Santa Barbara's Tastiest Month: epicure s.b.

The Lemon Festival, maritime tastings, and craft beer are on tap.

CALLING ALL FOODIES: Staging something rather wide-ranging with food in mind, at least these days, can often fall under the "Restaurant Week" header. If a neighborhood or a whole town wants to put the focus on foodly goodness, a traditional Restaurant Week is planned, complete with prix fixe menus and discounts. But what if a location wants to go more lavish? And not be about a set number of menus but rather a few food festivals, a few tastings, a few special events that can't be tied to any particular way of doing things? Some adventurous cities do walk this road, beyond their Restaurant Weeks, but no spot does it with the flair of Santa Barbara. To start with, the American Riviera devotes a full month to edible-nice events and chefly to-dos and weekend-long gatherings that focus on a single fruit. That month is October -- a very fine month to start thinking seriously of the pleasures of the plate -- and the sixth year of epicure s.b. is heading into 31 days of gourmet go-outs, beer tastings, and lemon love.

AND WE DO MEAN LEMON LOVE: It's a festival so beloved that it actually happens outside of October and yet is considered an honorary part of epicure. We speak of the Lemon Festival in Goleta in late September, but if puckery tastes aren't your bag, you can do the Avocado Festival in Carpinteria over the first weekend in October. A wine weekend with harvest-y themes is due over the second weekend in October, and Oct. 18? It's all about the beer. Yep, "epic" is part of the epicure s.b. 2014 theme. (Every good food happening worth its pink salt needs a theme.)

OTHER GOURMAND GATHERINGS... include a curated cocktails event at The Museum of Contemporary Art, and Italian mixology class at S.Y. Kitchen, and a chef shellfish demo (say that three times fast) at the Maritime Museum. Like wine, fruit, interesting ingredients, hobnobbing, Santa Barbara, and early fall? We're not saying to skip any Restaurant Weeks, nope. We're recommending that you give epicure s.b. the eye.

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