Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Santa Barbara - dinner at Jane and the Santa Barbara Farmer's Market

Liv Life and Family set off on our California Summer Vacation last week with a long list of "to do's".  Cameras in hand and the iPad set on "maps" we departed San Diego and made our way north to the 405.  With plans to visit numerous Universities on our route, UCI (Irvine) became the first stop on the College Tour part of our itinerary.  A lovely, fairly new campus greeted us as we enjoyed the grounds nearly all to ourselves while exploring the college and my husband and I reminisced about college life.  Loading back into the car, our heading continued north to our final destination of the day, Santa Barbara.

Liv at the Santa Barbara Mission
Always a charming, lovely town, the weather was a bit warm for the area and we soaked up the high 70 degree temps and the Southern California sun.  Stopping at my husband's alma mater, UCSB, my husband gave us a full on tour while pointing out the many changes that have occurred in the last few years.  The campus, being right on the coast with surfers riding the small waves down below and a fairly relaxed pace, was immediately appealing to my son.  Kids in shorts and flip flops wandered the campus moving from class to class as groups of parents and freshmen attended orientation.

Catching my eye, I watched a family of four with the parents and younger sister hugging the older sister as she turned and walked away, waving over her shoulder as she left - all of it a sight that made the experience all too real for this mom.  It seems only yesterday that my little boy was running around playing Buzz Lightyear or begging me for a Light Saber fight like Darth Vader.  Now he's more interested in golf and surfing, and not particularly in doing any of it with me.  I plan to hold on to these last few years as tightly as I can, knowing that the inevitable is on its way, and that in no time at all that mom standing on the corner watching her child walk away will be me...

In any case, this trip was not about letting go (yet!) and as we settled ourselves into our State Street hotel I was beyond thrilled to see the block just outside closed off for the weekly Farmer's Market.  How could I get so lucky??

Leaving the kids to rest up, my husband and I quickly changed and headed out to see what we could see.  A full two blocks of Lower State Street were blocked off for the event where tables lining the streets were filled with fruits and vegetables of all kinds.  Flower stalls were interspersed along with additional tables overflowing with local honeys and jams while musicians played varying instruments along the way.

Purchasing a few of my favorite extraordinarily fragrant tuberoses I moved on to the berry table.  Brilliantly hued baskets of organic raspberries, blueberries and blackberries made their way into my bag along with a jar of low-sugar strawberry/raspberry jam for my mom.

Another table filled with corn and most interestingly, eggplant colored bell peppers had me almost wishing I was home so I could load up and cook with these gorgeous fresh ingredients.  Then came the herb table... an entire table filled with nearly every herb you could think of lending a beautiful fragrance to the air and sending even more ideas into my head of all the wonderful recipes I could use them in.


With our stomachs rumbling, dinnertime was upon us.  Gathering the kids we made our way down State Street to a recommended restaurant and within moments after arriving we were certain we had made the correct choice in dining venues.  Jane, located at 1311 State Street, offers inside dining as well as an adorable 2nd level balcony with views of the State Street below.  We did not have reservations, but luckily had arrived early enough to be seated immediately and were promptly endowed with perfectly sweetened Fresh Squeezed Lemonade for the kids and an ideally fruited White Wine Sangria for the adults. (Dining early we had no trouble without a reservation, however by 7 PM the restaurant was packed, I would recommend reserving if your dining plans have you eating at peak dinner hour.)

Fresh Squeezed Lemonade on the left, White Wine Sangria on the right
As lunch had become a distant memory, the Grilled Pasilla Chiles stuffed with Swiss Cheese, Fresh Cilantro & Tomato Vinaigrette appetizer nearly jumped off the menu and had our appetites appeased in no time.  Liv's entree, reminiscent of her last fillet in Las Vegas, had her eagerly cutting into the perfectly cooked medium-rare fillet and once again groaning with pleasure as she asked why I can't make steaks "this good at home".  

My husband joined her with a fillet of his own, though he enjoyed the oyster mushroom cream sauce over the top rather than on the side.  My son and I both chose the Grilled Marinated Skirt Steak with Roasted Onion, Cracked Pepper & Madeira with me making it to nearly three bites before I proclaimed the tender beef one of my best meals ever.  A side of gratined potatoes, both extraordinarily tender and flavorful yet still retaining a nice firmness (in other words, perfectly cooked!), along with steamed vegetables rounded out our plates bringing smiles all around.

After reading reviews online I had little doubt that the Coconut Cake would be my dessert of choice as Liv quickly jumped at the Vanilla Creme Brulee.  Both desserts lived up to our expectations and we were frankly thrilled that the boys were too full for sweets.  Shortly Liv and I were holding our full stomachs as well, and my son enjoyed the rest of my cake later in the evening when the teenage late night hunger pangs set in.

Jane leaped on my short list of all time favorite restaurants and will be my dining destination of choice when I return to the lovely town of Santa Barbara.  From the upscale yet casual decor to the friendly, spot on service to the beautifully prepared food, Jane has it all going on.  And best of all?  Jane, herself.  Greeting us with a smile as we walked in she had us seated in no time and checked on us throughout the meal.  Jane, thank you for a wonderful evening! 
Jane on Urbanspoon

28 comments:

  1. I didn't attend UCSB, but plenty of my friends did...just mention Isla Vista (I.V.) to Brian and see if he smiles! Thank you for the lovely tour of the State Street Farmer's Market and the thorough review of Jane. I'll be certain to dine there next time I'm in town. Well done my dear!

