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.

Monday, February 24, 2014

20th Annual San Luis Obispo International Film Festival

The Fremont Theatre
It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival (SLOIFF). I first attended this cinematic celebration in 2007 and that was that. The next year I put my volunteer efforts to good use and didn't look back for the next six years. I morphed into the role of wine coordinator, and eventually served on the board of directors. 

Once again the SLOIFF is gearing up to bring film, wine and fun to San Luis Obispo County from March 5 - 9. Since I personally feel this festival is the most outstanding event to take place in SLO County during the year, I wouldn't miss the 20th annual celebration for anything. Although I might be biased, one thing's for certain: Movies matter!

When's the last time you laughed, cried, screamed, cringed in disgust, learned something enlightening, felt compelled to help an egregious injustice, or felt the hairs on the back of your neck stand up...just from watching a movie? That's the human connection at play. Watching stories unfold on the big screen is more than just a pastime. 

Over the years at the SLOIFF, I've watched countless documentaries, independent films, classic movies and short films that have left a lasting impression. By viewing films I normally wouldn't have the opportunity to see or might never hear of otherwise, my mind has broadened, my heart has expanded, and I've developed a new appreciation for filmmaking.

Adam West
At the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival, audiences have the rare opportunity to attend movies with filmmakers in attendance. At screenings in various theaters and venues around the county, attendees can ask questions and hear stories directly from the filmmakers about how their movies transpired. And at the special events, we all have the occasion to hobnob with celebrities. 

I'm no name dropper, but here are a few highlights. Batman will be attending Opening Night at the Fremont Theatre in Downtown SLO. Actually, the actor Adam West, best known for his lead role in the 1960s Batman TV series and the1966 Batman feature film, is this year's Spotlight Award recipient. The new documentary, "Starring Adam West" by Director James Tooley, will play on the big screen followed by a Q & A.

Jeff Bridges
On March 8, the Dude himselfAcademy Award®-winning actor Jeff Bridges—will receive the 2014 King Vidor Award.  Presented by actor James Cromwell, a former King Vidor Award recipient, Bridges and Cromwell will engage in an onstage conversation, followed by a screening of "The Big Lebowski." Guests can rub elbows with these fine actors at the SLO Masonic Lodge, where local restaurants and wineries will provide a taste of the SLO life at the after party. 

Whether you're planning a visit to San Luis Obispo County next week, or if you're a SLO resident in need of a staycation, check out the festival web site for the full film schedule and entire lineup of special events. Tickets are currently on sale and it will be money well spent.

Remember: Movies matter!

2013 King Vidor Award Recipient, Oscar-nominated Actor John Hawkes
2010 Surf Nite at the Fremont Theatre
2010 King Vidor Award Recipient, Academy Award®-winning Actor Alan Arkin
Hobnobbing with Actors Robert Carradine and James Cromwell at the 2010 SLOIFF

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Downtown San Luis Obispo: Luna Red

With spring temperatures reigning supremely over San Luis Obispo County this weekend, I couldn't resist eating Sunday brunch outside. There was no question of where I wanted to go: Luna Red

Located in Downtown San Luis Obispo on Chorro Street—directly across from the historic Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa and just steps away from the hidden Downtown Creekwalkthis global tapas bar offers guests both indoor and outdoor dining. I couldn't wait to sample their brunch menu while dining al fresco. 

Although I'd visited Luna Red several times before and enjoyed some of their house-made charcuterie and other small-plate delicacies, this was my first time to indulge in their weekend brunch. Their innovative menu presented me with a difficult choice: With tempting dishes like pan-fried chilaquiles, custard-soaked French toast, and arepa benedicts, what to choose?

I finally settled on the house-made chorizo benedicts. Venezuelan corn cakes (arepas) and spicy chorizo sausage patties provided the first two layers, while perfectly cooked poached eggs sat loftily on top. A creamy, delicious manchego-paprika hollandaise sauce completed this contemporary eggs benedict creation, while tasty herbed potatoes fared splendidly on the side and helped lop up the decadent sauce.

Behold the organic Bloody Mary. This was the first time in my life to imbibe in this spicy, tangy concoction, and as a result, I can't compare this classic brunch cocktail to any others. But I must say I look forward to swigging this drink again. 
Luna Red's decadent brunch is served Saturday and Sunday only. The next weekend  that you're passing through San Luis Obispo City when the sun is shining and the temperatures are splendid, stop in at Luna Red for an indulgent feast. Click here for their enticing menu. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

SLO County Events: Week of February 17

One thing's a given in San Luis Obispo: No matter the time of year, there's always something fun to do in various nooks and crannies of the county. This week is no exception! 

Click on the links below for more information, including ticket sales. As always, feel free to post your comments below to let readers know about other upcoming events.  

February 22: At the Western Dance Jamboree, enjoy a day of western dance workshops and an evening dance.

