Friday, January 30, 2009 

More Peanut Problems

Oh, great.
In addition to the recent FDA announcement that Peanut Corporation of America’s peanut processing plant in Blakely, GA, found Salmonella typhimurium contamination in some of its products, another prior problem with the company’s peanut butter ingredients has surfaced. Last September, a shipment of peanuts from the same plant linked to the Salmonella outbreak was held at the United States/Canada border because it contained a “filthy, putrid or decomposed substance, or is otherwise unfit for food,” (the problem later identified as metal fragments). The shipment was logged into FDA’s Oasis system, which is designed to prevent shipments into the United States of unsafe foreign products, but never was tested by federal inspectors, according to government records. - Food Product Design

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Brigitte and Norbert's new adventure

Owner Brigitte Guehr is pleased to announce the transformation of the Storybook Inn & Bacchus Restaurant into the Mirabelle Inn & Restaurant in downtown Solvang. (409 First Street)

A grand re-opening celebration is set for Wednesday, February 11, 2009 from 5:00-7:00 PM. Admission to the party is one can or box of non-perishable food (minimum) that will be donated to the Food Bank of Santa Barbara County. There will be complimentary wine tasting provided by local wineries including Lucas & Lewellen and Brander and refreshments will be provided by Mirabelle Restaurant.

Mirabelle Restaurant will be open Thursday-Sunday starting at 5:00pm. The new Mirabelle Restaurant menu is designed by Consulting Master Chef Norbert Schulz, a nationally acclaimed and well-known area chef and former restaurateur (Norbert’s, Brigitte’s in Santa Barbara).

View Larger Map

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Pretty shady business dealings in the "nightshade family" world.
Purchasing managers for Kraft Foods and Frito-Lay have admitted taking a total of $318,000 in bribes from a broker at a major Central California tomato processor while arranging to buy the company's products at inflated prices, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

A third defendant pleaded guilty Tuesday to defrauding his former employer, a tomato products manufacturer and marketer, out of $975,000 before leaving in 2005 to join the tomato processor, SK Foods of Lemoore (Kings County). The charges, filed in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, are part of a federal price-fixing investigation involving SK Foods.

...Prosecutors have said the corruption alleged in the case has raised consumer prices for tomato sauces, soups and salsas. The charges announced Tuesday provided the first few details. - SFGate
The Ethicurean has a great (kinda scary) blog post about the consolidation of the tomato industry.
Before World War II, there were commercial growers and canners in many states — including Delaware, Virginia, Utah, New Jersey and New York — and California produced only 20% of the nation’s tomatoes. Thanks to the development of both mechanical harvesting equipment and tomato varieties that can be picked by machine, the number rose to 50% in 1953, and reached 95% in 2007.

...Concentration in the tomato industry goes beyond the farm, into the seed business, where just three companies — Heinz, Bayer CropScience and Monsanto — control 90% of the market.

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Be prepared for an Oprah Sighting

Oprah's 55th Birthday was yesterday, January 29th...and internet rumour has it that she is flying out Scot Jones, the chef from Fedeli Restaurant in Canton, OH, to cook up something for her this weekend out in California.

It looks like she bought herself a new CEO for her Oprah Winfrey Network as a gift to herself.

(photo courtesy of Alan Light)

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Thursday, January 29, 2009 

Taste of the Nation coming to Santa Barbara

Sunday, May 31, 2009
Montecito Country Club - 920 Summit Rd

What is "Taste of the Nation?"
For 20 years, the event has brought together the most creative culinary minds across the nation. Pioneers of modern American cuisine and national celebrities including David Burke, Stephan Pyles, Bravo’s Top Chef Tom Collichio, Food Network stars Tyler Florence and Emeril Lagasse and thousands of other chefs have donated their time, talent and passion at more than 55 events across the United States and Canada with one goal in mind: to raise critical funds needed to help the more than 12 million children at risk of hunger in America.
Tickets aren't available quite yet...and there are many ways to get involved with this worthy and delicious event. Click HERE to find out how.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009 

Hershey leaves a bad taste in my mouth

by shuttering the ScharffenBerger and Joseph Schmidt chocolate plants here in California.
The Hershey Co. said Tuesday it plans to close Scharffen Berger's West Berkeley manufacturing plant as well as the San Francisco factory that makes Joseph Schmidt chocolates and consolidate production at other facilities.

