Annual Culture, Food and Wine Extravaganza on The American Riviera
Epicure.SB is an exciting time to succumb to Santa Barbara’s charms: the warm sea air, the swaying palm trees, the pervasive sense of history, the lavish surroundings, and the lively street scenes and night-life. There are hundreds of events throughout the county during the month of October: docent-led tours of historic buildings, pumpkin patch horse-drawn wagon rides, Reagan Ranch exhibits, early bird flea market (we PG people resonate with re-use, re-cycle, re-purpose), Savor Solvang, teen programs: music, poetry storytelling—plus a myriad of other cultural, food, and wine special menus and venues. My friend, Lois, and I got excited at our prospects and answered the siren’s call.
It’s a beautiful drive down Hwy 101, through the Salinas Valley, stopping for a picnic lunch at the park in downtown Paso Robles. But a little road-weary after four hours driving, I’m thinking I might take Amtrak next time—the historic station, with its famous Moreton Fig, is smack downtown. I usually make a rest stop at one of the State Parks just before (Gaviota SP, Refugio SB, or El Capitán SB), to stretch and to stop vibrating from the road, before entering town. (Purchase an Annual Day Use permit from parks.ca.gov—supports the parks and is economical if you visit more than four parks a year.)
Lois and I felt at home in The Eagle Inn, 232 Natoma Ave., billed as Santa Barbara’s best kept secret. Large, luxurious, and spacious, it also has the charm of an intimate B&B. Quiet, near downtown and the wharf, and just a three minute walk to catch the State Street Trolley. www.theeagleinn.com
Naturally, enjoying good meals from local ingredients was the larger part of our weekend. Sicilian-owned Olio y Limone Restaurante, 11 W. Victoria St., and, like our own Joe Rombi’s La Piccola Casa and Favaloro’s Café Ariana, the Olio Pizzeria is adjacent. www.olioelimone.com
Impeccable service by Silvie of the EpicureSB Prix Fixe Menu of local SB seafood: Five courses: $85, includes wine with each course; $65 without wine.)
EPICURE.SB – Walking Tour of Downtown Historic Arts District
Meet Bryn Stemberg, our “eye-candy” SB homeboy, and guide for SB Adventure Company. We met up with Bryn at the historic Granada Theatre on State Street and spent three hours taking the Santa Barbara Food and Wine Walking Tour in the Downtown Historic Arts District. Bryn also leads kayaking and biking tours. sbadventureco.com
Lois and I are disciples of Dr. Joel Fuhrman (eattolive.com), and just beginning the process of becoming vegan. We’re interested in sleuthing out the high nutrient foods he says will cure all our ills—and keep us young! Makes total sense to me. We found what we were looking for—and more of course.
The Arts & Letters Café, 7 East Anapamu St. Chef Avery Hardin transforms local organic and sustainably-produced foods into his own incredibly delicious creations. The Café is part of a complex that includes a bookstore plus The Sullivan-Goss Gallery, featuring local artwork. artsandletterscafe.com sullivangoss.com
Cest Cheese, 825 Santa Barbara St. Owner-operater, Kathryn Graham. All Organic Cheese Sampler: Mt Tam Triple Crème Brie, Cowgirl Creamery, Pt Reyes Station; walnuts and toasted crostini; Wagon Wheel Swiss, Cowgirl; dried pears; Seascape Gouda Style, Central Coast Creamery, Paso Robles; and soft dried apricots. (Not vegan, but delicious—cheese is a hard one to give up. I haven’t found a satisfactory substitute. Anyone?) cestcheese.com
After three hours enjoying the manicured streets with historic sights and an eclectic collection of people, I happily sampled organic and award-winning SB wines:
Au Bon Climat, 813 Anacapa Street. Not a Chardonnay fan, but enjoyed the one pictured. aubonclimat.com
Oreana Winery, 205 Anacapa Street. oreanawinery.com
Both are located in “The Funk Zone,” a mixed use area east of State Street, which is similar to our own Sand City arts habitat. funkzone.net
SANTA BARBARA FAVORITE VEGETARIAN/VEGAN CHOICES!
