A M I NA R U B I NAC C I F W 2 3 C O L L E C T I O N I N S T O R E N O W
CAPTIVATING MODERN LUXURY S H O P O N L I N E at allorabylaura.com 1269 2023 Coast Village Road, Montecito CA 4 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER
| 805.563.2425 | @allorabylaura | allorabylaura.com
@SBLIFEANDSTYLE | 5
THE FINEST MONTECITO & SANTA BARBARA HOMES
#1 BHHS AGENT LOCALLY AND GLOBALLY*
TIMELESS AND ROMANTIC MEDITERRANEAN VILLA
SPANISH CONTEMPORARY WITH PANORAMIC VIEWS
733 KNAPP DRIVE, MONTECITO | OFFERED AT $8,975,000
33 VIA ALICIA , SANTA BARBARA | OFFERED AT $4,500,000
RANCH-STYLE COMPOUND WITH STUNNING VIEWS
LUXURIOUS POLO FIELD CONDO
807 E ALAMAR AVENUE, SANTA BARBARA | OFFERED AT $3,400,000
3375 FOOTHILL ROAD #931, CARPINTERIA | OFFERED AT $2,150,000
CRISTAL CLARKE • MONTECITO-ESTATE.COM • 805.886.9378 • CRISTAL@MONTECITO-ESTATE.COM • DRE 00968247 ©2023 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties (BHHSCP) is a member of the franchise system of BHH Affiliates LLC. BHH Affiliates LLC and BHHSCP do not guarantee accuracy of all data including measurements, conditions, and features of property. Information is obtained from various sources and will not be verified by broker or MLS. *Individual agent by sales volume in 2022 for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices.
6 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2023
THE FINEST MONTECITO & SANTA BARBARA HOMES
I LOVE WHERE I LIVE. LOVE WHAT I DO. SELL WHAT I LOVE.
J AC K WAR NER CONTEMP O R A RY A R C H I TEC TU R A L M A S TER P I ECE 238 MIRAMAR AVENUE, MONTECITO | OFFERED AT $11,850,000
CASA BENE: UNR IVALED O C EA N V I EW C O N TEM P O R A RY ES TAT E 811 CAMINO VIEJO, SANTA BARBARA | OFFERED AT $9,995,000
CRISTAL CLARKE • MONTECITO-ESTATE.COM • 805.886.9378 • CRISTAL@MONTECITO-ESTATE.COM • DRE 00968247 ©2023 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties (BHHSCP) is a member of the franchise system of BHH Affiliates LLC. BHH Affiliates LLC and BHHSCP do not guarantee accuracy of all data including measurements, conditions, and features of property. Information is obtained from various sources and will not be verified by broker or MLS. *Individual agent by sales volume in 2022 for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices.
Season ‘TIS THE
HOLIDAY PETIT FOURS • PUMPKIN & APPLE PIES • BUTTERRINGS 8 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2023
@SBLIFEANDSTYLE | 9
10 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2023
C E L E B R AT I N G
Wellness Week November 5–9, 2023
At El Encanto, you are never far from the feeling of serenity. This November, El Encanto offers comfort and space for exploration, transformation, and healing with a series of curated experiences that cultivate self-discovery through wellness, intention, and mindfulness. Start your day with a sensorial nature hike around the historic mission or restorative yoga under a wisteria-covered trellis at the tranquil lily pond, followed by journaling and explorative mandala workshops or a ritualistic Peruvian cacao ceremony with meditation and intention setting. Experience five days of wellness experiences that promote healing and restore a sense of wholeness in mind, body and spirit.
Visit El Encanto’s Experiences page for a full schedule of workshops.
For more information or to make a reservation, please contact the spa at 805-770-3345 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
800 ALVARADO PLACE, SANTA BARBARA, CA 93103 | 805 845 5800 | BELMOND.COM/ELENCANTO @elencantohotel |
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Home of Sandbox Kids
TIMELESS CLASSICS FOR THROUGHOUT THE YEAR BUELLTON 805.351.2526
LOS OLIVOS 805.697.7377
PISMO BEACH 805.773.1055
SAN LUIS OBISPO 805.543.3200
PASO ROBLES 805.226.5088
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14 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2023
Discover the highly rated wines of Alma Rosa Winery in its gorgeous indoor/outdoor tasting room in downtown Solvang or at its stunning 628-acre estate. TASTING ROOM OPEN DAILY 1623 Mission Drive Solvang
Vineyard Estate Tastings By Appointment 805-691-9395
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EDITOR IN CHIEF & PUBLISHER Ottocina Ryan ART DIRECTOR Vide Olsson CONTENT COORDINATOR Olivia McGovern SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER Alexandra Lee STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Silas Fallstich PHOTOGRAPHERS Jackie Beran, Jordan Rose, Angelo Sgambati, Victoria Snider WRITERS Haven Heffernan, Laura Hupp, Nicole Johnson, Alexandra Lee, Hannah Meyers, Alexandra Sharova INTERNS Isabella Ballerini, Nicole Johnson, Laura Hupp
ON THIS COVER
PHOTOGRAPHER Angelo Sgambati STYLIST Ottocina Ryan MODEL Aaron Bernards with Photogenics HAIR Andre Gunn MAKEUP Nicole Chew LOCATION Bella Vista Estate listed with Cristal Clarke Shirt NN.07 K. Frank Sweater ALLUDE K. Frank Pants MASON’S K. Frank Sunglasses CRAP EYEWEAR
Santa Barbara Life & Style Magazine is published by Santa Barbara Life & Style, Inc. 26 West Mission Street #5, Santa Barbara, CA 93101 For distribution, advertising and other inquiries: email@example.com santabarbaralifeandstyle.com
Jeweled splendor since 1932 Jeweled splendor since 1932
PRECIOUS JEWELS | SINCE 1932 | LOS ANGELES | SAN MARINO | MONTECITO
at The Rosewood Miramar Hotel (805) 900-1010 | www.LAYKIN.com | 1759 South Jameson Road, Montecito CA
IN EVERY ISSUE
SBLS SPOTLIGHT 21 These are a few of our favorite things.
LEADING L ADY 48 ShelterBox President Kerri Murray spreads kindness and aid kits throughout the places that need it most.
THE NICE LIST 24 'Tis the season of carolers, cocktails, and clothing.
COASTAL GROOVES A California kind of Christmas music.
4 8 HOURS 98 Making Santa Barbara home for the holidays.
THE HOLIDAY WISHLIST 22 Show your love with a gift from True Love Always.
HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 56 For her, for him, and everything in between.
TOP SECRET 26 Tastes of Asia on Anacapa Street. SEAS ON OF SIPPING 32 Spreading holiday cheers at Skyview’s Norman. DINNER AND A SHOW Hotel Californian’s Blackbird puts on the performance of a lifetime.
LET THE LIGHT IN 40 Megan Vanderwall is a welcomed addition to the Santa Barbara design scene, curating spaces that mirror her clients’ lifestyles. NARNIA, TAKE NOTES 46 Closet connoisseur Lisa Adams expertly designs everyone’s favorite room.
18 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2023
GOOD SPORT Players ready?
A HOLIDAY IN LONDON It’s time for you to book that England trip. MONTANA WINTER The mountains of Montana are calling.
PURA VIDA 88 Live out your Indiana Jones dreams in Costa Rica. SNOW WHITE 92 Dyson hair dryers and dips in the pool? Included. Deer? Maybe.
JESSICA JUBELIRER DESIGN
RECOGNIZED BY ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST AS A NEW AMERICAN VOICE JUBELIRERDESIGN.COM | 805.926.5640
1. GARDEN PARTY
We drenched our palates in olive oil at Global Gardens’ “Tasting Los Olivos” dinner at Mattei’s Tavern, featuring a cocktail hour, live music, and multi-course pairing dinner. Create and bottle your own olive oil infusion on property at Mattei’s Tavern!
BY Alexandra Lee
2. THAT’S AMORE
Pizza night just got better! Bettina has launched two frozen pizza offerings in partnership with Kitchenette, meaning you can skip the wait and enjoy their signature Margherita Pizza and White Pie from the comfort of your couch.
3. THE TEA
Dine in the company of bunnies and caviar at San Ysidro Ranch’s Afternoon Tea, with a curated selection of tea sandwiches, scones, and housemade pastries. Top off the experience with exclusive bubbles, such as BillecartSalmon’s Brut Rosé.
4. CRYSTAL CLEAR
Baccarat crystal makes for a sparkling gift, or simply a luxe addition to elevate your holiday entertaining. Now available at Coast 2 Coast Collection in La Arcada Courtyard, Santa Barbara.
Follow @sblifeandstyle for daily behind the scenes content, new restaurants, events, getaways, and more...
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SBLS covet & crave
THE HOLIDAY WISHLIST MONTECITO BOUTIQUE TRUE LOVE ALWAYS’ CURATED COLLECTION OF GOODS IS THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING
BY Alexandra Lee PHOTOGRAPHY Silas Fallstich
Gabriela Artigas Jewelry For loved ones, a thoughtful jewelry piece is always sure to please. Luckily, TLA’s selection cuts out all the hard work—this Gabriela Artigas gold chain link bracelet and pavé ring are each stunning in their own right, or are perfect as a duo.
Estelle Colored Stemless Wine Glasses Goodbye, basic glasses—this holiday season is ringing in a new tradition. Go for these playfully fun stemless Estelle wine glasses in a variety of electric colors, guaranteed to enliven any family gathering (holiday or otherwise).
Estelle Colored Decanter On the theme of color play, add a bright pop to any lucky friend’s bar cart with this fuschia decanter, made by glass artisans in Poland. Bonus points for a matching fuschia wine glass (see above).
Radica Studio L’amaca Bag Radica Studio takes accessorizing to the max this season with its statement metallic silver handbag, crafted entirely from authentic Italian leather—the ultimate holiday party plus one.
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TLA Candle True Love never smelled so good! Nothing says “welcome home” like a fresh scented candle, especially when it’s embossed with a TLA leather case and adorable matching canvas pouch.
Blacksaw Peyote Reversible Throw Who says the home doesn’t deserve a little holiday facelift? Give the gift of warm and fuzzy with this reversible baby alpaca throw blanket by Blacksaw, whose alluring snake embroidery is created in collaboration with Indonesian artist Eka Mardiys.
SBLS this season
THE NICE LIST
Refreshing sips and shops to make the season merry and bright BY Nicole Johnson
IN A MALIBU MOOD
Invigorate your holiday shopping with the elevated classics and cool coastal collectives unique to Malibu Country Mart. The expertly curated oceanside center invites all to shop, dine, and unwind al fresco, with upscale women’s boutiques like Andie Swim, ba&sh, and Madison, and refined menswear from John Varvatos and Vince. Hone your holiday fitness goals with sleek activewear from Vuori, gift contemporary home goods from Malibu Colony Co. and CB2, and reframe your look with a new pair of Oliver Peoples. And yes, replenishments are aplenty: opt for an afternoon caffeine boost at LA coffee cornerstone Alfred, swap your go-to aperitif for a cleansing SunLife smoothie, and indulge in a dinnertime taste of not-so-distant home at Lucky’s Steakhouse. MALIBU COUNTRY MART
BEST COAST BEVERAGES
Crack open a can of Best Coast Beverages, a sun-kissed salute to a California craft. The effervescent brand is pushing the envelope on the rules of wine—and we’re along for the ride. “I wanted to change the narrative that if something is in a can, it must be crappy,” says founder Caroline Juen, who partners with local winemaking luminary Sonja Magdevski on her Santa Ynez harvests. As seasoned tastemaker of lifestyle blog Love & Loathing LA and a NorCal native, Caroline fuses her appreciation for the premium quality of Napa grapes and the adventurous spirit of central coast oenology. Savor fizzy white, skin contact, red, and rosé varieties, translating transient bubbles into a permanent cause for celebration. Best Coast’s effortlessness doesn’t overthink wine, blending traditional sipping splendor with a sparkling, sustainable twist that’s anything but anticlimactic.
