Drink of the Week: El Paseo’s Black Magic

Photo by Nik Blaskovich
Photo by Nik Blaskovich

At last, we near the end of our three-week journey, ending up in the heart of Fiesta. That is, El Paseo, which, since 1922, has been the place to go for fine Mexican food and a long selection of tequilas. This remnant of what was once a bustling mercado of shops and eateries in the forgone era of the 1970s, before it was turned into, well, law offices, is still pulling people in.

We’ve been trying out various margaritas over these three weeks, and so we scan down the menu until we get to the Black Magic. It’s not called a margarita on the menu, but according to our building blocks of a margarita, it is. It has a tequila — Don Julio Reposado. It has a sweet — St. Germain and some simple syrup. And it has a sour — lemon juice. And it has muddled blackberries to cast the whole thing into a purple haze. So, yes! It is a margarita, and very smooth and fruity and mellow one at that. And yes, El Paseo is going to be blowin’ up by the time you read this. But they’ll still have our Drink of the Week waiting for you.

BLACK MAGIC
3 blackberries
2 ounces Don Julio Reposado tequila
1/2 ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur
3/4 ounce lemon juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup

Muddle blackberries.
Add ice and then tequila, St.-Germain, lemon juice and simple syrup. Shake and strain into cocktail glass.

EL PASEO
813 Anacapa St.
(805) 962-6050 or www.elpaseosb.com

Beyond the fairy tale: Music Academy’s summer opera is the delightful ‘Cinderella’

"I'm living my own fairy tale!" says mezzo-soprano Beste Kalender about her role as the lead in Rossini's "Cinderella." David Bazemore photos
“I’m living my own fairy tale!” says mezzo-soprano Beste Kalender about her role as the lead in Rossini’s “Cinderella.”
David Bazemore photos

Composer Gioachino Rossini didn’t have a lot of time for stage magic. Unlike Mozart, he didn’t have time for transformations, or animals, divine messengers or the like. So it’s odd that he took on the fairiest of fairy tales in “Cinderella,” with its glass slippers and Prince Charming and all the trappings of the princess story. Rossini’s “Cinderella” (aka “La Cenerentola”) eschews fantasy for the reality of court intrigue between an impoverished maid and a prince.

David Paul is directing this Music Academy of the West production opening Thursday, and that means opera fans are in good hands regarding this material. Mr. Paul brought the Old Spanish Days-themed version of “Carmen” to the Granada last summer, and beyond trappings of the Californio costumes there was a serious rethink. Don Jose was no longer a tragic hero, but an abusive, ultimately murderous boyfriend. Rossini’s more realistic Cinderella is very much suited to Paul’s modern taste.

Continue reading Beyond the fairy tale: Music Academy’s summer opera is the delightful ‘Cinderella’

DRINK OF THE WEEK: Casa Blanca’s Prickly Pear Margarita

Photo by Nik Blaskovich
Photo by Nik Blaskovich

It’s week two of our Drink of the Week march toward Fiesta! Or rather than march, call it a saunter, with glass in hand. We are keeping our focus on margaritas, that endlessly versatile drink, and the go-to cocktail for Old Spanish Days. We decided to stop by Casa Blanca, the very large and very fun restaurant and bar on the corner of State and Gutierrez. When it first opened, we came here and tried many drinks, including the Sunset Margarita. This time, we wanted to check out the special, which bartender Morgan Moore was happy to make for us: the Prickly Pear Margarita. This cactus fruit has a banana-like texture and flavor and a neon pink color, and makes this drink pop out among all the others at the bar. Moore uses El Charro Reposado tequila, the bar’s well, but you can replace it with your favorite. Also included: lime juice, lemonade and orange juice, instead of the typical sweet and sour mix. This drink was so good, we were done before we started … or it seemed like it, with plenty of citrus-y goodness mixed in with the pear, tangy but soft. It’s our Drink of the Week, but stay tuned next week for our final cocktail!

PRICKLY PEAR MARGARITA
2 ounces. El Charro Reposado Tequila
2 ounces Perfect Purees’ Prickly Pear puree (or any other brand)
1 1/2 ounces triple sec
Splash lime juice
Splash orange juice
Lemonade, to top

Combine tequila, puree, triple sec, lime juice and orange juice over ice and shake. Pour into salt-lined lowball glass, top with lemonade. Garnish with lime wedge.

