Sunday, February 14, 2010

A sense of home

Santa Barbara, California.

I’ll never get tired of the feeling I get when saying this city’s name.

Santa Barbara.

I’m flooded with a warm feeling, and a sense of peace. No matter where I am in the world, I can just say the words- Santa Barbara- and I instantly smell oak trees, hear mission bells, taste cherimoyas and fresh figs, and feel the warm Santa Anas with a slight saltwater edge on my face. It is a wonderful place to call home.

I have been wandering in and out of this sweet little town, nestled between mountains and sea, for a few years now. In fact, I think my friends have thrown more “Welcome Home Ash!” and “Bon Voyage Ash!” parties for me than they have Birthday parties at this point…. there is a reason they call Santa Barbara the Boomerang, and it just keeps on pulling you back in!

A perfect example was this morning at our beloved Saturday Farmers Market. I have been feeling a bit…, restless…… since returning back from my Bahama/Pacific Northwest adventures. I know it sounds strange for a girl to feel a little unsettled when living out of tetras-stacked boxes of belongings in her Volvo for months at a time! But even though I will always feel rooted in this town, to some extent, I currently feel very ungrounded. Needless to say, a trip to the Disneyland of colorful produce, friendly faces, and sun filled crowded aisles could not have come at a more appropriate time for me. And it instantly made me want to spread my roots into this California soil again!

Yeah, that was until I reminded myself that a rented room is $800 and a cocktail is $10 here!! – ROOTS RETRACT!!!

My first bite into a ripe avocado sample was like transporting myself back in time. Isn’t it great how food can be a time machine? I freakin’ love that! I filled my cart with rainbow chard, red carrots, local dates, lavender honey, blood oranges and tangerines, and a bunch of bright orange flowers (for the dashboard of my Volvo, of course) and practically skipped back to my car.

A favorite little SB farmer’s market breakfast salad, perfect for a sunny California Saturday in February.

-Citrus Date Salad with Orange Water, Raw Honey and Mint-

1 blood orange, segmented
2 tangerines, segmented
1 Cara Cara or Navel orange, segmented
3 Medjool dates, julienne
Raw honey (lavender is my preferred)
Orange flower water
Fresh mint leaves

I like to supreme the orange segments, or you can peal the ends and the outside, and then slice across the circumference into ½ inch slices. Place the mixed citrus slices on a large white platter, alternating colors. Sprinkle sliced dates. Drizzle honey, and a bit of orange flower water. Then finish the salad with a few torn mint leaves over the top.

Ah, Santa Barbara. It does feel good to be home…… for now anyways.


  1. sounds delicious and i can picture eating it outside in the warm sun on our old patio in santa barbara!

  2. was doing a search for gypsy chef groups and stumbled upon your site - Santa Barbara - such a strange and amazing place.

    hope your travels are amazing!!!