PHOTO BY JACQUELINE PILAR
FIZZ THE SEASON
2 oz Ghia 8 oz water 1 tsp honey 1 tsp coriander and/or fennel seeds, whole Fresh ginger, peeled and sliced Combine water and fresh ginger slices with coriander and/or fennel seeds in a saucepan over low heat and stir. Bring to a simmer and let steep for one hour, then strain. Add a lug of Ghia and honey to taste. Drink from a mug while it's warm.
1.5 oz Ghia 1 oz pear juice 2 oz sparkling or flat water 1 lemon slice A dusting of cinnamon Mix 1.5 oz Ghia and 1 oz pear juice, stir. Add 2 oz splash of sparkling or flat water. Serve in low ball glass on the rocks, garnish with a fresh lemon slice and dusting of cinnamon.
CAMARILLO PREMIUM OUTLETS
WORTH THE DRIVE Seasonal luxury savings with a Ventura Highway venture? Hop in. Camarillo Premium Outlets offers designer brands unavailable in town— namely Armani, Bally, Jimmy Choo, and Versace— at unheard-of discounts, mapping out a holiday haul down the coast. From the softest loungewear at Barefoot Dreams, to quality luggage at Tumi, to cocktail dresses at Ted Baker, it’s easy to spend the day perusing the 160 shops while checking everyone off your list…including yourself. THE WEBSTER AT ROSEWOOD MIRAMAR BEACH
Rosewood Miramar Beach is Montecito’s annex for exclusive, elegant retail. Its crème de la crème selection of permanent boutiques and pop-ups warrants a day trip of its own. Revel in Laykin et Cie’s precious jewel collection, wander about Gwyneth Paltrow’s curated wellness and resort wear at goop, take a breather at crisp, linen-lined James Perse, and emulate epicurean with The Webster’s seasonal designer displays. If Michelin stars (for which Caruso’s has something to show) recognized fashion on top of food, this highly styled resort would be two-for-two.
CURRY CRAB NOODLES
26 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2023
TOP SECRET CO-OWNERS, EXECUTIVE CHEFS, AND POWER COUPLE PETER LEE AND FELICIA MEDINA FUSE THEIR MULTICULTURAL BACKGROUNDS TO CREATE A MENU OF SOPHISTICATED FEEL-GOOD DISHES AT SECRET BAO
BY Hannah Meyers | PHOTOGRAPHY Silas Fallstich
he secret is out—Secret Bao is a must on any foodie’s list. Born during the pandemic as a wildly successful pop-up, operating first out of their house, then Handlebar Coffee, and now on the corner of Anacapa and Anapamu, Peter Lee and Felicia Medina have grown the restaurant into a Santa Barbara staple. Their culinary genius creates dishes that dance on the tongue and soothe the soul. As a Korean-American myself, Secret Bao is an exciting home away from home—I find comfort in their take on traditional Korean dishes while still being
blown away by how they elevate the flavors. Lee and Medina have found a way to make something familiar entirely new. While it’s tempting to call their restaurant the definition of Asian fusion cuisine, it is so much more than that. The pair met in culinary school and have flourished since. Previously executive chefs at Santa Barbara favorite Loquita, they have made their way through the kitchens of Michelin-starred restaurants in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Lee and Medina are classically trained in New American, Spanish, Italian, and French cuisines, yet Lee’s Korean heritage and Medina’s
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mixed cultural background and childhood in Los Angeles’ San Gabriel Valley have made Asian flavors their homebase. “Neither one of us have actually made the traditional [Asian] dishes, especially me,” Lee says. “My mom did all the cooking and I was just the batter boy, tasting it and setting the table. So I don’t really know how to make the traditional stuff. We take it, and go to what we have been trained in—the French and Italian techniques. We meld the cuisines, not because we’re trying to make a fusion, we’re just trying to make it taste good.” Secret Bao’s dishes have the nostalgic taste of staple Korean ingredients like gochujang, while combining various flavors taken from cuisines all around the world to create a delectable and truly unique bite. The pair take inspiration from all around them—Korean dishes like tteok manduguk (a dumpling and rice cake soup for New Year’s), cool videos they see on social media, and Medina’s weekly farmer’s market visits. They’ve found their groove by offering a casual lunch headed by Medina, and Lee running the elevated dinner service. “The menu changes take into consideration weather and seasonality. When the weather’s cold we like to do kimchi jjigae “Their culinary genius creates [a tofu soup], congees, dishes dishes that dance on the that warm you,” Medina says. tongue and soothe the soul.” Lee explains, “All winter we focus on braises, soups and stews. It depends on what we’re craving as well. We both love kimchi jjigae pozole, which is a bridge between the two of us. It’s Felicia’s speciality.” Medina chimes in, “I do the kimchi jjigae and add the chilis in the broth and serve it with the pozole accompaniments. When he would take me out to eat these soups, I would put so much chili and lime in it, he’s like ‘You’re just making pozole out of everything!’ We try to reinvent certain things.” Secret Bao’s dishes come from the heart and soul of two individuals not trying to recreate a cuisine, or trying to blend a fusion, but making plates that taste good, the best way they know how. By now, my mouth is watering and I have to try the current menu for myself.
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TEMPURA SQUASH BLOSSOMS
30 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2023
As I sit down at a booth in the cozy, airy dining room, the restaurant feels like home—if home came with two innovative chefs. Laughter and lively discussion from the diners around me fills the room. Choruses of “Oohs” and “Aahs” erupt after every dish lands on a table, that only echoes once people take their first bite. It’s a harmonious call of satisfaction that rings through the restaurant. I know I’m in the right place. The entire menu exhibits their flexibility, passion and creativity. First up: Peruvian scallops perched on the half shells. Dressed with a yuzu vinaigrette, Persian cucumbers, and masago, it serves a citrusy punch as the sweet cucumber meets the heat of the chili crunch and salty orange roe. It’s an explosion of cool, bright flavors, colors, and textures. Delicately fried tempura squash blossoms filled with Korean cheesy corn and served with green goddess aioli follows; the ultimate snack to pair with one of their many delicious cocktails. It would be criminal to go to a restaurant named Secret Bao without having a bao of course. And The K.F.C. Bao is not to be missed. A pillowy soft bun envelops a generous chunk of fried chicken glazed with a Korean inspired sweet and spicy sauce and topped with slaw, pickled red onions, and scallions. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty diving into the K.F.C., or one of their other perfected baos featuring succulent pork belly or crispy Spanish octopus.
Next, I bite into the soy chili dumplings, with just the right amount of heat to contrast the sweet soy sauce. Everything about this dish, from Felicia’s signature chili crunch to the savory pork filling, is intentionally placed to enhance and balance the experience. The end product? A perfect bite. Now, I love duck confit, and their five spice duck noodles are no exception. The entree is an eclectic mix of Asian flavors highlighting Szechuan soy sauce, Thai basil, vibrant Chinese broccoli, and their classic chili crunch, which all come together to create an umami dish with incredible depth of flavor. Ending a meal here means perusing the ever changing dessert menu that features Korean shaved ice (bingsu), lemon crème brûlée, date cake, and a brioche donut bao stuffed with ice cream. Following our server’s recommendation, we round it all off with the date cake. She didn’t lead us astray; the syrupy confection gives a dopamine rush equivalent to a warm hug. The spongy cake lets the natural sweetness of dates shine through with the familiar pairing of vanilla bean ice cream. The cake sits in a robust caramel sauce—a testament to their ability to master the classics in dessert—and graham crumbles to add a welcome crunch. As I spoon the last bite into my mouth, I’m left wishing I could do it all again.*
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season of sipping THERE ARE PLENTY OF REASONS TO PAY SKYVIEW’S NORMAN A VISIT, AND THEIR SEASONAL COCKTAIL MENU IS ONE MORE BY Laura Hupp | PHOTOGRAPHY Silas Fallstich
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ruising north on the 101, the iconic yellow “MOTEL” sign, a vestige of the 1960s road trip era, lets me know that I have arrived. Located in Los Alamos, Skyview is a 1950s motel turned boutique hotel that boasts bright orange sunbrellas, copious cacti, and the hidden oasis that is Norman Restaurant. Despite its namesake being the main villain of Alfred Hitchcock’s motel-based thriller Psycho, you won’t find any stolen cash here. Instead, behind the grand black doors, Norman comes alive with vibrant velvet booths and a baby grand piano just waiting to be played. Rays of sun beam through from every angle with windows lining each wall. Just out the side door, guests can lounge under a sunbrella that matches the pool (original 50s shape, I might add) and walk up to Norman’s outdoor bar for a cooling beverage.
a dried apple slice and maraschino cherry is the epitome of a fall cocktail. Housemade fresh-off-the-pan bacon fat infused bourbon is not afraid to make its presence known—as it should. While the concoction is boozy, the bitters and slight salt flavor make it an easy savory sip. The bourbon lingers, and so does the warm and fuzzy feelings it creates.
A reddish-orange velvet tufted round booth is my home for this special occasion. It’s not my birthday or anniversary. It’s the rollout of Norman’s seasonal cocktail menu, a debut project for mixologist Jake Laggren, AKA the perfect excuse for a break from the holiday craze.
Keeping with the heat theme, our next aperitif is Laggern’s take on a Hot Toddy. “Presentation driven” according to the creator, the opaque pink mixed drink is poured from the tea press at the table with a dried orange embellishment rising with the liquid. The slight burn of the gin is hidden by the warmth of the locally sourced Secret Garden Teahouse blend (specifically their San Luis Sunset flavor). The hibiscus and orange emit hints of floral and citrus that taste as delectable as they smell. Curling up by the fire with a ceramic mug of tea is an essential holiday experience, and the liquor, in this case, is a welcomed addition to the tradition. Filled with a mix of tranquility and excitement, a soft smile plasters across my face and a content hum leaves my lips as I take my next taste.
