Barney’s Weekend Picks

There’s a wonderful treat awaiting you on the streets of Santa Barbara (and no doubt many other byways of Santa Barbara County.)

christmas_lights.jpgI’m talking about the gee-amazing holiday lighting on many homes — Eastside, Westside all around the town. Even these jaded old eyes could hardly believe what they were seeing when The Independent chartered a trolley to roll us around town.

We howled at the displays, from good old Santa on the rooftops to red-nosed reindeers (even a couple of giraffes with crimson schnozzolas). We passed one house with solar-powered lights. Just get in the family buggy and hit the streets.

The Santa Barbara Trolley Company is taking reservations for a neighborhood lights tour Dec. 27 at 6:30 p.m. Cost: $18.50 for adults, $11 for kids. Reservations at 965-0353.

After Sue and I alighted from the jolly trolley, a bit chilled from the ride, we crossed Victoria Street to Epiphany’s quiet bar and ordered Irish coffees. Everyone’s in a friendly mood at holiday time. I got to chatting with young chef Ron True and ended up ordering a huge “Mac Daddy,” a white cheddar pasta dish, with crunchy breadcrumb topping. Delicious.

Years ago, before leaving town and returning, Ron worked in the same building when it was SOhO. Nice guy. The bartender who recommended the dish said she’s a UCSB grad from Bakersfield who’s applying to law school and good luck to her.

If you’re like me you’ll be frantically gift shopping this weekend, but when you’re finished there’s plenty on the entertainment and food menu.

Dining: San%20Ysidro%20ranch.jpgAfter about two years being dark, Ty Warner’s San Ysidro Ranch’s Stonehouse restaurant is open again, with chef John Trotta manning the stove. Give a look at the changes. Then there’s John Scott’s Tee-Off, on upper State, celebrating its 50-year (!!!) anniversary. (No, John hasn’t owned it that long.)

Movies: Will Smith, who’ll be honored at the upcoming Santa Barbara International Film Festival, stars in The Pursuit of Happiness, starting Friday at Paseo Nuevo. For the kids and childish people like me, there’s Charlotte’s Web, at Camino Real. The word-of-mouth movie is The Queen, starring Helen Mirren, who’ll also be given the red carpet treatment at the film fest.

Music: Woody Allen, love him or will_smith.jpgleave him, brings his New Orleans Jazz Band to the Lobero Sunday at 8 p.m. You don’t get to see Woody in the flesh often, unless you catch his act in New York City.

Ice Skating? Yep, at Earl Warren Showgrounds through the Dec. 23. Info at Over at the Museum of Natural History, they’re promising snow, snow snow Saturday, 10am-5pm, at a big party with Santa, Frosty and friends. Info at 682-4711.

Cool Yule: Las Posadas is the traditional reenactment of Joseph and Mary’s search for lodging in Bethlehem. It will begin at El Presidio Chapel at 6 p.m.Saturday and end at Casa de la Guerra.

Gift Hint: Buy everyone on your list a book.

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