THAT LONGTIME TWOSOME: Claiming that food and movie-watching are forever entwined is akin to saying that day is bright and night is dark, and yet we still rhapsodize on the pairing at length. We ponder if it is better to eat during a film, or if that big bucket o' popcorn distracts from the action on screen. We wonder if a meal before a movie gives you the energy to stay peppy, or if it puts you to sleep. And we consider if having dinner after the credits wrap, on a first date, isn't the way to go, as you can discuss the movie you just saw together if the conversation in general lags. What is rarer, though, are large-scale cinematic events specifically built with a food component in mind. We're not talking about a lavish dinner for award show nominees, nope; we're talking about festivals where attendees have as many interesting cuisine choices as films to see. Napa Valley does each fall, and, of course you betcha, there's a strong wine component. And come winter? It is Santa Barbara's scene. So much so that the food part of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival arrives with its own unique identity: Santa Barbara Film Feast.
JAN. 27-FEB. 7, 2015: The Film Feast runs concurrent with the film festival, offering "(s)pecial menus and hotel packages" for people in town to catch the celebrity tributes, industry panels, or opening and closing night screenings ("Desert Dancer" opens the fest and "McFarland, USA" closes it). Those menus includes a meatball sandwich Inspired by "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" at Belcampo Meat Company, "Wallace and Gromit"-inspired cheeses at C'est Cheese, and made-for-the-fest cocktails at Ty Lounge at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara. A goodly number (think a dozen-ish) hotels in the area are offering packages tied to the festival, with discounts in the mix. If your movie-meal love goes well beyond licorice-snacking during a film's second act, Film Feast could be up your culinary alley. A plus? It spreads the party to places beyond the theaters, and pretty much anyone who has made the effort to attend a festival enjoys that fully immersive vibe. Go wider, film fests everywhere, is what we're blatantly saying, and look to Santa Barbara and Napa Valley for inspiration.