Starting us off strong is a Maple Bacon Washed Bourbon Old Fashioned. A rocks glass filled with a warm orange elixir kept cool by a full cube and decorated with
Norman hops on the mocktail movement with our next seasonal sip: Birdsong. The Lyre’s non-alcoholic bourbon-based beverage has a smoky start followed by
THE THYME KEEPER AND THE MAPLE BACON WASHED BOURBON OLD FASHIONED
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THE THYME KEEPER
“Ingredient-dyed a beautiful orangey red, and garnished with a sprig of thyme and dried blood orange, the fan-favorite beverage certainly got the holiday memo.”
the citrus herbal complexity of lemon and Lyre’s aperol. Finished off with an egg white foam that tricks my brain into thinking it’s whipped cream, the slight bitter edge is masked with a sweet finish for smooth sipping. Like a lyrebird mimics other birds, this alcohol-free beverage mimics a whiskey sour. The burnt orange tincture cements all beliefs that you don’t need alcohol to unwind. This final cocktail is here all year long, and I can’t argue with that logic. The Thyme Keeper is a keeper. While the East Coast in me is itching for some weather that accurately depicts the season, we can’t ignore that a Santa Barbara fall (and even winter) can be hot. So, the refreshingly cool fruity bourbon-amaro concoction is a wellreceived change. Housemade pomegranate reduction syrup packs a punch to complement the mellow herbal notes of the Brutto Americano. The ginger beer addition presents a slight spice to taste and slight tingle to feel as you enjoy. Ingredient-dyed a beautiful orangey red, and garnished with a sprig of thyme and dried blood orange, the fan-favorite beverage certainly got the holiday memo. Reluctantly peeling ourselves away from the comfort of that plush booth, the 101 South teleports us back to reality and away for our 60s retreat. Yet I smile, as I know just where to come whenever I want to escape the holiday frenzy.*
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DINNER AND A SHOW HOTEL CALIFORNIAN’S BLACKBIRD WOWS WITH BOLD CUISINE AND SHOWSTOPPING COCKTAILS
BY Laura Hupp | PHOTOGRAPHY Silas Fallstich
925 marks the beginning of Hotel Californian and of my evening. Their 1925 is the grand opening of the State Street place-to-stay. Mine is a mezcal-based beverage brought to life by mixologist extraordinaire Devon Espinosa. Just eleven days after opening, tragedy struck the hotel with the 1925 Santa Barbara earthquakes that leveled the city. My first cocktail pays homage to these events, and the presentation is a spectacle. A wooden lid is pulled from the glass, and smoke fills the air as it did on that fateful day. This moment in Santa Barbara history will never be forgotten, and the lingering heat of this concoction doesn’t want to be either. Green Chartreuse and lime level the zip of the Mezcal and hickory smoke with botanical and citrus notes, making it a strong start to my evening. Just like the 1925, everything at Hotel Californian’s Blackbird restaurant has a story. Anyone For Tennis?, a common stage cue paying respects to Santa Barbara’s role in the silent film industry, is a tincture revolving around Pimm’s. On The Ice, a gin martini of sorts, is a tribute to the Las Vegas Knights,
36 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2023
who share owners with the hotel. Before I continue, let me set the scene. Scarlet red and black chevron-like tile lies beneath me and four black walls sit around me. Despite the darkness, the “black box” is set aglow by marquee-esqe sconces and art deco chandeliers. Gold embellishments, a mixture of velvet and leather burnt orange seating, and a view of the stocked bar give Old Hollywood speakeasy effects. Grand arch windows allow the evening sun to seep through, reminding you that you are still in Santa Barbara. While the aperitifs are history heavy, Chef Travis Watson’s fare stays present. “Hyperseasonal” is how Hotel Californian’s Marketing and Communications Manager Mercedes Smith describes the menu, and I would have to agree. Seasonal Ceviche—sea bass at the moment—and the Citrus Salad make their big debut at the table. The fish has a velvety softness that when paired with the crunch of English cucumbers, cubed radishes, and kumquats creates a beautiful contrast of textures. It’s refreshing, and bursting with an array of flavors performing as teammates rather than competitors.
“Blackbird is iconoclastic: iconic by pairing unexpected things in a new exciting way.”
48 HOUR SHORT RIB
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The dish itself is accompanied by a salmon chicharron, equal parts aesthetic and practical, as it serves as a vessel for the sea bass ceviche. Blackbird is iconoclastic: iconic by pairing unexpected things in a new exciting way. The Citrus Salad takes that acclaim to heart. Blood oranges and burrata are things I wouldn’t normally think to put together, but they absolutely work and are absolutely iconic. The burrata, for starters, is not your typical burrata. The epitome of creaminess, the traditional sturdy exterior of the cheese is nowhere to be seen. Elevating the bitterness of the citrus and soft sweetness of the fromage is a sprinkling of crumbled salted pistachios and a dusting of tajin for a little zip. It’s beautiful chaos in each bite. We take a brief intermission for a refill. The Tramp, another nod to Santa Barbara’s age of cinema and Charlie Chaplin’s most notable persona, is Espinosa’s take on a pornstar martini. On presentation alone, it’s Oscar worthy. The Yellow Chartreuse, passion fruit, lemon, and Absolut Elyx Vodka curate a bright orange elixir that deserves its own Pantone swatch. Decorated with a swirl of deep pink raspberry foam and fresh orchid, hats off to the costume department. And get this—it tastes as good as it looks. The sweetness of the passionfruit is moderated by the slightly tart cream and the side of champagne gives you the power to dilute as needed. Master of Suspense, King of Intrigue and Excitement, Alfred Hitchcock, the restaurant’s name sake, created films that left viewers on the edge of their seats never knowing what to expect. Blackbird earns its name. I am intrigued, excited, and on the edge of my seat waiting for each dish to come, and this next Santa Barbara classic with a twist has my curiosity particularly piqued. For one, the word “Dayboat” preceding the word “scallops” is always promising. Further catching my attention, these three beautifully seared mollusks are swimming in
a pool of amber curry. The odd coupling is a love story. It’s further proof of the iconoclastic persona that Blackbird epitomizes with the tender seafood embracing the sauce like long lost lovers that have always belonged together. Just hours earlier, those scallops were fished from the ocean floor and, in the best way possible, it tastes like it. The ornate combination of spices in the curry reduction harmonize with the oceanic flavors of the scallop. While I do love a risk, the Dayboat Scallops experience almost fell victim to my even greater love for risotto. Torn between the two, we did what anyone would’ve— a risotto “for the table.” The richness of the truffles shines with the parmesan playing an impeccable supporting role. Concocting risotto is not for the faint of heart. In Blackbird’s Risotto, you can feel the craftsmanship, the ebb and flow of gentle stirring and timely broth additions, in the texture. Thanking my indecisiveness for putting this dish on the table, I go in for another scoop. Our server, Axel, asks the question we’ve all been waiting for: “Dessert?” Yes, please. A Baked Alaska concludes my storybook evening. Homemade brown sugar banana ice cream rests on a chai toffee bed all under a meringue canopy. When the rum topping is set afire, a golden brown toasting is left behind, decorating the cloud-like encasement. It’s warm, then cold, and sweet, then smoky. It’s a Santa Barbara fall in dessert form. It’s a delightful ending. Hotel Californian is referred to as The Intersection of Everything. As the curtain comes to a close on my incredible night, I understand why. Outside the restaurant, to my left the harbor sparkles under the pier lights and to my right the evening crowd of State Street is thriving. I would say Blackbird is also an Intersection of Everything—an intersection of phenomenal food, inspiring cocktails, incredible service, and a refreshing environment.*
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LET THE LIGHT IN
BY Nicole Johnson PHOTOGRAPHY Sara Tramp
BREAKOUT INTERIOR DESIGNER MEGAN VANDERWALL’S MESA ABODE EXUDES NATURAL EASE
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PHOTO BY LINDSEY DREWES
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he Mesa, a eucalyptus-lined enclave perched atop storied bluffs, lies at the threshold of the Pacific. To newcomers and veterans alike, the seafront stretch of sun-soaked greenery, Spanish colonials, and mid-century moderns evokes familiarity, whether from summer soirées at neighborhood social nooks or songs imbuing its archetypal coastal aura.
Nothing quite encapsulates this airy timelessness like Santa Barbara native and interior designer Megan Vanderwall’s beachside bungalow, a James Perse-esque haven that sits low and brings spirits high. Angular contemporary architecture makes for a luxe entrance, while exterior white paint and light-stained wood panels truly take the edge off. As feathery palms unhurriedly fan out about the property wherever grass meets stone, warm landscaping hues hint at the earthy tones within. The home’s motto is clear: let the light in. As I float through the beaming foyer—illumination courtesy of floor-toceiling glass doors rolling to reveal the backyard—my gaze fixes on two old friends in conversation. A pair of coffee velvet armchairs angle toward one another, musing about Gray Malin’s pastel cowboy-meetsPrada photograph before them. My head swivels right, revealing a freckled, well-loved wooden bar. A handme-down from Megan’s parents, the rustic cabinet has jetted “from a beach house in Oxnard, to a ski cabin in Montana, to a kitchen in Seattle,” and finally finds refuge in its righteous Santa Barbara roots, wearing its age well. “I swear it’s like the sisterhood of the traveling bar,” Megan laughs. Just above hovers a sumptuous mercury-inspired mirror that distorts my reflection with textured bubbles, inviting me in for a lime-infused glass of sparkly and a gander at the indoor-outdoor synergy ahead. I’ve only just met Megan, yet it feels as though I’ve walked into the welcoming arms of an intimate space, perhaps to blissfully unwind, or to take her master class in curating livable luxury. My admiration amplifies when she reveals the home was once a bachelor pad, clad in stark black and moody crimson finishes—where others don’t, Megan sees good bones. “My priority was to soften, lighten, and add a lot of texture to the space; I love working with color and pattern a lot, but it just didn’t feel right in this modern architecture:
I wanted the backyard and sunshine to sing,” she reveals. The open-concept property truly serenades, the exterior’s rich greens meld with grounded linens and bleachy blues; the resulting seafoam blend splatters bespoke ceramics ornamenting countertops and corners alike. As I make the seamless transition into the beaming heat, my mind’s eye envisages champagne popping, warm acoustic tunes abounding, and puppies Sunny and Oliver frolicking center stage—or center grass, perhaps. On the outdoor dining table, a quaintly crafted charcuterie board awaits me, ensconced in a pristine glass dome and accompanied by a rattan-encased carafe. Megan neatly nails the details with the ease of a seasoned entertainer, but leaves room for innate wear-and-tear: adjacent to a neatly lain Clic mohair throw and karatechopped vintage pillows on her creamy sectional lay fresh cushion indents. The home isn’t afraid to be lived in, a product of Megan’s idyllic upbringing in a traditional Hope Ranch hideaway where “dogs were always allowed on furniture.” The decorator inherited an artful eye from her mother, a de facto designer and “fabulous entertainer” herself, who included a young Megan in constant home renovations and festivity preparations. Lavish, lovetouched tablescapes acted as centerpieces for bubbly celebrations, teaching Megan to marry luxury with the natural inclinations of social spaces. “Bringing people together is really what I love about design,” she gushes. “[Clients] all have different perspectives on how they’re going to use their space; what’s their Thanksgiving dinner going to look like in that dining room? How are their kids going to grow up in this room?” This soulful, form-meets-function philosophy is apparent. The designer’s abode hosts a sentimental interplay of found collectibles and dynamic foundational flair—it lives and breathes ease and embraces inevitable evolution. The space expects nothing but bare feet, but a sophisticated Megan looks just right with her taut halfupdo and crisp white cotton dress draping to the cool concrete floors. Helming her two-year-old eponymous firm, Megan is new to the local design scene as head-of-house, but is far from a stranger to the game: hailing from positions at top San Francisco and Seattle firms, she brings over
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eight years of diverse experience back to her home base. San Francisco’s time-honored Victorian glam instilled an appreciation of age and bold renewal, while Seattle’s subdued dark hues and contemporary stone textures allured Megan’s affection for harmony with nature. When northern fog banks faded into Santa Barbara bluffs again, the designer was emboldened to take the leap of independence she’d long envisioned, and melded these influences into her instinctual coastal-modern MO. Megan Vanderwall Interiors represents a return to form, reimagined.
