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Santa Barbara Cheat Sheet Part I

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A recent long weekend in and around Santa Barbara turned up some awesome food, quirky new tasting rooms and, of course, phenomenal wines. Here, my cheat sheet:

*Nothing makes me happier than a great breakfast (particularly after a morning surfing the 54-degree waters in Ventura). Locals hit Jeannine’s for the Stumptown coffee, eggs Benedict and a chance to potentially see star surfer Kelly Slater, who is known to drop by after a surf, and D’Angelo Bread for the most perfect triple berry scones.

* Doug Margerum of Margerum Wine Company is back at the helm of Wine Cask (he ran the wine shop–restaurant–wine bar from 1981 to 2007) with a new partner, Mitchell Sjerven, owner of Bouchon and Seagrass restaurants. The wine bar serves seasonal, local dishes like mushroom risotto, roasted beets and goat cheese and duck confit flatbread. There is, of course, an awesome wine list. Doug gave us a taste of a special Margerum M5 Wine Cask blend he’s working on just for the restaurant. The Wine Cask tasting room will most likely become a tasting room for Margerum wines.

*Emma and Justin West, the talented young husband-and-wife team behind the tiny two-year-old Julienne restaurant are getting a ton of buzz for their daring (by Santa Barbara standards) farm-to-table food. The restaurant uses all local seafood from boats out of the Santa Barbara and Ventura harbors; ranch-raised meats (they frequently butcher whole animals in-house) and local produce. Menu highlights include the braised lamb tongue with shaved radishes and roasted garlic; grilled squid with pickled French beans and radicchio, and abalone with potatoes, celery and onion in a saffron-sea broth.

Check back tomorrow for wine country highlights.

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.