Downtown San Luis Obispo
February 20: Free moonlight hours at the San Luis Obispo Children's Museum. On the third Thursday of each month, the museum offers gratis admission from 5 - 8 pm. This educational event coincides with Downtown SLO's famous Thursday Farmers Market.
February 21: Groove to the sounds of Jeff Bridges and The Abiders at The Fremont.

San Luis Obispo City 
February 22: The San Luis Obispo Symphony Ball & Auction promises an evening of adventure at the Embassy Suites Hotel. 
February 22:  Listen to the sounds of choral music from around the world at Cal Poly Choirs' Winter Concert: 'Songs of Travel' at the Christopher Cohan Center.

Paso Robles
February 21 & 22: Wine Country Theatre presents the romantic comedy, 'It Had to Be You,' at Via Vega Winery. Check their website for additional dates in February and March. 
February 22 & 23: The 46 West Wine Safari is selling tasting passes benefiting Zoo to You. Taste wine at participating 46 West Wineries with visiting exotic animals.

San Simeon
February 22: As part of the Coastal Discovery Month & Stewardship Ocean Film Festival, enjoy a free screening of "The Living Sea" at Hearst Castle's Iworks large-format theater.
Pismo Beach: always a great place for a walk, anytime of the year.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

SLO County Events: Week of February 10

The Sochi 2014 Olympic Games are in full swing. In case you need a break from your television and all the action, here are a few events taking place in San Luis Obispo County over the next week. The upcoming three-day weekend, which coincides with Valentine's Day, is the perfect time to take advantage of some of this week's occasions.

Just click on the links below for more information about reservations and costs. As always, feel free to post in the comments section below if you'd like to share an upcoming SLO event that I've neglected.
Arroyo Grande: Laetitia Vineyard & Winery
On the evening on February 13, indulge in chocolate and wines at Laetitia, featuring Mama Ganache Chocolates.

Atascadero: America's Funniest Valentine 
On February 15, get ready to laugh. 

Avila Beach: Garden's of Avila St. Valentine's Day Celebration
Sycamore Mineral Springs Spa & Resort is offering two different tasting menus in their esteemed restaurant. Mmmm. 

Cambria: Robin's Restaurant "Love Can't Wait" Prix Fixe Dinner
Check out their pre-Valentine's menu offered on February 13 and prepare to swoon.
Downtown San Luis Obispo: The Palm Theatre 
The Oscars are only a few weeks away and the Palm Theatre is currently screening Oscar Nominated Shorts through February 13. I love this independent theater, which not only happens to be the United State's first solar powered movie venue, but also has what I believe to be the nation's most affordable concession stand. You can even purchase hot herbal tea to wash your snacks down.

Downtown San Luis Obispo: Luna Red 
Reserve your spot now for a seductive four course prix fixe menu for two on Valentine's Day. 

Paso Robles: LXV Wine's Pre-Valentine's Dinner 
For those in the mood, LXV Wine presents their first Reverse Pre-Valentine Dinner at Il Cortile on February 12. 

San Luis Obispo: The Temptations
On February 14, this acclaimed musical act will perform at the Christopher Cohan Center at Cal Poly. 

San Luis Obispo: Some Enchanted Evening
Opening February 14 at the San Luis Obispo Little Theatre, the songs of Rodgers & Hammerstein come alive.

Enjoy your week!

Pismo Beach, earlier this morning.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Upcoming San Luis Obispo County Events

The new year is in full swing and San Luis Obispo County is gearing up for some fabulous events! Here's a sneak peek at some of the upcoming regional attractions during the first few weeks of February. Click on the links below for more details, and if you feel I've neglected an amazing event that you'd like to share, please feel free to leave a comment below.

The tall-ship Lady Washington, a replica of one of the first U.S.-flagged ships to visit the west coast of North America, will find a temporary home in Morro Bay. Check their schedule for walk-on tours and ticket sales for adventure and battle sails. 

Tickets are now on sale for an elegant candlelight dinner prepared by Thomas Hill Organics, paired with the wines of Vina Robles, and serenaded by the pianist, Richard Moratin.

From Friday, February 14, to Sunday, February 16, enjoy Robert Hall Winery's complimentary chocolate fountain. 

Tickets are on sale now for February 15 and 16. Visit four wineries by limo, enjoy a picnic lunch, Valentine's Day well as a surprise at the last winery!

Through February, you can catch a glimpse of the several thousand monarch butterflies that dwell in clusters in the Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove.
On the evening of February 7, visit new art exhibits at various locations around downtown SLO. This is a free event!

Claiborne & Churchill is one of my absolute favorite wineries in SLO County. Their straw bale winery is located at the edge of the Edna Valley wine region; tickets are now on sale for their annual library tasting event, coming up on Saturday, February 15. 

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