Just back from Julia-stock at the second annual Santa Barbara Food and Wine Weekend at Bacara in Goleta. Lots of Julia Child's relatives and old friends came out for it, and of course there was much swapping of stories. One of my favorites came from the team that was charged with packing up her home kitchen in Cambridge, Mass., and moving it to the Smithsonian — on Sept. 11, 2001. They were talking among themselves about how to protect her from the news when she came downstairs, called them together and told them that though the news that day was terrible, they were professionals and they had an obligation to continue working because that was what professionals did.
Meanwhile, the food world beats on. Here are some of our favorite stories from last week.
Good news on the fish front
There’s good news for seafood lovers — and a bit of bad. A new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration finds that the stringent management controls put in place in American waters are paying off. Fewer fish stocks are either overfished or in danger of being overfished than any time since they started keeping track in 1997. Of course, that says nothing about the 90% of fish Americans eat that is imported.
And that good news is likely to be a small comfort to sardine lovers. It seems we’re in the midst of another of their cyclical declines here on the West Coast. It’s a natural event that’s been going on for at least 1,000 years, but the fishery has been closed for the year to avoid making the situation worse — a la the great Cannery Row collapse in the 1940s and ‘50s. Still need your oily little fish fix? Give mackerel a try. It’s terrific.
Buying wine in the real world
In an ideal world, we’d all be running down the street to that great little neighborhood wine shop to pick up a bottle anytime we needed one. The reality is that there are times when that is difficult. Our wine writer S. Irene Virbila is here with six reliable bottles you can pick up at Albertson’s.
'Top Chef' comes back to California
The popular cooking reality show “Top Chef” got its start in California, filming its first two seasons in Los Angeles and San Francisco. It’s coming back for its 13th season, but covering almost the whole state, with stops in San Diego, Santa Barbara, Palm Springs and Oakland in addition to L.A. and S.F.
Are your dried herbs duds?
Do you find yourself adding more and more dried herbs or spices to recipes in order to get the level of flavor you want? It might be that your stocks are out of date. Test Kitchen Director Noelle Carter tells you how to check.
It’s fava time in Southern California
Are you a double-peeler or not? It’s fava time and we’ve got some tips on how to choose, store and clean those pesky little springtime treats. And a dozen recipes for using them.
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