Valerie Rice finds joy in a simple formula: eat, drink, garden—and have fun while you’re at it. A California native, Valerie is on a perpetual quest for the best in West Coast living, be it plucking watermelon radishes from her garden or tracking down the perfect produce for her salted plum cocktail. On her blog, eat-drink-garden, she divulges her best tips, recipes and recommendations gathered from her own table, which is often surrounded with laughing, well-fed guests. When she is not chasing her dog and two daughters around Montecito, Valerie enjoys traveling with her husband, helping local non-profits with fund-raising, and working on her first book centered on living life deliciously. She is also a passionate food stylist, photographer, and shoe shopper.
I have had a love affair with fresh, beautiful food my entire life. As a young girl I was never happier than when I was transforming the kitchen into a maelstrom of activity … you know, pigtails, boundless energy, seven new recipes, and flour absolutely everywhere. As a pre-teen I fell hard for Jacques Pépin and his cooking show on PBS, and I’m still an avid fan today.
My mother is Belgian, and as a child I was fortunate enough to travel to Europe for family visits. My grandmother had a wonderful vegetable garden in the village of Wespelaar, near Antwerpen. I remember pulling carrots, picking bush beans and turning the most delicious red currants into jam for our breakfast toast. For a Newport Beach girl this was total culture shock, and I loved every minute of it.
Serendipity worked its wonders when I met my future husband. I was living in a small studio apartment near the Old Mission in Santa Barbara. My kitchen consisted of a hot plate, small refrigerator and mini-oven, but even without much room or decent equipment, I still cooked up a storm. And my husband introduced me to an essential element of the culinary experience: wine. His passion for wine knows no bounds, and with his knowledge of how to pair wines with food, we began to eat and drink very well indeed. You might say we were the perfect pairing.
A few years back, I decided to carry on my grandmother’s tradition and plant a garden. My motivation in starting a garden at home was my desire for flavor, freshness and seasonality. But I also wanted to re-create the warm and homey feeling I always had while visiting my wonderful grandmother in Wespelaar. And where better to do that than Santa Barbara, an ideal locale with its terrific weather, good soil and abundance of organic offerings? As a mother, I love the rhythm and beauty the garden has brought to our family’s life and kitchen. My girls love to nurture and tend the vegetables too and so they feel a connection to the food they eat.
Eat Drink Garden with Valerie Rice was born of my love to eat, drink, garden and entertain. Along the way, through trial and error, I have learned many lessons and discovered a few tricks that make a good meal terrific, a struggling garden bountiful, a routine party memorable. I want to share what I’ve learned with you. I want to demystify what it takes to live the lifestyle you deserve.
Preparing a fresh, lovely meal with homegrown, high-quality ingredients, thoughtfully selecting the wine, and serving it in an elegant, beautiful environment is not reserved solely for the Martha Stewarts of the world. You can do it, too. And I’ll help you—because with an open mind and a creative spirit, anything is possible.
I’m proud to be a trustee of Casa del Herrero, noted as one of the finest examples of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture in America and designated a National Historic Landmark.
You are invited to my table where a bounty awaits you … produce fresh from the garden, attractive (but never fussy) food, a showcase for delicious wine, all brought together with a thoughtful presentation to delight all the senses.
I am here to guide you in bringing the best of Santa Barbara’s relaxed, elegant and delicious lifestyle into your home. Join me as I share my passion for living life by celebrating all that I love—let’s eat, drink, garden, and entertain together.
My mantra in the kitchen? Prepare tasty food with fresh, high-quality and seasonal ingredients. I approach cooking and entertaining with a sense of adventure, fun and a glass of wine in hand.
It’s as simple as this: if you cook wonderful food, seek out wonderful wine. Small production wines are a great place to start and there are many terrific, well-priced wines to be discovered.
There is nothing better than fresh-from-the-garden produce. The earth’s bounty yields food that is satisfying to both body and soul.
Celebrate life’s adventure by sharing it with guests. What could be better than sitting around a beautiful table with friends and family, eating, drinking, talking, and laughing? My entertaining style is distinctly Californian—casual but elegant, and always delicious.
About the photos on Eat Drink Garden with Valerie Rice
Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this site were taken and are copyrighted by Valerie Rice and belong to Valerie Rice. From time to time Valerie gets too elbow-deep in flour, potting soil or cocktail salt to handle the camera safely and on those occasions she calls in a professional photographer or videographer; credit is given on those posts. Thank you for respecting the copyrights of Valerie Rice, Eat Drink Garden with Valerie Rice, and our contributors.