Tuesday, May 29, 2007 

Mr. Feisty is Gone

He was just a little, blue (with a little dash of red) guy but he was pretty much my constant companion for the past three years. I got him on my birthday for free....from a, what was then, new pet store in Tujunga. I fell for the sales pitch hook, line and sinker. Free fish...but $40 dollars worth of fishy accoutrement later you realize you've been had. I fell for this little fish, too.

I named him Mr. Feisty because, well...he simply was. He'd try to bite me when I fed him. He'd play with his food...sucking it in then spitting it out, often right out of the water. Pattoooiieeeee! He'd charge the bowl when he'd see me come near. One time he hit the glass so hard I heard I "clink." He tried to jump out of the bowl on a couple of occassions. And, having to live in my car trying to get away from an abusive relationship and trying to relocate back home in Santa Barbara...he was there with me in his little "carry on" container...eyeing me carefully...plotting his getaway.

He hadn't been feeling well this past couple of weeks. He was getting puffy and his gills were swelling. He wasn't charging for his little boyant food pellets. His brilliant blue turning grey. I knew it was only a matter of time. I just didn't think it would so hard letting go of his little fiesty companionship.

He was so ornary that he wouldn't even hold still for a photo. But I found a photo of a Betta that kinda had that fiesty blue/red "mean" sheen.

Who knew that a little fish could show so much personality and how much I already miss him.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007 

Santa Barbara is blessed with Agriculture

We have a thriving Farmer's Market, in fact several. Tuesdays and Saturdays, there's the Downtown Farmers Market. On Wednesday, it hits La Cumbre Plaza. On Thursday, Goleta and Carpinteria. On Friday, the jewelry rattling enclave Montecito has theirs. Sunday, Goleta has another one out near the airport. (In fact, I just went and picked up a bag of veggies today) Pistachios. Cheramoyas. Blueberries. Strawberries. Spinach. Fava Beans. Snap Peas. Oranges. And so much more. Fresh, mostly organic seasonal produce available year round. And, then of course, there's our now "hollywoodized" wine country, with mile after mile of vineyards.

But with more and more people wanting to live "the California lifestyle" (geez, I really hate that word..."lifestyle") developers are eagerly wanting to jump in and start putting up houses and stripmalls...on fertile agricultural land. Then, of course, there are the roads and freeways that are required to get the thousands of commuter cars around.
...9000 new homes are built south of Orcutt, 1300 up on Harris Grade Road and 295 are built at Seabreeze across Central Avenue from the Lompoc Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant. On the City of Lompoc Web page....3600 residences listed as under construction or approved in the Lompoc area that are expected to produce an estimated 36,000 new vehicle trips per day. - The Lompoc Record.
But...hidden within our "Governator's" Budget Plan, could be the death of, not only our local agricultural landscape, but the entire State's.

The Ethicurean alerts us to a little "add on" on the Governator's budget plan
...If owners of working farms and ranches are required to pay property taxes based on their land’s residential or commercial valuation, they usually have no choice but to sell the land to developers. A 1965 California law known as the Williamson Act helps preserve farms and ranches by allowing those who enroll in the program to have their land taxed at a rate based on actual use, not potential use.

Buried in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's budget plans for next year is a small but truly bad idea. He wants to save $40 million by canceling a farmland preservation program.

He thinks he can dump the costs on rural and suburban counties, a favorite gambit of Sacramento budget balancers. In this case, however, he will unhinge a successful State plan that rewards agriculture and local government for staving off sprawl.

At issue is the Williamson Act, designed to give farmers and ranchers a break on property taxes. Counties are reimbursed by Sacramento when they lower property taxes for agricultural land. The idea is to remove a temptation to shut down operations and sell to the highest bidder, namely developers. For 40 years, the program has meant that Marin County hills, Sonoma County pastures and Contra Costa County vistas are dotted with crops or cows, not subdivisions. - SFGate

Once we lose agricultural land to development, there's no getting it back. And it's decreasing at a rapid pace.