Hershey, which in 2005 bought both Scharffen Berger, which specializes in premium dark chocolates, and trufflemaker Joseph Schmidt, will continue to produce those brands, but the chocolates will no longer be locally made. - SFGate
Guess you better take a quick virtual tour of ScharffenBerger's before it melts down to just the pages of foodie history. Hershey's promised they didn't buy these companies in order to destroy their competition...but it looks like that is precisely what they are doing. Just wait for news of ingredient "substitutions" in ScharffenBerger and Joseph Schmidt.

Cacao roaster
Originally uploaded by LeGreg.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009 

Niman Ranch needs MOO-lah

Can't one of those health conscience megamillionaire hollywood types loan some money out? Hey...wait a minute...aren't the banks supposed to be loaning out moolah these days since we bailed them out?

The venerable but financially beleaguered Niman Ranch, famous for selling high-quality natural meats since being founded in the early 1970s by Bill Niman (who left the firm in 2007), was forced this week to merge with Natural Foods Holdings, a division of the Chicago-based equity company that is Niman’s largest investor. According to the San Francisco Business Times, Niman CEO Jeff Swain said in a letter to shareholders that the Bay Area company was in default on loans, owed key vendors money, and was facing a decline in sales.

Swain told shareholders that Niman had been unable to secure additional credit and that without merging it did not have the funds to continue operations past the end of this month. - Gourmet

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Fancy Food Trade Show Favorites

Well...just finished an article about the Fancy Food Trade show for another publication and started thinking about all the delights I ran across at the show. I couldn't put them in the article, so I'll share with y'all here.

34° Crispbread. Light, melt in your mouth flavor without too much flavor. Perfect for wine and cheese parties.

Giusto's Specialty Foods.
A South San Francisco company that provides a wide diversity of flours: Amaranth Flour, Garbanzo Flour, Barley Flour, Soya Flour and more.

Twist Cleaning Products
. Love the bamboo cloth.

Plush Puffs. Marshmallow puffy cloudy heaven.

Ooba. A refreshing, sparkling hibiscus drink. Taste the power of the flower!

Sajen Jamu. A ginger-turmeric drink that was surprisingly refreshing, sweet and good for your health.

The Moroccan Honey Collection (Jujube, Lavender Flower, Carob Seed) from Alili. The Carob Seed was my favorite. It actually had subtle tastes of caramel and chocolate. Yumm.

The Tea Over Ice pitcher from Tea Forte. Just beautiful.

Fran's Sea Salt caramels. Obama's favorite. I can see why.

Gourmet Organic Honey from Big Island Bees. My favorite was the Macadamia Nut Blossom.

Brent's Firey Beer Brittle and
Brent's Chardonnay Brittle...both from Anette's Chocolates in Napa Valley.

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Bad + Good = BooRah

The new company restaurants are turning to for tracking reviews.
The negative online review came in a week after Doug Washington opened his third restaurant, Anchor & Hope in San Francisco. He felt it was malicious and made no sense. So a fired-up Washington tracked down the reviewer at his office nearby and confronted him.

The red-faced diner, surrounded by curious colleagues, apologized. But since then, Washington says, "I've put down my guns. If you try to fight all these reviews, you're asking to be Sisyphus."

Restaurateur Chris Hemmeter, founder and CEO of the E&O Trading Co., has another approach to the ranks of self-appointed restaurant critics: Follow everything that's written every day.