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  2. Mmm, that coconut cake looks D-E-L-I-S-H, Kim! I wish I could make a coconut cake like that. Santa Barbara sounded like a good time; I always love wandering around State Street :-) I'm so bummed that you didn't contact me to give you guys a tour of UCI! I just graduated from there a couple of months ago. But, I'm glad that you enjoyed the campus, nonetheless. I've never been to UCSB although it was one of the schools that accepted me. Two reasons for not going: 1) major party town and I do need quiet to study and 2) the excess money needed for paying for housing anywhere in SB; that's why I stayed at home and commuted to Irvine. Can't wait to read more about your adventures!

    PS--There are a couple of nurseries in Goleta not too far from State St. that are worth checking out :-)

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  3. I love Santa Barbara...now you have me yearning to leave the East Coast for the West Coast...for just a little visit!!!

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  4. Sounds like a wonderful family trip. If I ever make it over that way I am definitely putting Jane on my list of places to eat.

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  5. Only you could blend college tours, Santa Barbara, and such good food all in post. You've got a little supermodel on your hands. And can't believe it's off to college soon for your son.

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  6. How much fun is this! Great family trip.

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  7. I had to laugh at you working in the college tour on vacation--we are in Hawaii and I'm going to show the kids UH!

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  8. I love college visits :) And good restaurants. Such a cute post!

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  9. every time I read your traveling adventure I want to pack a little bag and get on the first plane.
    maybe one day I will ...

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  10. Looks like a wonderful trip! Beautiful photos from the farmer's market, and looks like you enjoyed some delicious food as well :)!

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  11. Looks like a great trip. Enjoyed reading this post. Great photos. Thanks!

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  12. Looks and sounds like you and the family had a great vacation!!! That coconut cake looks supreme - I sure wish I had a slice right now. I bet every bite was perfect. Will have to check out Jane when down south. :)

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  13. Lucky indeed! What a great farmers market and your food and drink from Jane looks amazing! Hope you had a great holiday.

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  14. zot! UCI fact - the original Planet of the Apes was filmed there. The campus is not new just filled with tons of new buildings. Highlight of being a UCI student is the abundant nine month rentals on Balboa Island. Ah memories...

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  15. Wow, what a great post..and food looks soo good, especially that coconut cake..mmm I can almost taste it:))! Wonderful photos! Looks like a great trip overall!

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  16. that coconut cake looks divine

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  17. The cake looks SO amazing and your photos leap off the page. I could just grab a handful of the berries and make muffins!

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  18. "Liv's entree, reminiscent of her last fillet in Las Vegas, had her eagerly cutting into the perfectly cooked medium-rare fillet and once again groaning with pleasure as she asked why I can't make steaks "this good at home"."

    The restaurants age their own steaks before cooking and serving them. You might want to experiment with either dry or wet aging your own steaks to see if your daughter and hubby notice a difference. :)

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  19. I love going to the farmer's market! It is seriously one of my most favorite things to do. You always see the most beautiful produce and meet all sorts of interesting people. I feel like sometimes I come up with my best dish ideas when I am at a farmer's market because of something that looks fresh!

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  20. What a fun time! I love tuberose, it reminds me so much of home...

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  21. Hi Kim!! How have you been? Well I should be reading to catch up on how you have been doing. Sorry I wasn't visiting your blog - it's been pretty busy summer so far. I love Santa Barbara!! Kids grow up so fast, and every moment I feel like I need to cherish these moments...

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  22. What a great write up of Santa Barbara! I go often, but have never heard of Jane, I will have to try it. That coconut cake looks amazing. Thanks for sharing your trip :o)

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  23. Wow! Sounds like a wonderful time! And that coconut cake looks delicious!

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  24. everything looks amazing! i have my eye on that lovely coconut cake:) yum!!

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  25. Beautiful pictures, Kim... Liv looks gorgeous, and the food looks incredible! Glad you had a great time! :)

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  26. What a great trip and lovely pics... I am with you on that cake! mmmmm... the photo says it all - glad it lived up to your expectations and great to meet the owner.. cheers! - Megan

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  27. I love Santa Barbara! Such a great town to visit and spend time in. The beaches and downtown are full of entertaining things to do so it is pretty hard to get bored. I love going off the normal tourist track and go hiking and explore the inner depths of Santa Barbara. The view from the top is well worth it in the end too! I was just in town and had a fabulous time. I stayed at the Sandman Inn (www.thesandmaninn.com). So inexpensive and the location is great; close to all the action of SB!

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  28. Hi from a fellow UCSB alum! One of the first times being a procrastinator has paid off: reading your blog on October 1 from Northern California I was transported back to college/sorority days at UCSB, med school at USC, then several years of residency at UCSF. I was accepted at Stanford, Princeton, and UC. A staunch conservative now, in high school when dad said black, I said white. I bucked the trend and went to UCSB. Yes, we played hard but worked even harder. The chemistry/physics depts engender tremendous competition and self-pressure. Thanks for the memories.

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