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Ridgeback Shrimpin Pernod Cream

It’s hard to beat the ridgeback shrimp we can buy in Santa Barbara-they could be called poor-man’s lobster if monkfish didn’t beat them to that sobriquet. But unlike monkfish, they don’t stink up your house when they cook.

First Blush Offers Healthy Swigs

For those of us who prefer ingesting grapes in their liquid form but aren’t always sure wine is the best choice, there’s now First Blush. Billed as the “first all-natural premium variety grape juice,” First Blush ( takes wine-quality grapes and makes a cabernet, merlot, chardonnay, and rose from zinfandel.

ABC, Easy to Drink as 1-2-3

Everyone knows that in Santa Barbara you can’t spell pinot noir without ABC-Au Bon Climat (, that is. The winery is led by Jim Clendenen, who, since 1982, has made much spectacular juice and just this year was named to the James Beard Foundation’s “Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America.”

Anchor Christmas Ale

Even if the season descends too soon, there’s no harbinger of the holidays more welcomed at our house than the release of Anchor Christmas Ale. Those clever brewers in San Francisco who make Anchor Steam and the one-time hops benchmark Liberty Ale (remember those simpler times?) are releasing their 33rd annual ale with a pine tree label and bit of resinous kick, to boot.

Alisal Ranch’s Revamped River Grill

The tricky part about food with a view is once the sun sets, you’re left gazing at your date or your plate. That is, you can be perched Pacific-side, hung over the Grand Canyon, or tethered to a hot air balloon, but in the dark, all the scenery in the world doesn’t matter.


One of the great joys of being a professional chef is someone else cleans up your messes. The Silpat makes you more like a pro, since it helps you make no mess, even during the heavy holiday baking season. Slide one of these silicon-on-the-outside, fiberglass-mesh-on-the-inside mats onto a cooking tray and there’s no stick and no ick-no extra butter or oil or glop from an aerosol necessary.

Chopin Spree at the SBIFF

You can’t have a good film festival without the three P’s-pizzazz, premieres, and parties. Luckily, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival likes to deliver big on all three, and when this year’s edition strolls up the red carpet January 24-February 3, it might do so with a bit of a stagger, uh, I mean swagger.


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