“I love working with color and pattern a lot, but it just didn’t feel right in this modern architecture: I wanted the backyard and sunshine to sing.” “I have a great deal of respect for designers who are hired for their really strong brand look, but I don’t fit into that category,” Megan remarks. “I have a central process, but never want a project to feel formulaic or like a catalog. Mixing and matching, highs and lows, new and old; all of that is so important to me. It’s all the little layers that make our homes feel special.” Megan’s nuanced, not nitpicky. Her client-oriented, lifestyle-led intentionality sculpts her designs down to fine finishes. If not evidenced by her ecosystem-echoing home, Megan’s methodology brings the outside in. A recent Brentwood project exudes light birch and ivory tones, layering the area’s refined California cool with vibrant neon signs overlaying black-and-white photography. Her glossy-glam Mandeville storybook home honors the spunky side of LA luxe, mixing punches of pigment and pattern with deep velvety sofas, black cabinetry and dark cyan-tiled accent walls. Her work on a Hope Ranch Tudor estate is an elegant ode to the neighborhood’s equestrian heritage and the exterior’s garden escape: traditional English plaids intermingle with custom floral textiles, mirroring the bustling hydrangeas and buttery roses that greet each window. If Megan’s broad-spanning portfolio could speak for itself, it’d be multilingual.
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Diverse client visions drive continuous metamorphosis for this designer’s creative palette. Her most recent ambition as a full-service design studio—imbuing her inspired comfort into commercial design. “I bring an inviting luxury to the table; it’s been fun to flex different muscles lately while breaking into more commercial [work],” Megan reflects. As we chat al fresco, I peer back at her home’s sanded wood ceiling, stretching above our heads in lofty stripes. The fresh framework and its eclectic artifacts offer a clearcut reflection of what the designer’s mind can create with no one to answer to. Each corner brims with worldly idiosyncrasies: a sunken in-situ bath speaks to Megan’s serene Asian excursions, hand-crafted zellige tiling induces a zest for Morocco, and open-weave basketry beckons Latin American artisans. Two black-and-white photographs on opposite bathroom walls freeze distinct, solo rowboats in time, unifying a duo of ocean-dwellers
who would otherwise never meet. “[My husband and I] got one [photo] during a backpacking trip in Bali; the other is from a Catalina Island local. We framed them similarly so they look like a set—they’re sentimental,” she smiles. The antique white trunk in her home studio holds a trove of textile treasures, and a mélange of locally sourced paintings serves a purpose all of its own: to simply delight. Though curated from both faraway global corners and Santa Barbara cornerstones, each artifact artfully interweaves itself into the bungalow’s simplicity. Megan’s transformative touch translates visual space into what a deep, cleansing breath feels like. An open-air anthology of design, the budding designer’s retreat chronicles a world well-traveled and acts as an ever-evolving canvas that grows with those who call it home.*
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NARNIA, L TAKE NOTES STEP INSIDE A MONTECITO JEWEL BOX CLOSET BY Nicole Johnson
WATCH THE FULL CLOSET TOUR
auded LA Closet Design founder Lisa Adams creates bespoke, immersive wardrobes to write home about. With Kardashian closet credentials to her name, her full-fledged renovations give sophistication a new scope, upscaling—and uplighting—the home’s “most fashionable yet least understood room.” A recent project, nestled in a grand Montecito home, speaks to the finer things in life: below a dark marbled ceiling, black rolling ladders glide seamlessly along shelves, granting access to elaborate custom cabinetry for the client’s jewelry, scarves, belts, and hats. A pastel pink loveseat sprawls across the backdrop of a color-gradient shoe display and art deco accessories, while an impressive array of Chanel handbags reveals a Francophile’s sanctuary. The interactive space is as much a cocktail lounge as it is a closet, with glamor at center stage, but Adams’ client-based aim is for simplicity: arrange and enjoy what you already have.*
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KERRI MURRAY, PRESIDENT OF SHELTERBOX USA, IS AN EXTRAORDINARY COMMUNITY FIGURE OF COMPASSION, EMPATHY, AND PHILANTHROPY
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“Kerri found herself working on the front lines of Kyiv’s war zone, putting herself in the shoes of the uncertainty that Ukrainian families are experiencing on a daily basis.”
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BY Alexandra Lee | PHOTOGRAPHY Victoria Snider
ne sunny Sunday in San Francisco (a rarity of sorts), I stroll down Union Street on my way to Rose’s Cafe, where I’m set for a coffee date with what feels like an old friend. We met this time last year, almost to the day, at a different coffee shop—dare I say, it’s becoming a tradition. The cafe is bustling, an ideal setting to match the warmth and charisma of my brunch partner Kerri Murray, who’s going on her eighth year as President of ShelterBox USA. We ease into catchup mode over cappuccinos, as if no time has passed— starting with stories of her September wedding at San Ysidro Ranch before launching into tales of an entirely different endeavor—Kerri’s winter months spent on the ground in Kyiv, distributing emergency aid with ShelterBox in the midst of Ukraine’s devastating invasion.
As one of Santa Barbara’s 2,000+ nonprofit organizations, one of the highest ratings per capita in the country, ShelterBox’s mission is to provide disaster-stricken areas and conflict zones across the globe with the lifesaving shelter, equipment, and tools families needed to regain their livelihoods. 2023 has proved a trying year for the global community, with an ever-growing need for ShelterBox’s provisions of tents, cooking sets, solarpowered lights, water filters, mosquito nets, blankets, and beyond. Devastating earthquakes in Syria, Turkey, and Morocco, as well as the enduring war in Ukraine and Israel, have resulted in more need for disaster relief than ever before. Global displacement hangs at a startling figure around 110 million people. When I spoke to Kerri last year, the Russian invasion in Ukraine was less than a year old, and ShelterBox forces were just beginning their aid there. Fast forward to winter 2023, and Kerri found herself working on the front lines of Kyiv’s war zone, putting herself in the shoes of the uncertainty that Ukrainian families are experiencing on a daily basis. “Being able to work on the front lines, in a war zone, you can really feel it. What these families are facing every day, just how difficult life is and the basic things that they need for survival,” she says. “I spent pretty much every day of my deployment there in bomb shelters,” she adds, noting that there was never a day where the air raid alerts didn’t go off, predicting anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours spent in a bomb shelter. “It's that sense of uncertainty, that fear, but the Ukrainian people have this incredible sense of fortitude and resilience.” When I ask how she adjusted to this frightening reality, she brushes it off. “It’s part of everyday life in Ukraine.”
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Repercussions of the world’s natural disasters and global conflicts vary depending on the specific situation, time, and place, hence so do ShelterBox’s aid packages. “It’s not really a ‘shelter box,’ if you will, anymore,” Kerri explains. “It’s often a very customized aid package to meet your unique needs, depending on what they are in that situation,” she says. For example, scenes from Kyiv’s winter, demanding sleeping bags and blankets, are very different from the aid that may be distributed in Malawi. ShelterBox is all about meeting people where they are, essentially providing the building blocks for a community’s self-recovery. “It's the analogy of not giving someone a fish, but teaching them how to fish, maybe supporting them with a fishing rod,” Kerri says. These flexible aid packages, such as cash stipends in addition to ShelterBox materials, enables a freedom of choice essential for communities facing crises from natural disasters to war. I pause to sip my cappuccino, mesmerized by Kerri’s infectious sense of compassion, and I recall our 2022 meetup, half-remembering a story of Kerri’s fateful introduction to the organization. Formerly a pharmaceutical executive at GlaxoSmithKlein, she’d been tasked with a mission in 2009: to create a business plan for Santa Barbara-based medical relief organization Direct Relief. The timeline? Six months. The born-andbred East Coaster and her daughter Sofia, four years old at the time, moved across the country and almost instantaneously fell in love with the energy of Santa Barbara. Kerri was two months into the job when disaster struck. Many lives changed forever on January 12, 2010, when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit the impoverished nation of Haiti, and so did Kerri’s. “My assignment became really real, really quickly.” In this unprecedented moment, demanding a massive need for medical attention and a rapidly rising death toll, Kerri realized she could apply her rigorous corporate and business training to some of the most vulnerable people on the planet. She deployed to Haiti with Direct Relief, and there she happened upon another nonprofit by chance. “When I went to Haiti, the first organization I saw on the ground was ShelterBox. It was everywhere.” Kerri’s initial impressions of ShelterBox may very well have fatefully foreshadowed her current position as its President. “I really connected with the tangibility
KERRI MURRAY AT SHELTERBOX HEADQUARTERS
of seeing people's immediate needs where they lost everything—Port-au-Prince was rubble—and this organization was coming in and putting up something so basic as a tent, and providing cooking sets, and working alongside other NGOs,” she recalls. “I was moved by their mission, because you could see the impact they were having in a place that was absolutely crushed by this earthquake.”
“So when they called something innately in me said, this is where I’m meant to be.” Fast forward eight years, and the nonprofit has grown exponentially under her leadership. In its first 15 years of existence, ShelterBox reached one million people with its aid—it took only five years to reach the next million. “And we're just speeding up that trajectory,” Kerri adds, the number of beneficiaries now nearing three million.
To put it lightly, Kerri has first-handedly borne witness to some of the world’s most devastating natural disasters, having deployed to Japan after the 2011 tsunami, and to the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan, which struck land in 2013 as one of the worst tropical cyclones ever recorded. These experiences, while devastating, provided the context for Kerri to make a life-changing career pivot. “I was so moved by humanitarian work, that I just finally found this massive connection I think I'd always been searching for, in the pursuit of meaning.” That’s why, when she got the call from ShelterBox USA in 2015 recruiting her to be its President, it was an easy decision.
Uplifting women and girls is a huge part of that mission, as this demographic suffers disproportionately in situations of disaster. Gender based violence, economic loss, high death rates, lack of education for girls, and lack of access to emergency healthcare make women and girls a particularly vulnerable subset. “We work to prioritize the most vulnerable, and they’re often women,” Kerri says. Her favorite day of the year? International Women’s Day.
“In all of these instances, there was one organization that was always in my purview that was there doing really good work, and it was ShelterBox,” she says.
