SANTA BARBARA'S SEAFOOD SCENE... is always strong, but the end of the year truly shines, thanks to a host of ocean-focused food events. The Santa Barbara Harvest & Seafood Festival, which is on Saturday, Oct. 14 in 2017, is all about celebrating those people who bring sustainable seafood to the shore, and the dishes that are the memorable result. And just a few weeks later? It's the Santa Barbara Chowder Fest, in support of the Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara. The afternoon affair, which will take place at The Fess Parker, A DoubleTree Resort on Sunday, Nov. 5, puts the focus on a full line-up of seafood-based stews from a host of great chefs from the area. On the participant list? Look for Santa Barbara Woodfired Catering, Dargan's Irish Pub & Restaurant, and Enterprise Fish Co., just to name a few of the fish-centered eateries. Wineries, too, will be out at the resort, so be sure to taste the libations from Jaffurs Wine Cellars and Summerland Winery (and, yes, beer will be served, too, with Lagunitas Brewing Company and Telegraph Brewing Company both keeping seafood lovers in suds).
CHOWDER COMPETITIONS... are something of a California classic, and if you've vowed to do them all, from the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz in the wintertime to Monterey to Ventura to Pismo Beach, which includes a chowder contest in its famous Clam Festival, you'll want to loop the American Riviera into your briny itinerary. It would be a solid goal for a state-traveling chowder enthusiast to take on one year, as chowder festivals are plentiful, but not undoable, at least the majors. This is one of them, in Santa Barbara, a day devoted to good steamy seafood, to giving back, and to supporting local chefs and winemakers, too.