Archive for May, 2011

Favorite Bites in Santa Barbara

Friday, May 27th, 2011

There is always a heated discussion about the best restaurants in Santa Barbara, or the best food emporium. John Dickson compiles an excellent list of eateries on his website I love John’s site, but feel there is another way to identify our favorite foods.

Think about your food experiences over the last year. Did you taste something that really caught your attention? What food made you say “wow”? I have listed 5 of my favorite bites below…

1. Tropea Pizza at Olio Pizzeria (website)

This thin crust pizza with smoked mozzarella, sausage and onion rocks!

2. Spider Roll at Shintori Sushi

The softshell crab may not be raw, but it’s great. Delicious flavor with a crunch.

3. Cocoa Nibs dipped in chocolate at Chocolate Maya (website)

These little gems are so intense. Sprinkle them on ice cream and you will float to heaven.

4. Moussaka at Metropulos (website)

This Greek classic is done to perfection; and it’s the perfect choice for a dinner party when you have no time to cook.

5. Beach Burger at Stacky’s Seaside

This casual beach shack in Summerland serves up one juicy burger, and the fries are good too!

I know many of you have eaten something memorable. My list is far from complete, so I need your input. Please add a few of your Santa Barbara favorites; the more opinions the better.

Outstanding in the Field – Ojai

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Last week I went to an event organized by Outstanding in the Field at Earthtrine Farm in Ojai, Ca. What a hoot! Outstanding in the Field is a group started in Santa Cruz, California by Jim Denevan. The concept is to hold dinners in the fields of farms, ranches and vineyards. These dinners celebrate local farmers, fishermen, winemakers, and other artisans and their products. This year they will hold about 90 dinners in over 25 states. You can visit their website here.

Our event was held at Earthtrine Farm run by BD Dautch & family. BD is a fixture at the Santa Barbara’s Farmers Market offering the finest organic produce.  They grow a wide array of herbs, fruit, and vegetables.

Farm Table

Farm Table

As you arrive at the event you are greeted with wine and appetizers. The wines were from Cantara Cellars  (website); a small family run winery owned and operated by Chris & Mike Brown. They served a crisp Albarino and a lively Tempranillo; two great choices for a sunny afternoon in the field. Four great appetizers were served. My favorite was a carrot pancake with creme fraiche, fried garlic, and carrot tops; it was so tasty.

We then went on a tour of the farm. BD discussed what he was growing, the typical hurdles he might encounter, the micro-climates, and his passion for keeping everything organic. It was interesting how he utilized the growing area between the rows of citrus; the shade from the trees provided the perfect environment for some crops.

BD discussing his farm

BD Discussing his Farm

After the short farm tour it was time to head to the table.

Time to Eat

Time to Eat

The feast was prepared by local chef Rachel Main of Main Course California. The first course was chilled lettuce soup followed by Earthtrine vegetable kimchi with lettuce and red basil. The turnips on this dish were amazing; it was candy for grown-ups. The first two courses were paired with a Chardonnay and a Syrah Rose respectively. The Rose paired really well with the acidic kimchi dish.

Serving Rose

Serving Rose

The main course was a Baja Yellowtail served with tempura Japanese turnips. These turnips were spectacular; but I seem to find anything in a tempura batter delicious. The side dish combined carrot puree and grilled sprouted broccoli. The carrot puree was my favorite dish of the evening; rich with layers of spices. We got the recipe; but we are still trying to recreate the flavors we tasted at the farm. I think there were 2 key elements that made this dish fabulous; the quality of the carrots and that they were roasted prior to pureeing. The carrots were from Dave Pommer, a local farmer from Santa Rosa. I would recommend seeking out his carrots.

Baja Yellowtail

Baja Yellowtail & Tempura Turnips

Carrot Puree & Broccoli

Carrot Puree & Sprouted Broccoli

I encourage you to check out Outstanding in the Field; odds are they will be holding a dinner near you. I had so much fun at this event I will definitely go again.

Favorite Salmon Recipes

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

Sorry for my lack of posts lately, I have been distracted studying for the Real Estate exam. I just passed the test and will soon be selling real estate in my hometown, Santa Barbara. But that doesn’t mean I’ve lost my love for all things food…

There has been so much press lately about the healthy properties of salmon. A fish so rich in Omega -3 has to be good for you. Actually, there is an equally compelling reason to eat salmon, it’s delicious. I have been cooking salmon at least once a week, and have included my two favorite recipes below. Note that the wild salmon season has just begun in Santa Barbara; but these recipes can use either wild or farm raised.

Salmon with Leeks

2 salmon fillets (6 -8 oz each)                                      2 leeks, diced

1 tbs. heavy cream                                                         1 – 2 tsp. mustard

1 lemon                                                                               1 -2 tbs. olive oil

1 tsp. dill                                                                             salt & pepper

Clean leeks thoroughly. Cut leeks lengthwise into quarters (see below) and chop into a fine dice.

Diced Leeks

Diced Leeks

In a saute pan, add olive oil, leeks, salt and pepper and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. The leeks should be soft and barely brown. Zest the lemon and reserve for later. Add the cream, mustard (1 -2 tsp. depending on your love of mustard) and the juice of one lemon to the leeks. Cook for a minute or so; the mixture should be nicely blended.

Wild King Salmon

Wild King Salmon

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Tear off a 2 foot strip of parchment paper (you can substitute aluminum foil) and place into a baking dish.  Now place the salmon on top of the parchment and add lemon zest and dill onto each. Finally add the leek mixture on top.

Salmon Dish before Cooking

Salmon Dish before Cooking

Now fold the parchment as if you were wrapping a present, and tuck the sides under to keep the package intact. See below what the parchment will look like.

Salmon in Parchment

Salmon in Parchment

Bake the salmon dish for about 20 – 25 minutes. Note that if your salmon is thick then you might need to cook for 35 – 40 minutes. Once cooked through, just plate and serve. I think you will find the salmon to be very moist and flavorful. The only tricky part of cooking salmon is knowing when it’s done. Usually I buy one fillet for the two of us, and it will weigh just under a pound. To ensure the salmon is cooked through I remove it from the oven after 20 minutes and cut it in half. This allows me to see if the salmon is cooked or needs to be returned to the oven.

The Plated Dish

The Plated Dish


Another salmon dish that you might like has a horseradish crust.

Salmon in a Horseradish Crust

2 6 -8 oz. salmon fillets                                        1 1/2 tbs. horseradish

1 tbs. Dijon mustard                                             1/2 lemon juiced

1 – 2 tbs. olive oil                                                    1 tbs. dill

4 Tbs. breadcrumbs                                              salt and pepper

Grease a baking pan with either a tablespoon of olive oil or use a cooking spray. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients except the salmon and the breadcrumbs. Coat the top of the salmon with the mixture then spread the breadcrumbs evenly over the top of each fish.

Bake the salmon dish in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Once salmon is just about cooked through, broil the dish for about a minute to brown the breadcrumbs. Serve immediately.

If you have a salmon recipe that you really enjoy, I’d love to hear about it.