For better or worse, here I am—trapped in paradise. As long as I continue to live in this vital, inimitable spot on the globe,

I will continue to seek out the unique…the delicious…the innovative products, services and traditions of San Luis Obispo County.

Stay posted for a few of my favorite things.

About Me...

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A wanderlust at heart... captivated by the California Central Coast. Join me on my culinary and vino-infused adventures as I explore and discover the regional novelties of San Luis Obispo County that make living here...easy to stay...and hard to leave.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

SLO Recovery

Yes, my legs are sore today. But I have no regrets about running yesterday's race on the beach, in spite of the fact that I wasn't quite in shape for a 10K. Even though my quads have been screaming at me for the last day-and-a-half to stay home and rest, the gorgeous spring weather hasn't allowed for idleness. With so much to explore and discover in San Luis Obispo County, I went in search of the perfect recovery food (and drink).

Saturday afternoon, I drove a few miles towards Edna Valley, stopping at Cornercopia Fresh Market, located on the corner of Highway 227 and Crestmont Drive. This cute-as-a-button roadside stand (open Friday - Sunday from 12:00pm - 5:00pm) offers locally-grown SLO produce (some organic and pesticide-free), farm fresh eggs, flower arrangements, as well as locally-made products such as bread, scones, jams, and jars of honey. I couldn't resist the bright, fat strawberries, the aromatic raspberry honey, or the lemon-peach preserves that I found there. I knew that with enough imagination, I could create a lively, healthy meal to meld these delectable components.

But my ulterior motive for driving to this area of the county stemmed from Edna Valley Vineyard's "locals weekend." With free tastings and significant discounts on all wine purchases for SLO County residents—I sought the vino. I tasted five wines, all the while soaking up panoramic views of the symetrically-lined Edna Valley vines, ultimately taking home a few bottles for future food pairings.
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On Sunday, a trip to a local health food market revealed red snapper fillets from Morro Bay, and images of a nice fish dinner with fresh fruit salsa sprang to mind. By chance, I later drove by a random farmer's market in SLO, and stopped for some freshly-grown produce to complete my idea for the ultimate recovery meal. I don't often cook fish, but perhaps yesterday's jaunt along the oceanside inspired me.
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The following recovery meal comprised several delectable ingredients from various parts of San Luis Obispo County, all working together to produce a lovely dinner that was fresh, fragrant, and healthy. Boasting bright notes of citrus, with hints of sweet and savory uniting effortlessly...the end result was satisfying and delicious, helping my recovery on every level.

SLO Snapper

1 pound red snapper fillets

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon-peach preserves (or your favorite jam)

1/2 tablespoon raw honey

Red pepper flakes to taste

Juice & zest of 1 lemon

Salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients (except snapper) and whisk together. Spread a few teaspoons of mixture onto bottom of glass pan. Add fillets and cover fish with remaining marinade. Add more salt & pepper if desired. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.

SLO Savory Strawberry Salad

3 cups red-leaf lettuce, torn

1 avocado, sliced

1 cup strawberries, sliced

1/2 cup yellow bell pepper, sliced

1/2 cup red bell pepper, sliced

1 orange with zest (set zest aside)

2 tablespoons green onion, diced

2 tablespoons fennel, finely chopped

2 tablespoons Italian parsely, chopped

SLO Dressing

Zest of 1 orange

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tablespoon raw honey

1/2 tablespoon fruit preserves

Salt & pepper to taste

Zest orange and set aside. Set orange upright and cut remaining skin and pith off, by slicing around orange flesh. Cut all vegetables (except lettuce and avocado), strawberries, and orange into bite-size pieces. Combine in glass bowl. Whisk dressing ingredients and saturate veggies & fruit. Refrigerate.

When you're ready to eat, heat oven to 350ºF. Cook fish for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, wash & tear lettuce, and plate with strawberry salad and avocado slices. Serve with snapper and a buttery Chardonnay. My choice included Edna Valley Vineyard's 2007 Reserve Chardonnay, an oaked, buttery wine with notes of citrus, caramel, and vanilla. I also threw together some drop biscuits for this meal (from a mix), dolloped with butter and raspberry honey. Serves 2 - 3.

