Monday, April 23, 2012

Breakfast + Lunch = ....

The dessert station at the Bacara

Brunch. It’s what’s for dinner, or technically it’s what is between when you wake up and dinner. There are all manner of brunches in Santa Barbara from the Four Seasons Biltmore in Montecito (traditional station brunch on Sunday, $72 and $35 for kids; Saturday À la carte brunch $15 to $28), to scaled back versions like the Canary Hotel near mid State Street (brunch is Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., À la carte, $10 - $20) and Stella Mares (Sunday brunch À la carte menu, $12 to $23) located at the Andree Clark Bird Refugee. But for those days like Mother’s Day (the mother of all brunch days) you want to pull out the stops. The brunch at the Bacara Resort and Spa will fit that bill, and fill you up, all overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Located inside the terrific restaurant Miro, the Sunday Brunch is a blowout.

The organic salads are made to order
But where did the idea of a half-breakfast, half-lunch idea originate? We do know that “brunch” was first mentioned in 1895 in a British magazine called Punch. More than likely it was a term used for post-drunk reveler food on Sunday morning after a blitzy Saturday night of hard drinking. Allegedly it was a slang term but it doesn’t mean that the first iteration of brunch was just a way to pack protein into your body to offset too much alcohol. But it certainly seems likely. There is no clear information as to the exact origins, only conjecture. Regardless, the idea of brunch has been with us for over a hundred years now and certainly the elements of brunch have become more refined. And these days brunch is something of a ritual: Easter, Mother’s Day, Christmas and even New Years are prime brunch days, or like many people, you have a brunch party at your house (as I have done for years). Brunches consist of two different experiences: a traditional sit down restaurant where you order off the menu; and the station brunch where there will be stations around the restaurant for dessert, a carving station, another for made to order eggs and omelets, and the like, and you can eat as much as you want (please don’t make the mistake however of thinking you need to eat everything – I promise, you won’t feel well later).

Plenty of seafood, well, plenty of everything!
With a focus on local, seasonal produce, the Bacara brunch showcases a culinary happy-land highlighting organic produce from local farms at their salad station. And there are made-to-order omelets and waffles, seafood displays of oysters, crab and huge shrimp, and sushi. And like with the best brunches, there is prime rib from their carving station, artisanal cheeses (I’m loving the Humboldt Fog), plenty of side potato-based dishes, fresh fruit and an entire bagel bar. All this and way more is set inside the spacious and colorful Miro environment. Oh, and you can have mimosas or Champagne.

The dessert station includes chocolate-covered lollipops with pistachio cheesecake inside, to chocolate and strawberry mousse, carrot cakes, whoopee pies, and pots de crème, all created from scratch by pastry chef Daniel Sampson, who learned some of the basics from him mother, grandmother and aunt growing up in Nova Scotia. Personally I love his meringue with fresh whipped cream, passion fruit, strawberry and kiwi. There are over 25 different desert items to sample. Brunch is $70 for adults, and $30 for the young ones and has more food than mentioned here, a virtual food bonanza with something to make everyone satisfied. It’s best to make reservations at all of these brunch spots, then enjoy and be happy that you are brunching here in Santa Barbara

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