Gatherings: Harvest Dinner in a Downtown Adobe

Introducing the Independent’s Guide to Entertaining

Gatherings: Harvest Dinner in a Downtown Adobe

Introducing the Independent’s Guide to Entertaining

Written by Wendy Read | Images by Nik Wheeler

November 10, 2021

I have often thought that if you want to get to know someone better, have them cook you a meal. From the food they choose to how they set the table, you will get insight into who they are and where they come from. Welcome to Gatherings, the Independent’s Guide to Entertaining. 

Throughout the seasons, we will be telling the stories of how people in Santa Barbara County gather together, share meals, prepare food, and celebrate traditions. Whether it be a dinner party in a downtown adobe, a neighborhood potluck on the Mesa, a picnic in Alameda Park, or a farm dinner in Los Olivos, hosts from all over the county will share their favorite recipes, decorating ideas, and any tips they may have for making entertaining less stressful.

Not only will Gatherings give you new entertaining ideas and introduce you to amazing Santa Barbara artisans and resources, but we hope it will also inspire you to create similar gatherings, bringing us all together for a better understanding of our community.

If you are planning an upcoming gathering that you would like to share, or know of a neighborhood celebration, please send us word at gatherings@independent.com.

We would love to hear from you.

Sally’s patio table ready for guests

A Feast for the Eyes

Sally Terrell is an artist, and I can always count on a new creative project sprouting up in her home studio. Whether it’s making jewelry, creating assemblage art, designing the interior of friends’ homes, or collecting eclectic folk art, Sally’s sense of color and design is always finding ways to shine. 

I love walking into Sally’s hidden downtown adobe because it is full of interesting things she has brought home from her travels. Colorful frames, metal sculptures, large and small paintings, and whimsical wooden figures cover her walls. Objects have stories, and everywhere you look in Sally’s house, you can learn about different places and cultures. Have you ever seen a Haitian Vodou flag? Sally’s house is full of them. How about Honduran Lenca ceramics? Sally collects them, too. 

Everyone in her wide circle of friends feels lucky to share a meal around her large, rustic table. So my
husband and I didn’t hesitate to say yes to her harvest celebration dinner invite. 

Adding All the Ingredients

Preparing for this dinner meant a trip to the Saturday Farmers’ Market, where Sally has her favorite vendors, such as Jeronimo from Casitas Valley Pastures. He runs a small farm, where he raises chickens the old-fashioned way: cage-free, cruelty-free, pasture-raised, non-GMO, no antibiotics, free-range, and with sustainable farming practices. (See casitasvalleypastures.com.) “That is all important to me,” Sally said, “but just as importantly, they taste incredible. Juicy and succulent.” Jeronimo shared his roast chicken recipe with her a while back that has become one of her go-to dinners. “It only requires lemons, salt, and fresh herbs, and it is easy and delicious,” she said. 

As she zipped around, visiting one stall after another, her baskets were soon full of sweet carrots, delicata squash, yellow onions, bouquets of fresh herbs, arugula, a bag of Meyer lemons, a log of goat cheese, figs, and fresh pecans, plus bouquets of autumn-colored chrysanthemums, bright-orange marigolds, and straw flowers. 

Following her around, I was reminded that the Santa Barbara Farmers’ Market is one of the city’s greatest calling cards. Or, as a friend once put it while visiting, “Of COURSE Santa Barbara has a beautiful market — even the vegetables are photo-ready.” (See sbfarmersmarket.org.)

After a final stop at the Roan Mills stall for sourdough wheat baguettes (roanmills.com), we walked back to her house to set the table and prepare the evening meal. Sally’s menu included Jeronimo’s roast chicken, her own recipe of carrot soup, and two recipes — a fig arugula salad and delicata squash dish — from one of my favorite food blogs, Feasting at Home (feastingathome.com). For dessert, an apple pie and a pumpkin pie had already been ordered from Sandra Adu Zelli, the talented baker behind Gipsy Hill Bakery (gipsyhillbakery.com).

Joining around the table were (from left) Rob Sternin, Mimi deGruy, Jim Dragna, Sally Terrell at the head of the table, James Read, and Pru Sternin. Not pictured: Sarah and Fred Kass, Amy Michelson, and Wendy Read.

The Table Setting

The table was transformed into a glittering, colorful harvest spread. Sally’s advice? “Choose a color theme and scour the house for objects that complement those colors. Flowers, plants, candles, food, fabric, ceramics, wooden balls … anything that fits in with your colors.”

The final result was enjoyed by all. The candlelit table was gorgeous, the food was flavorful and delicious, but most of all, we were all so happy to laugh and share stories around a table again! 

If you know of an upcoming gathering that you would like to share, please let us know at gatherings@independent.com.

You may download our Gatherings November recipes below.

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