Happy Birthday Drink Eat Laugh

Wednesday was my birthday. I was told those last 5 words that day and here it is 72 hours later and I still can repeat them. The tick of one year older has not caused any mental degradation in me! Can you remember these words? More about my birthday later.

Friday morning I head off for the Montecito Farmer’s Market. I love Farmer’s Markets, but also I was hoping Megan, Harry and Archie might be there picking up some local squashes or peaches. No such luck, but I did find some chayote which I had never seen before. It is a gourd originally from Columbia and is cooked like a summer squash.

After the Farmer’s Market I head straight up and 10 minutes later I am at Lotusland. Lotusland is an amazing botanical garden. Madame Ganna Walska, a well-known Polish opera singer and socialite, purchased the Montecito estate in 1941 and spent the next 43 years creating Lotusland, today recognized as one of the best gardens in the world. There is a spectacular collections of exotic plants on the 37-acre property. I start in the cycad area and a guide points to these large three cycads and tells me they are called the three bachelors. Madame Walska sold off a million dollars of her jewelry to get these and the other cycads. These three are sub tropical plants that lived over 250 million years ago, before the dinosaurs. They are no surviving female plants for the three bachelors on the planet today. As a single lady I find this amusing.

There are guides throughout the garden. I learn so much from each of them. Cory, the Gardner, talks to me about bees— native bees, bumblebees, honeybees. I learn there are over 4000 species of bees and that they morphed from wasps. They have an entire section devoted to flowers that the bees and butterfly’s love.

Two bees or not two bees?

Honestly there is so much to tell about every section of the garden that I can’t do it justice. Let me just post a few more pictures I took and then encourage you to get a ticket if you are ever in Santa Barbara.

The one Farmer’s Market that I still want to get to is the Fishermans Market out on the wharf where the freshest catches are brought in from 6-11 on Saturday Morning. Today is the day.

It is so fun to see all the fishing boats and local fish, a lot of which is caught in the Channel Islands. I had a great talk with Paul who was selling vermillion ( like snapper) with his assistant Dylan. Paul tells me why the eyes of the fish bulge out ( has to do with a little balancing sac in the fish that expands when the fish come up from the deep sea).

Paul has been doing this for 40 years and seems to love both the fishing and the market. Paul tells me about an Italian man Salvatore Castagnola born in Italy in 1876. He came to the United States through New York in 1904. Salvatore started building fishing skiffs and acquired a fleet of 7 fishing boats. The family opened a fish market in 1929 in Santa Barbara and they shipped fish all over California. He and his wife had 11 children. One of the Castagnola fishing boats came up for sale and Paul bought it. It is named Sal C after Salvatore. He let me take a picture of him with his boat.

I have biked to the Fisherman’s Market so now I start biking to meet my new SB friends at La Super-Rica Taqueria. This beloved institution has been drawing crowds for decades from near and far with its simple, delicious food. Julia Child put it on the map when she moved to Santa Barbara after husband passed away. She announced in numerous interviews and magazines that it was her favorite spot. Lots of controversies exists as to its enduring claim to fame but I just want you to know that I loved it.

I beat my three friends there ( because I’m on my bike and don’t have to park) and get in the line. When they arrive they all have their favorites but I am torn.

I finally go for the Super Rica Especial (#16) and a special of the day fish tamale. If you look at these prices you see that over ordering isn’t a financial burden ( but it is a waistline burden). The people working here are so very nice.

This is Hector. I hung out talking to him while orders came and went. He has worked here for 20 years and takes such pride in his work. After a while he tells me, “ Shirley, you can call me Tito. That’s my nickname.” My order is up and it looks so delicious! Here is my tamale and my Super Rica Especial.

Here are my friends who suggested this outing. Lynn, Susan and Lynda.

But wait what about my birthday? Or birthday week actually. Do you remember those 5 words I told you at the beginning of this post. I was afraid of that. Happy Birthday Drink Eat Laugh

My brother John and sister in law Virginia arrive Monday night. We head out for a great tapas meal at Loquita in the Funk Zone to kick things off. The next day we hike the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve. It is a beautiful protected area where the Santa Ynez Mountains can be seen to the north and the Channel Islands to the south. There is a view down to the Carpinteria Harbor Seal Rockery. The seals are there year round.

Now it is Wednesday my actual birthday. We start at a local art gallery, Sullivan Goss, to see the paintings of a local artist named Hank Pitcher.

Virginia and I are quite taken by another local artist in the gallery, Erika Carter. Her paintings are rooted in her travels to central Mexico. We both want this lady to grace a room in our homes.

When we arrive back at home, there are beautiful birthday flowers from two of my favorite people.

Now we head up to Buellton. First for a visit to Pence Winery. I mentioned Pence in one of my earlier posts. This time we sit in the Canyon and have a wonderful afternoon sipping their delicious wines.

But honestly the highlight of the wine experience is still to come. A brand new undertaking by Colin McNany, his wife Hannah and the adorable Poppy. I know this family from Colin’s days as the winemaker at La Honda Winery in the Bay Area. The new winery is called MarBeSo. They have a passion for coastal influenced wines. Please put this winery on your radar and get in on their wine futures. You will not be sorry.

Dinner tonight we easily walk to my favorite Olio e Limone. Despite my resolution to forgo dessert it comes out with a candle so what can I do but have a bite or two… or three.

John and Virginia leave Thursday and I would be sad except my friend Joan has invited me for a delicious lunch of a salmon salad from NYT Cooking at her beautiful home. It is so nice to meet new people on Shirleyfest with which you have an instant connection.

That evening I head to Hendry’s beach and catch the sunset and feel so blessed by all the love and friendship I have experienced this birthday.

And do you believe it, there is one more birthday dinner? Last year in Kyoto Angela and Jim helped me celebrate my birthday and they have made a return visit to to do that again this year. We head to Ca’ Dario and have one more beautiful celebration.

Another birthday, another post. Next and maybe last post will be in the next few days. Until then thanks for visiting Shirleyfest.

3 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Drink Eat Laugh

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