Sojourner Café, 134 East Canon Perdido St., still open (I gave them 5 stars in my 2007 California Healthy guide book), and still busy serving wholesome foods, including vegetarian and vegan. sojournercafe.com
Restaurant Julienne, 138 East Canon Perdido St., opened next door in 2008 with similar organic and sustainable fare, and is equally popular. restaurantjulienne.com
Adama Vegan Restaurant and Bakery (gluten-free), 428 Chapala St. A sampling of the dinner menu: Shepherd’s Pie, Pizza, Nachos, Vegan “KFC” $16: southern fried gardein, mashed potatoes, gravy, cole slaw, sauteed greens. (Pretty good for faux chicken.) adamavegan.com
The SB Walk’s Grande Finale!
Santa Barbara Independent’s 2012“Winner Santa Barbara’s Best Chocolatier”
Now here is something we really could use in Pacific Grove—a franchise of Chocolate Maya! Owned by Maya Schoop-Rutten (yes, that’s her name), who is from Switzerland and used to bring chocolates from there to her friends in Santa Barbara. “Imports changed to exports,” she said, “when young American people got interested in making handmade, good chocolates, from sustainable, local, and eco-orchards and farmers in different countries around the globe.”
Viola! Her gift to us is a store absolutely packed full of different and all divine, forms and tastes of chocolates from around the world. I asked her what she did with unsold handmade chocolates (they only keep for two weeks after making). “We eat them!” she said. Maya enjoys her role of combining making people happy with educating them on the roles of bean-to-bar production. Go there if you travel to no other wonder of the world in your lifetime. chocolatemaya.com
Can we please do this on the PG ArtWalk? It’s an evening art party/lesson at The Painted Cabernet, 1229 State Street. This combination boutique and art studio gives painting lessons and provides everything you need: 16” x 20” canvas, paint, brushes, easels and aprons. The $40 fee includes a complimentary beverage, including a glass of house wine. Many bottles of wine were purchased throughout the merry-painting-making. Our lesson was to paint an impression of an impressionist, in this case, Van Gogh’s Starry Night. It was party time! paintedcabernet.com
I really enjoyed the wine–painting–young people party, but carrying my canvas back to The Eagle Inn, I felt it was longing for a different fate than I intended. It’s now proudly decorating the top of a bank of newspaper vending machines somewhere on State Street (unless Waste Management carted it away by mistake!).
On the road again
We headed home after breakfast lattes and organic buckwheat waffles at D’Angelo’s Bakery, a locals’ hangout at 25 W. Gutierrez Street. To prolong our visit and make the beautiful morning last just a little longer, at El Capitan SP we took a stroll along the beach. OMIGOD! We were rewarded and totally delighted when Lois spotted diving, leaping, and feeding dolphins. A dozen dolphins so close to shore—and me without my camera.
The trip home always go by faster than the trip getting there—doesn’t it? It’s lovely to be back on the Peninsula. Back to enchanted, foggy PG days—and actively pursuing Dr. Fuhrman’s inspired goal of high nutrient eating!
You don’t have to wait until October 2013 to enjoy Santa Barbara. The next major festival is the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in Jan/Feb 2013. “Given its knack for predicting Academy Award® winners, a proximal distance to Los Angeles and timing close to the big event, this year the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) will once again establish itself as the preeminent Oscar® film festival.” www.sbiff.org Hmmmm…
FEB-MAR 2012 I’ll be taking a flight with Donna Love for two months in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico! So excited! I’ve only ever gone for 30 days at a time; will I come back? Donna, Joan, Betsy, Bernadette and I will launch our new book with 81 women’s stories, “Our Stories of Alamos, A Pueblo Magico!” on February 13, now available on Amazon.com South of the Border–you will love it–www.womenofalamosmexico.com