtles, and not have to deal with traffic?”

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

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Taking It Lion Down

Pleased as the punch they often serve you for free as they're just that nice and good at The Good Lion that I got to be the call-out quote in Gabe Saglie's fine (of course, it's Gabe!) article about a Santa Barbara jaunt in West Hollywood Magazine this Autumn issue.

The link is here, and then scroll along to page 89 for the quote and 84 for the beginning of the story.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Talkin' and Readin' Feast Days

Recently I sat down and chatted with KCSB News, in particular the very talented Lisa Osborn, who asked me about Feast Days and had me read a couple of poems. You can listen in to the segment here.

Red Blends Trend Terrifically Tasty

Since Santa Barbara County is so good at growing so many varietals of grapes so well (more than 50, if you cared to know), it makes sense its winemakers start to wonder, “What will happen if we put a bit of varietal A with some of varietal B?” Often that algebra of blending might mix varietals G, S, and M, but we’ll get to that. 

Recently the Vintners Association hosted a tasting at Santa Barbara’s delightful and delicious Barbareño that featured 13 wineries pouring 33 red blends that attested to the palates and creativity in the region. While the red blends tend to play in century-old patterns begun by the French – people generally either mix Bordeaux grapes or Rhone grapes together – of course there’s always a wildcard or two.

Want to read the rest then do so at the Santa Barbara Vintners blog.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Liquor Companies Love to Love You, Baby

So there’s a wonder-material fabric bracelet attached to my wrist that I’m not supposed to take off for six days, despite my wrist being attached to my body in the humidor that’s New Orleans in July — no doubt a clever inventor’s inspiration for the steam room. I’ll have to use the chip in the bracelet to sign electronically into and out of rooms, so it’s either a harbinger of a creepy future or a sign someone’s really worried about losing me.

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

(Yep, this is my Indy overview of Tales of the Cocktail--the gift that keeps giving.)

The 2016 Foodie Awards

Somehow it's the seventh year of these, an idea I dreamed up way back when I was the Indy's Food Editor--that they needed a food equivalent for their Indy Awards they give to local theater. We've got a lot to be very thankful for around these tasty parts. (And a word about qualifying--we try to make a place be open for a year before they get one, just to be sure they've got a bit of staying power. We'd rather be late a year or two than too early....)


This year, when we polled our staff, contributors, and trusted cadre of restaurant-loving friends, more than 30 nominations poured in for our seventh annual Foodie Awards, from the priciest places in town all the way to tasty, much-easier-on-the-wallet taquerías.

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