Who doesn’t love Julia Child? I’m sure at one time or another we’ve been enamored by her creativity, her dedication to cooking, and maybe even her outspokenness. I’ve watched the movie Julie & Julia a few times and browsed her cookbooks, savoring the recipes and wondering how she created such extravagant affairs. In time I’d like to test out a few, but don’t really have any occasions to do so just yet. Maybe once I’m settled in New York and stumble across some foodies. Maybe when I’m back at home during the holidays. Who knows?
I recently finished the novel, Dearie, which provided readers with a look at Julia’s life. There was really much more to Julia than meets the eye and certainly more than Hollywood depicted. Did you know she was born and raised in Pasadena? She also moved all over the country and even world, but ultimately settled and lived the last few years of her life in Santa Barbara. In every place she lived and worked, she had her favorite foodie hotspots and you’d be surprised to know they all weren’t the cream of the crop 5-star restaurants. Two of her SB favorites happen to be a couple of my grandparent’s as well. When I traveled north last week to spend some time with them before I head east, we decided to make it a Julia Child themed stay. (Note: My grandmother Nancy is actually the one who has inspired me to be such a foodie and experimenter in the kitchen and gave me my first Julia Child cookbook a few years back)
First up – Paradise Café
Nestled behind State Street, Paradise is definitely known for its burgers. That’s at least what Julia would order and the only thing I’ve had in the past. The pure beauty of a juicy patty topped with grilled onions is enough to make me drool.
However, with a selection of fresh fish on the menu, how could you go wrong? We started out with garlic bread, the only type of bread offered, and browsed the menu as we sipped our drinks. I wasn’t feeling soda or a Shirley Temple but decided to try club soda with grenadine and a cherry. (Yes, I’m 22 and still order Shirley Temples) There is inside as well as outside seating, but with the beautiful summer weather, we opted to sit outside under the canopy. My grandma and I both ordered the day’s fish special, a white fish with mango salsa, roasted potatoes and seasonal vegetables. It was perfectly tender, but in retrospect I should have ordered my favorite – salmon. My grandpa ordered the top sirloin, which came with crispy onions and a side salad.
The tables around us had ordered some similar items as well as mussels, various salads, and of course the Paradise burger. Although we were satisfied by our meals, we made some room for dessert. Chocolate mousse pie with a side of strawberries to split along with a scoop of McConnell’s mocha chip. The ice cream was actually the deal breaker. If they had our favorite flavors, we would stay for dessert, if not, we’d find ourselves at the McConnell’s shop on State Street.
Second stop on the tour – La Super Rica
I adore trying new eateries but am the worst at actually finding new and innovative places to test; that’s I guess where food reviews, bloggers, and recommendations come in. Thank you Julia Child 😉
La Super Rica is truly a hole in the wall joint. Everyone visits the turquoise and white building, looking for a taste of the authentic Mexican fare at respectable prices. We had tried to go here a few years ago, but were caught off guard by this tiny problem – they are closed on Wednesdays. This time we went on a Thursday around 12:45 and there was a decent line out the door. Honestly, there is no “right” time to go unless it’s at 4:30 in the afternoon.
Not only is it a “hole-in-the-wall” stop, it seems to be a mom & pop shop. Everyone is there helping out, taking orders, and making tortillas from scratch. There were so many options that I didn’t know what to consider first. Luckily there was a woman behind us in line who was much more of an expert and gave us some recommendations.
The arroz a la mexicana is a must and per her suggestion, I ordered #16 (Super-Rica Especial – roasted chile pasilla stuffed with cheese and marinated pork + 3 tortillas) with a horchata. Oh my heaven on earth, it was AMAZING!
Something about the marinated pork combined with the melted cheese atop the fresh tortillas made it unbelievable and honestly the best Mexican food I’ve had in a long while.
If When we go back, we would probably order a side of guacamole, but otherwise the free salsas and pico de gallo adds an extra flavor to the meal. As for the horchata, it had just the perfect milky consistency and was not overly sweet.
That’s all for Julia Child’s Santa Barbara recs but check back in tomorrow for my own SB favorites.
“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.”
― Julia Child