Synonymous with this goal is her involvement in other female-uplifting nonprofits in Santa Barbara, most notably Amplify (formerly Girls Rock), an organization designed to empower girls through music and arts while giving them a home base within the community. Her daughter went through
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the program, and Kerri herself served on the board for six years. “It is one of the most transformational programs in the world for girls,” she says, tackling the issue of self-esteem through music, performance, and team collaboration. She’s also a huge advocate for Unity Shoppe, a nonprofit providing qualifying community members with free essentials like groceries, clothing, and job training. Kerri recognizes that many Santa Barbara residents can relate to ShelterBox’s humanitarian mission, especially considering the tragic Montecito mudslides of 2018. “I think the community started to connect with our work on a totally different level,” she says, after realizing what it can feel like to lose everything in an instant. She continues to express her gratitude towards the town’s constant selflessness and spirit of philanthropy. “[We’re based] in a community of people who give up themselves, their time, their talent, their treasures, people who are active participants. It's such a dynamic group of people who get involved and take action,” she reflects. In the spirit of giving back, Kerri hopes the Santa Barbara community will keep ShelterBox in its purview as a recipient of support this holiday season. Since ShelterBox isn't government-funded, its operations are almost completely contingent on private
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charitable support. “Unfortunately, most people just learn about us on the worst day ever. We make the news headlines for responding in a place like Turkey, but the work that we do on an everyday basis in places like Cameroon, places like Yemen, places like Syria, is really a life saver.” Kerri is so riveting that I barely notice an hour has passed. I look down at my cappuccino, now long since polished off, as Kerri leaves me with a powerful parting anecdote. “One woman is very indicative of why I do what I do, and her name is Esther,” she says. Esther is 21 years old, and resides in the Minawao Refugee Camp in Cameroon, where she’s lived ever since Boko Haram overtook her village in Nigeria and killed her entire family. Part of a group called the “long-term displaced,” the highly overcrowded camp has become her home. Esther has since married and had two children, while excelling in her work as a seamstress, becoming one of the most
successful dressmakers throughout the whole camp. “She now is the primary breadwinner of her family,” Kerri says. “That’s kind of the quiet work we do, but those are the people that drive me every day.” Kerri’s striking blend of compassion, perspective, and introspection is what makes her a truly exemplary leader and community figure, while her unwavering sense of humility allows her to connect to people in vastly different life scenarios. “Having a life that is in the pursuit of meaning, and being able to do something every day that helps transform people's lives, means everything to me,” she says. Kerri hasn’t yet visited Cameroon, but she hopes to make it one of her next ShelterBox trips, and to finally be acquainted with the lovely and brave Esther. I’m eagerly anticipating our next yearly coffee shop date, where I’m confident that Kerri will bring another vast arsenal of life-changing anecdotes to the breakfast table.*
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coastal grooves A CONVERSATION WITH LOCAL MUSICIAN MINT DOLPHIN BY Haven Heffernan PHOTOGRAPHY Ryan Burns
Waves crashing on the beach, funky vibes, and SoCal nostalgia: it’s all music to the ears when you’re listening to Eric Swank, also known as Mint Dolphin. The Santa Barbara-based singer-songwriter sat down to share his creative inspiration and plans for his upcoming music. While his work has been described as "Coastal California retro new wave,” Swank has a difficult time defining his eclectic sound. After spending time in Seattle, San Diego, and now Santa Barbara, he owes most of his inspiration to his spiritual connection with the beach. “It has everything to do with where I live and what I enjoy,” says Swank. “I’m not the best, but I love to surf.” He also draws creative motivation from artists such as the Beach Boys and Sugar Ray, whom Swank notes have a similar vibe to his. As a self-made musician, Swank is heavily involved in every aspect of the process. Beginning with a beat or a lyric, he then takes his idea and records instrumentals in GarageBand. Vocals are later recorded in a studio and sent off to a long-time friend in Wisconsin to pull it all together. “He really knows my sound and identity,” says Swank. He most recently released his Christmas single, Save Me Santa. Swank hopes the melodic, seasonal track will make a splash in the local music community. “I’m excited to play shows and perform around Santa Barbara,” he says. This comes as he prepares for the launch of his album, Beach Access, which can be anticipated in 2024. He feels the new record shows his growth and evolution as an artist, and invites listeners to enjoy Mint Dolphin’s coastal bops through his social media: @mintdolphinmusic.*
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2476 Lillie Ave., Summerland, CA 93067 Juniper_Montecito Instagram
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SBLS gift guide
Cozy up in cashmere
Shine bright with every wave
Step into the season with fashionforward flair
A gift that shines as bright as her smile
Sofia Richie Grainge’s favorite fragrance
Walking on a dream
Carry sophistication wherever you go
A twist on tradition, for the modern woman
Let them wear their heart on their neck
Stay warm, look cool
1. Ophelia Oversized Wool and Cashmere-Blend Sweater, THE ROW $1,550. 2. Waves Ring, RAINBOW K $2,680. 3. 14kt White Gold Baguette Diamond Astor Necklace, ANNE SISTERON $46,000. 4. Kitten Heel Boot, ACNE STUDIOS $1,150. 5. English Pear and Sweet Pea Cologne, JO MALONE LONDON $165. 6. Puffer Medium Suede Shoulder Bag, SAINT LAURENT mytheresa.com $3,800. 7. TechLoom Dream, APL $250. 8. Cushion Heart Necklace, NINA RICCI mytheresa.com $450. 9. Wool Felt Hat, NINA RICCI mytheresa.com $760. 10. Whisper Hoop Earrings, GRACE LEE $168.
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Gift Guide SPOIL YOUR LOVED ONES THIS SEASON
BY Haven Heffernan
Transition seamlessly into the colder season
1 An American classic reimagined
There’s no better way for F1 enthusiasts to experience the action
A belt that
flips the 3 fashion script
5 Slip into suede
Timeless elegance for every occasion
Deck the walls with Basquiat’s bold expression
Walk with confidence in Italian craftsmanship
1. Medalist Two-Tone Leather Sneakers, AUTRY $215. 2. Suede Shirt Jacket, MILES LEON $1,215. 3. Reversible Full-Grain Leather Belt, TOM FORD $850. 4. Paddock Club Experience, FORMULA 1, Inquire for pricing. 5. David Shearling-Lined Suede Slippers, MR. P mrporter.com $355. 6. Jean-Michel Basquiat Skull Set, THE SKATEROOM $550. 7. DV One Gent Watch, VERSACE $3,595. 8. Sea-Sail Walk Suede Boat Shoes, LORO PIANA $1,180.
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A toast to
times 1 good and great taste
2 As clear in sound as it is in design
Make memories truly last a lifetime
Unroll a world of strategy and intellect
Elevate 3 every meal
For when Loquita is fully booked
for your home 9
A timeless vessel for blooms
Set the table for the holidays – or any day
For the friend who cannot wait for Thomas Keller to take the helm at Coral Casino
1. Twenty Tank Whiskey Set, TOM DIXON $265. 2. Small Transparent Speaker, TRANSPARENT SPEAKER $550. 3. Linen Placemats, SOLINO HOME $45. 4. Panama Textured-Leather Chess Roll, SMYTHSON $695. 5. Ripple Gold Frame, L’OBJET $250. 6. Paella Pan, HERITAGE STEEL $369. 7. Warm Retro Leather Vase, ALEPEL modaoperandi.com $138. 8. Thomas Keller Signature Collection 8” Chef's Knife, CANGSHAN $200. 9. Set-of-Two Ciels Bleus Dinner Plate, JONATHAN HANSEN X MARIE DAÂGE modaoperandi.com $475.
See the 2 slopes in high-
Jet-set with confidence and ease
Stay toasty from head to toe
5 onwonder wheels
and explore 4 the future of watersports
for the adventurer 6
Music to your ears, at the speed of sound
who dream of 8 snowflakes and stylish escapes
A once-in-a-lifetime music experience that echoes the soul of Iceland
1. Vergas Check-In Travel Case, FLOYD farfetch.com $475. 2. Mirrored Ski Goggles, GIVENCHY EYEWEAR $520. 3. Alpaca-Blend Beanie, MONCLER GRENOBLE $295. 4. Series 3, FLITEBOARD $9,995. 5. Gazelle Ultimate C8 Low Step, FLY RIDES $3,199. 6. Beoplay H95 Ferrari Edition Headphones, BANG & OLUFSEN $1,299. 7. New Floki Studios Experience, ELEVEN DEPLAR FARM, Inquire for pricing. 8. Aspen Style Hardcover Book, ASSOULINE $105.
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Ring in the holidays with the color of the season
A new uniform for the life of the party
These boots are most definitely made for walking
A denim dream for your head
Shades to 6 turn heads
Add some custom flair to their wardrobe
a timeless 7 gold: winter duo
for the fashionista
Elegance at your fingertips
Whisper sophistication with every step
1. Ruffled Crepe Blouse, PATOU mytheresa.com $760. 2. Embroidered Leather Cowboy Boots, GANNI $825. 3. Matchmaker Tunic Dress in Tan Tiger, ZIMMERMANN $1,350. 4. Le Bob Artichaut Denim Bucket Hat, JACQUEMUS mytheresa.com $128. 5. Custom Hat, GRAND CENTRAL HATS, Allora by Laura & Juniper inquire for price. 6. Flame Paula’s Ibiza Round-Frame Sunglasses, LOEWE $430. 7. Salouen Short Down Jacket, MONCLER $1,800. 8. Alessio Glossed Leather Loafers, KHAITE $1,250. 9. Chenille Gloves, DOLCE & GABBANA mytheresa.com $485.
Dream in silk and rest like royalty
To accentuate the holiday ambiance with flickering flames
Embrace the chill of winter wellness
Fill the room with notes of forest enchantment
for the homebody
Turn holiday meals into a fashionforward affair
Every snuggle is a moment of luxury
A holiday tradition that actually fills your cup
Cozy toes meet high fashion
Doubles as a jewelry dish post-burn
1. Room Diffuser, ACQUA DI PARMA $138. 2. Feather Trim Pajama Set, SLEEPER farfetch.com $340. 3. Marble, Glass and Stainless Steel Oil Lamp, HOUSEPLANT $250. 4. Cold Stoic, RENU THERAPY $9,699. 5. Advent Tea Calendar, TEA FORTÉ $60. 6. Damier Throw, L’OBJET $950. 7. Linen Apron and Oven Gloves Set, BRUNELLO CUCINELLI $730. 8. Marcie Embellished Shearling-Lined Nubuck Slippers, CHLOÉ $1,100. 9. Candle, JENNIFER MEYER $75.
1 Shuffle, deal and win
A personalized cosmic connection
Replenish and hydrate to combat chilly weather
Because pups need pampering too
Best dressed at the dog park
A work of art, inside and out
for the hostess
Mini in size, mighty in skincare benefits
Have your cake and eat it too
1. Lacquered Wood Poker Set, L’OBJET + HAAS BROTHERS $1,150. 2. Balancing Face Oil, RETROUVÉ $190. 3. Zodiac Set, JIA JIA $200. 4. English Porcelain Leather Wine Bag, ALEPEL modaoperandi.com $127. 5. The Nue Treat and Bag Holder, PAGERIE $345. 6. Intrecciato Pet Collar, BOTTEGA VENETA $800. 7. Classic Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Icing Recipe Gift Kit, OLIVELLE $62. 8. MINI+ Starter Set, NUFACE $250.
