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Tasteful Winners

Pirates restaurant nabs first-place prizes at the county food and wine festival.


Pirates have long been known for taking things, and those who reside in Ventura County apparently are no different. But in the case of the Pirates Grub & Grog restaurant, the pirates in question took something that was rightfully theirs.

Pirates Grub & Grog walked off with first-place awards for best tasting entry and most unique entry--both for stuffed mushrooms--at the Taste of Ventura County food and wine festival over the weekend at Channel Islands Harbor.

Honors were determined by a panel of judges who like to eat.

Second place for best tasting dish went to Regata, for its chicken Tetrazzini, and third place went to Salsa Cove, for its shark taco.

Other top finishers for the most unique entry were Yasmeen's Indian restaurant and Jamaica Coley, which tied for second. For Yasmeen's, it was a chicken tika masala that earned the honor, and for Jamaica Coley, a Jamaican beef patty.

In the category of judge's favorite dessert, the winner was the Regata cannoli, with second place going to Marina Ice Cream for its various ice cream selections. Third place went to Pirates Grub & Grog for its bread pudding.

The Whale's Tail won the best soup or chowder category, for the restaurant's chowder entry, with La Dolce Vita's Manhattan clam chowder claiming second place and the Lobster Trap's cioppino finishing third. The Whale's Tail also took top honors in the category of hot and spicy for its buffalo shrimp, with JC's Midnight Salsa finishing second and Captain Barbeque finishing third for its hot links.

In the only non-taste category, the best decor award (actually an overall best presentation award), the winner was Yasmeen's. The folks at the Yasmeen's booth were dressed in traditional Indian garb and managed to make their simple tent look like a fairly elegant restaurant.


Some of Santa Barbara County's leading chefs will prepare their specialties for Sunday's third annual Share Our Strength Taste of the Nation gourmet dinner. The event is a benefit for the Food Bank of Santa Barbara County.

Chefs from Citronelle, the San Ysidro Ranch, Downey's, the Wine Cask, Brigitte's and the Four Seasons Biltmore Hotelc are scheduled to be among the participants. Area winemakers also will bring along their creations.

Jennifer Luciano, community relations manager for the food bank, said organizers received a lot of offers from restaurants and chefs interested in volunteering their time to help those in need of food.

"This is one of the only opportunities in the area for chefs to use their skills to be extremely philanthropic," Luciano said. "And it's a really nice opportunity for their businesses to be recognized for giving back to the community."

The dinner will begin at 6 p.m. at the Four Seasons Biltmore, 460 Channel Drive, Montecito. Tickets are $75, with proceeds benefiting local, national and international programs for the hungry. A limited number of $100 winemaker table seats also are available. Guests will be seated with a winemaker, who will discuss the wines and match them with the evening's food.

For reservations call 886-4SOS.


It would be easy to assume that the Ventura Chamber Music Festival, beginning Saturday, would please a number of senses, but not all of them. The sense of taste, it would seem, might be ignored.

But with champagne, wine, chocolate-dipped strawberries and other fare planned for the various concerts, guests' taste buds may ultimately be as satisfied as their ears. The 16 concerts, running through May 11, will be presented at several venues, and organizers have tried to match the snacks for the evening with the music and the setting.

Among the culinary highlights will be hors d'oeuvres prepared by chefs at the Ojai Valley Inn, served Wednesday during the Gala Harbor Cruise.

On May 8, guests will dig into chocolate-dipped strawberries and cookies during intermission at the concert of Cuban pianist Santiago Rodriguez at the Church of Religious Science. Also on May 8, the Tea and Trumpets concert at the Bella Maggiore Inn will feature an English tea, with finger sandwiches, scones, lemon curd, Devonshire cream and chocolate truffles.

On May 9, the Celestial Strings performance at the San Buenaventura Mission will include snacks prepared by Eric Ericsson's on the Pier. And on May 10, a classical concert featuring Russian pianist Kirill Gliadkovsky will include a Caesar salad brunch provided by the Chart House.

For more information call 648-3146.

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