Hey, it’s time for the Harbor Festival in Santa Barbara!
Most festivals in this area have been disappointing of late. There seems to be a greater representation of funnel cakes, yards o’ daiquiri, and kettle corn than the actual theme of the festival.
But not the Harbor Festival. Oh no. Its theme is seafood and there is seafood to be had.
I first heard about it when I was dining at Kobachi, and posted on a wall was a notice they’d be closed on Saturday because they’d be selling uni at the Harbor Festival. I credit Kobachi entirely for growing my love of uni, so when Saturday rolled around, heading down to the harbor was the top of my to do list.
The marina area was heaving with people, half were mingling and sitting, the other half were waiting in queues for all that glorious seafood. We saw paella, steamed crabs and lobster, lobster bisque, and…er, abelskivers. But it was mostly seafood!
The spiny lobsters had the crowds enthralled. Some were bigger than I’d seen in my life and I can only imagine how much they cost. For the teeming masses, we had to make due with the little lobsters. And while out on one of the piers, we spied some uni shooters. They cost $2 and were meh. No photos.
But while trying to get around the inexplicably long queue for Brothy’s clam chowder, we spied Kobachi’s uni counter. No queue! Fine, that is good for us, but disappointing that our fellow festival goers did not have the same appreciation. So we pulled random strangers into our queue with gushing enthusiasm for some fine uni.
Oh my, so good. We had one uni roll and an uni shooter each. The uni shooter lacked the quail egg that’s normally served at the restaurant, but it also cost 85 cents less, coming in at a mere $3 for this fine morsel. Both were utterly delicious, and the random group we’d pulled over to the uni counter got back into the queue for a second round.
I heard that the abelskivers and the lobster bisque at the festival were also good. And I also heard some friends got there early so they could sample everything on offer. I wish there had been time for that, but this uni was perfectly satisfying.
Note: some photos by Ted Mills.
Santa Barbara Harbor Festival