To do this, he has enlisted the help of a Mountain View company called BooRah, which today will launch a new "reputation management" service for restaurant owners. The 2-year-old firm, which started as a restaurant search site, is expanding to create summaries of everything that's being written about a particular dining establishment. It uses technology developed in-house to analyze the sentiments in online reviews and then generate scores, rankings and summaries. - SFGate

Well, since they are dinner at Farallon (450 Post Street) the other night was fantastic. I had pigged out at the Fancy Food Trade show and spoiled my appetite, but I didn't want to cancel. They didn't look down at their noses at me for ordering an appetizer as dinner. The Lobster over risotto with a roasted cauliflower soup amuse bouche was simply devine. The ginger ice cream and ginger cookie dessert was a delight. The ambience was amazing as always. The entire staff was extrememly attentive, friendly and helpful. My waiter was absolutely fantastic. I was reminded why every time I am in the city I make reservations there.

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Monday, January 26, 2009 

Words of Wisdom from My Favorite President

“I think it is a great error to consider a heavy tax on wines as a tax on luxury. On the contrary, it is a tax on the health of our citizens.”

Thomas Jefferson
(3rd President of U.S.)

Biography of Thomas Jefferson (Third President 1801-1809)
Originally uploaded by Tony the Misfit.

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Is a certain downtown restaurant

Whale Tail Bench
Originally uploaded by santa barbarian.

up for sale?

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Honey Laundering....

Honey Bee Macro on Onion Flower C95-4-11-08_8255
Originally uploaded by Cap001.

a sticky situation for consumers.

Concealing discoveries of contaminated imported honey is immoral, unethical and often illegal -- and it happens far too often, U.S. honey producers say.

"It doesn't take a wizard to determine whether there are bad things in the honey we handle, nor a hero to do what it takes to keep it from our food supply," said Mark Brady, a Texas beekeeper who sits on the National Honey Board.

"If we buy Chinese honey, as we do far too often, we know it may contain chloramphenicol or some other antibiotic that is illegal in any food product," said Brady, who produces about a million pounds of honey a year. "To find it and not report it is criminal." - SeattlePI

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Get ready to shell out more greenbacks

for your greens.
Consumers may pay more for spring lettuce and summer melons in grocery stores across the country now that California farmers have started abandoning their fields in response to a crippling drought.

California's sweeping Central Valley grows most of the country's fruits and vegetables in normal years, but this winter thousands of acres are turning to dust as the state hurtles into the worst drought in nearly two decades. - AP via YahooNews

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Sunday, January 25, 2009 

It's not good

in the neighborhood.

The closure of all four Applebee’s restaurants in Ventura County last week came so suddenly that some of the chain’s employees learned they’d lost their jobs by reading about it on The Star’s Web site.

But given the beating that national “sit-down” restaurants and their shopping-center brethren have taken in recent months, was the news really that surprising? - Ventura County Star

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Happy Robert Burns Day....

and Scottish homecoming....Haggis for everyone!

if you do venture over to that magical land of Scotland, stay at the Eriska Spa & Island Resort! We love supporting fellow "bloggers!"

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Stonewall Kitchens Recall of Products

It's not just Peanut Butter anymore!
Stonewall Kitchen

* Chocolate Hazelnut Sauce
* Chocolate Peanut Butter
* Coffee Caramel Sauce
* Dulce Le Leche Sauce
* Barefoot Contessa Espresso Dulce de Leche

read more the ever expanding recall lists over at La Vida Locavore

Oh...and as a side note...recalls for tainted food is currently VOLUNTARY in this Country. Companies don't have to let you know if one of their products will kill you. Call your Government Officials and let them know this is completely unacceptable.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009 

More Buck for Chuck

Bummer, dude.
My little inexpensive indulgences....getting upped. First the .99 Cent Store...Now 2 Buck Chuck!
Is this the end of Two Buck Chuck?

A proposal to raise the state tax on wine to a level more than six times higher to help close California's giant budget deficit would kill the $1.99 price for Charles Shaw wine, said Fred Franzia, who created the famous label sold by the Trader Joe's grocery chain. - LATimes
Can't we just tax politicians?

