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Montecito, California—home of Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bridges, Rob Lowe, Ellen DeGeneres, and Michael Douglas, among others. Those “among others” had better have access to fat bank accounts as the median price of a home is $3,150,000. I read a realtor’s piece in a local weekly cautioning prospective buyers, “You are going to get a fairly modest house for $4,000,000, actually $4,000,000 is kind of entry level.” Is that even legal?
There’s gotta be something spectacular behind these intimidating gates.
Montecito, population 8,965 and about ninety miles north of LA, is tucked in between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Inez Mountains, blending into south Santa Barbara. The surrounding canyons are filled with lush stands of oak and eucalyptus trees, adding a wooded dimension to the seaside environment. Those lush stands also add to the potential for summertime disaster—the Santa Barbara backcountry ignited August 19, causing brutal wildfires that as of August 23 are only 30% contained. Smoke obscured the horizon yesterday from Montecito to Goleta casting an apocalyptic orange glow on the palm trees, filling swimming pools with grey ash.
Rob Lowe and his family escaped the fire in his car. “We were watching television and my wife ran in and said, ‘Get out, the mountain’s on fire!’ I put the kids in the car, turned out of the driveway, and the entire mountain was on fire with flames shooting 200 feet in the air. There was literally no warning. It came out of nowhere.”
Monday I drove to Montecito to swim at the Y and have lunch at Jeannine’s Bakery. While no one seemed concerned about the fire, everyone was talking about it.
Montecito YMCA entrance and pool
Butterfly Beach, across from Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore, is a Montecito must-do. Although the beach is popular with dogs, the locals (both dogs and walkers) are so well-trained and civilized that a barefoot stroll in the sand rarely results in a misstep.
Anyways, some laps in the pool, an Asian chicken salad at Jeannine’s, and a bit of beach time was plenty for me. Although I fit in with most of Montecito’s demographics—age, race, sex, education, people per household, relationship status—I am wanting in the income category, so Goleta, here I come.
Asian Chicken Salad with Chili Lime Dressing
- 2 cups grilled, sautéed, or rotisserie chicken pieces
- 1 tablespoon butter
- One 3-ounce envelope ramen noodle soup mix w/seasoning packet
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 4 ounces cooked rice vermicelli noodles
- 2 cups romaine, shredded
- 2 cups Napa cabbage, shredded
- 1 carrot, julienne
- 1 green onion, finely sliced
- 1/2 cup roasted, slivered almonds
- 1/2 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
Melt butter over medium heat in skillet. Stir in seasoning packet from soup mix. Break block of noodles into bite-size pieces and stir into butter mixture. Cook noodles 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in sesame seed. Cook about 2 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, until noodles are golden brown.
Cook rice vermicelli in boiling salted water, stirring for the first two minutes to keep them from sticking, for a total of 5-6 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Season cooked noodles with a bit of soy sauce, fish sauce, salt, sesame oil, and lime juice.
Mix romaine, Napa cabbage, carrot, green onion, almonds, and cilantro in large bowl. Add butter-toasted ramen noodles and seasoned, cooked rice noodles.
Dress with chili-lime dressing.
- 1 tablespoon ginger, chopped fine
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 -2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- ¼ cup cilantro
Whisk ginger, garlic, lime juice, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, and brown sugar in medium bowl to blend. Whisk in sesame oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper, add cilantro.