California Department of Conservation statistics show that between 2002 and 2004, Fresno County lost 11 agricultural acres a day. Kern County lost 9 a day, Merced 4, Stanislaus 8, San Joaquin 5 and San Diego 10. Kings and Imperial both lost the equivalent of 6 acres a day during that period.

Statewide, the Division of Land Resource Protection, a branch of the Department of Conservation, said urban land expanded by nearly 93,000 acres between 2000 and 2002, as documented by the Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program. The very best farmland, an irreplaceable natural resource, decreased during that time frame by nearly 50,000 acres, equal to about 74 square miles. - California Farm Bureau

This is not only scary news for those of us living in "the Golden State", it is a concern for every American. California supplies the country with a good portion of it's agricultural products.
California has been the nation's top agricultural state in cash receipts every year since 1948. - California Farm Bureau
Do we really want to end up importing all of our food from other countries who use pesticide that has been banned in the US for decades? Include plastic in food stuffs? Do not have safety and quality inspections that are required here in the US?

TAKE ACTION: Contact your State representative now.

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Happy 70th Birthday!


Golden Gate Bridge!


It opened up for "business" at 6:00 a.m. 70 years ago today.

It is used by more than 100,000 commuters a day, visited by as many as a million tourists a month, and crossed by 40 million drivers a year. Its bold beauty is staggering, its mystique legendary. - SFGate

And, when you are visiting the City by the Bay, you have to stop into Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory!

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Saturday, May 26, 2007 

Saturday Night Music to eat Cookies To

OK...Music to eat Polk Salad to.....

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Friday, May 25, 2007 

Friday Chef Blogging

Anthony Bourdain meets up with a Los Angeles Blogger who loves Noodles....and more

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007 

Cherry Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper....or

grass-stain flavored soda?

The Seattle Seahawks has chosen Jones Soda!

and Jones has chosen to switch to Pure Cane Sugar!
But why should you care? Simply put; it tastes better and overall it's better for the environment (No GMO’s). So leave the corn for your cars, and keep the sugar for your soda. Grab a bottle of Jones Pure Cane Soda and lets us know what you think!
I think I won't try this flavor again anytime soon. Turkey & Gravy.

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Monday, May 21, 2007 

ORGANIC STANDARDS UNDER ATTACK!

USDA & INDUSTRY TRY TO SNEAK BANNED CONVENTIONAL INGREDIENTS INTO ORGANIC BEER, SAUSAGE, & PROCESSED FOODS

The USDA has announced a controversial proposal, with absolutely no input from consumers, to allow 38 new non-organic ingredients in products bearing the "USDA Organic" seal. Most of the ingredients are food colorings derived from plants that are supposedly not "commercially available" in organic form. But at least three of the proposed ingredients, backed by beer giant Anheuser-Busch, and pork and food processors, represent a serious threat to organic standards, and have raised the concerns of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA).

COMMENT PERIOD ENDS TUESDAY, MAY 22, 2007 AT 5:00 PM EASTERN


We've got less than 24 hours....let's get emailing!

GO HERE!

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Sunday, May 20, 2007 

Harry Connick, Jr. Wore My Beads!


Oh, Cher! Thanks for bringing your amazing humour, music and nawhlins' joie de vivre to the Arlington Theatre this evening!

Seeing you wear the beads I threw up on the stage....well that made my evening lucky. Please. Please. Just run away with me! I have the same first name as your wife! (does that count?)

I bought one of the shirts for sale that 100% will go to the Musicians Village. You can donate online or purchase one of Harry's CD's where money will be donated to the Village. Click HERE.

Never forget NOLA.

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It's Great American Bake Sale Time!

Share Our Strength's Great American Bake Sale is a national campaign where participants host their own bake sale anywhere in the U.S. from May 19 - August 31 and send their proceeds to Share Our Strength to help organizations in their community end childhood hunger.

Funds raised are granted to local organizations that work to increase participation by low-income children in summer and after-school feeding programs and to support nutrition education programs for low-income families. Since 2003, the campaign has raised over $3 million and engaged more than 1 million people in baking, selling or buying goods. Share Our Strength's Great American Bake Sale is supported by Food Network, the campaign's national television partner.