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Chef on Chef Scandal

The arugula is flying; or at least a "spirited" culinary disagreement is going on the Alice Water(s)gate roadshow tour.
How fitting that Anthony Bourdain’s controversial interview with DCist, in which Bourdain called organic food proponent Alice Waters’ agenda “very Khmer Rouge,” took place in our nation’s capital. Welcome to Alice Watersgate, a brewing chef on chef scandal that (potentially) has the unexpected benefit of bringing ideas about our country’s food policy to a much wider audience. Judging from the DCist interview, general timing seems to be part of Bourdain’s overall gripe: “We're all in the middle of a recession,” he told interviewer Jamie R. Liu, while complaining about the priciness and preachiness seemingly inherent to going green, “like we're all going to start buying expensive organic food and running to the green market.” - Gothamist
Speaking of the traveling "gonzo chef"...have you reserved your tickets to see him at the Arlington on February 27th? Wonder if former UCSB attendee Alice Waters will be accompanying him....

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Friday, January 23, 2009 

Hold the Guacamole

We might not have California Avocados to mash.
Avocados from Mexico, Chile and even Florida will satisfy consumers' guacamole cravings this winter, but there could be shortages when the California crop is ready for harvest.

A combination of environmental and economic woes hit California growers in 2008, setting the stage for the smallest avocado crop in years. The California Avocado Commission reported that only 95,254 tons would be harvested from March to August, making this the smallest crop since the 1990 when the crop was affected by a severe freeze. -
Capital Press

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Yes...they ARE a literary sort of way

I already mentioned that Edible Santa Barbara is coming in March....Well...seems that you can purchase Edible Los Angeles here locally at the Borders Bookstore on State Street.

We try to eat within a 100 mile radius...but that doesn't mean we have to READ within a 100 mile radius, does it?

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Tsk..Tsk..Tsk..Chef Jamie

You said you were into local and sustainable foods....but you served up Chilean Seabass? Tsk..Tsk.
Avoid Chilean seabass. Most are caught using bottom longlines, which lead to bycatch of seabirds, most notably the endangered albatross. - Monterey Bay Seafood Watch

And, speaking of Top Chef...apparently they packed their knives and went to Nawhlins!
One of the worst kept secrets in New Orleans is that "Top Chef: New York," the hit reality series on Bravo,
was in town filming at various locations around town, including Commander's Palace. -

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Thursday, January 22, 2009 

Follow the Tainted Peanut Butter Trail

The FDA now has a searchable database for peanut butter products that are being recalled.

Search HERE.

and yes...the recall affects pet food, too.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009 

National Pie Day - January 23

Mark your calendars. (No, not Marie Callenders!)

Need a pie to celebrate with? Hana Miller and Nancy Blau of Simply Pies are the new pie "peeps" in town. They specialize in organic pies, tarts, quiches and cheesecakes and they will be delighted to bake up a delicious pie for you for National Pie Day or the day after. They have decided that the holiday is just too delicious to celebrate only one day day and will have a booth set up near Williams-Sonoma on January 24 from 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. They will be selling slices and 6' and 9' pies. All proceeds will benefit the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.

Can't make it down to La Cumbre Plaza on the 24th? Well Simply Pies makes it so simple to order...Order online at by clicking the e-mail link OR phone in your request 805-715-3485 They bake to order and once your order is received they will contact you to arrange a pickup time. (Give them 48 hours notice.)

How simple is that?

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009 

Thumbs up Mr. President!

Originally uploaded by ☞ John McNab.

Saturday, January 17, 2009 

I'm off to San Francisco

Originally uploaded by swang168.

for the Fancy Food Trade Show.

Talk, blog or snack amongst yourselves this weekend!

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009 

Tell Starbucks - "I'm In!"

by pledging to help your community, you'll get rewarded with good karma and satisfaction...and some free coffee.
Starbucks Corp. said Wednesday it is asking its customers to donate five hours of time to their communities as part of an initiative timed to coincide with President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration.

Customers who fill out a pledge card to give five hours of time to a local "volunteer opportunity" of their choice will receive a free tall brewed coffee beginning Jan. 21 through Jan. 25. Customers can pick up pledge cards inside stores.

...Starbucks said it is partnering with HandsOn Network, a nonprofit organization that attempts to bolster volunteerism, for the program. Starbucks said it hopes to raise pledges for more than one million hours of service through the campaign, called "I'm In." - AP

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009 

I'm up in Cambria...still

Moonset - Piedras Blancas
Originally uploaded by puliarf.

