Friday, January 20, 2012

Santa Barbara's Newest Hot Spot

Cielito's has only been open a few weeks and already been visited by many stars including Katy Perry and Andrew Firestone. Cielito definitely has a lively ambiance and along with the high ceilings and beautiful craftsmanship all around you really feel like you are on a night out on the town! The Cielito margarita, a classic one, is officially addictive - nice and sour with the perfect proportions of ingredients.
Perched at one of the two high tops in the main dining area, Caroline and I enjoyed all the people watching and the fact that though it was quite crowded, we could still hear each other over the chatter of other tables and the bar. We began our meal with the trio of ceviches: Coctel de Atun Tropical- Yellow-fin tuna, mango-grapefruit salsa, citrus broth. Ceviche Verde- Local halibut, olives, avocado, red onion, pickled cabbage, tomatillo-serrano sauce, plaintain chips. Ceviche Peruano- Sea bass, aji amarillo pepper, red onion, red jalapeno, cucumber, crispy choclo, sweet potato, lime-ginger sauce. All equally delicious.
Caroline then enjoyed the Tortilla soup which was poured in the bowl at the table so as to keep the crunch of the tortilla slivers. The broth was full of flavor and the entire dish very satisfying.
Perhaps not the choice I should have made with such a wonderful menu in front of me, but sometimes you just feel like a little green... I found this salad just alright. Ensalada de Invierno - Roasted beet carpaccio, pomegranates, goat cheese, piloncillo candied walnuts, grilled winter fruit, honey-pomegranate vinaigrette.
Seen below is the Tamal de Requeson y Acelgas - Two corn tamales steamed in corn husks, fresh Ricotta cheese, Swiss chard, thick cream, roasted tomatillo sauce. I consider this one of those dishes you end up right good.
Next...Cazuela de Calabacitas - roasted poblano, corn succotash, fresh cream, fresh cheese, cilantro. Once again, delicious. I love how this is a unique dish and how all the flavors marry so wonderfully. The poblano can be a bit hot for my weak heat tolerance, but I kept eating it anyhow as the flavors drew me back in for more.
Bravo Cielito! The service was stellar, the ambiance alive and welcoming, and the food original and full of wonderful flavors...I'll be back for more! And one of your margaritas...or two...

Cielito is located at 1114 State Street in La Arcada (and has a taqueria too open at lunch...)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Eating Italian in Santa Barbara

Once again, Via Maestra 42 wins my heart and stomach. This super authentic dish was sinfully divine. Buckwheat pasta, spinach, potatoes (?!), and chunks of melted cheese mixed in. I can't for the life of me remember the name of the cheese, but it was a lot like Gruyere in the sense that it had tons of flavor, quite strong, and melted in the same way. Wow. All in a super light, creamy cheesy sauce.
Via Maestra is located at 3343 State Street.

Olio e Limone is definitely what I consider one of the best special occasion restaurants in Santa Barbara. Beautiful white linens, dark wood, and wine bottles all around, the atmosphere enhances the fine dining experience to come. The wait staff is attentive yet not fussing over your table.
One of my favorite dishes which I seem to order practically every time I eat there is the Mache salad (lamb's lettuce), lightly dressed with lemon and olive oil, surrounded with white anchovies. I love it for its simplicity.
One of the specials that night was Sole beautifully prepared in a lemon, butter, sauce.
Not many places in town serve veal carpaccio...yum...
Even in January we somehow have quite red tomatoes. Fresh mozzarella and vibrant basil, this classic combo never gets old.
As my main course, I enjoyed the other daily special of local halibut served over potatoes and sauteed oyster mushrooms, all covered in a lobster sauce. Quite decadent indeed! I felt the portion was extremely large, but the flavors were quite wonderful.
Desserts flew around the table and included cannolis (a table favorite), a crème brulée, banana chocolate cake, and the pear personal favorite.
I have always and continue to enjoy dining at Olio e Limone. It's more than just going out to eat, you are going to have a wonderful dining experience. Not feeling like a big spender? Their pizzeria next door is insanely satisfying...

Olio e Limone is located at 11 West Victoria Street #17