Let's get cookin'.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007 

What's in a Restaurant Name...

While walking down to DMV to make my little Saabi "all legal", I passed by 115 East De La Guerra and noticed several signs reading "Coming Soon...Restaurant Saffron."

Gets one's mind wandering as to what type of food is going to be served.
Saffron's aroma is often described by connoisseurs as reminiscent of metallic honey with grassy or hay-like notes, while its taste has been noted also as hay-like and somewhat bitter. Saffron also contributes a luminous yellow-orange colouring to foods. Because of the unusual taste and colouring it adds to foods, saffron is widely used in Arab, Central Asian, European, Indian, Iranian, Moroccan and Cornish cuisines. Confectionaries and liquors also often include saffron. Common saffron substitutes include safflower (Carthamus tinctorius, which is often sold as "Portuguese saffron" or "assafroa") and turmeric (Curcuma longa). - Wikipedia

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Friday, May 18, 2007 

Whole Foods TV?


Well...TV show anyway. The show above is about Avocados!

Natural and organic grocer Whole Foods Market has launched "Secret Ingredient," its first-ever weekly online cooking show and resource for home cooks looking for helpful tips and easy recipe ideas, reports Progressive Grocer.

Shoppers can access a new episode of the video podcast every Monday on Whole Foods' Web site, www.wholefoodsmarket.com/secretingredient, as well as on iTunes and YouTube.

"Secret Ingredient" highlights foods exclusively carried by Whole Foods or that meet the retailer's strict quality standards. Featured items will include the world's first nitrate-free prosciutto, award-winning aged Balsamic vinegar, fresh artisan-made goat cheese, and hand-selected Parmigiano Reggiano. - Gourmet Retailer

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We're #1! We're #1!

Sometime #1 isn't the best thing to be.....

For entry level housing affordability, Santa Barbara was the least affordable region in the state at 12 percent - Bizjournal

well...when 1,600 sq.ft of condo is going for $1,595,000..not too many working folks can afford it.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007 

Build a Green Bakery!

no...really!

the floor is cork. the walls are wheat.
I think it's "sister" store for the city bakery.

what's your carbon footprint cookie?

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A Taste of Yellow - Live Strong Day!

Thank you WinosAndFoodies! Namaste!

When you say "yellow" there's only one thing that comes to mind for me....LEMONS! Since I don't have a digital camera, yet, I have to borrow a photo from an adapted recipe.

So bake, share the deliciousness of cheesecake...and share the deliciousness of life by DONATION!

LEMON CHEESECAKE WITH GINGERSNAP CRUST

Crust
2 cups ground Trader Joe's Triple ginger gingersnaps

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Filling
4 1/2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
2 cups (24 ounces) sour cream
2 tablespoons (packed) finely grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Lemon leaves or twists

For crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir cookie crumbs and butter in medium bowl until evenly moistened. Press mixture onto bottom of 9-inch-diameter removable-bottom cheesecake pan with 3-inch-high sides. Bake crust until deep golden, about 12 minutes. Cool completely. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.

Stack 3 large sheets of foil on work surface. Place same cake pan in center. Gather foil snugly around pan bottom and up sides to waterproof.

For filling:
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese in large bowl until smooth and fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar, then salt. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in sour cream, grated lemon peel, and lemon juice. Pour filling into pan.

Place wrapped cake pan in large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of cake pan. Bake cake until filling is slightly puffed and moves only slightly when pan is shaken gently, about 1 hour 25 minutes. Remove cake pan from water bath; remove foil. Cool cake in pan on rack 2 hours. Chill uncovered until cold; cover and keep chilled at least 1 day and up to 2 days.

Cut around pan sides; carefully loosen pan bottom from sides and push up pan bottom to release cake. Place cake (still on pan bottom) on platter. Garnish with lemon leaves or twists.


LIVESTRONG!