Oh..and all those "lumps" on the beach in this photo...they're Elephant Seals.

It's Elephant Seal baby time and they are making the local shores a very noisy seal maternity ward.

Elephant Seal
Originally uploaded by katywoolrich.

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Best Requirement for a Job Applicant

for the wine tasting room staff position at the Oreana winery.

Send resume or email with previous work experience and a 99-word essay on one of the following:

1) The Worst Wine You Have Ever Had
2) Your Favorite Springsteen Song
3) Which Wines Pair Best With Otter Pops
4) Why Sinatra Matters

The answer to #4 - because he "makes me feel so young!"

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Monday, January 12, 2009 

Comfort Me With (not apples) More Gourmet Issues

I love Ruth Reichl and I am saddened to hear that Gourmet, the magazine that she edits, may not make it through to the end of the year.
Gourmet will probably not see the end of the year. Its parent company, Conde Nast, can no longer rely on the huge profits of
the newspaper portion of the Newhouse family business. The magazine operation needs to go on a diet. Conde Nast reaches the "food" market several ways. It owns Gourmet, Bon Appetite, and Conde Nast simply owns too many titles in this category. From 2004 to 2008, Gourmet’s ad pages have dropped from 1,364 to 955, with a 24% drop last year. January’s ad pages were down another 32% according to MIN. Gourmet can survive since it has a competitive audience of web visitors to its food site, but it will have to migrate totally to its website. -
24/7 Wall Street

I hope they don't completely migrate to the website. There is something so comforting about curling up in a chair with one of their issues and just drool page by page or to look at the stain marks dotting certain well worn issues. Just doesn't work will when you splatter a laptop, ya know?

Wonder if this will affect the Gourmet Bookclub over at Jessica's Biscuit?

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Sunday, January 11, 2009 

King Nut Peanut Butter Recalled

Why is it that schools always seem to be on the receiving end of many of these recalled food items?

Minnesota disease investigators once again may have solved the riddle of a nation-wide salmonella outbreak. This time the culprit is peanut butter.

Officials from the state Department of Health said late Friday that the salmonella bacteria found in 30 Minnesotans believe to have been sickened by eating King Nut brand creamy peanut butter has the same genetic fingerprint as the salmonella bacteria found in 400 sick people in 42 states.

The peanut butter, sold in 5-pound containers to food service companies that supply schools, hospitals and other institutions, does not usually end up on supermarket shelves.

Kirk Smith, supervisor of food-borne diseases at the state Department of Health, said the clue in this outbreak was that many of the Minnesotans who became ill had eaten in institutional settings. That included nursing homes, schools and colleges, he said. - StarTribune


Saturday, January 10, 2009 

Teavana is coming to Paseo Nuevo

And they are looking for a Store Manager.
Teavana is one of America’s most unique and fast-growing specialty tea retailers. We were awarded as one of the hottest retailers by the International Counsel of Shopping Centers and mentioned as having an innovative retail concept on We carry approximately 105 varieties of loose leaf tea, a variety of the highest quality teapots and an assortment of tea accessories from around the world. We currently have 70 stores nationwide and are opening approximately 30 new stores in 2008 and 30 to 40 in 2009.

The name, Teavana, means “a heaven of tea” and is a reflection of the companies desire to enrich the lives of our guests through the health benefits of tea. We are a socially conscious company that actively participates in EquaTrade partnerships and donates a percentage of company profits to CARE International. We embrace diversity and our stores reflect cultural aspects of the countries we do business with. - Teavana

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Fancy Foods Trade Show is coming....

Originally uploaded by NASFT Fancy Food Show.

Will I see you there?

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Holy Guacamole!

Guacamole comes from Happy 'Cados
Originally uploaded by santa barbarian.

This news is the pits for our local avocado growers.

State auditors say employees of the California Avocado Commission misspent tens of thousands of dollars in farmers' contributions on clothing, gifts and other personal expenses.

The audit released Friday also claims the Commission's former chief executive improperly used $17,000 to renovate his home.

