Saturday, September 29, 2012

Santa Barbara Etiquette, Prickly Tongue & Space

I sip from a stoneware cup, my coffee has notes of chocolate and nearly as silky smooth as a brick of Valhrona Majari.  I am at peace in mind, body & spirit in this quaint beach town of Southern California.  My stomach, wrestling with its traditional early bird hunger (partial due to my daily reappearance at the gym?), and my eager mind decided to wake me at 6am.  The comforting chinchilla like blanket enchanted my weariness to stay in bed yet somehow I mustered an effort; disrobing like a Galician Prince and headed for the patio.  The cigarette still wields power over all else, but who cares – I made it through another day of no alcohol.

I arrived in Santa Barbara at approximately 2pm in the afternoon, just enough time to shuck the LA vibes from my very cobb . . each kernel representing a percentage of true self – I might be at 60% and hope to return to the city of lost angels with no less than 86%.  I embarked on a journey through State Street, watching the potbellied homeless, hippy-high-noted college students, European tourists of various dialects & origins as well as the local residents working or patronizing anyone of the sophisticated to surf’s up establishments.  After scribing an article for Rage Magazine’s October issue, I meandered for a bit of R&D (for my next big business adventure) before contacting my host and arranging a convenient time to meet (RULE #1: Don’t show up unannounced & keep your host informed as to your touchdown time).

There are certain rules to being a house guest; at least I was raised to understand as much and beaten with a sabertooth, leather belt  should I have forgotten my lessons of “proper” and “polite”  I greeted my friend Paul with a large bottle of Cointreau and a bag of fresh coffee beans (RULE #2: Always arrive with gifts).  After the introductions to his fully feng-shui’d townhome we set-off for a gander up the hill . . a big, big hill (no, I don’t huff & puff despite my adoration for fumigating my lungs).  The reward revealed at the tip of the hill proved to be worth every stride as the sun crested the Northeastern mountains reflecting down upon this peculiarly perfect & tame village . . almost admiring her and casting just the right amount of light.  (RULE #3: Don’t set your own schedule or clarify upfront any time bearing events so as to avoid confusion or unwarranted obligation).  Our conversation both up & down was pleasant and intriguing if not for the prickly pear cactus thorns that were stuck to my lips, index finger & thumb and yes . . my tongue (some stories simply can’t be repeated).
Truly a veteran host well versed in the pleasantries, Paul put out a light spread of olives, hummus, chips and almonds all carrying the Trader Joe’s brand before informing me that he had made reservations for us at the prestigious Stonehouse Restaurant built in 1889 (originally serving as the packing house for a citrus farm) nestled in the hills of Montecito.  We arrived to smell of burning wood, dewed evergreens and freshly strewn mulch, shadow dancing ambiance and wait . . . is that Oprah over there ravenously noshing on a dessert hare?  No, maybe a gelding minotaur or a reincarnated Andrea the Giant . . much too light to be Oprah.  Dinner was superb, the menu neither radical nor bland sported organic and free range ingredients as well as a plethora of freshly cut herbs & gathered produce from their gardens.

Farmers Market was a blast, I think I was quiet enough this morning so as not to wake Paul (RULE#4, #5, #6: Don’t wake up your guest, be respectful & quiet, make your bed & assist with cleaning as deemed appropriate).  We had a great lunch (RULE#7: pay for a meal your host has already saved you a hotel room) at the Boathouse restaurant and now, now . . . . I have to bust out a dinner from all of farmers market acquisitions (and it has to be vegan – so I got’s to go!)

With Culinary Blessings,
                          Chef Scotty