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San Simeon Beach

San Simeon Beach is one of my favorite beaches on the Central Coast – especially when you add dogs. Being one to ever accommodate, we love

DOGSBEACH2

DOGSBEACH2

to bring our dogs to San Simeon Beach. This shot is from a few years ago when we still had our beloved “Peaches”, the pretty golden retriever. The brown poodle was still a puppy, happy to let Peaches be his teacher in all things canine, and human (as far as she knew them).

We recently acquired a standard size “parti-poodle”. He’s a gorgeous boy in colors of deep chocolate and white. He loves people and is proving himself to be a much lovable, though most troublesome puppy. Since Wolfgang or “Wolffy” has been in residence we’ve lost 2 pairs of Yules shoes and two of my prized Persian rugs. Not to mention all the “Bully Sticks” and assorted toys we’ve bought to keep him entertained. I thought Charlie was expensive with his $2,500 vet bill from UC DAVIS to yank out his eye (with accompanying MRI’s and other assurances to “dog mom” (me) that we were doing the right thing.)

Well, all this mischief and mishap fall wayside when we land at San Simeon Beach. The dogs are free, and somehow, I feel free, too. We run into the surf and lap it up despite the water’s chilly temperature. Charlie runs from the cold water while Wolffy runs in as if to challenge the water’s fury. This is his first time in the sea. Quickly he understands the water’s power and races into dry territory. Left alone to the sea and my resources what more can I do but smile at my accomplices and…laugh. I am alone, after all.

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Grilled Pork Chops with Caramelized Peaches and Basil is a new find, and a tasty one, to add to your grilling cookbook. With the weather blazing in the 100’s up here in Paso Robles, I decided I needed to blow the dust off my BBQ standards and experiment with some new finds. This recipe comes to us from a book called, “The Cook and The Butcher” and features delicious collaborations betweens cooks and butchers. The recipes are straightforward, the butcher’s contributions and side notes worthy, and the cooks come through in some very creative ways to use these various cuts of meats. On to the recipe!

Serves: 4

Pork Chops & Peaches

Pork Chops & Peaches

  • 4 bone in pork loin or end-loin chops, 3/4 inch thick, trimmed of excess fat
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 peaches, quartered and pitted
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2-3 teaspoons quality balsamic vinegar
  • Small fresh basil leaves

 

  1. Remove the chops from the refrigerator and let stand for 30 minutes.
  2. Brush the chops very lightly with oil and season both sides generously with salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine the peach quarters, maple syrup, and 2 teaspoons oil. Season with pepper. Toss to coat evenly. Set aside.
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NEW Tour: Double the Fun!

It’s exciting the announce our NEW TOUR to all our friends and guests. And as do most of our tours, it’s concept came from our guests. You

Wine tasting

Wine tasting

loved our food tours but wanted to see the wine country and taste wines in that setting without having to spend a full day touring. We came up with a solution: it’s called the “Double the Fun” tour because it takes the best  of both tours – our food tour and our full day wine tour and creates something entirely new and special.

We are starting the tour in Paso Robles, but if all goes well we plan to expand it down to San Luis Obispo as well. The tour starts at one of our favorite eateries in historic downtown Paso Robles, where we enjoy food and wine and learn a bit about the history of the area, town and local wine industry. We also spend this time to get to know YOU. What kind of wine you favor, what kind of a tasting room experience you seek, and whether you have any ideas where you might like to visit for wine tasting. Talk about a personalized tour – this is it!

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hwy 46 on the central coastRain brings green to the Central Coast. It is such a delight to drive the local roadways, especially Hwy. 46 and see the landscape transform from the dusty dry barren hills of Fall to the luscious mounds literally jumping to life with new grasses and foliage. While the rainfall has yet to reach pre-drought years, we seem to have a good start. And, news is that a weather pattern is setting up in March to bring in a series of storms throughout the month. I have a feeling that 2016 will be a beautiful Spring and we’ll see an overflowing of wildflowers we’ve missed for the last several years. I think it’s a perfect time for a visit!

So, here are some dates for upcoming wine events you may want to add to your calendar.

March 12-14, 2016: International Chardonnay Symposium

March 18-20, 2016: Zinfandel Weekend in Paso Robles

May 19-22, 2016: Paso Robles Wine Festival

June 23-26, 2016: Roll Out the Barrels Wine Festival in SLO

This is just a start to the many events and festivals planned for the area. And, with our rain this year, I anticipate we will have a most beautiful Spring to grace your visit!

 

Every year we kick off the Spring with the Paso Robles Zinfandel Weekend. If you enjoy your Zins, it’s one of the best times to visit. Here are the essential details on what you need to know to plan your weekend (Courtesy of www.pasowine.com)

My note: besides the wineries listed below you can be assured that there are many more producers of Zins in Paso Robles who are not listed, but are still serving up these wonderful wines.


Love a Good Zin? Visit Paso Robles: 3/18 – 20

Paso Robles will be abuzz with Zinfandel, our heritage grape, March 18 – 20 forVintage Paso: Zinfandel Weekend!

No plans after dinner or the screening of Somm: Into the Bottle?

Let the new Z-Nightcap After Party be the answer! Sixteen of Paso’s finest Zinfandel producers will pour at this intimate tasting, complemented by a delicious selection of desserts and live music from the Ben Wilmore Trio.

When: Friday, March 18 from 8:30 – 10:30 p.m.

Participating Wineries: 

Dessert:

More Dessert Offerings Coming Soon!

Cost: Only $35

Super size your Zin Weekend with other exciting events:

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Central Coast Food Tours introduces “The Mushroom Queen”  who will share her experiences of growing

mushrooms

mushrooms

mushrooms on the Central Coast as she learns them!

