Jack Cole dancing with Rita Hayworth in 'Tonight and Every Night' | Credit: Courtesy

This holiday season, we’re bringing you our favorite newsletters from 2021. Sign up for content like this and more here.

All Booked | Emily Cosentino-Lee and Caitlin Fitch

Cosentino-Lee: All Booked was born out of many conversations by the water cooler with my colleague and co-author Caitlin Fitch. Even though we share a deep love for reading and all things books, we share very different reading tastes. Lucky for our subscribers, that means a lot of different types of recommendations come their way, spanning from contemporary romance to bone-chilling thrillers and from cookbooks to design books. We’ve enjoyed this All Booked journey so far, and we look forward to continuing the bimonthly newsletters into 2022.

Falling in love with an author

Taylor Jenkins Reid has become an “auto-buy” wordsmith.

What’s cooking, good looking?

Diving into cookbook collections for the holidays.

Full Belly Files | Matt Kettmann

Full Belly Files began as a weekly repository for many of the food, drink, and travel experiences I enjoy each week that don’t make it into a more “proper” feature article or wine review. But, forced to come up with something at least moderately compelling every single week, it quickly evolved into a place where I could reminisce about meals and memories from across my life. Here are a few of my favorite ones in that vein:  

Full Belly Files: What’s “My Favorite Restaurant” Actually Mean?

From August 30, when I discuss my favorite restaurant in the world, El Toro Bravo in Capitola, and then explore what that actually means.  

Full Belly Files: Scared of Seafood, Then Big Fan

From October 15, in which I relay how I didn’t eat much fish as a kid, why that changed, and how much I love seafood now. 

Full Belly Files: Pork Noodle Soup with Esther

Just from last week, December 17, I write about eating pork noodle soup at Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens and how that reminds me of a meal with the recently passed Esther Lau Gilbert. 

The Home Page | Sarah Sinclair

The Home Page has enjoyed savoring every season throughout the past year. Here are three of our favorite holiday-themed newsletters of 2021, from Fourth of July to Fiesta to Halloween. Hmmmm, is it a coincidence that two of these feature photos of Sarah’s sidekick Scout? Not likely!

The Home Page: Best Firework Views, Tiny-Living Tips, and More

Red, white, and blue views.

The Home Page: Viva La Fiesta from Our House(s) to Yours!

A spirited local tradition in Santa Barbara.

The Home Page: Happy Haunted Homes and More

Santa Barbara rings in spooky season.

The News Letter | Tyler Hayden

The News Letter quickly evolved this year from a weekly wrap-up of articles to an opinion column by Senior Editor Tyler Hayden, who channels his inner crank to deliver insight and umbrage on the most pressing issues of the day. Here are three that lit fires and flipped more than a few wigs:

Many Cower in the Face of Dormzilla

Before news of Munger Hall went viral, we were raising concerns about the toll that small, windowless bedrooms could have on residents of UCSB’s proposed mega-dorm.

The Great Bellosguardo Boondoggle Continues

This column said some things that should have been said long ago about the rot at the Bellosguardo Foundation.

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Barrett

We know politicians like to play fast and loose with the truth, but we called out council candidate Barrett Reed for taking honesty gymnastics to another level.

Pano | Charles Donelan

One of the greatest pleasures of writing about the arts is doing the homework. Every assignment requires some kind of research, and lots of it leads down interesting paths that don’t necessarily wind up appearing in the published reviews and previews. 

Writing the PANO newsletter has given me an opportunity to explore some of these investigations in more depth, and apart from the event-driven imperatives of the review/preview format. The PANO picks that follow represent some of the more memorable byways that I traveled down as I kept pace with Santa Barbara’s thriving art and performance scene.

Listening History

Ten of my favorite recordings issued in 2021.

From ‘Kismet’ to ‘Cabaret’: The Hidden History of Indian Dance’s Influence on Broadway

Sara Miller McCune’s spectacular production of Kismet sent me into the archives for more information about the great Hollywood and Broadway choreographer Jack Cole. 

Chloé Zhao for the Win in Ojai

A visit to the Ojai Film Festival introduced me to The Rider, the great independent film Chloe Zhao made before her Academy Award winner Nomadland.

‘The Beatles: Get Back’ Documentary and Sansei Art in Monterey

Like a lot of people, I got caught up in Peter Jackson’s brilliant Beatles documentary. I also visited Monterey, where the Monterey Museum of Art has organized an outstanding exhibit of work by Japanese-American artists.


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