Mark Affleck, who resigned as Chief Executive in May to take a leadership position with Saddleback Church, declined to comment friday.
AP via Yahoo News
...The 89-page audit paints a picture of a freespending organization whose employees dipped regularly at the trough, charging up birthday gifts and flowers for colleagues, running personal mail through FedEx accounts and regularly charging lunches for the entire staff.

It says employees racked up more than $1.5 million on commission-issued credit cards from 2005-2008, the three fiscal years covered in the audit. Some of those charges were called "questionable at best and even personal at times." -

...Commission board members, their spouses, guests and employees spent thousands of dollars on "massages, nail service, facials and body treatments" during meetings at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel and at luxury spas in La Jolla and Del Mar in San Diego County. - LATimes

Maybe that's why our avocados are a little pricey of late.

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Food Fight!

Looks like there is no pot of gold at the end of The Rainbow Room in NYC. Just lawsuits.
The Ciprianis, Italian restaurateurs renowned for their elegance, Bellini cocktails and very expensive pasta, have lost their lease for the Rainbow Room atop Rockefeller Center for failing to pay the rent. But in what is shaping up to be a very public fight, they are vowing to remain there. - NYTimes

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Friday, January 09, 2009 

I'm up in Cambria

Cambria Cook
Originally uploaded by santa barbarian.

just for a little while. Have to love a town where the "big" grocery store is something called the "Cookie Crock!" Yes, they do sell more than just cookies.

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No Transition for the Toque in the WH kitchen

Ms. Comerford is staying.
Some prominent foodies have been clamoring for change in the White House kitchen. But President-elect Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, have decided that Cristeta Comerford, the executive chef at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, will stay put, a transition official said on Thursday. - NYTimes Blog
No Topol"obama"po.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009 

Happy Birthday, Elvis!

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009 

National Pie Day is coming....January 23

Cherry Pie Ready 2 eat
Originally uploaded by santa barbarian.

Are you ready to get your Pie on? If pies scare you, as they often do me, I highly recommend taking a class from the Pie Queen herself, Penny of Penny's Pies in La Canada-Flintridge, CA. You can attend one of her classes in person, or she has a instructional DVD that makes pie making, well, as easy as pie.

Having an Emile Henry Pie plate makes pie making a lot easier too. A little high in the price range, but well worth it as you will use it over and over again. If you want to find one at a reduced price, keep your eyes open after certain seasons. The kitchenware folks are doing more and more "seasonal" colors for their products and when that season is over, the products in colors "out of season" make their way onto the sales table. I got some great deals on Emile Henry at Williams-Sonoma several years, and quite a few "seasons" ago.

Speaking of pie...what's your favorite? Mine has to be Key Lime followed by Pumpkin.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009 

Delicious Thoughts



Cheflebrity Bradley Ogden was in Solvang today

serving samplings from his new restaurant, Root 246 at a "sneak" preview. This is the restaurant for the newly renovated Royal Scandanavian Inn, now known as Hotel Corque. Both are set to open in March of this year. Get your tastebuds set. Chef Ogden and his Lark Creek Restaurant Group are the folks behind the highly regarded restaurants One Market in San Francisco, Lark Creek Inn in Larkspur and Parcel 104 in Santa Clara. 

Even though he grew up in Michigan, Chef Ogden's kitchen philosophy really seems to fit right in with the California way of life. - "Keep it simple; use the freshest ingredients available and put them together in such a way that the flavors, colors and textures combine to bring out he best in each other." - B.Ogden.  

And, from Food Gal's interview with him last year, he seems to fit right in with the delicious "simple" life up in The Valley.

KCOY had a video segment of it tonight.

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Crops absorb livestock antibiotics

Originally uploaded by santa barbarian.

This is not the news we really want to hear...nor digest.
Consumers have long been exposed to antibiotics in meat and milk. Now, new research shows that they also may be ingesting them from vegetables, even ones grown on organic farms.

For half a century, meat producers have fed antibiotics to farm animals to increase their growth and stave off infections. Now scientists have discovered that those drugs are sprouting up in unexpected places.