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Celebrate the Holidays With Letter Perfect Designs
LOCAL | LUXURY | LOVE Invitations . Custom Stationery . Holiday Cards . Artisanal Gifts From The Sweet Wheel Farm
2 3 2 5 L I L L I E AV E N U E | FA R M T O PA P E R .O R G | FA R M 2 PA P E R @ G M A I L .C O M | 8 0 5 . 9 6 9. 7 9 9 8
On Dominique Blazer L’AGENCE Juniper Sweater AMANDA UPRICHARD Rêver Atelier Jewelry ANNE SISTERON On Aaron Sweater NAHMIAS The Webster
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PHOTOGRAPHY Angelo Sgambati | STYLIST Ottocina Ryan MODELS Dominique Reshae with Women Management & Aaron Bernards with Photogenics HAIR Andre Gunn | MAKEUP Nicole Chew | LOCATION Bella Vista Estate listed with Cristal Clarke montecito-estate.com, 805-886-9378
Dress ARAMINTA JAMES Rêver Atelier Sweater LAVI COUTURE Allora by Laura Jewelry ANNE SISTERON Shoes APL @ S B L I F E A N D S T Y L E | 65
Top CELINE The Webster Skirt MIU MIU The Webster Jewelry ANNE SISTERON
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Shoes APL McLAREN HYSPEED Blanket COYUCHI Pickleball paddle & ball LUXE luxepickleball.com Tote bag IVY COVE
So De Mel bikini top Gucci shorts, The Webster Anne Sisteron Earrings @ S B L I F E A N D S T Y L E | 67
Shirt NN.07 K. Frank Sweater ALLUDE K. Frank Pants MASON’S K. Frank Sunglasses CRAP EYEWEAR
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Top CELINE The Webster Jewelry ANNE SISTERON 70 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2023
Sweatshirt & joggers HERMÈS Bracelets ANNE SISTERON Ring & earrings GRACE LEE
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On Dominique Top CELINE The Webster Skirt MIU MIU The Webster Shoes APL Pickleball paddles & ball LUXE luxepickleball.com On Aaron Shirt & shorts FAHERTY K. Frank Shoes & socks APL
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Sweater NAHMIAS The Webster Shorts RAILS Whiskey & Leather Pickleball balls LUXE luxepickleball.com Shoes APL
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Sweater TWP K. Frank
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Tank top LACOSTE X SPORTY & RICH The Webster Shorts LOEWE The Webster Blazer CINQ À SEPT Juniper Jewelry ANNE SISTERON Slides APL Sunglasses RAEN Backpack IVY COVE Scarf HERMÈS
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Dress CELINE The Webster Bracelets ANNE SISTERON Ring GRACE LEE Towel COYUCHI Pickleball paddle LUXE luxepickleball.com
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A HOLIDAY BY Alexandra Sharova | PHOTOGRAPHY Jordan Rose
lying over the River Thames into Heathrow Airport is like being in a waking dream; the destination I almost visited so many times before is, at last, minutes away. It’s as though I’m on an aerial tour of the city; the London Bridge, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace are scattered below in respective glory. The descent has just begun and I am already picturing myself walking through historic streets, immersed in all things British.
With my English partner—whose soft accent has seemingly thickened since landing—by my side, we enter Rosewood London, an Edwardian monument built in 1914. Moody lighting and artistic decor cover the space, contrasting the classic meringue moldings of the exterior. Our suite is closer to an apartment than a hotel room. A mirrored hallway ends at a fully stocked wooden bar; to the right, the “living room,” and to the left, the bedroom, where a king-sized bed with pillows embroidered with my initials is all but calling my name. Making the most of the accommodations, I wrap up in my plush robe, and for the first time in my life, use an actual vanity. Now that I’ve tried it, I’m unsure how I ever went without.
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It’s winter, so sunset rolls in early. Layered up with our cameras in tow, we hurry towards the river. Golden hour drenches the street, warming beige Regency-era structures and amplifying the motley of reds within a single brick. We make our way through quaint side streets lined by vintage stores, boutiques, and century old pubs—one dates as far back as 1547. Suddenly, St. Paul’s Cathedral (which serves as the mother church of the Diocese of London) appears before us. The Baroque build is captivating, but we’re on the move before I have a chance to peek inside. Every turn has something worthy of a photo; the city is simply picturesque. Positioned deadcenter on Millennium Bridge, the River Thames, glassy high rises, and the sky morphe into a singular canvas painted thick with the Impressionist strokes of a winter sunset. Boats and seagulls respectively glide across the landscape; as above, so below. The old and new in symbiotic synergy.
Holborn Street is busy, visitors and locals mix into one, dashing from work to make dinner or jetting in and out of shops that line the road. The city is alive; aglow with holiday lights and decorations. Santa Barbara’s walkways are desolate in comparison to the
IN LONDON TWO HOTELS—ONE CLASSIC, ONE CONTEMPORARY—MIRROR THE CITY’S SYNERGY BETWEEN HERITAGE AND INNOVATION
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sensory overload. A melting pot of architectural styles, primarily in neutral shades, tower overhead. Hand-inhand—mine must be held because the evening rush is throwing me for a loop—we arrive back at Rosewood London for dinner at Holborn Dining Room, the hotel’s elevated English brasserie. From design to menu, it pays homage to classics with a hint of modernity. We slide into a red-leather clad banquette and order gin and tonics— as one does when the in-house gin bar holds the largest collection of the local favorite. Exposed-bulb chandeliers, marble pillars, and electronic jazz set the mood, as do the hearty Irish Carlingford oysters that send me into a daydream of living in a coastal UK town with every slurp. I spot my Game Pie approaching, and nearly begin clapping with excitement, as my boyfriend’s been raving about them since we met. A fluffy croissant-like pastry encases a thick blend of blackberry jus, venison, and duck liver—I really leaned into the culture, and outside of my food-comfort zone with the order. And ironically, the dish is like a hug; comfort food at its finest. We end the meal with a Calvados-soaked sponge cake, before returning to our suite for champagne and a bubble bath. Our room provides seemingly everything we could want or need, making leaving hard. We opt for a room service breakfast spread—traditional English for him, and a healthy variation (green juice, acai, and matcha) for me, before taking advantage of the tranquil meditation space in the spa. With our bodies and minds centered and stretched, we head out for some sights. Side note: a personal guide, who previously lived in London, by your side may be the best way to take in the landmarks. We stroll through Covent Garden, grabbing a coffee and people-watching, our favorite, at a quaint café. Fake snow dances like whirling Dervishes through a cloudy backdrop, and amidst the crowded tourist hub, we kiss like we’re in a rom-com, and time stands still. The city is romantic, and our theme of life at the moment, is leaning in. High on London, and love, we enter Tate Modern. From Matisse’s bronze “Back” sculptures to Picasso’s nudes, and an impressive collective of female contemporaries—many of whom I have the museum’s curators to thank for introducing me to—I leave even more invigorated and inspired. My camera is glued to my hand because everything on the South Bank is catching
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my attention. Strolling along the river at dusk, the skyline transforms from classical to an illuminated modern metropolis, as a kaleidoscope of lights paint their own masterpiece right before my eyes. Known as one of the best bars in the region by discerning locals, Scarfes Bar at Rosewood is quintessentially London. With more than 1,000 antique books, a roaring fireplace, and cozy seating, it’s exactly what we envisioned, delivered to the sound of smooth, live jazz. We order two filthy gin martinis with extra olives, and cheers to what lies ahead; it’s always an adventure with us… Although the Edwardian beauty of Rosewood, and its art-filled lobby, are hard to part with, we’re on to hotel number two: The Londoner. Centrally located in Leicester Square, the “super boutique” delivers curated appeal across 16 floors of suites, rooms, concept eateries and bars, a spa, and private guest residence. With a young and modern feel, plus its commitment to sustainability and unique build—nearly half of its floors below ground, the deepest habitable commercial-grade basement in the UK—it’s clear why the hotel is a celebrity favorite. A sweeping view replaces the entire wall of our accommodation—all but beckoning in sunny days— while understated accents, a chic mauve velvet couch, and glam navy tiles, tie the space together. We decide to pause before heading into a historical deep dive at the British Museum. The subterranean spa, Retreat, offers repose. We alternate between the sauna and steam room, float in the minimal pool, and read a few pages while cuddled atop a plush cabana daybed. Refreshed, we make our way through the Greek Revival building, marveling at adorned sarcophagi, Islamic astrolabes, traditional Mongolian robes, and Roman sculptures. We spend hours exploring, and even so, much of the museum will have to be seen next time—yes, I am already planning my return. It wouldn’t be a trip to the capitol without afternoon tea, and The Londoner does the classic pastime oh so decadently. The Stage, an extension of the lobby—where we are in fact, in for a show—hosts three “acts”: breakfast, afternoon, and evening service. A suspended ceiling installation amplifies the already grand space, glamorous details
ROSEWOOD SCARFES BAR
“The city is alive; aglow with holiday lights and decorations. Santa Barbara’s walkways are desolate in comparison to the sensory overload.”
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THE LONDONER AFTERNOON TEA
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beckon photos, and the staff tie it all together with impeccable style. We sip paired champagne and indulge in elevated finger sandwiches, authentic crumpets spread thick with clotted cream, and cakes sprinkled with gold leaf. Live music plays behind our clingling flutes; the bubbly procession has me in a dreamy daze—perfect for diving into the Impressionist exhibit at The National Gallery, just around the corner. I spend far too long studying the works of Eva Gonzalès (Edouard Manet’s only pupil), while my partner soaks in Lucian Freud’s Expressionist exhibit, before reconvening at the wonder that is Monet’s large-scale lily painting. We weave through the eras, chatting art and culture; it’s one of those moments you want to freeze in time. Back at The Londoner it’s time for dinner at Whitcomb's where a monochrome palette of black and white fashion photography and a Shida Salehi metal sculpture covering the ceiling, set a contemporary scene. I inspect my baby blue menu, that pleasantly pops against the smart set up, and sip on the lillet blanc “Arrivée” cocktail handed to guests as a precursor to the Mediterranean-leaning dining experience. Beginning with a four-cheese appetizer we make our way to the zesty Carpaccio de Poisson, followed by an Oscietra topped tuna tartare, before we dive into a sampling of carbs (a rich truffle risotto, lobster rigatoni, and unforgettable gnocchi). Paired wine with each dish leaves me tipsily leaning on my partner’s shoulder, as we listen to the complimentary entertainment from a first date unfolding to our right. Warm beignets, the restaurant’s specialty, absorb enough wine from my system, reviving me for an evening nightcap at The Whisky Room—a speakeasy within The Residence, exclusive to hotel guests. A secret door through the powder room leads to an intimate bar whose mirrored walls create an infinityroom effect. Grounded upon emerald chairs, we relish in a tasting of rare spirits. We take breakfast at The Drawing Room—part of The Residence offerings—to get the most out of the special feature, which feels like a fleeting members club. We answer our respective emails before our last stop of the trip, the Tower of London, by way of the famed London Bridge. Drawn by the possibility of a ghost sighting—the Tower is known as the most haunted building in the city—I find the energy in the area particularly heavy. Having served as a political prison, a place of execution, an arsenal, and so much more throughout the years, the past is palpable here. Though no ghosts are spotted, the crown jewels captivate me, while my partner favors the armory—as expected. We find ourselves back in a classic cab, heading to the airport. There’s still so much to see, but we promise one another we’ll return in the summer. Buckingham Palace will look better in full bloom anyways…* THE LONDONER, PHOTO BY ANDREW BEASLEY
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montana winter THE GREEN O OFFERS A SLEEK SNOWY RETREAT ABOUND WITH ADVENTUROUS ACTIVITIES
BY Ottocina Ryan
e arrive at night. Fire dances seductively in lamps flanking the gate to our destination. Stars shine through thick pines along the snow-covered road to the green o, an adults-only hotel nestled within Paws Up Resort in Greenough, Montana. It’s the perfect pairing, really; romance, privacy, and sleek accommodations, and an adventure-filled playground at Paws Up, within reach. Uber-modern round hauses, green hauses, and tree hauses peek through the whiteblanketed landscape as the green o comes into view. For us, the clear choice is a tree haus.