Healthy, fresh, superb meal. Recovery at it's finest.
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Saturday, April 17, 2010

SLO Rock

Crashing waves. Beautiful coastline. Warmish temperatures. These ideal environs (bright and early this morning!) presented idyllic running conditions. Standing at the start line near Morro Rock—a 21 million-year-old volcanic remnant surfacing high above the ocean at 576 feet—runners (including me!) and walkers lined up on the beach in Morro Bay, California, readying ourselves for the challenge ahead: Miracle Miles for Kids 10K run/walk. A benefit for The Family Care Network, a private nonprofit organization that operates multiple programs designed to strengthen and preserve families and individuals, this year's annual event attracted over 2,000 participants that were willing to hoof 6.2 miles on the sand.

Not quite in shape for this San Luis Obispo County event that spanned all the way to Cayucos Pier, I hoped my recent hiking adventures would help me to persevere. However, I encountered a challenge from the get-go, as a few minutes into the race, an unavoidable stream of gushing water left me running with sopping shoes and socks. But as I focused on the undulating, soothing sounds of the rising, falling waves, soon I forgot my wet, squishy feet that sqeaked of too much salt water, and settled into a comfortable pace.

Unfortunately my legs weren't in tune with my groove for long. As pain flared up, I welcomed several stops along the way. Due to high tides, walking (not running!) over wet, slippery rocks was essential. I stopped another time to retrieve my hat, blown off from blustery winds. Another halt resulted from dropping my water bottle on the beach, rendering it useless as gritty sand stuck to the mouthpiece. And then there were a few arrests when my legs screamed and demanded that I stop and stretch—albeit, briefly.

Amazingly, by the time I ran under the pier and reached the finish line, my final time was not bad at all (for me!). As a SLO runner, I try not to focus on how many minutes and seconds my body requires to haul me to the end of a race. But—I admit—it's an amazing feeling to get to the end, close to my goal-time. But above all, supporting a good cause, working towards a fitness endeavor on a consistent basis, and actually getting out, exercising, and achieving my goals is the real reward. And...it doesn't hurt to be able to run along a beautiful shoreline for inspiration.

Runners and walkers weren't the only ones out on the beach this morning.

My sister, Erin—a dynamic SLO County volunteer—was on site at 5:30 a.m. this morning to help set up for this event. Through Americorps, her dedicated volunteerism takes her around the county via the Central Coast Volunteer Corps.

Surfers and the Coast Guard were up bright and early too.

Far into the race, Morro Rock silhouetted in the distance.

Arriving at the finish line was an accomplishment and a welcome relief.

I'm already looking forward to my next race!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

SLO Colors

This morning on my way out of a local grocery store, I glanced at a poster and subliminally picked up the message: Eat Your Colors! I took this advice to heart at my next stop, a local San Luis Obispo County farmer's market, where I silently wandered the rows of fresh spring crops while dull grey clouds loomed above. Bright yellow lemons, vibrant green basil, shiny red-veined Swiss chard, over-plump orange heirloom tomatoes, and funky purple cauliflower beckoned—signaling my subconscious to open my wallet and fill up my bag.

When I returned home, I put my edible colors to work, SLO fritatta-style. I utilized the fresh multi-colored eggs I bought from a vendor, as well as the intense red bell peppers and rich green spinach that I couldn't resist. Below is a healthier version of my famous cholesterol quiche recipe that I've been making for years (sans the cream and loaded with lively-colored veggies).

Over the next several days, I will make good use of this healthy multihued produce that's packed with a superfluity of nutrients. My overabundance will not go to waste, and my body will thank me for my happenstance sighting at the grocery store this morning.