Vegetables such as corn, potatoes and lettuce absorb antibiotics when grown in soil fertilized with livestock manure, according to tests conducted at the University of Minnesota. -
Environmental Health News

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Monday, January 05, 2009 

Gordon Ramsey wants YOU

Well, that is if your restaurant is in trouble and you are in Los Angeles, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Boston, Philly or the New York Tri-State Area.

Ramsey and his Kitchen Nightmares are baaaaack....
Are you Looking to Resuscitate your Restaurant?

Does your restaurant need HELP?
Are you trying to make some green, but still running red?
Do you and your chef have different ideas about the menu?
Or maybe you have a great location, but it doesn't seem to entice many customers?

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Ruby's Cafe...

Ruby's Cafe
Originally uploaded by santa barbarian.

for sale on Craigslist?

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Tribute offers tributes to American made car owners

Own an American made car? A top Michigan restaurant will discount your meal 50%.
Tribute Restaurant — named one of the nation's best restaurants by the New York Times, Gourmet and Zagat — will discount meals by 50% to owners of domestic cars this week. The French restaurant in Farmington Hills, Mich., is offering a unique “tribute” to the industry that has brought in a lot of business diners over the years. - Kicking Tires
Through the week of Jan. 4-10, anyone who drives a Ford vehicle or is employed by Ford will receive 50 percent off their food check.

To honor Chrysler, anyone who drives a Chrysler vehicle or is a Chrysler employee will receive 50 percent off the food portion of their check during the week of Jan. 11-17.

The following week, Jan. 18-24, homage will be paid to anyone driving a General Motors vehicle or to those employed by General Motors by receiving 50 percent off their food check. - MSNBC
Make your reservation via OpenTable!

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This gadget is pretty cool!

The Days Ago - Digital Day Counter.
The DaysAgo Digital Day Counter is the first and only digital day counter that attaches to a variety of surfaces with a magnetic or suction backing and counts up to 99 days. It's a simple gadget that is re-usable, versatile and helps save money. You can use it on food containers to let you know how many days ago you opened it, closed it, tried it, sauced it, grew it, etc. As for leftovers, it eliminates the doubt about when to throw it out.

Hassle-free tracking of roast age
Originally uploaded by cgfan.

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Sunday, January 04, 2009 

Jamie West, former chef at the San Ysidro Ranch

and his new culinary team at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa will team up with mixologist David Nepove for a "Mixology" Dinner at the Inn this Wednesday, January 7th.
At 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nepove will display at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa the same herb-muddling, canister-shaking form that helped him win the Bacardi Martini Grand Prix three years ago in Italy. The occasion is a four-course, drinks-with-dinner event co-created by the inn’s executive chef, Jamie West. For reservations, $85, call 646-1111

Lavender Martini
Originally uploaded by

Can't make it down this time?  Ojai Valley Inn has several other special opportunities for foodies to eat and learn.

January 22, Noon -  
A three-course literary luncheon with travel writer Peter Greenberg ($55)

February 10, 6 p.m. -  
A four-course chocolate dinner and wine paring with Susana Trilling of Seasons of My Heart Cooking School in Oaxaca, Mexico ($85) 

March 12, 6 p.m. - 
A biodynamic wine dinner with food by Carolyn Robb, former chef to organically minded Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana ($85)

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Dig those crazy Refridge colors!

I tell you, if I had a house, I'd be interested in getting one of these retro appliances from Elmira Stove Works.

Retro red refrigerator
Originally uploaded by lorimarsha.

Go take a look at them in action at the very cool, new (but old) store on State Street - RETROVILLE - 521 State Street. Phone: 805-845-7910. They can actually order you up one.

The Road to Santa Barbara - video powered by Metacafe

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Saturday, January 03, 2009 

NYC's famed Rainbow Room Grill

Rainbow Room
Originally uploaded by iceman9294.

is closing due in part to the economy.

WNBC-TV reports that the owners plan to shutter the Italian-themed Rainbow Grill restaurant temporarily while keeping the establishment's bar, banquet space and dinner-dancing going on the 65th floor of the RCA building.

The Rainbow Room has symbolized glamour since it opened in 1934, during the Great Depression.

