Wednesday, May 17, 2023

A Bright Bite from the Islands (via Harlem)

Given Santa Barbara is lallygagging through a grayest of Mays (yeah, I know, we suffer so here in mostly paradise), it's time to figure out ways to force feed ourselves some sunshine. No big surprise that one of my favorite ways to do so is with the help of a potent potable. Of course, even potent potables need helpers, too.

Enter Uncle Waithley's, a newish brand of ginger beer. Not to bore you with what you know, but ginger beer: 1) isn't alcohol, despite the "beer" part; 2) is much zippier than the more common ginger ale, as the ginger and sugar gets fermented together, while ginger ale tends to be a soda product with ginger flavoring added later in the process.

Uncle Waithley's take all of that very seriously, with a product that begs for marketing historical spinning. As they put it, "A family recipe developed by mixologist Karl Franz Williams and inspired by his grandfather, Uncle Waithley, who lived his entire life on the enchanting island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines." Ah, lineage and the allure of the Caribbean. 

The better news is it's not just a good story. This is punchy stuff, mostly because it has a couple of unusual kinks. First, it's got turmeric, and if you use that at home, you probably have something stained vivid yellow-orange you didn't want stained. Here, it gives the beverage a enticing hue, and some of the earthy spice you've grown to know and love in curries.

But there's more spice, too, as Uncle Waithley's also features Scotch bonnet peppers for a real kick. Not every carbonated beverage can get rated in Scoville units. To be fair, it's more heat than hot, but it also is a refreshing surprise than requires you to keep quenching your thirst.

Given that pepper-push, in the photo above you see two Mexican Mules, a variation of the more standard Moscow Mule that swaps in tequila for vodka. Chill those copper mugs (or a rocks glass if you aren't that fancy), crush a bunch of ice, pour 2 oz. of tequila per cup, add a good amount of ice in each, top with Uncle Waithley's (you hope for a 3-2 ratio of ginger beer to booze, but don't sweat it--the cup will do that for you). Add 1/2 oz. of lime juice to each, and also a wedge of lime for more squeezing. 

Truly delish. Can't imagine how good it will be if the temperature ever breaks 67° here. (And yes, they sent me free samples.)

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Alex Prud’homme Captures Our Culinary Commanders-in-Chief


Despite looking somewhat like a fuzzy hard-boiled egg himself, Dwight Eisenhower oversaw one of the most interesting culinary programs in White House history and was probably the best president-cook. That’s the kind of tidbit you’ll learn by attending a May 18 soiree showcasing journalist Alex Prud’homme, author of the recently published Dinner with the President: Food, Politics, and a History of Breaking Bread at the White House. While you’re sipping on reverse martinis and noshing on Field + Fort nibbles inspired by his book, Prud’homme will regale the crowd with, as he puts it, “gastronomic political history.”

The event, hosted by Taste of Santa Barbara, sports local hooks too, even if the 478-page book only touches down at Ronald Reagan’s Rancho del Cielo — a k a the Western White House — for a mere two pages. That’s because Prud’homme’s great-aunt is Julia Child, and he co-wrote her memoir My Life in France.

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

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Where There’s Fuego, There’s Humo: Santa Barbara Couple Starts Mezcal Brand


Ask Elliott Reese what’s the one thing everyone should know about mezcal, and he answers, “That it’s not tequila; it’s honestly better than tequila. I know that’s subjective, but if you want an agave spirit — neat — you can’t beat mezcal.”

For some, those might be fighting words, but Reese knows of what he speaks. Earlier this year, he and his wife, Karen, launched the mezcal brand Fuego y Humo and are eager to share their love for this distilled spirit in Santa Barbara and beyond. After working with José Manuel Méndez, a third-generation mezcalero in Oaxaca, their artisanal brand is currently offering three varietals of mezcal and a terrific story.

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

Natty and Bratty: Natural Coast Wine Fest


It would be too glib to say the qualifications for hosting a table at the first Natural Coast Wine Fest on a gorgeous Saturday, April 22, was that you had to pour an orange wine or a pét-nat. Then again, there sure were a lot of them, many delicious, if often funky in the friendliest of ways. Given this was the actual Earth Day, and one of the first weekends after our surprisingly sodden winter, the fest seemed like an open-armed embrace of sunnier seasons. Especially since so many of the wines, even the reds, tasted best with a slight chill, eager to help us lubricate summer afternoons with friends on the porch.

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