Casa Blanca
330 State St.
(805) 845-8966 or casablancasb.com

Letters home: Ensemble Theatre’s Lloyd Webber musical is a one-woman show

 Misty Cotton is alone on stage in the one-woman, Andrew Lloyd Webber musical "Tell Me On A Sunday." The Ensemble Theatre Company production runs through Aug. 2 at The New Vic. Courtesy photo

Misty Cotton is alone on stage in the one-woman, Andrew Lloyd Webber musical “Tell Me On A Sunday.” The Ensemble Theatre Company production runs through Aug. 2 at The New Vic.
Courtesy photo

Ensemble Theatre Company’s season may be over for now, but it has one more surprise up its sleeve. “Tell Me On a Sunday,” which opens Thursday, is a light summer aperitif of music and song from Misty Cotton. She is performing a lesser known musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, best known for Broadway juggernauts like “Cats” and “Phantom of the Opera.”

It’s a tale of a young English woman who comes to New York City to try to make it big.

Continue reading Letters home: Ensemble Theatre’s Lloyd Webber musical is a one-woman show

DRINK OF THE WEEK: Palazzio’s Jalapeño Margarita

Photo by Nik Blaskovich
Photo by Nik Blaskovich

In just under two weeks, it will be Fiesta, and already we’re thinking about it … just the drinks, of course. OK, yes, we are thinking about the dancing, but that makes us think about the parade, and that makes us think about the mercado, and that makes us think of food, and that makes us thirsty. So there you go.

So what to do? In our first of three suggestions, we think that Palazzio just might be the place to stop. Jamie Freymuth has been the face of Palazzio’s bar for four years and creates all the cocktails there, putting the weekly winners on the little sandwich chalkboard near the street. That’s how we first saw the Jalapeño Margarita.

This is a quick mix. Several slices of jalapeño, then a mix of 1800 Reposado, triple sec, and then Palazzio’s house mix, a 50-50 of lemon and lime juice and simple syrup to top. When Ms. Freymuth unjarred that container of jalapeños, that spicy smell knocked us back, but, fortunately, the drink is sweet, not blasting with heat. It’s designed for a seat at the bar, looking out at the madness of State Street, just above the fray. It’s our Drink of the Week.

JALAPEÑO MARGARITA
2 oz. 1800 Reposado Tequila
3/4 oz. Triple Sec
Lemon and lime juice, 50-50 mix, to top
Simple syrup to top
3 – 4 jalapeño slices

Muddle jalapeño slices gently at bottom of pint glass. Add tequila, triple sec and ice. Top with equal parts citrus mix and simple syrup. Shake and return to pint glass.

Palazzio
1026 State St.
(805) 564-1985 or www.palazzio.com

‘Skaterdater’ keeps rolling on

Filmmaker Noel Black and his daughter Nicole Black Gonthier embrace. Ms. Gonthier is trying to fulfill her father?s wish that his first film, ?Skaterdater,? is added to the Library of Congress Film Registry. COURTESY PHOTOS
Filmmaker Noel Black and his daughter Nicole Black Gonthier embrace. Ms. Gonthier is trying to fulfill her father?s wish that his first film, ?Skaterdater,? is added to the Library of Congress Film Registry.
COURTESY PHOTOS

A year ago Noel Black died at age 77 in Santa Barbara.

He left behind a filmography filled with television episodes – “The Twilight Zone,” “The Baby-Sitters Club,” “Hawaii Five-O” “Kojak” – TV movies and theatrical releases, the most famous being the Anthony Perkins and Tuesday Weld vehicle “Pretty Poison” from 1966, and “Private School,” starring Phoebe Cates.

Continue reading ‘Skaterdater’ keeps rolling on

French Festival starts today

The Eiffel Tower is assembled at Oak Park for this weekend's French Festival.
The Eiffel Tower is assembled at Oak Park for this weekend’s French Festival.

Dust off your beret and prep your poodle, because the French Festival starts today at Oak Park for two days celebrating the world of French culture.