My boyfriend and I climb the first spiral staircase to an open living area. I’ve dreamt of coming here since I saw it under construction during my visit to Paws Up a few years back; it’s everything I hoped for, and more. Glass replaces most walls. In lieu of a TV, two massive plush lounge chairs face floor-to-ceiling windows showcasing the real star: the surrounding nature. A swinging chair and woodsy-chic furniture outfit the deck. The kitchen is stocked with pinot noir, homemade ice cream sandwiches, and local popcorn. Up another set of stairs, the bedroom is (practically) 360 degrees of glass, overlooking endless rows of pines. It’s open, yet completely private. Nature has never looked this sexy. We leave unpacking for daylight as the deep soaking tub is calling my name.
A woodpecker debarking a tree with gusto serves as our wake-up call. My boyfriend makes the trek downstairs to collect the Yeti cooler with tea, coffee, and pastries awaiting at the door for a leisurely morning in bed. Caffeinated and ready to brave the cold, we pile on base layers and head out. Crunching along day-old Montana snow, we make our way to the Social Haus—the heart of the property. Modern booths surround a circular fireplace, the centerpiece of the room. Influenced by the giant honeycomb slab dripping with ambrosia atop the bar, I order the chamomile yogurt panna cotta. Piled with berries, honeycomb, and pistachio crumbs, it’s just tart enough to be considered breakfast and far too delicious not to order daily. Fueled for our first excursion, we hop in one of the Lexus UX250 hybrids available to guests, and drive to The Wilderness Outpost—the jumping-off point for all activities. The options are endless, from horseback rides along Blackfoot River to dogsledding through a winter wonderland. Our guides have gear and brand-new snowmobiles with heated handles waiting for us. Lex and Bailey lead the way through the mountains, stopping to let us take in breathtaking vistas, covered like desserts
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with pristine powdered-sugar coating, along the way to Garnet ghost town. We explore the exceptionally wellmaintained log cabins adorned with dripping icicles, like something from a postcard. I sip hot apple cider, admiring snow flurries dancing in the sunlight. The ride back down proves just as magical. That evening, we return to the Social Haus for a dinner of the most unexpected yet divine flavor combinations. The tasting menu reads like a cryptic poem, disclosing only a handful of ingredients. Each course is a pleasant surprise. As I prepare to slice into thick pork belly— accompanied by a coffee reduction and nestled under a cabbage leaf blanket—the server kindly points out that juniper notes can still be sensed on my steak knife’s handle. Presenting the first dessert course (I’m hooked by the promise of more than one iteration of my favorite part of a meal), the chef jokingly assures, “Bear with me on this; it tastes great.” And he’s right—who knew caramelized potato skin gelato and huckleberry jam would prove to be a match made in heaven? All in all, the dinner is deliciously experiential. The following day, we get an early start to horseback ride along Blackfoot River. Trotting through fluffy snow at a leisurely pace allows us to take in the nuance of the landscape; crystalized “It’s open, yet completely sagebrush and pine needles hang like rock candy decorations along the trail, private. Nature has never catching morning rays. For an afternoon looked this sexy. ” adrenaline rush, we try Moon Biking. Paws Up is the only resort with a fleet of Moon Bikes, which are inspired by French snow bikes but made in Colorado. They’re essentially silent e-bikes for the snow. My Harley-rider boyfriend is a natural, while I falter more times than I care to admit. Yet, it’s exhilarating once I get the hang of it (thanks to many pointers from our guide). We whiz through open fields of snow to the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. We leave feeling alive. We return to the room, grinning ear to ear, yet exhausted. To make the most of our tree haus, we opt for a night in. Room service pizza and strawberry ice cream sandwiches fill our plates. I kid you not; the green o’s pizza is miraculously on the same level as their tasting menu— a truly impressive feat. The day and comforting meal leave us satiated, and we doze off into the kind of deep sleep that comes from a day fully lived. The green o lends itself to cozying up by the fireplace to watch snow pile outside the window just as well as it does to ripping through it on a snowmobile. Whether you prefer to unwind or take part in as many of Paws Up’s activities as will fit in a day, you’ll feel fulfilled. After a jam-packed few days, our idea of being immersed in the elements is watching the snow gently cover the forest ground from the comfort of our outdoor hot tub.* Photo by Teal Thompsen 86 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2023
DINNER AT SOCIAL HAUS
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ADVENTURE IS ALIVE AND WELL IN THE HEART OF COSTA RICA’S LUSH PENINSULA PAPAGAYO BY Alexandra Lee
inally. The sound I’ve been waiting for. A low and intimidating call, the sound of the howler monkey, radiates deep from inside the tropical dry forest, the quintessential proof that I’m indeed in the lush bounds of Costa Rica. The distinctive howl accompanies the whir of flourishing palm fronds inches from my ears as the zipline nears the landing platform. I perform a graceful (or so I’d like to think) dismount, landing on tippy toes with help from my Papagayo Explorers guide, only to realize that the boyish grin on his face is a dead giveaway—the monkey noises were him all along. The elusive primate has escaped my grasp once again.
Though, it shouldn't have. The sign “more monkeys than humans” caught my eye on our chauffeured journey from Guanacaste Airport to Peninsula Papagayo, a lush jut of largely undeveloped land that’s to be my home for the week. Rather than stay at a traditional resort, I’ve opted for a more customized and intimate experience at Villa Avellana, a brand-new, privately owned beachfront estate with its own expertly trained culinary team, state-of-theart amenities, and endless list of curated activities. It’s due to the limitless planning efforts of the villa’s concierge team that I’ve wound up high in the treetops, testing out my Tarzan talents, much like the monkey I’m in search of. Our zipline tour is rounded out, naturally, by an afternoon ropes course, though the combination of swinging obstacles and humidity ensures that“beginner” it is not. As I jump off a 20 foot-high platform, clutching onto nothing but a rope, I’m suddenly grateful I hadn’t researched this aerial excursion beforehand. Once safely on the ground, our reward? Fresh coconuts cracked with a machete, and one final test—climb up a netted rope bridge into the gnarled branches of a Monteverde ficus tree, where a platform awaits with ice cold Coca Colas, sparkling water, nuts, and energy bars. Afternoon refreshments, of course, are best enjoyed in the tree canopies. An Indiana Jones-type Land Rover escorts us back through the forest, where I keep my eyes peeled for dark masses hiding in the foliage—I’d been lucky
enough to spot an expertly camouflaged iguana earlier. I spy something, getting momentarily excited, before realizing it’s just a massive termite nest. After all, Costa Rica’s comparatively tiny landmass is home to nearly 6% of the world’s biodiversity, including insects. Back at the villa, the blissful minutes of a much-needed face mask and massage slip into an hour, while the music of rhythmic ocean waves reaches the indoor-outdoor massage deck and soothes me half to sleep. Villa Avellana seamlessly melds the untamed adventure of a lush jungle backdrop with pristine coastline, boasting 330 feet of private beachfront where the bartender, Tatiana, can easily set up her collection of homemade cocktail bitters for sunset sips (and in a few hours, she does). My massage is interrupted only by the impending nightfall, and I retreat to my room’s plush duvet, awaiting an evening of wine pairings and salsa dancing ahead. The villa’s 10 luxurious ensuite bedrooms are dressed in dreamy wood tones and modern neutrals, and with the addition of a kid’s bunk bedroom, the residence can easily fit up to 23 guests for the adventure of a lifetime. Having made its official debut this August, Villa Avellana is available for total buyout, ideal as an intimate escape for large family milestones, blowout birthdays, wellness retreats, and even corporate bonding experiences. Between its sparkling lap pool, 12-person jacuzzi, three acres of walking trails, yoga deck, ping-pong room, and indoor theater (the list goes on), the villa’s namesake and owner Mike Avellana has ensured there’s more than enough action to satisfy every party, additionally distributing pre-visit surveys to customize dining and activity preferences before arrival. There are no key cards for the rooms, contributing to the villa’s intentional design towards community and connection. After indulging in a hot shower using Villa Avellana’s own hair mask, I reluctantly slip from my velvety robe into evening attire, though you could just as easily wear sweatpants to dinner here. Executive Chef David Moya
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presents a daily menu of locally-sourced flavors as refined and elegant as restaurant dining, but in the comfort and privacy of a home. I choose a sunset spritz from Tatiana’s cocktail list, before making myself comfortable at Madera Bar for a tapas-style wine pairing dinner. First up is Moya’s take on Costa Rican oysters, one fried atop a luscious aioli, the other raw in a zingy passionfruit bath. His playful “fish tacos” feature slices of fresh mahi mahi atop a red cabbage “cracker.” Throughout our stay, I find that shrimp croquettes with black garlic aioli, short ribs with Costa Rican mole, and water squash ceviche in leche de tigre are all creations to write home about. The next day at lunch, red cabbage dressed in chimichurri, of all things, is what lures me back for seconds. Chef Moya’s curation of a menu that’s actually healthy, while simultaneously surprising, is an underrated and refreshing delight. To round out the night, we let down our hair and refine our salsa footwork with the help of a private instructor, the dose of vibrant Latin energy a perfect nightcap to an already chart-topping day. The next morning I awake to the music of a thundering rainstorm. It’s 7 a.m., though my remote-controlled blackout shades would have me believe otherwise. I slip to the sliding glass door that separates my suite from its private oceanview terrace, opening it just a crack, as thick humidity seeps into my air conditioned space. I realize the “rainstorm” is only a light mist, but the villa’s proximity to the ocean had made it sound like a thrashing downpour. Early morning yoga is hot without intention, the humid air providing enough detoxifying heat to get the morning started. I make a new friend on my post-yoga beach walk, a tiny crab whose black-and-white speckled shell camouflages seamlessly into the volcanic sand. Little did I know, another cunning crab would sneak into the villa later that night, an unwelcome dinner guest. Breakfasts at Villa Avellana are always a family-style ordeal. We congregate over heaps of luscious local fruit, croissants, chia seed pudding, fresh-squeezed green juice, and some sort of freshly cooked eggs—I opt for the Costa Rican-style Gallo Pinto, a dish of rice, beans, and eggs, or a fresh omelet with all the fix-ins. Morning coffee always comes with a lesson, the villa’s coffee connoisseur indulging me in conversations about the daily blends— my favorite, from the Tarrazú region—and the local method of brewing, using a colorful clay pot called the vandola. The conversation here is as rich as the coffee, the dining room’s family style tables prompting long discussions as a digestif to every meal. The morning rain has postponed our yachting excursion, yet lucky for my sudden post-breakfast sweet tooth, we’ve scheduled a chocolate making class instead. Henrik Bodholdt, founder of Costa Rican company Maleku Chocolate, walks us through every step of the cacao-pod-to-chocolate process, and I’m surprised to
