Recently, we prepared a dinner at a classic estate in Santa Barbara. It was designed by the famed architect George Washington Smith. I'll bore you with a little architectural history. Or, skip this and have a look at the simple-classical meal we prepared.
From Wikipedia: "George Washington Smith was born in East Liberty, Pennsylvania in 1876 (on George Washington's birthday), the son of a prominent Pennsylvania engineer. Raised in Philadelphia, he was able to study painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Later, he attendedHarvard University to study architecture, but was unable to graduate due to his family's financial difficulties. He obtained employment as a draftsman in a Philadelphia architectural firm, but was unsatisfied with the lifestyle this afforded him. Smith turned to bond trading and quickly became very successful.
His success in the bond markets allowed him to quit work in 1911 to devote himself to painting and the study of art. He married Mary Catherine Greenough and the couple moved to Europe. An admirer of the works of Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin, Smith traveled around the continent painting landscapes, as well as studying in Rome and at the Académie Julian in Paris. The Smiths spent three years in Europe, returning to the United States at the outbreak of World War I.
Establishing himself in New York, Smith began exhibiting with other painters of the era, including John Sloan and George Bellows. His work gained notice and was soon being exhibited outside New York as well, at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C., the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1915 Smith traveled to California, where his paintings were to be on display in the Palace of Fine Arts at San Francisco's Panama Pacific Exposition.
While in California, he visited friends from Philadelphia who had relocated to Montecito, a rustic suburb of Santa Barbara. Still intending to return to Europe at the close of the war, he decided to remain in California for the duration. He purchased land in Montecito and designed and built a home and studio. He modeled the home after farmhouses he had seen in Andalusia during a trip to Spain in 1914.
The house he built in 1917, called Casa Dracaena (a.k.a. El Hogar and Heberton House), was an immediate success. Images of it were used to sell cement and tiles among other goods, and Smith quickly found that his neighbors wanted to live in houses like it. Before long he stopped painting and took up working as an architect full-time in Santa Barbara. His plans to return to Europe after the war were abandoned, and he remained in the Santa Barbara area for the remainder of his life. Before his death in 1930 Smith designed some 80 homes in Santa Barbara County alone, and worked nationwide.
In his time, George Washington Smith was one of the most popular architects in the United States, his homes appearing in leading architecture and interior design magazines. Smith is sometimes credited with being the "father" of the Spanish-Colonial Revival style in the United States, although he worked in other idioms as well. Despite his popularity in his era, Smith is not widely recognized today, though his homes remain popular and several are on the National Register.
His original Montecito home, as well as "Casa del Greco", his second self-designed residence next door, built in 1920, exist today as family residences. Two additional Smith designs were built in Hope Ranch in the mid-1920s: Meadow Farm for Milton Wilson, now named Robledal, and Florestal, originally built for the Peter Cooper Bryce family."
So much for a little history. The meal was served on a veranda overlooking the gardens. Want the recipes? Just drop me an email. The fun part for me was cooking on a classic gas range, Magic Chef. It was the Wold rang of its time and cost some $250 in the late 1920s. The heat was a little low but it worked great for the small dinner party we prepared.
Chef Michael Hutchings
Bibb Lettuce, Asparagus Salad
Parmesan Frico and Walnut Dressing
Local Black Cod Under an Herb Crust, Natural Jus
Meyers Lemon Tart in a Sablé Crust