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Tuesday, May 15, 2007 

Tony's in The Can



Putting a new type of "bubbles" in the BaDaBing.
Beverage maker Imbibe is launching a line of sodas based on The Sopranos. The new "Sopranos Old Fashioned Italian Sodas" will come in three flavors: Limoncello, Amaretto and Chianti. The headline on the press release is the best one I've gotten this month: "The Sopranos Old Fashioned Sodas Are Sure To Be A 'Hit.'" - CNBC
DrinkSopranos.com

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Sunday, May 13, 2007 

Happy Mother's Day

And, remember....it's not nice to fool Mother Nature.

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Saturday, May 12, 2007 

Organic, Sustainable Wine - Alma Rosa!

Santa Barbara County Wine Notes writes:
Agriculture has always been a risky business, but nobody’s wine growing experience in Santa Barbara has been more of a roller-coaster ride than Richard Sanford’s. One of the first to recognize the area’s Pinot Noir potential, Sanford planted the famous Sanford & Benedict Vineyard to Pinot in 1970. The fruit quickly became renowned for its extremely high quality.

Richard met Thekla Brumder in 1976, and they married in 1978. Together they founded Sanford Winery in 1981. Although Sanford had lost the vineyard, he was later able to regain it – the roller-coaster kept right on rolling – and over the next 25 years they produced fine wines. The area around Sanford & Benedict became identified as such a special location that it eventually gained its own AVA status as the Santa Rita Hills.

In 1983 the Sanfords began organic viticulture with El Jabali Vineyard, and by 2000 all their holdings were certified organic. But the ride wasn’t over. The Sanfords lost control of the winery bearing their name. Now they have regrouped under the name Alma Rosa. Under this new label they produce Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. All bottles are closed with screwcaps, and the winery recycles any of the bottles that are returned to them.

Different can be good. A commitment to sustainable agriculture and organic wines combined with years of experience in the Santa Rita Hills turns out to be a formula for great wine.
Stay in touch with what Richard and Thekla may do next...Join their mailing list.


Better yet...come taste some of their wines at the Santa Barbara Wine Festival!

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Thursday, May 10, 2007 

It's going to be a long, hot

and expensive summer. We're on fire...again.



A 400-acre brush fire on Santa Catalina island was moving toward the city of Avalon this afternoon as authorities were evacuating some residents and preparing to ferry additional fire crews to the island using a military ship. - latte times
and...just in time for all this....Allstate breaks some news.
Allstate corp., the State's third-biggest home insurer, will stop selling to new residential policies in California. - latte times
The fire had threatened to enter the city of Avalon.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007 

lions and tigers and flames...


griffith park fire - summer 07
Originally uploaded by PortugePunk.

oh, my....Griffith Park is on fire.

A fire was set in Griffith Park today above the Greek Theatre and spread quickly to the northeastern section of the park, threatening the Los Angeles Zoo and other nearby recreation facilities, officials said. - Latte Times

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Google-ishious!

Google sustainability and you just might get it's new cafe, Cafe 150.
Lee Bassian, owner of Bassian Farms in San Jose, remembers delivering his naturally raised meats to Google back when the company still operated out of a garage.

"One time our truck got a ticket because it weighed too much for a residential street," Bassian recalled.

Google's now-famous philosophy of providing wholesome food at no charge to its employees dates from its inception, although the company took it to a new level last year when it opened Cafe 150, a restaurant at corporate headquarters in Mountain View that only serves produce and meats raised within a 150-mile radius. It's one of 15 restaurants at Google, with three more due to open this month.
There are some challenges....
...Tomatoes also posed a challenge, as Google employees wanted them even in the winter, when they're only available from warmer climates like Mexico.

To provide a substitute in sandwiches and salads, Keller salted and grilled persimmons, a deep orange fruit grown nearby that ripens in the winter.

"You couldn't tell the difference," he said. "In the summer, they began complaining when we didn't have grilled persimmons," Keller added. - Palo Alto Daily News
Sweet Potato & Jalapeno Bisque

Googlers favor this spicy, tart-sweet soup in the winter because it is chock full of nutrients. Created by chef Tony Castelucci.

