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.

Friday, July 16, 2010

SLO Saturday

Summertime diversions in San Luis Obispo County. So many choices. So little time.

Saturday afternoon my favorite scent—lavender—was in the air, so I let my olfactory senses guide me to to Downtown Paso Robles City Park, where the second annual Central Coast Lavender Festival was in full swing. Surrounded by numerous purveyors of this heavenly plant (an herb that actually belongs to the mint family), I browsed...I breathed...I sniffed the lovely array of fresh bouquets, sachets, soaps and lotions—all the while basking in the blissful aromas emanating on a hot summer's day.

This divine flowering perennial that is native to the Mediterranean, has over 39 species and not only tenders its intoxicating fragrance, but is also useful as an antiseptic; has antifungal properties; sooths minor burns; can be used to stop minor bleeding; is great for headache relief when placed on the temples; and is a good insect repellant. And these are just some of its benefits! Culinary English lavender (L. Angustifolia) also has its place in the kitchen. Have you ever tried lavender seasonings in your teas or in recipes? Think refreshing lavender lemonade...sweet lavender ice-cream...or a savory lavender rub on lamb chops.

As I sipped on cool lavender iced-tea and listened to one of the information talks presented by Lila Avery-Fusion of Central Coast Lavender Farm (who was inspirational in founding the Central Coast Lavender Growers Assocation, a non-profit organization which brought this fragranced festival to Paso Robles for the second year), I was moved by her inspirational story of how she transformed herself as a victim of multiple sclerosis into becoming an ambassador for essential oils. She channeled her positive health experience—that resulted from the benefits of using lavender essential oil—into an organic lavender farm of over 20,000 plants that she and her husband now grow and tend on their farm in Paso Robles. They distill their own oil in a 50-gallon copper still, offer consumers 100% pure organic lavender essential oil, and also produce an array of other lavender products. I picked up some of their blissful treats such as lavender seal salt, vinegar, culinary buds, and bath gel. I also stopped at a few other vendors and loaded up with a gorgeous sweet-smelling bouquet of fresh lavender, an enticing sachet, and a jar full of fragrant lavender honey. Mmmmmmmmmm.

But the day wasn't over yet. Later that evening good music and good food also summoned my senses. As part of the City of Atascadero's Saturday in the Park, Summer Concert Series, I met up with some family and friends for an evening of live music performed by the House Red Band, and gobbled up a gourmet barbeque plate prepared by Pacific Harvest Catering. As we sat lakeside and listened to the live tunes, I dined on a delicious dinner of tender, flavorful grilled steak kabobs and veggies; a couscous salad, brimming with bright tomatoes, crisp cucumber and creamy feta; and a melt-in-your-mouth slab of thick, buttery garlic bread. They prepared 70 dinners and quickly sold out. No wonder.

At the end of the evening, after I'd returned home and necessitated some much-needed sleep, I brought out my English tea cup and dolloped a bit of lavender honey...dropped in a teaspoon of culinary lavender buds...and let the flowers steep in boiling water, covered for 20 minutes. I soon sipped and relaxed into a slumbery state—as lavender imparts properties that promote restful sleep. A lovely end to a long summer's day.

Wishing you sweet-scented adventures...
fragrant elixirs...
and a good night's sleep.

1 comment:

Fresh Local and Best said...

Oh this must have been a fragrant heaven! Lavender is one of the herbs that I miss so much from California where it was abundant!

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