Saturday, May 24, 2014

El Encanto for Lunch

The recently renovated El Encanto Hotel holds much history and charm as well as remarkable views. Their terrace restaurant is a lovely place to have a fancy lunch. And after lunch, make sure to walk around the grounds and admire all the architectural details and landscaping.
You know it's fancy when they serve two kinds of butter. European and pepper sage infused. A bit over the top and unnecessary in my opinion.
I went there on two occasions and the first time I enjoyed their BLT. Pretty straight forward sandwich, with ample bacon.
The passion of the chef, I believe, lies in the true courses, not in the sandwiches and salads. During our second visit, I chose the roasted Jidori chicken breast with market vegetables and brown butter mashed potatoes was glorious. The sauce, the vegetables, the butter and sage, all had layers of flavors that required many steps and time to achieve. As you can see, I dove right into it before taking a photo.
My mother had the Seared Ahi Tuna salad with ginger soy vinaigrette. Which she enjoyed, but didn't find special by any means.
Though I normally do not order dessert, I had a bit of a hankering for crème brûlée. It was delectable. The photo makes it look like a deep bowl of brûlée, but the custard was really thin and the sugar crust perfectly breakable. A compressed apple pile on top as well as milk ice cream. The white chocolate stick on top was over kill. Great expressos too.

Perhaps the service is excessive with people checking in all the time to make sure you are okay and there are even little "seats" for your purse, but overall it's a fun experience and if you stick to real dishes, you'll feel like you ate something special.

El Encanto
800 Alvarado Pl, Santa Barbara, CA 93103
(805) 845-5800

Monday, May 19, 2014

Olio Crudo Bar

The Olio empire in Santa Barbara does not disappoint. Their newest addition to their fine dining restaurant and their pizzeria is the Olio Crudo Bar. Beautiful shades of amber fill the small space. Though quite pricey, the food is excellent. Olio treats ingredients with respect and sticks to simplicity.

Instead of bread, you receive these very light toasts which go perfectly with their sashimi and raw dishes as well as their cooked ones.
The Polipo, seen above, was delectable. The octopus was the perfect consistency. None of that super chewy, not-so-fresh seafood here. Placed on new potatoes, thinly sliced aside a frisée lettuce pile lightly dressed in olive oil and lemon. Lightly sprinkled with spicy Controne pepper, each bite was a delight.
The Hamachi (Yellowtail) carpaccio was also very fresh as anything raw should be. Lightly dressed in a soy-ginger sauce.
A true classic, Vitello Tonato is a true test of Italian cooking. The tuna sauce was light and creamy and the veal ever so thinly sliced. Together - yum.
Pictured above is their Creamy Burrata mozzarella, American paddlefish caviar, crumbled egg, red onion, and chives. I have never had a flavor combination like this before. Who knew caviar and mozzarella married so well! A wonderful surprise and one I highly recommend.

If you are willing to spend a little more and you are not starving, Olio Crudo Bar is a gourmet goody. They have a full bar with twists on classic cocktails.

Olio Crudo Bar
11 West Victoria Street
Open daily from 5:00pm

Friday, September 13, 2013

Feeling Lucky in SB

I finally ventured into Lucky Penny in Santa Barbara's Funk Zone, with my trusty four legged friend, and discovered yet another welcoming spot in this corner of our wonderful town. La Colombe is their coffee of choice and it tastes mighty good to me!
Caper (The Dog) had to wait for me to order my drink. Though not allowed inside, dogs are allowed on the patio.

Take a peek inside The Lark's kitchen as you sit on the patio. There is always something happening in Santa Barbara's hottest new be reviewed soon...
There are creative details everywhere, including bathtubs and wall fountains filled with plants.

A silver bowl for the pooch! Wow!
And now I share with you the most amazing creative thing about Lucky Penny - the building is covered in pennies! Whoever figured out how to make a wall of pennies is quite the creative genius.
Lucky Penny is not only a coffee place, it is also a pizza joint with its very own, very hot pizza oven cranking out fresh pizzas daily. Grab a pizza to-go or enjoy it straight out of the oven out on the patio. They also make sandwiches and salads, which I have not tried, but they sure sounded tasty.
The people working there are kind and smiling. Check it out for yourself and bon appétit!