INGREDIENTS:
2 pounds sweet potatoes
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/2 pound shallots, minced (about 1 cup)
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
1/4 cup rum
3 to 4 cups vegetable stock + additional stock as needed
1/2 cup cooked white rice
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Topping:
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1/2 bunch cilantro (leaves and tender stems only), chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lime

INSTRUCTIONS:
Bake potatoes in a 400° oven until they are tender and can be easily pierced with a fork. Let cool.

Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the shallots and saute until soft. Add the garlic and jalapenos and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the rum and cook for about 2 minutes, or until alcohol has evaporated. Add the stock and bring to simmer.

Cut the sweet potatoes in half and scrape out the flesh. Add to the stock, stirring, until the potatoes are broken up. Add the cooked rice. Remove from heat and, working in batches, puree in a blender until smooth.

Return the mixture to the pot, and place over low heat. Add stock as needed to adjust the consistency of the soup, then season with salt and pepper.

For the topping: Spoon the creme fraiche into a small bowl. Stir in the cilantro, lime zest and 1 teaspoon of the juice.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top with a dollop of creme fraiche.

Serves 6 to 8

PER SERVING: 210 calories, 4 g protein, 26 g carbohydrate, 9 g fat (5 g saturated), 22 mg cholesterol, 490 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.

-SFGate

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Monday, May 07, 2007 

RAW chicken sandwich served at McDonalds 3/2007


RAW chicken sandwich served at McDonalds 3/2007
Originally uploaded by Fanny Brown Rice.

Oh...My...

Sunday, May 06, 2007 

Cleaning Up in the Derby

From second to last to 2 length winner in about 2 minutes! WOW! What a heart stopper of a race!

This talented colt certainly cleaned up in the 9th race at Churchill yesterday. He deserves a little "spaaaaaaaaah" time!

But I don't care how many Pizza Hut Pizza's and KFC Fried Chicken buckets Churchill Downs was offered, how could they "sell" The Kentucky Derby to Yum!, Brands?

Street Sense won THE KENTUCKY DERBY...he did NOT win The Kentucky Derby brought to you by Yum!, Brands. It cheapens the historic significance of this race. It detracts from what an amazing race this whirlwind of a horse ran.


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Saturday, May 05, 2007 

It's the First Saturday in May

that means only two things. Kentucky Derby. Mint Juleps.

Oh, make that three things. The third being checking in on
Left at the Gate to see who he likes in the 9th at Churchill.

The Perfect Mint Julep from Maker's Mark

1 liter Maker’s Mark
Lots of fresh spearmint leaves
1 cup distilled water
1 cup granulated sugar
Powdered sugar for garnish
Mint sprigs for garnish

1. To prepare the mint extract, remove about 40 small mint leaves – wash and place in a small mixing bowl. Cover with 3 ounces of Maker’s Mark. Allow the leaves to soak for 15 minutes. Then gather the leaves in a clean, soap-free piece of cotton cloth and vigorously wring the mint bundle over the bowl of whisky. Dip the bundle again and repeat the process several times. Then set aside.

2. To prepare the simple syrup, mix 1 cup of granulated sugar and one cup of water in a cooking pot. Heat to dissolve the sugar. Stir constantly so the sugar does not burn. Set aside to cool.

3. To prepare the mint julep mixture, pour 3 1/2 cups of Maker’s Mark into a large glass bowl or glass pitcher. (Pour the remaining whisky from the liter bottle into another container and save it for another purpose). Add 1 cup of the simple syrup to the Maker’s Mark.

4. Now, begin adding the mint extract 1 tablespoon at a time to the julep mixture. Each batch of mint extract is different, so you must taste and smell after each tablespoon is added. You may have to leave the room a time or two to clear your nose. The tendency is to use too much mint. You are looking for a soft mint aroma and taste – generally about 3 tablespoons.

5. When you think it’s right, pour the whole mixture back into the empty liter bottle and refrigerate it for at least 24 hours to marry the flavors

6. To serve the mint julep, fill each glass (preferably a silver mint julep cup) half full with shaved ice. Insert a sprig of mint and then pack in more ice to about an inch over the top of the cup. Then, insert a straw that has been cut to one inch above the top of the cup so the nose is forced close to the mint when sipping the julep.

