Archive for the ‘Santa Barbara’ Category

Carrots – Boil, Steam or Roast?

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

While we are all anticipating the arrival of Spring vegetables, I think we still have a few more weeks. I suggest that we stick to the classics like carrots. But should we boil, steam or roast them?


I prefer roasted carrots because the caramelization heightens the flavor. Usually I just add olive oil, dill, salt and pepper and roast the carrots at a high temperature. But I have 2 other variations that you might find interesting.

To brighten the flavor of the carrots, while also adding a touch of sweetness, I add a few splashes of pear or fig vinegar (Il Fustino is a good for vinegars)to the above mixture.

Another way to roast your carrots is to add spices; which will  add more complexity. I add cumin, coriander, paprika, and a touch cayenne pepper. These Turkish seasonings add an earthiness and a bit of zip.



Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

The temperature is warmer today in NYC, and the fruit and vegetable vendors have returned to the streets. That’s excellent news because I need strawberries. These vendors have multiplied in recent years; and they can now be found all over Manhattan.

Fruit Vendor in NYC

I was spoiled when I lived in Santa Barbara because the strawberries were grown locally and always tasted delicious. In NYC, supermarkets dominate the produce landscape; and they all promote one brand of strawberries – Driscoll’s. I think they are overpriced and tasteless. I am going to continue to buy my strawberries from the street vendor. He typically offers better quality at a bargain price.

Why strawberries in January? I eat them daily for breakfast, but why not serve them for dessert with an aged balsamic vinegar.

Fresh Mussels

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

The Farmers Market in Santa Barbara has over 70 vendors featuring some of the finest organic produce that you will find anywhere. My favorite vendor is SB Mariculture who sells mussels and oysters. They farm mussels twice a week and sell them at the market every Saturday morning.

Mussels are healthy, easy to cook, inexpensive, and most importantly delicious. You can prepare mussels in 10 minutes…and it’s foolproof. There are many mussel recipe variations, but I keep things simple. Here is a recipe for 2 people:

3# Mussels

3 Leeks, chopped

2 Tbs. Olive Oil

1 Tsp. Butter (if desired)

1 Cup of White Wine

1 Tsp. Thyme

1 Tbs. Parsley, chopped

First clean the mussels if your seafood shop does not. Clean and chop the leeks, using only the white part of the leeks. Add olive oil (and butter if desired) to a tall stock pot and heat. Add leeks and a pinch of salt and pepper and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.


Once the leeks have softened, add thyme and white wine and cook until the wine boils, about a minute. Now add the mussels and cover the pan. After 3 minutes shake the pot leaving the lid in place. The mussels are cooked after 5 minutes of cooking. When you remove the lid all the mussels should be open (toss any that didn’t open). Add the chopped parsley to the pot and serve.

Serve the mussels with some crunchy French bread and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Enjoy!

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.