If you’re gonna do a food festival, whose spirit would be better to invoke than the woman who made French cuisine safe for American kitchens? It certainly doesn’t hurt that Julia Child covered the Santa Barbara angle, too, so it makes sense that the Bacara teamed up with the Julia Child Foundation to host an annual Food & Wine Weekend, now in its second year. Going down at the resort and beyond April 16-19 are numerous tastings, demos, and a special dinner with actor/winemaker Kurt Russell, who’ll share his GoGi and Hudson Bellamy wines, which he also pours regularly in the Wine Saloon at the 1880 Union Hotel in Los Alamos.
There’s also lunch with Los Angeles star chef couple David Lentz (The Hungry Cat) and Suzanne Goin (Lucques, AOC, Tavern), who explained, “There was a joke around my home when I was growing up that Julia Child was actually our mom because my mother cooked so much out of Mastering the Art of French Cooking — so, obviously, I’m a huge fan of Julia.” Here are some more highlights of the weekend, all of which can be perused at bacaraculinaryweekend.com.
What’s New in Santa Barbara County: This discussion about Santa Barbara food regions and trends features Edible Santa Barbara publisher/editor Krista Harris and moderating panelists Melissa Cohen of the Isla Vista Food Co-op, Jamie Gluck of Bell Street Farms, Kathryn Graham of C’est Cheese, and Dave Potter of Municipal Winemakers. Saturday, 9 a.m.
Secrets of a Tamale Chef: Though reverent about the tamale’s 5,000 years of history, Richard Lambert, the owner/chef of Santa Barbara Tamales-To-Go, is also pushing into the future. “Our goal is to encourage people to think of tamales as a year-round treat rather than something to be enjoyed only during the year-end holidays,” said the fifth-generation Santa Barbaran. “They’re too good for that, don’t you agree?”
Certainly, especially after tasting Lambert’s wonderful tamales. He avoids the dread dry-tamale issue by using less masa, explaining, “Seventy percent of our tamales is filling.” He’ll be pairing his creations with the organic, Oxnard-based Tequila Alquimia. “Attendees will enjoy this ‘cognac-like’ sipping tequila with each of the three tamale samples we serve,” he promised. Saturday, 3:15 p.m.
Chocolate Truffles & Palmina Wine: Chocolatier Jessica Foster has a secret. “The recipe for truffles is simple,” divulged chocolatier Jessica Foster. “It’s the actual making that is challenging. Think sweatshop labor. But the truth is that doing classes like this typically makes the students realize that it’s better to buy them!”
Foster, whose keen palate results in such sinfully delicious treats as dark chocolate/chile and milk chocolate/star anise/thyme, loves pairing her creations with Lompoc’s Italian varietal-focused Palmina Wines. “Palmina deliberately makes their wines food friendly,” said Foster, who “eons ago” worked with the winery’s co-owner Chrystal Clifton. “It is part of their philosophy. So chocolate pairings are always easy and stellar with their wines.”
With 30 flavors under her belt after a dozen years in business, Foster prefers to start with a wine and then find a truffle to match. She suggests taking a sip first, then adding the truffle, then sipping again “as the truffle is melting on your tongue.” Saturday, 4:30 p.m.