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learn that the cacao fruit is actually tangy and delicious, similar to a passionfruit. As we crack open roasted cacao husks to reveal the raw nib (a laborious task, we learn) I’m even more surprised when Henrik confirms a fact I’ve always wished to be true: chocolate (well, raw cacao) is the world’s best superfood. A dangerously rich brownie aroma infuses the air as I mold my ground cacao, which now resembles a pile of dirt, into my own chocolate bar, mixing in sugar, dried orange, and powdered milk for a custom flavor. It won’t be long until my bar vanishes off the plate—for health reasons, of course. Once the weather has cleared, we suit up for an afternoon sail on the villa’s private 42-foot Boston Whaler yacht, helmed by a hand-selected captain—the villa’s General Manager Thomas Freitag, who is half-Costa Rican, has personally chosen every staff member for their respective roles. Boating after a rainstorm is not for the faint of heart, as we zoom repeatedly over choppy waves, exposed to the elements on the front of the yacht. As sprays of salt water splash haphazardly into my hair, I realize this moment is true pura vida. Although the phrase doesn’t have a true definition, I’ve decided that I, right now, am living it. Jagged rocks and tiny islands jut spontaneously from the gray-blue depths, the result of volcanic activity from eons ago. We dock and dive into bathtub-warm waters, swimming out to a seemingly untouched black sand beach where a secret cave lies in wait of our discovery. Every few minutes, I have to remind myself that this place is real, that the massive vines and secret caves aren’t a part of some Jurassic Park movie set. Mustering the last of the day’s energy, I make my way out for a final paddleboard session on Playa Nacascolo. Guided by Thomas, who doubles as an expert spearfisher, we set out on the serene waters as the clouds finally clear, reflecting brilliant turquoise back into our eyes. He points excitedly at the odd turtle or elusive fish every now and then, even letting me borrow his polarized sunglasses, but my novice eyes only grasp bits of bright coral hiding underneath the crystalline surface. That’s good enough for me. As we return our boards and head back up the wooden ramp, we’re delighted to spy an army of red crabs, pinchers up, gathering amongst the mangroves. “Do you hear that?” Thomas asks suddenly, referring to a repetitive howl from above. It’s closeby. We divert our gaze from the crab colony to the trees, and there it is: a howler monkey hangs lazily between branches, calling to some invisible friend while its restless baby climbs about, as if to taunt its mother’s lack of energy. Now I can go home, I think to myself as we drive the golf cart leisurely back to the villa, having seen my monkey. While the lush peninsula is a land of novelty, a paradise of firsts, Costa Rica has taught me that pura vida is all about mentality, residing with me long after I’ve left its aquamarine shores.*
BEDROOM WELLNESS STUDIO
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SNOW WHITE A STAY AT AMANGANI IN WYOMING WILL FULFILL YOUR WILDEST DREAMS BY Ottocina Ryan
id I book a wildlife-included room? I wonder as a deer pokes around my Amangani suite like it also just checked in. Two more does peer inside the sliding door and look at me with curious stares; I try to contain my laughter to not spook our visitors. Since my childhood on Mountain Drive, I’ve longed to get close to a deer, but a luxury hotel is the last place I imagined it would happen. It’s only been an hour, and Amangani has far exceeded my expectations for the stay, and life in general. The hotel’s reputation for blowing guests away is not a carefully crafted marketing campaign, but rather, fact.
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“The sophisticated comfort of Amangani has a way of settling guests into a trance of relaxation, romance, and indulgence.”
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Nature takes center stage at the Jackson, Wyoming property. On our actual wildlife tour later that afternoon, we spot elk herds, sheep huddling on a ridge as a coyote lurks below, a moose eating willow bushes, and even a golden eagle. Our guide leads the tour with such enthusiasm and knowledge, you’d think guiding was his religion. My boyfriend and I occasionally hop out of Amangani’s BMW X7, braving the cold for a closer look at bald eagles and hot springs. On our way back to the property, we pass the nearest town, Jackson Hole, making a mental note to come back and explore it soon. Upon our return, we agree that there’s no reason to leave again until checkout—the sophisticated comfort of Amangani has a way of settling guests into a trance of relaxation, romance, and indulgence. The property is minimalistic and serene; clean lines, stone pillars, dark wood walls, large windows, lofty ceilings, and Native American touches allow the surrounding landscape to be the focal point. While the aesthetic and service
GRAND TETON SUITE BATHROOM
reflect the luxury you’d expect from an Aman resort, the casual nature of Wyoming seamlessly weaves through the experience and space. Everything from the staff ’s friendly demeanor to the food is elevated yet unfussy enough to make you feel at home. Plus, with amenities like Dyson hair dryers, the list of what you don’t have to pack is longer than what you do. Our laundry returns wrapped neatly in black tissue paper, sealed with shiny Aman stickers, as if our clothes were brand new. It’s the little things, and Amangani is filled with them. We begin each day with matcha superfood smoothies and gluten-free apple cinnamon pancakes doused in syrup, gazing out to the snowy, undeveloped Spring Gulch Valley. An even more leisurely bath follows the leisurely morning; I melt into a deep soaking tub facing out to grazing deer. There’s even a window in front of the toilet that opens to a view of…you guessed it: deer looking right back at you. Somehow, the novelty doesn’t wear off.
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WHAT to PACK The Modern Mountaineer
At sunset, we go for a dip in the pool. Steam floats off the water, creating an ethereal scene. The snow-surrounded hot tub naturally lends itself to a trending hot and cold experience. Refreshed, I dry off and head inside for my scheduled massage. The soul-warming scent of Palo Santo heightens as I near the spa—the apex of the relaxing property. Calm envelopes me the instant I enter the treatment room. My practitioner Deva asks simply, “What’s going on with your body?” I explain that I just drove here from Santa Barbara. Say no more. He tailors the massage to be entirely dedicated to what my stiff muscles need, including CBD oil and stretching. I leave feeling brand new. Still, in a relaxed daze, my boyfriend and I play backgammon by a fireplace in the lounge. We alternate between rolling dice and swirling sourdough chunks and pickled cauliflower in decadent fondue while sipping what our server assures is the ultimate Austrian wine pairing. He’s not wrong. Meals can be ordered to any table in the area, yet we opt for dinner in the dining room for a change of scenery. The menu is fresh, comforting, and emblematic of the location. Elk nachos, wagyu steak, apple cider creme brûlée… We return to the fireplace for a nightcap, and the server suggests s’mores. We oblige, slipping into nostalgia. We feel like carefree ten-year-olds again, and isn’t that what vacation is all about? We check out feeling revitalized, practically floating to the car. Whatever refreshment looks like to you—from time in nature to languid spa days or curling up by the fire with freshly baked bread smothered in gooey cheese—it awaits at Amangani. The wellness facets and surrounding wildlife worked their magic, surpassing every other hotel stay I’ve experienced. I can’t promise that deer will wander into your room, but I can guarantee you’ll be immersed in wonder and leave feeling better than you arrived.*
TOTEME EMBROIDERED WO O L - B L E N D S CA R F JAC K ET $1,130
Packing light in the winter is an afterthought with this soft wool Toteme coat, which boasts its own attached scarf. Plus, its muted brown tones and white piping present the ultimate cozy camouflage for discreet deer watching. mytheresa.com
LORO PIANA COLBACCO SHEARLING & C A S H M E R E H AT $1,350
Ultra-luxury meets ultra-comfort in this pure Italian shearling and cashmere hat, keeping your ears perfectly insulated during adventures from bald eagle spotting to snowy hot tub soaking. mytheresa.com
M AY L I N D S T R O M THE HONEY MUD $90
A day exposed to the elements calls for some skin R&R. This unique mask is formulated with a blend of raw honey, silver, white halloysite clay, and plant oils, naturally exfoliating and cleansing while leaving the skin hydrated and restored. welldermatology.com
COPERNI BRIDGE C OW B O Y B O O T $830
Add a touch of elevated Old West chic to any look when sporting these cowboyinspired leather boots. In a rich chocolate brown, its pointed toe and whimsical block heel keep you cool, even while snuggled up by the fireplace. fwrd.com
by ALEXANDRA LEE
@ S B L I F E A N D S T Y L E | 97
in Santa Barbara
Radiating warmth from its crackling fireplaces and intimate hospitality, The Genevieve is your home for the holidays. The former Santa Ynez Inn was revamped to enchant with old Hollywood elegance and modern luxuries. @thegenevieve
Granada Theatre’s The Nutcracker is the quintessential holiday experience. Revel in the red velvet seats and ornate gold decal of the nearly centuryold venue while Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairies transport you to their world of magic. @granadasb
Holiday festivities and shopping are exhausting. Energize for the day with a cappuccino from Handlebar Coffee Roasters, founded by world-class cyclists turned coffee connoisseurs. @handlebarcoffee
Clare V’s self-proclaimed “tongue-in-chic” collection of luxury handbags makes an excellent gift for a girlfriend, mother, or even yourself. Browse the selection of eccentric totes, crossbody bags, and clutches at her Coast Village Road store. @shopclarev BY Laura Hupp 98 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2023
Spread the love. The name inspired by the art of gift giving, Loveworn is the place to pick up a token of appreciation during the holidays. Behind the garage door, you’ll find one of the largest collections of vintage denim, handmade graphic LOVEWORN tees, and unique accessories. @loveworn
Whether inside by the embellished tree and garland lined mantles or outside amongst the twinkling lights, the rustic charm of San Ysidro Ranch’s Stonehouse makes it truly feel like the holidays. Nurse a glass of homemade eggnog while
Who says it never snows in Santa Barbara? Nightly Snowfall at Paseo Nuevo would disagree. All through December, stop by the outdoor shopping center to enjoy a winter wonderland. @paseonuevosb
‘Tis the season of comfort and joy, which can both be found at Sense Spa at Rosewood Miramar Beach. Unwind from the holiday craze with seasonal treatments such as the Alpine Peppermint Foot Treatment and the OSEA Mint and Rosemary Holiday Facial. @rosewoodmiramarbeach
December 10th is guaranteed to be the brightest night in
studying the local bounty filled menu featuring Line Caught English Channel Dover Sole and Pan-Seared Santa Barbara Abalone. @stonehousesanysidroranch
Nightcap near “home” in The Library at The Genevieve. Sip on their exclusive whiskey collection while the fire crackles and the conversation flows. @thegenevieve
Santa Barbara Harbor. The Santa Barbara Parade of Lights is back for its 37th year. Watch in awe as boats decked in hundreds of holiday lights and decorations glimmer across the water. @cityofsb
It’s a Christmas Miracle! Pearl Social’s ‘Miracle’ Pop Up is the epitome of holiday cheer. Snowflake-littered floors, tinsel-lined ceilings, and lights galore make the ideal setting for a Snowball OldFashioned, Christmapolitan, or anything on their festive menu of cocktails. @pearlsocialsb
Iconoclastic takes on local flavors. Inventive cocktails. The conventional upended.
Blackbird @ Hotel Californian 36 State Street, Santa Barbara | (805) 882-0135 www.blackbirdsb.com
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