7. When frost forms on the cup, pour the refrigerated julep mixture over the ice and add a sprinkle of powdered sugar to the top of the ice. Makes 26-30 servings.

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The Honorable Ron Sparks, Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture

I support his idea whole heartedly.

I firmly believe that people have a right to know that what they are eating and what they are feeding their children is safe. That is one of the reasons I initiated Country of Origin Labeling last year as a pilot project for fresh vegetables and produce with the Alabama Grocer's Association. We know where everything we buy comes from, whether it's clothing, a big screen TV, or a car. With so many food products coming into our country from around the world, I believe people should have the information they need to choose where their food comes from. Many food products from other countries are completely safe, but even the very small potential of tainted food requires us to diligently protect our food supply.

We must demand that other countries provide us with products that live up to the standards we have in the United States. If we do not allow a potentially harmful substance to be used by farmers and producers in our country, then other countries should not be able to send their tainted products to us. It is that simple. While the potential for a serious outbreak is small, it is not a risk I am willing to take with the health of Alabama's families.

Contact him and let him know you think this is "a good thing" not just for Alabamians....but for all Americans.

Commissioner Ron Sparks
Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries
Richard Beard Building
P.O. Box 3336
Montgomery, AL 36109-0336
Phone: 334-240-7100
Fax: 334-240-7190
http://agi.state.al.us

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The Lambada of Liquors is baaaaack!

From the NYDaily News, we find the drink with the "sin" in it is coming back to the U.S. The first time since 1910.

Coming soon to NYC: The liquor that could inspire you to paint a field of sunflowers.

Absinthe, the green-tinted liquid that inspired legions of artists, writers and bohemians, from Van Gogh to Oscar Wilde, in Belle Epoque France, is coming here later this month for the first time in nearly a century.

Called Lucid and imported from France by New York-based Viridian Spirits, it will be the first genuine absinthe to be available in the U.S. since its ban in the 1910s.

Viridian is trying to correct the misperceptions that have given absinthe a bad rap. A liquor distilled from herbs, including wormwood, anise and fennel, which give it its distinct color and licorice taste, absinthe was first introduced in late 18th century France as an herbal remedy. It later caught on with artists and the Cafe Society, who nicknamed it "The Green Fairy" for its supposed clarifying effects on the mind. That absinthe was cheap and there was a wine shortage didn't hurt. At its height, the French consumed 36 million liters a year.

Salud! Absent Absinthe makes the desire go stronger. Here's to "lucidity!"

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007 

Santa Barbara Wine Festival

I''ve been busy working on a special blog for an amazing wine event being held in Santa Barbara on June 30th. The 20th Annual Santa Barbara Wine Festival. The boss and I had some talks about my blogs and blogtopia (y!sctp) in general and when the topic of blogs came up in a meeting...well...guess who nominated who to do what.

I've been blessed to have lived in the central coast wine area a good portion of my life, and although I have a fine appreciation of the grape, there really is so much to learn. At the festival, we have 50 wineries represented and 20 food vendors and searching information on all of them has certain broadened my mind. I hope to broaden my tastebuds, too. I've run into some fun knowledge too...Did you know that artiste winery has paintings done with wine itself? Did you know one winemaker named his winery after his pet pygmy goats?

And through my ventures in blogtopia (y!sctp) I have made the cyber acquaintence of a local blogger who specializes in wine - sbwineguy at Santa Barbara County Wine Notes. He has been tremendously helpful in highlighting some "inside info" on the wineries and I hope that you stop by and take a taste of his delicious spot in the cybervineyards.

So...if you are curious about the wonderful wine country in California (that isn't Napa or Sonoma, thank you very much) please stop on by Santa Barbara Wine Festival Blog. Leave a note. Let me know what you think. And, if you are in California looking for something to do on June 30th...

Pull up a chair. Sip some wine knowledge. and "drink the freakin' merlot."

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  • I'm Cookie Jill
  • From Santa Barbara, California, United States
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