For the bash giving, party loving, wildly entertaining types – gifts from around the Central Coast (and beyond) that will surely delight. Cheers!
The energy from a crowded restaurant can be a real positive thing. The energy from a crowded LOCAL restaurant on a random Wednesday evening can be seriously uplifting. And at the self-described Eclectic California Cuisine restaurant Opal in downtown Santa Barbara, that was exactly the case. In fact it was rather refreshing to see the joint bustling and booming.
And to sum it all up the service and mostly American with a slight Asian flare cuisine was bananas (a positive reference as many Rachel Zoe fans already know).
Eat: The Opal Cob Salad for lunch (its off the charts delicious), the Vegetable Napoleon with a Gorgonzola Potato Cake for dinner (a veggie dish not to be missed…even if you are a carnivore) and the French Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee for dessert (they even serve it with a sweet note written in chocolate).
When in Santa Barbara do as the locals do.
The majority of my weekend was spent in Paso Robles participating in this lovely event, and although the weather was surprisingly chilly the combination of fantastic wine, music and food was sublime (and what great food it was)… From Artisan Alley to the surrounding downtown eateries. One of my particular favorites is the local cheese shop Vivant Fine Cheese owned and operated by Dairy Science Cal Poly Graduate Danika Reed. Located next door to Hotel Cheval on Pine Street, this little cheese shop has it all including my new favorite “Barely Buzzed.”
This semi-firm cheese made from cow’s milk is a full bodied cheese with a nutty flavor and smooth texture. The cheese is hand rubbed with a Turkish grind of Colorado Legacy Coffee Company (the coffee rub makes this cheese so unique and delectable). The blend consists of a mix of South American, Central American, and Indonesian beans roasted to different styles. French Superior Lavender buds are ground with the coffee. The rub imparts notes of butterscotch and caramel which are stronger near the rind, but find their way to the center of the cheese. The cheese is aged on Utah Blue Spruce aging racks in humidity controlled caves. A truly addictive cheese.
And the perfect pairing? An elegant Cabernet Sauvignon with soft floral notes, cedar chest mocha flavors and a long lingering finish such as this delicious local Cabernet.
Definition: communication through visual aid and the conveyance of ideas and information in forms that can be read or looked upon.
Several weeks ago I was approached with the opportunity to “throw” together a window display for the 2010 Paso Robles Wine Festival Window Display Contest which pairs Paso Robles wineries with downtown retailers to create a display that:
Promotes the local wine region and downtown shopping district
Incorporates Wine Festival
Incorporates the winery brand
With three days to plan, assemble and construct I went to work to create a lively display for my wonderful employer. The theme: Andy Warhol Comes to Paso Robles Wine Country.
End result: my cork butterflies, Andy Warhol-inspired Wine Festival poster flowers and brightly topped wine bottles earned me first place in the competition! Maybe in my next life I can go to work as a retail display artist…
Check out the full display at Jayde Boutique in downtown Paso Robles (which by the way has a bevy of adorable clothing items currently in stock).
Came across this tongue-in-cheek video today from my beloved Daily Candy and while the darling video was most enjoyable, I was more amused by the description of the video (particularly the bad wine and Spencer Pratt reference):
“You should like your wine how you like your men: full-bodied, fragrant, mature, and sweet on the tongue. So how come you keep drinking the vino equivalent of Spencer Pratt? Stop settling….”
So, it got me thinking about our own local wine industry. With over 200 wineries and 1000’s of wines in Paso Robles alone (does not even include those in San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez and Santa Barbara Wine Country) it can be overwhelming. Luckily we have some great local wine bars equipped with great wine buyers to fulfill your cravings and show you how to do it right – drink wine that is.
Gather Wine Bar – Village of Arroyo Grande
Why: Owner Kari Ziegler does a terrific job featuring local winemakers on Wednesdays and live music from local artists.
Monterey Street Wine Company – Downtown San Luis Obispo
Why: Great retail wine selection, wines by the glass at the bar and vast assortment of artisanal cheeses. Yum!
Central Coast Wines – Downtown San Luis Obispo
Why: Thursday night’s winery features plus Downtown Farmer’s Market – doesn’t get any better.
15 Degrees C – Templeton
Why: Thursday night wine and food pairings by Maegen Loring of the Neon Carrot – an absolute must!
You will not be drinking the vino equivalent of Spencer Pratt with the help of these local spots and pros.