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Ceviche: Fresh Fish and Lime, what could be more refreshing?

After a foray in wine tasting in downtown Santa Barbara for a pre-Mother’s Day celebration, my mother and I ended up at the counter of the Bay Cafe and Fish Market. We opted for the local catch and selected 1 lb of fresh red snapper. Ceviche!, we instantly thought, and packed the fish in ice to take home.

Ceviche, fresh fish “cooked” in lime juice, is the ideal summer lunch. Because the fish is never cooked in heat, it must be as fresh as possible (buy only from a reputable fishmonger) and the dish should be prepared the day you buy the fish. Avoid fish with a fishy odor or an off-color.

The beautiful thing about ceviche is that it cooks while you’re lounging around in the sun or making margaritas. Prepare the dish several hours before you’re ready to eat so the acidity in the lime juice has a chance to “cook” the fish and add the cilantro at the last minute for the best flavor. For a touch of panache, serve the cocktail in martini glasses with a lime wedge.

Ceviche de Huachinango

1 lb Fresh Red Snapper, chopped into small chunks

6 limes

1 small red onion, chopped into small cubes

3 small tomatoes, chopped into small cubes

1 avocado (optional), chopped into small cubes

hot sauce (such as Tapatio)

salt and pepper

1 handful of cilantro, chopped

******

1. Mix the snapper, tomatoes and chopped onion in a medium bowl (preferably ceramic). Squeeze the juice from the six limes into the bowl and mix until the fish is thoroughly covered. If you want, add the avocado at this time.

2. Put the fish/tomatoes/onion mix into the fridge for 4-5 hours.

3. Remove from the fridge and season with salt, pepper and hot sauce, to taste.

4. Just before serving, add the chopped cilantro. Serve into individual bowls.

******

Other great fish markets in Santa Barbara include Kanaloa Seafood, which is tucked away on Gutierrez street near Milpas and has tons of fresh fish offerings (although sadly not that many are local) and Lazy Acres, which has excellent fish (try their mango salsa!).

Photo is of the Kanaloa Seafood counter.

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Posted by on May 12, 2008 in Fish

 

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Great Santa Barbara Grub Without Spending a lot of Dough

Yes, we know that Oprah lives here and that the rich and beautiful from La-La land weekend here, but Santa Barbara does have deals. Julie Besonen of The New York Times finds some great deals in her latest article, but she’s missed a few great places to go in Santa Barbara that won’t break the bank.

For a healthy meal:

My favorite place to grab a leisurely meal without the guilt is without a doubt the Natural Cafe. Vegans and vegetarians will find a medley of options, but carnivores will find good grub here, too. Their luscious fresh salads are served in oversized wooden bowls and their sandwiches are always satisfying and filling. Try the East Beach salad with grilled veggies or the Tostada Salad with steamed tofu and tahini ginger dressing. Even your soul will feel wholesome.

Natural Cafe — Two locations in SB

Downtown and Hitchcock

For a sinful breakfast/brunch:

Indie hipsters and families gather at the Tupelo Junction Cafe for to-die-for eggs, french toast (and for those truly looking for a sinful bfast, chicken fried steak). The waitresses are sexy (or so the boyfriend noticed) and the service superb. Try the Dungeness crab cakes with poached eggs and avocado salsa. Also amazing are the french toast. Sour baguettes are buttered up and made into french toast, topped with fresh whipped cream and surrounded with loads of sweet-tart raspberry sauce.

Tupelo Junction

Map of 1218 State St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

For cheap and delicious Mexican food:

Mesa locals head to Mexican Fresh for fish tacos, burritos and carnitas made without a touch of lard. This little joint (next to Blenders — another Santa Barbara favorite) serves up fresh agua de Horchata and the best grilled veggie burrito I’ve ever had. You’ll leave lunch full and still have money for a cookie at Lazy Acres across the street.

Mexican Fresh
Map of 315 Meigs Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93109

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2008 in Restaurant Buzz

 

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Review: Crushcakes

It was going to happen eventually. The ever ubiquitous, uber-trendy miniature cakes have made it to Santa Barbara. Before we know it, Pinkberry (and its various knockoffs Yogurberry, Red Mango and Fraiche) will be situated on State Street next to Juicy Couture.

But while some may greet the newest cupcake shop with disdain, I’m happy to see its arrival. Crushcakes (located on Anacapa and Arlington) opened up just a couple of weeks ago and has been serving delightfully little cupcakes ever since! Their signature cupcake is the red-velvet.jpgRed Velvet with sour cream frosting, topped with minuscule chocolate hearts.

I’ve been interested in the origin of the red velvet cupcake for quite some time now. I first encountered the peculiarly colored cakes at Toast in Los Angeles and subsequently went hunting around for more. For the uninitiated, red velvet cupcakes are chocolate cupcakes topped with a buttercream frosting. I love the flavor, but always wondered why someone would go through the trouble of dyeing these little cakes red?

According to this NYT article, there are many theories as to why this cake has food coloring, but there isn’t one definite answer. Some theorize that during the 1950s, when some products were rationed, cooks added beets to enhance the color of the cake. Another theory is that the anthocyanin in cocoa turns red when it comes in contact with acids.

Whatever the reason, I love red velvet cupcakes and cupcake lovers should definitely stop by Crushcakes. Their regular cupcakes are priced at $3.25 (yikes!) and their mini cupcakes cost $1.25, but if you get there early, you can purchase day-old cupcakes for half-price, which, after enjoying one today, taste just as sweet, if not sweeter because you know you haven’t overpaid.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2008 in Restaurant Buzz

 

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