Lucky Penny
127 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara, California 93101
Hours 7:00 am - 9:00 pm
Phone 805-284-0358

Friday, September 6, 2013

Taste of Paris at Les Marchands

Santa Barbara's FunkZone has officially become THE place to go on the weekend...or any day really! One of the newest additions is Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant. Filled with wonderful decorative details, Les Marchands sells a fantastic selection of local and international wines (and beers!) and serves up wonderful share plates, wines, and beer in the wine bar.
Beautiful antiques are used as serving stations adding a bit of old world flare. At one point during our time there, there was a champagne bucket filled, with bottle in it, hanging out in front of the piece seen below, making me feel like I was in a brasserie of old in Paris.
 Neat details around every corner.

Ah, a jambon beurre. They've done a great job with this Parisian classic. The baguette comes from a bakery in Santa Ynez and is filled with prosciutto, European butter, and sea salt. Took me back...well done!
The house cured salmon with a tarragon creme fraiche seen below was fresh and wonderfully balanced allowing the salmon flavors to come through paired with light tarragon hints.
They have a beautiful wine selection of both local and international wines. On the blackboard, you'll find a selection of wines specially open that day.
Marinated white tuna, watercress, lemon vinaigrette. Fresh and simple.
No matching silverware to be found. Fantastic touch!
One of the beers on the menu that many people were ordering on the toasty day we ventured in. Refreshing indeed!
Can't wait to go back!

Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant
131 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara, California 93101
(805) 284-0380
Mon - Thu: 11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Fri - Sat: 11:00 am - 12:00 am
Sun: 11:00 am - 10:00 pm

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tea Time at Savoy Deli

Savoy Deli serves up fresh goodies prepared daily. Their deli holds creative, fresh salads and made-to-order sandwiches. I love a tuna salad sandwich on ciabatta bread. Their tuna salad is quite unique, with bits of fresh apple and nuts in there. But my favorite thing to order there is tea. They serve their loose leaf tea in wonderful little cast iron tea pots and each person gets an unmatched set of cup and saucer. Pair the Earl Grey with the ginger molasses cookie and you're in for a relaxing moment indeed.

Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives show, with Guy Fieri, came to town and made a stop at Savoy Deli. Pretty neat!

Savoy Deli
24 West Figueroa
Monday-Saturday 7:30am-8:30pm
Sunday 7:30am-5:00pm

Friday, July 19, 2013

Kinfolk Honey Event

Everyone! We need to save the bees! Without them, basically nothing gets pollinated. Nothing gets pollinated, nothing grows, and there is no food. Not a good plan. Our dear bees are dying because of pesticides and other toxic things 'popping up' in our environment. The balance is broken! One way to help is to get a beehive. This is one thing we learned at Kinfolk's Honey Event. What a joy it was to see such passionate people speak about their love: bees. On top of infusing our own honey, we were served a delicious, local ingredient lunch on a perfectly decorated table. Kinfolk, you always know how to throw a fabulous party...

 A beautiful bee, hard at work.

 Our very own honey bottle.
 Infusing station.
 The menu, by Kim Schiffer, with reusable utensils.

 Gluten free breaded chicken on salad full of edible flowers.
 Cheese plate including goat cheese made the night prior!
Coconut sorbet and lime basil infused melon.

If you don't know Kinfolk Magazine, you should check it out because they are an inspiration and capture all that I hold dear: friends, gatherings, hospitality, sharing special moments with special people and so much more...

Kinfolk is bringing a series of events to Santa Barbara that they are calling Fruitful Collaborations. Check out the next ones here and get tickets soon as they are small, intimate gatherings!

Oh, the fun to be had! See you there!

Monday, April 8, 2013


I have been eating Pierre Lafond Montecito Market Chocolate Chip Walnut cookies for 23 years now. They are officially my favorite cookie in Santa Barbara. The Earthquake cookie (all chocolate with chocolate chips and powdered sugar all over it...) is a close second, but nothing beats a classic like this one. Perfectly chewy and oh so satisfying...

Pierre Lafond Montecito Market
516 San Ysidro Road, 805.565.1502 
Open: 6:00am - 8:00pm Every Day