Cipriani International chief operating officer John Higgins told WNBC the decision was "due to the current economic crisis" and a lease dispute. -

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Santa Barbara Wine Country

should invest in this new machine!
If you're done drinking for a while, why not turn your extra libations into fuel? Rachel dornhelm explores a machine that turns alcohol and sugar waste into food for your car, and whether it can save you money over the long haul.

...Customers who buy a machine can be hooked into a local supply network. They might get leftover wine from Northern California, or beet sugar waste from Nebraska. The machines won't be available until the end of the year, but Quinn says he's had thousands of orders. - marketplace

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Friday, January 02, 2009 

My Deepest Condolences to the Travoltas

on the loss of their teenage son, Jett.

John Travolta & Kelly Preston
Originally uploaded by WEBN TV.



SWEET ALLEY - 1103A State Street

is gone. Gone. Empty. Fixtures removed. Paper in windows. 

(a commenter says they moved to this true? I didn't see any signs posted like Santa Barbara Consignment which has them plastered in their windows saying they are moving...oh, and they are opening up at 6:00ish a.m. tomorrow with sale items up to 75% off...)

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Here's to New Year's Resolutions

gone so terribly awry.


Thursday, January 01, 2009 

Seattlest has a terrific New Year's Resolution

I really like's very do-able here in local restauranty Santa Barbara.
Here's a resolution Seattlest hopes we can all get behind: let's go out more in 2009. More dinners at family-run restaurants, more happy hour cocktails at locally owned bars, more weekend getaways to nearby B&Bs.

It makes sense to spend money closer to home, and what's closer than our neighborhood diner, our local café? If we want to see them survive the downturn, if we appreciate their contribution to the city where we live, our patronage is vital to keeping them alive.

Remember Michael Pollan's injunction: if you enjoy your view, if you want to keep your view (of farms and fields), then eat your view. If you don't want to see that farmland turned into housing tracts, you have to buy and eat the food produced by local farmers. Same thing with local businesses.

...It's worth remembering that the restaurant industry in this country is roughly the same size as the automobile industry. On the other hand, with tens of thousands of individual business owners, it doesn't have nearly the political clout as Detroit's Big Three. Except for McDonald's and Starbucks, there are few national players. But millions of people work in restaurants as waiters, cooks, and dishwashers. Millions more depend on restaurants to buy their products and services. You may not see ads for an all-new, 500-horsepower Pasta Perfecta or its rivals, the sleek and stylish Sirloin Supra or the powerful Porkbelly Primo. Restaurants aren't asking for a multi-billion-dollar bailout; they just want us to come in for a test-drive. - Seattlest

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On This Day - 1897

Grape-Nuts 1912
Originally uploaded by Robert LZ.

Post Grape Nuts was introduced in Battle Creek, MI.
Neither grapes nor nuts have ever been ingredients in the cereal. The original formula for Grape-Nuts called for grape sugar, which is composed mostly of glucose unlike most other sugar sources and food sweeteners which are principally sucrose. This, combined with the "nutty" flavor of the cereal inspired its name. Another explanation originates from employees at Post who claim that the cereal got its name due to the cereal's resemblance to grape seeds or grape "nuts". - Wikipedia




Originally uploaded by shawn_broes.

One of the best times I've had during the Holiday Season was to help out with decorating the Rose Parade Floats. The City of La Canada-Flintridge takes their float building very seriously as a community. They actually set up the float building area underneath the freeway and then slowly haul it down to Pasadena when it's finished the night before the big day...hoping that the float will fit beneath the underpasses it encounters along the way. 

The year my friend Brian came down to help out, we had to "recreate the recipe" for "skin tone" by blending rice, seeds, cinnamon and a few other organic items. We managed to break 4 blenders and came out with a skin tone that was, well, a bit more "ethnic" than perhaps La Canadians were used to. Hard, messy work but great fun. Hey...Mike Rowe...there's a Dirty Job for you to do for next year....Glue pampas grass, etc. on floats!

brian at the blender
Originally uploaded by santa barbarian.

Congrats to La Canada-Flintridge for winning "Best Animation" for this year's float!

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