Cheers & Bon Appétit from Santa Barbara County

Often reffered to as one of the most beautiful communities in the world, California's Santa Barbara County is noted for many things: excellent wines, innovative cuisines, Spanish-style architecture, lush foliage, a termperate climate, and spectacular beaches.

Published: 1/13/2015

Often refered to as one of the most beautiful communities in the world, California's Santa Barbara County is noted for many things: excellent wines, innovative cuisines, Spanish-style architecture, lush foliage, a termperate climate, and spectacular beaches. The clear Pacific Ocean provides ample recreational opportunities and stocks the fishing boats that unload their daily catch for the county’s seafood markets and restaurants. Santa Barbara County’s glorious weather allows a year-round supply of fresh vegetables, fruits, and nuts—much of it organic and sustainably raised. Close to the sources of so many quality ingredients, it is no wonder that the dining in Santa Barbara County is top notch. Add world class wines, and one can see why the area is a favored destination for wine and food enthusiasts from around the world.

Santa Barbara also happens to be the home of Touring & Tasting. Since April 2015 marks the 20th anniversary of this publication, I was asked to consult with winemakers, chefs, and winery proprietors around the county to create a festive and memorable feast to celebrate our important milestone. I have selected recipes from Santa Barbara County, reflecting locavore favorites representative of farm- to-table cuisine, for a delightful spring menu.

Bounty from the sea is incorporated into Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard’s tasty ceviche and The Brander Vineyard’s delicate soup, perfect for a spring day. Spot prawns, called “sweet shrimp” in sushi bars, are a local wild-caught specialty. Chanterelles grow in the mountains after a rain and their sweet nutty flavor drives residents and chefs to hunt for these mushroom delicacies in Santa Barbara backcountry. Fess Parker Winery matches chanterelles with tender duck breast and their Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir. Alma Rosa Winery pairs its Pinot Noir with kale prepared with maitake mushrooms and truffles. Vitamin-rich, locally grown kale is a prominent element in Santa Barbara restaurant dishes. Spring lamb with rosemary is featured with the Westerly Côte Blonde—a rich Rhône-style Syrah blend. A classic bread pudding and glass of Rideau Vineyard’s aromatic dessert wine cap a memorable meal.

When you visit Santa Barbara County, you will find farm stands and farmers markets every day of the week stocked with artisanal cheeses, locally raised meats, handmade baked goods, and more. Weekly wine and food events include winemaker dinners, farm and ranch visits, food and wine pairing classes, cooking demonstrations, and winery picnics, as well as fine dining at the local culinary school. Special events include the Santa Barbara Vintner’s Spring Weekend, fall's Celebration of Harvest, the Lemon Festival, the Avocado Festival, the French Festival, the Greek Festival, Fiesta, and October's month-long celebration of food.

Do make plans to visit us soon. In the meantime, grab an apron, a wooden spoon, and a corkscrew and help celebrate Touring & Tasting's 20 years as America's Premier Guide to Wine Country!

Santa Barbara resident Tama Takahashi is Touring & Tasting’s food editor, editor of the cookbook “Santa Barbara Culinary Arts: A Taste of Santa Barbara’s Culinary Bounty,” and co-founder of Inside Wine Santa Barbara. Please visit for all of the recipes she mentions here, along with a comprehensive wine pairing section. Photo above by Linda Blue, styled by Tama Takahashi.


As seen in the issue Spring 2015 of Touring & Tasting Magazine.


Shrimp and Scallop Ceviche
PAIRING: 2013 Buttonwood Syrah Rosé
Made with the traditional Méthode Provençal, this dry Rosé is refreshingly vibrant and crisp while highlighting the varietal character of Syrah.

Vichyssoise with Spot Prawns
PAIRING: 2013 Brander Cuvee Nicolas
Concentrated and riper blocks of estate Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon fruit, fermented with a significant amount of new French oak, deliver vanilla-infused, tropical fruit-forward flavors.

Duck Breast with Black Rice and Chanterelles
2011 Fess Parker Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills
Find impressive typicity and class in this Pinot’s red fruit, flower garden, and spice aromatics; medium body; and light, silky texture.

Roasted Maitake with Kale, Potatoes, and Truffle (courtesy of Industrial Eats)
2012 Alma Rosa Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills
A ripe vintage with intense color and nose of blueberries and red currants produced round flavors of beet and mushrooms, with pleasant tannins.

Rosemary Lamb Chops with Tomato Coulis and Goat Cheese Reduction
: 2011 Westerly Côte Blonde, Happy Canyon
Syrah brings dark fruit and spice; a touch of co-fermented Viognier adds a subtle white flower component to the exotic aromatics. Soft, juicy, and balanced.

Iris’s Bread Pudding
2012 Rideau Dessert Fleur Blanche
A lovely, premium blend of classic sweet Riesling infused with a bit of Viognier for an extra tropical boost.