SLO Fritatta

8 eggs

8 ounces breakfast sausage

1 medium shallot, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 cups fresh spinach leaves, chopped (stems discarded)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Freshly grated parmesan

Salt & pepper to taste

Heat skillet to low-medium heat and add sausage. Break up with wooden spoon and cook crumbles for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Meanwhile heat oven to 350ºF, chop shallot, bell pepper and spinach leaves. Turn heat up to medium-high on the stove and add olive oil and salt & pepper to pan; throw in the shallot and bell pepper. Sauteé for about 5 minutes before adding spinach. Allow Popeye leaves to wilt for a few minutes, stirring every-so-often. Turn off heat. Crack your eggs and whisk for a few seconds. Layer sausage and veggies in a glass baking dish (a pie pan works well), pour eggs over the top and bake for 25 - 35 minutes, until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool slightly, plate, and sprinkle with parmesan. This recipe serves 2 - 3 and makes a nice addition to a brunch, served with fresh fruit and chased down by a mimosa or two.


These obese orange tomatoes will be delicious drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with freshly chopped basil.


This shiny spinach will make a tasty salad with strawberries and walnuts, tossed in a balsamic dressing.

This garden-fresh trio will make a beautiful start to a Mediterranean ratatouille.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Elizabeth in Beverly Hills

Writer/Director Aaron Woolfolk is not afraid to take his time. His first feature film, The Harimaya Bridge, spans two hours across two continents. Transporting the audience from San Francisco to the rural prefecture of Kochi, Japan, his compelling narrative—inspired in part by the quiet, pastoral Japanese films that aren't afraid to take their time to tell their stories—develops quietly yet powerfully, with emotive force.

When Daniel Holder's (Ben Guillory) estranged son Mickey (Victor Grant), an artist and English teacher in Kochi, is killed in an automobile accident, Daniel's grief is heightened by his own resentment and prejudice towards the Japanese; his father was killed fighting the Japanese during World War II. Determined to retrieve Mickey's final paintings from Japan, Daniel embarks on a journey filled with angst and hatred.

With the unsolicited guidance of Yuiko Hara (Misa Shimizu), a co-worker of Mickey's from the Kochi board of education office, Daniel soon discovers legacies left behind by his son, forcing him to confront his own feelings and preconceived notions about others. This compelling story successfully interweaves both American and Japanese cultural viewpoints, pitting love and hate; prejudice and humanism; commonality and difference. Daniel's emotional voyage carries the audience through these universal themes, leaving an impression that ultimately, in spite of our ethnocentricities and uniqueness, the veil is thin between our cultural and racial distinctions.

Aaron effectively meshed two very different worlds. When I finished watching this beautiful film, my first impression was that I couldn't distinguish if this movie had been made by an American or Japanese filmmaker. Aaron is a fellow former Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme participant, and drew on his unique experiences as an English teacher in Kochi Prefecture, where he was immersed in the rural traditions of Japan. After returning to the U.S., he attended graduate film school and conceived of the storyline for this powerful and wholesome movie.
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His film's characters transcended the archetypal role of African-Americans, and in addition, Aaron is the first African-American filmmaker to make a feature film in Japan. The movie stars an African-American cast, including Danny Glover (as Joseph Holder, Daniel's brother) as well as several A-list Japanese actors. According to Aaron, making a cross-cultural story that in the end spoke to everybody regardless of "race" or "color" was very important to him.

Aaron has been declared an American with a Japanese soul. His film, emitting the universal theme of love, conveys that in spite of where we come from, despite our dissimilarities and cultural stubbornness ...we are all one.

The Harimaya Bridge is currently in limited release in select cities around the country. I drove to Beverly Hills on Saturday to attend a screening at Laemmle's Music Hall, where Aaron was in attendance for a question-and-answer period following the film. Time well spent.

You can catch a screening there through Thursday, April 8. This theatre is located just a few blocks from posh Rodeo Drive.

Update: You can catch a special screening on Friday, April 23, in San Francisco at the UA Stonestown Twin Theater. Showtime is 7:00pm and Aaron will be present. Beginning April 23, this film also begins screening in Irvine and Honolulu. Click here for showtimes.

Window shopping at exclusive stores like Versace and Gucci was good enough for me in this current economy.

The Regent Beverly Wilshire in the background; think Pretty Woman with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere.

Congratulations to Aaron Sensei. I look forward to his next project.

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