The popular event, now in its 26th year, features food, drink, dancing, music and fun for the whole family, whether you come from a French background or just love the romance of Paris, or the taste of a good croissant.

Continue reading French Festival starts today

Quality Control: JURASSIC 5 REUNITE, STORM THE SANTA BARBARA BOWL

Jurassic 5 performs a headline show in March in Perth, Austrailia
Jurassic 5 performs a headline show in March in Perth, Austrailia

One of the highlights of last year’s Coachella music festival was the reunion of Jurassic 5, the well loved (and six-member) hip hop outfit that was totally West Coast in all the best ways: laid back yet totally tight and in control of their craft, individually as well as a team. They had cited artistic differences when they quit in 2007, but none of that was apparent when they got back together last year. Now they’re heading to the Santa Barbara Bowl this Sunday and they recently dropped an ace new single, “The Way We Do It,” which chops up the White Stripes’ “My Doorbell” to devastating effect.

But here’s the thing: they weren’t broken up that long, only by hip-hop standards. And the new single is really from 2006, part of a set of as-yet unreleased songs produced by Heavy D just before his death.

“I remember Heavy D saying, ‘Now I wanna make a hit for you guys,'” says Marc7, one of J5’s four vocalists, along with baritone Chali2na, Akil and Zaakir. “That’s the main thing he kept saying. That particular song was one of the last sessions we did. We had already recorded four or five songs with Heavy D. And on the last day of recording, he had that beat waiting for us. And we just wrote it right then and there … It was one of those songs that was just sitting in the vault.”

Continue reading Quality Control: JURASSIC 5 REUNITE, STORM THE SANTA BARBARA BOWL

After This, The Deluge: SBIFF’S FRENCH FILM SERIES THE WAVE COMES TO THE RIVIERA

"Not My Type (Pas Son Genre
“Not My Type (Pas Son Genre

The Wave is rolling toward our shores this week, a five-day, 11-film mini-film fest put on by Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Intended as a mid-year fundraiser for SBIFF, it features in its first year a focus on France and French directors, with other countries slotted for following years. So why France as the first choice?

“French cinema is very popular among our audience,” says SBIFF programmer Mickey Duzdevich, meaning Santa Barbara in general. He points to the success of the French films that screen in SBIFF’s Showcase series at Plaza de Oro every Wednesday. “Those films are the ones that sell out.” And at the last SBIFF, French films sold more tickets. Who knew Santa Barbara were such Francophiles? Quelle surprise!

Continue reading After This, The Deluge: SBIFF’S FRENCH FILM SERIES THE WAVE COMES TO THE RIVIERA

Time Traveler – ELEMENTS THEATER COLLECTIVE STAGES VIRGINIA WOOLF’S ‘ORLANDO’ AS A POP-UP

The "Orlando" cast, clockwise from left, Stephanie Farnum, Rob Grayson, Erika Leachman, Morgan Altenhoff and Tess Plant-Thomas
The “Orlando” cast, clockwise from left, Stephanie Farnum, Rob Grayson, Erika Leachman, Morgan Altenhoff and Tess Plant-Thomas

When Virginia Woolf published her gender-bending, time-traveling novel “Orlando” in 1928, her contemporaries initially put it down as frivolous, a distraction from the more serious work she was writing. And so it seemed doomed for decades to not be considered alongside novels like “To the Lighthouse.” That is until Sally Potter’s 1992 film version with Tilda Swinton revealed the story to be much more than fluff. “Orlando,” in a sparkling new adaptation by playwright Sarah Ruhl, continues the ascension of this work, and it closes Elements Theater Collective’s current season, starting tonight and playing in pop-up in several locations.

“This season our theme has been gender and sexuality,” says director Mary Plant-Thomas, who is marking this production as her last before she moves to San Francisco. “So it was a very explicit choice … But I also see that the play shares other core ideas with our plays, like time travel. I think that’s less a choice and more that we really value choosing new works that are also accessible.”

Continue reading Time Traveler – ELEMENTS THEATER COLLECTIVE STAGES VIRGINIA WOOLF’S ‘ORLANDO’ AS A POP-UP