Santa Barbara

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Santa Barbara: Food

The Restaurant: Caliterranean Cafe

Caliterranean Roasted Chicken Supreme

“An olive oil-rubbed turkey or chicken is our favorite thing to have at home,” says chef Theo Stephan. “Instead of bread, I like to stuff the bird with local organic produce from the farmer’s market: sliced garlic, spiced fruit and vegetables that permeate the bird throughout.” If you are making other poultry, simply multiply ingredients in ratio to the weight of your (turkey, duck, Cornish hen, etc.)

1 4.5-pound whole chicken; preferably range-fed, organic or “smart” chicken)
2 tablespoons fine sea salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (herby, robust style)
2 garlic cloves
5 sprigs herbs, such as rosemary, oregano and thyme freshly washed and dried

Pour sea salt, one tablespoon at a time, into your hand and rub inside of poultry cavity. Cut veggies into large chunks and toss with one tablespoon of the olive oil.

Lightly salt and generously pepper the veggies with freshly ground pink peppercorns. Place two garlic cloves into the bottom and then add vegetables to cavity. Fill the cavity thoroughly but do not press or pack. Place another garlic clove into the back end of poultry under the breast and, if there is room, place a veggie or two in there also.

Gently lift the skin away from the breast with your fingertips, palm down and use remaining oil to rub under the skin and even into the leg area as much as possible. The skin will loosely cover the poultry. Add sprigs of fresh herbs, inserting under the skin wherever possible.

Roast at 375°F for 75 minutes before checking with a meat thermometer. Cook to 165°F on chicken breast. Depending on veggies (potatoes, for example), cooking time may take up to 15 minutes longer. Chicken will still cook a bit after removing from oven, ideally reaching an internal temperature of 170°F on the breast meat. Remove stuffing immediately and let chicken sit for about 10 minutes, then portion and serve. Serves 4 to 6

With No Bread Stuffing:
Be creative with what’s in season. Veggies possibilities include artichokes, potatoes, onions, peeled tomatoes, peppers, carrots, green beans. Vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower or zucchini will fall apart and be mushy. If you use these, remove them from the cavity and make a light “mash” with a splash of organic milk or cream, freshly ground pepper and a whisk of two tablespoons more olive oil. Serve mashed-potato style.

Recommended Wine

Zaca Mesa Viognier (Santa Barbara). 

The Chef: Theo Stephan, Caliterranean Cafe

“Taking a concept and not being afraid to change it radically. That’s what California has always been about—the whole thing from rock ‘n’ roll to innovation in high-tech,” Theodora (Theo) Stephan observes.

Since 1998, Stephan has been staging her own coup de cuisine in Santa Barbara County. Adding Meyer lemon zest with a reduction of balsamic vinegar to spaghetti bolognese. Using olive oil in everything from breakfast omelets to (believe it or not) ice cream. "Things we grow here don’t taste the same as anywhere else. I don’t feel tied to making dishes traditional.”

“You’ve got to meet Theo,” locals invariably advise when food aficionados visit Santa Barbara County. Stephan is the most awarded certified organic extra-virgin olive oil producer in Southern California. Her Global Gardens specialty food company makes 50 different products from olive oils to fruit vinegars, mustards and spice blends. 

Her newest endeavor is nurturing a place where people can enjoy them all—Caliterranean Café at Global Gardens in Los Alamos. Opened in summer 2013, the eatery occupies the town’s historic mercantile building—a space shared with the Casa Dumetz wines of Sonia Magdevski. “I call it an enhanced tasting experience,” Stephan explains. “A place to experience mostly vegetarian cooking with globally inspired flavors.”

Stephan originally coined the term “Caliterranean” for her book Olive Oil and Vinegar for Life: Delicious Recipes for Healthy Caliterranean Living (Skyhorse, 2011). To the Mediterranean meditation on fresh vegetables and olive oil, she adds California’s mother lode of local ingredients, multi-ethnic traditions and global outreach to exotic spices.

“Creating desserts with olive oil is my greatest pleasure,” states Stephan who uses it for everything from baklava to pecan pie. Her ice cream recipes evolved from tasting tests with her two teenage daughters. “The olive oil adds a surprise burst of different flavor.”

At the new café, a tasting bar showcases Stephan’s passion. “I feel like a little kid in a candy store,” Stephan reflects and laughs.

Favorite Farm-to-Table Finds

Sea urchin: These spiny bottom dwellers, known as uni at the sushi bar, offer rich oceanic flavor. Stephan collects her catch from Stephanie Mutz of Sea Stephanie Fish.

Ridgeback Shrimp: Caught in Santa Barbara Channel, they’re named after their pointy shells. “Their flesh is crimson,” Stephan explains. “I use them like langoustines.” 

Coffee: Good Land Organics grows coffee in the coastal foothills. The Caturra/Typica blend embodies sweet nuttiness with a brown sugar finish. 

Finley Farm Organics: Johanna and Chris Finley farm 70 kinds of fruits and vegetables. “They have four amazing little kids who help at the farmers stand,” Stephan notes. 

Finger Limes:  Originally from Australia, they’re also known as vegan caviar or caviar limes because their husk holds tiny globules with a lime flavor and slight sweetness. 

Risa Wyatt

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