Not many people know I (Laura) have something close to an obsession with mushrooms. I’m not quite sure when it started, because I didn’t like the ‘rooms as a kid. But, somewhere between then and now (and that is quite a stretch) I’ve become seriously enlightened, and seduced by this fungi.

I think my earliest memory is being out on a date in the 70’s at the (remember it?) “Chart House” restaurant and having a hot iron skillet of button mushrooms served up with butter, garlic and wine; it won me over at the first bite! It became my favorite appetizer, exotic though it was at the time.

It took me a while to begin cooking with mushrooms. I was further inspired by the troglodyte caves in France, and this whole notion of ‘truffles’. I loved a people (the French)  and ingredient so sworn to each other. Next, I was gifted with a mother-in-law who grew up in the Ukraine and regularly foraged for mushrooms as a part of finding food for her family. Transplanted to the California Central Coast, I experienced her foraging first hand. It amazed me the mushrooms she would find that I easily would have bypassed based on their strange and dangerous looking forms. Just goes to say, mushrooms have served a multitude of purposes since early times ; nutrition, poison, medicinal, and others. While I ate our “Shura’s mushrooms”, and reveled in their strange shapes and textures, there was still a part of me that hoped I’d be around tomorrow.

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Bring in da kimchi funk!

Ramp Kimchi

Ramp Kimchi

O.k., O.k.; it’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Not to say I have not been experimenting with food and other culinary pleasures. Have to share: WE GOT RAIN! And aside from it being direly needed on the Central Coast and in California, it makes for a Hell of a bedfellow for “hanging” in the kitchen.

With two children living in Asia, I’ve become naturally curious of that vast region’s cuisine. Actually, as one might guess there are sub-cuisines upon sub-cuisines throughout Asia. Being into fermented foods in general, I’ve been on a tear to learn more about kimchi. I started out by buying the kimchi easily available in the local markets. Aaeech – I liked it, sort of. I liked the flavors but not really the limp texture of the fermented napa cabbage. Being a foodie of the first order, I was just getting started.

Next, I bought this incredible book on food fermentation and lost myself for days reading about all the foods one can ferment, and how easy it is to do. And the history of it ….. well, that’s a fascinating story in itself. Then of all things up popped a recipe (from my favorite online source “Tasting Table”) for kimchi made with ramps and apples – hmm, sounded like just my sort of kimchi. To make an already long(er) story short(er) the recipe is perfect! A sublime melding of the sweet and the spicy with just the right funk and texture to make me want to share this with my friends. It’s super easy; so relax, chop, ferment and enjoy your happy food.

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Paso Robles Wine Harvest

Harvest Weekend

Harvest Weekend

Paso Robles Wine Harvest happens this weekend October 16-18, 2015. It’s Paso’s Harvest Festival and excitement is in the air. A whole year’s labor and hope culminates in the harvest. This year on top of the water issue is a quirky Spring that brought damage to the buds.  Eech, another harvest with a shortage of fruit. The word is these wines from meager year harvests will result in stronger, ‘more complex’ wines. I read “more expensive” – cynic that I can be.

For one that enjoys and appreciates good wine, I say bring them on! I’ve enjoyed Paso Wines and am curious just how much better they can get? This weekend allows for behind the scene visits to many wineries and barrel samples of wines in process. Take this opportunity to not only visit your favorite winery, but pick at least one additional winery you have yet to visit, and go there! Do a little research on who makes your favorite varietals and plan your route to include these folks. This is how Yule and I find new treasures.

To help you get started in planning your day, I recommend you visit the PasoWine site. I know you’ll find the perfect adventure right here in Paso Robles Wine Country.

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The warm days of Summer entice me to create delicious salads. This Grilled Shrimp and Scallop Salad with its lime marinade is the perfect hearty meal for a warm Summer evening.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. of medium sized shrimp and scallops (each)

1/2 C of lime juice

1 head of butterleaf lettuce

1 large ripe avocado

1 lb. of baby bella mushrooms

1/2 C of mini carrots

Skewers for BBQ

Italian or Caesar salad dressing

Shrimp and Scallop SaladMarinate the shrimp, scallops and mushrooms in the the lime juice and a 1/4 C of the salad dressing for at least 2 hours but up to overnight.

Assemble the base of the salad by layering a large bowl with the butter leaf lettuce. Next, slice the avocado into 1/2 inch slices and arrange around the bowl. Add the carrots.

Skewer the shrimp, scallops and mushrooms on a wood or metal skewer. Put on a medium grill and cook until lightly done. Allow to cool slightly before topping the salad with the shrimp, scallops and mushrooms.

Serve with a side of Italian or Caesar dressing.

 

Pelletiere Estate Vineyard

Pelletiere Estate Vineyard

On one of our recent forays to discover Paso Robles wines, we came across a new winery: Pelletiere Estate Wines. Located in the Willow Creek district, on Township Road in Paso Robles, the winery specializes in estate grown Italian Varietals. You’ll find their line-up consisting of Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Montepulciano, Lagrein, and Zinfandel, as well as, Syrah and Viognier. 

As Yule and I tasted through their current release of wines, we especially enjoyed their Viognier and Lagrein (we weren’t able to taste their Nebbiolo or Montepulciano). The Viognier was unlike any I had tasted to date – it has a wonderfully creamy finish (so interesting!). The Lagrein was a deliciously chewy red – loved the tannins!

If you’re a fan of Italian varietals, or just looking to discover new Paso Robles wines then make your way over to Pelletiere. Here is all the contact information you need to plan a visit.

Say “Hello” to Janice Denner for us (vineyard owner) and enjoy her wonderful wines!