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Bar Le Côte: a great reason to visit the Santa Ynez Valley right now

A woman and a man slurp oysters at a restaurant.
Linda Wenger and Eric Aispuro of Santa Barbara eat oysters while sitting at the bar at Bar Le Côte, a new seafood restaurant in Los Olivos.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

In 2018, Ryan and Daisy Ryan opened Bell’s, a French-leaning bistro in Los Alamos, Calif. Positive reviews and reservations (and awards) followed, and the restaurant spurred tourism in the tiny town in the Santa Ynez Valley. Now the Ryans — and chef and co-owner Brad Mathews — have opened open Bar Le Côte, a modern seafood tavern along the main drag of historic Los Olivos, a former stagecoach town just a 12-minute drive from Bell’s. Stephanie Breijo reports on the restaurant’s opening, its expansive seafood menu and the growing popularity of the Santa Ynez Valley as a (relatively) quick get-away.

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I’m Alice Short, the interim food editor at The Times, subbing today for restaurant critic Bill Addison, who is on special assignment. Want to know a bit more about the food at Bar Le Côte? The menu, Stephanie writes, includes “meaty, fried, lemon-zested Pacific Gold oysters atop steak tartare, and dry-aged-kampachi crudos laced with saffron.”

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Stephanie also writes about a new restaurant from the creator of the ramen burger in this week’s restaurant news column. Chef Keizo Shimamoto’s highly anticipated Ramen Shack has arrived in San Juan Capistrano, and the menu includes bowls of Shimamoto’s long-simmered broths and custom fresh noodles in a range of flavors and styles.

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— If the words “canned wine” prompt you to shudder, we recommend a little attitude readjustment. Sharon Boorstin reminds us that canned wines have been slowly encroaching on liquor and grocery store shelves for years. Now, because of the pandemic and a need to dine outside, there’s been a surge in the popularity of canned wines. “Today,” Sharon writes, “even cork-sniffing, glass-swirling wine lovers may be tempted to give them a try.”

— Perhaps craft spirits are more your style? California is home to many distillers and Nicholas Mancall-Bitell profiles one of them, Sean Hallman of Shadow Ridge Spirits Company in Oceanside.

A rectangular pastry with drizzles of lavender icing.
The Thomcord grape sheet tart is basically a big Pop Tart.
(Ben Mims / Los Angeles Times)

— And, finally, we’d like to conclude this report with a few words on Pop Tarts. As a child, your interim food editor tormented her parents by either ignoring breakfast or gorging on sugar-charged, processed foods, Pop Tarts among them (blueberry was my favorite flavor). I haven’t sampled one in a while, but now I don’t need to seek out the breakfast foods aisle at the grocery store. Food columnist Ben Mims has created a recipe for a sheet tart (a.k.a. “a big Pop Tart”) using Thomcord grapes, and all is right with the world.

Outstanding in the Field Dinner Events in October

The L.A. Times is partnering with Outstanding in the Field on five dinner events in evocative Los Angeles and Orange County settings throughout October, highlighting local chefs while addressing sustainability and environmental topics.

On Thursday, Oct. 7, at Sepulveda Dam (a location that showcases restoration efforts of the L.A. River watershed), the event includes the premiere of the film “Man in the Field,” profiling Outstanding in the Field founder Jim Denevan.

An afternoon event on Saturday, Oct. 9, at Wattles Farm, the 4-acre community garden in West Hollywood, spotlights women farmers as well as women-owned wineries and breweries.

Sustainable seafood is the theme of a dinner at Huntington Beach Pier on Tuesday, Oct. 12, featuring chefs Andrew Gruel of Slapfish Restaurant Group and Craig Brady of Haven Craft Kitchen + Bar in Orange.

Chefs John Cleveland of Post & Beam and Eric Bost (formerly at Auburn in L.A. and now at Jeune et Jolie & Campfire Restaurant in Carlsbad) headline a farm-to-table dinner at the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano on Thursday, Oct. 14; the food will be sourced from the center’s 28 acres.

Paramount Studios in Hollywood will be the iconic locale on Saturday, Oct. 16, for a dinner spotlighting rising-star chefs in L.A., curated by Ray Garcia of Broken Spanish and Valerie Gordon of Valerie Confections.

Tickets cost $385 per person for each event, part of the L.A. Times Food Bowl presented by City National Bank, and are available at lafoodbowl.com.


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