This week, movie folk — both celebrities and cinephiles — will flock 95 miles north to the 28th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Running in conjunction with the festival is Film Feast. In its third year, Film Feast is not your ordinary restaurant week.
There's a catch: All of the participating restaurants must showcase a local ingredient or cinema star. Starting today and running through Feb. 3, 21 eateries are offering prix-fixe menus. Turn the page for five reasons to step on it to Santa Barbara for Film Feast.
5. A Fish Called Wanda:
Enterprise Fish Company has been serving fresh seafood for over 30 years in both its Santa Monica and Santa Barbara locations. John Cleese is the lucky fellow Wanda (Jamie Lee Curtis) tries to lure in A Fish Called Wanda. He lives in Santa Barbara. Stuff your face with Maine lobster, Manhattan clam chowder or Mt. Cook alpine King salmon without shelling out big bucks.
4. The Big Lebowski:
Jeff Bridges is also a resident of Santa Barbara. During Film Feast, Julienne Restaurant's ode to The Big Lebowski is a three-course meal inspired by the cult classic film, including a frisée salad with toasted beer nuts and “pancakes,” an I'n'O Burger, its version of an In-N-Out Burger, followed by a White Russian Milk Shake. Because The Dude drinks nine White Russians in The Big Lebowski.
3. Wine & Chocolate:
Santa Barbara's Urban Wine Trail consists of 17 winemakers in and around the downtown area and beach. One of those, Grassini Family Vineyards, is raising the stakes by pairing their wines with locally-made chocolate. Grassini plucks its grapes from a region on the eastern edge of the Santa Ynez Valley known as Happy Canyon, known for producing quality Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. Sweetening the deal are two gifts from Grassini: a handmade wine charm and a surprise family chocolate recipe.
2. Cent'Anni di Julia (100 Years of Julia Child):
In Bob Spitz's 2012 biography of Julia Child, Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child, he writes, “and for Italian she headed to Olio E Limone.” Child spent the last remaining years of her life in Santa Barbara. She would have been 100 this past August, and in her honor, Olio E Limone has put together a menu of her favorite dishes, titled 100 Years of Julia Child. Owner and general manager Elaine Morello says about Child, “She was not shy about eating lamb chops with her fingers, and would ooh and ahh.” Spitz's book concludes with the toast Morello gave in front of her restaurant about Child on the day she died.
1. Hollywood & Hollister: The Bacara Resort & Spa welcomes Hollywood to (8301) Hollister Avenue. One of the 24 participating hotels in Film Feast, Bacara Resort & Spa has its own 211-seat screening room. The Hollywood & Hollister package entitles guests to a nightly screening of films with a Santa Barbara connection, like Sideways, There Will Be Blood and Seabiscuit. Instead of munching on popcorn and soda, treats like butterfinger chocolate rice krispy treats and white chocolate cheesecake lollipops will be served along with your choice of two drinks: a local red wine (Beckmen Cabernet Sauvignon 2010), white wine (Gainey Sauvignon Blanc 2011), the Honest Abe or Canadian Caper. The screenings (with the option of snacks) are also open to the public for a fee. Miró, the chicest of Bacara's five restaurants, weighs in with its own prix-fixe Feast Menu. Executive chef David Reardon, a gold medalist in the IKA/HOGA Culinary Olympics, taps local resources to deliver plates such as red snapper carpaccio, Chanterelle “carbonara” pasta and frozen Goleta Meyer lemon parfait for dessert.
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