Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Botanic Garden Brings in the Beer

No matter how carefully you control yourself, beer festivals tend to become exercises in overindulgences, without much encouragement to stop and smell the roses, let alone the redwoods. The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden will attempt to remedy that reality by becoming the Santa Barbara Beer Garden on February 22.

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

Chef Budi Kazali Lives Wild, Eats Gourmet

In between the occasional buzzing of helicopters above, the Ballard Inn’s Budi Kazali is making gourmet food look easy despite cooking on a sizzling should-be-summer day in January on mobile stoves outdoors at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. He’s taping an episode of his The Inn Crowd TV program, and while the menu features typical fare like halibut, its true stars are items like manzanita, toyon, elderberries, cattail pollen, and oak nut flour.

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

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Bob Dickey: Ace Wine Photographer

It's awards and festival season, so a time for red carpets and the furious flashes of countless photographers. But not all cameras are aimed at Hollywood hotshots -- some are pointed at grapes and other stars of the wine industry. And in Southern California, one of the most acclaimed wine photographers is Bob Dickey: his photos appear in countless publications and on winery web sites; his work often the official visuals for the Santa Barbara Vintners Association.

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

Win This Restaurant: Pace Could Be Yours

The Snyder family of Pace food + drink is so good at the restaurant game, their eldest son, Ryan, was born on trade. Back when Jeff Snyder owned San Francisco’s RSVP Restaurant, people would exchange services for dinners — even ob-gyns. “Not in our day and age,” recalled his wife, Kim Snyder, “but 29 years ago, it was possible.”

The Snyders’ latest baby has been the 50-seat Pace itself, which they opened at 413 State Street in February 2012 to instant acclaim, including a Foodie Award from this newspaper. Prior to that, Jeff worked at L’Auberge del Mar in San Diego, but the family wanted a spot of their own. After some false starts, this property came on the market and was ideal. “An open kitchen, right on State Street, and who doesn’t want to live in Santa Barbara?” said Jeff. “We were doing it as a family and wanted to set the boys up.” Those boys, Ryan and Cole, “poured their hearts and souls into it for two years,” said Jeff, but it turns out restaurants are not what they want to do.

Instead of just selling the business, though, the Snyders are going to give it away. “We want to find someone passionate about this business and give them an opportunity of a lifetime,” said Jeff. That opportunity includes the restaurant and beer and wine license; the lease paid for a year; insurances paid for a year; $20,000 in working capital to help cover expenses; and mentoring from the Snyders. “After 35 years in this business, this is our opportunity to give back — it’s like Pay It Forward,” insisted Jeff. “If we can come downtown in a year or two and walk into the restaurant we used to own and it’s a success, then we did our job. I can’t even imagine how we’ll feel.”

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

Or enter the contest and learn more at Pace's site directly.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Be Bold with Your Wine Choices on Valentine's Day

Not that you're nervous, but you're not sure if you applied deodorant, or brushed your teeth, twice -- perhaps it was both. You know Valentine's Day is all Hallmark trumped up, but you can't help yourself, and you're all caught up in the spirit that this has to be the most romantic evening of the year. Which just happens to be the same night 98% of the world is thinking the same thing, so you all descend on the same restaurants (hip, dark, happening, loud enough you need to talk close). Then it comes time to order wine, and panic sets in.

Luckily, I decided to help by turning to an expert, Branden Bidwell, Wine Director at Santa Barbara's famed Wine Cask (its Gold Room is romantic as all get-out, btw). Bidwell knows all about wine and knows how to make you feel comfortable, too -- he's no snob-melier, as it were -- so his advice is precious.

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

Monday-Night Magic at Les Marchands

On a Monday night not long ago, while the rest of the world was engrossed in the college football championship, I was instead considering, with a handful of wise others, the glories of champagne and soul food. We were inside the Funk Zone’s Les Marchands, and could not have cared less about the end zone, for we were, enjoying — and that’s perhaps too mild a word — tastes of three exquisite bubblies alongside fried chicken, collards, and French fries from Foodie Award–winning chef Weston Richards of Spare Parts fame. This was just one entry in Les Marchands’s Monday Night Flight series, a weekly adventure in wining and dining.

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