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...

My photo
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, August 24, 2014

San Luis Obispo County: Pelican Feeding Frenzy

Sometimes you end up in the right place at the right time. Yesterday, even though I arrived later than planned at Cambria's Leffingwell Landingthe timing couldn't have been better. 

Hundreds—maybe even thousands—of hungry brown pelicans attracted a large group of fascinated humans who stood mesmerized as these squawking ocean birds charged head first into the water.

Following a school of fish along the rocky coastal shores, the frenzied mass of webbed-footed swimmers dive bombed into the Pacific waters, scooping up amphibious prey with their large-pouched bills. Every time I'm lucky enough to catch one of these rapturous feedings, I feel grateful that I rarely leave home without my camera. 

Following is a few seconds of video footage of yesterday's cycle of life on the northern end of San Luis Obispo County.



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

San Luis Obispo County: Summer Beaches

Montana de Oro shining on a beautiful August day.
It's no secret: fickle weather pervades San Luis Obispo County throughout the year. 

Recently we've enjoyed cool, foggy summer mornings that segue into warm, sunny afternoons. As long as this oscillating trend continues, I'd like to offer a suggestion: go to the beach. 

SLO County cradles 90 of California's 840 miles of coastline, offering residents and vacationers plenty of possibilities for a little fog and sun amidst all the fun.

During this favorable time of year, humpback whales migrate along the California Central Coast, spouting, breaching and tail slapping in the distant horizon. Families take last-minute seasonal trips to the Pacific edge, soaking up fresh ocean air and cool open waters. Locals head to their favorite waterfront, reveling in their utopian surroundings. 

Over the last few weekends, I've basked in the not-too-hot sun at more than a few local beaches, finding something unique and awe-inspiring at each locale. Long live the simple life of traipsing through sand, finding exhilaration in the open wind, and snapping photos along the way. 

Below are a few coastal venues to help you capture a taste of the briny SLO life. Further down you'll find a compilation of websites that might help you narrow down your beach of choice. Don't forget to check the local weather report


While hiking along the Bluffs Trail in Montaña de Oro, I zoomed my camera far and long to capture this awesome whale's tail.
At Cambria's Moonstone Beach, this heart-shaped cloud taught me that all is well. 
Moonstone Beach also entertained with splashy wave dances.


While I walked along the stretch of sand that joins Cayucos State Beach and Morro Strand Beach, I thought to myself: pure bliss. 
Pismo Beach displayed cool, calm and collected waters. 

Following are some quick links to help acquaint you with San Luis Obispo County's coastal hot spots.  If you're familiar with the area, feel free to let us know about your favorite SLO County beach escapes in the comments section below.

 sanluisobispovacations.com 
slostateparks.com 
visitslo.com
Avila Beach
Beaches near Hearst Castle
Cambria
Cayucos
Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes
Montaña de Oro
Morro Bay 
Pismo Beach


It's not too late to make a splash this summer!


Sunday, August 10, 2014

SLO County Pickled Stone Fruit Recipe

The San Luis Obispo County summer harvest just keeps on givin'! 

The heaps and bounds put out by this season's crops are providing plenty to experiment with in the kitchen, and one of my summer favorites continues to captivate my attention: stone fruit. 

Last month I posted a recipe for an easy peach-raspberry crisp, and more recently I heated up my saucepan to brew up a concoction of savory-sweet cherries soused with balsamic vinegar and a medley of spices. Over this past weekend, I played around a bit more with this puckery recipe, experimenting with a bowl of mottled purple-red pluots. 

The result yielded a perky combination: white balsamic vinegar infused with the motley flavors of cinnamon, culinary lavender, thyme, red pepper flakes, bay leaf, orange blossom honey, and a little salt and pepper.


This summer treat pairs well in a salad, or served up warm with grilled pork or lamb. 
The tangy finished product will last up to two weeks in your refrigerator.
                                                                                                                                        
Pickled Stone Fruit Recipe

Ingredients:

3 - 4 cups firm stone fruit slices (soft or overripe fruit just won't do)
2 1/2 cups red or white balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
2 - 4 tablespoons honey (go heavier on the honey if your fruit is especially tart)
1/3 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/3 teaspoon dried culinary lavender 
1/3 teaspoons each salt & pepper
A few shakes of red pepper flakes (omit if you don't like spicy nuances)
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf

Instructions:

Heat the vinegar, water, thyme, lavender, honey, red pepper flakes, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, and salt & pepper in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer for 10 minutes, allowing the mixture to reduce a bit while permitting the eclectic, complementary flavors to meld. 

Meanwhile, wash the stone fruit, slice in half and remove the pits. Depending on the size of the fruit used, slice into halves or quarters. Then place the fruit in a glass container (either a Mason jar or a glass bowl with a plastic lid).

When the 10 minutes have come to pass, pour the fragrant mixture over the fruit and allow to cool for about 20 minutes before placing the lid on and tucking away to marinate in the fridge. Allow the flavors to plucker up for at least 4 hours before serving. Discard the bay leaf before plating.

This SLO County salad will hit the spot on a warm day. Top off some lettuce with slivers of funky blue cheese and a few pieces of pickled stone fruit. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil, a few teaspoons of the piquant vinegar mixture, then dust lightly with salt & pepper . 

Pucker up!


Friday, August 1, 2014

San Luis Obispo County: August 2014 Events

Even though we didn't see more than a few dots of rain during San Luis Obispo's recent muggy, subtropical weather, we did get to witness these sultry clouds transform the evening skyline.

A few nights ago, sullen tinges of pink, yellow and grey scorched the horizon, reminding me once again why I embrace living on the California Central Coast.  

Although the clouds are gone, taking with them the opportunity for some much needed rain, the month of August is hot to trot. 

Following are a few red-hot events that will take place throughout San Luis Obispo County, regardless of whether the skies are covered in sweltering clouds, colored bright blue, or smeared with summer coastal fog.

Click on each link below for more event details and ticket sales info. 



Wednesdays: August 6, 13, and 20 / 6:30 - 8:30 pm
Templeton Community Park
Concerts in the Park
Bring a blanket or low-back chair and groove to the sounds of local bands like Soul Sauce and Burning James & The Funky Flames.

Fridays / 5:00 - 8:00 pm
Mission Plaza, Downtown SLO
Concerts in the Plaza
In its 19th year, this rockin' event takes place just outside Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa and features local musicians from San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara. 

Fridays / 5:30 - 7:30 pm
Paso Robles Downtown Park
Concerts in the Park
Listen to live music in beautiful Downtown Paso. Local beer, wine and food for sale benefits the REC Foundation, a nonprofit organization currently raising funds for the Downtown City Park Playground Project. 

Saturdays: August 2 & 9 / 6:30 - 8:30 pm
Atascadero Lake Park
Saturday in the Park Summer Concert Series
The lake might be dried up, but the show must go on. 

Sundays: August 10 & 24 / 1:00 pm
Heritage Square Park, Arroyo Grande
Village Summer Concert Series
Relax outside near the historic downtown of Arroyo Grande and enjoy a "big fun summer!"

Saturdays: August 2, 9, and 16 / 7:30 - 10:00 pm
Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, Downtown SLO
Movies in the Mission
The City of San Luis Obispo Parks and Recreation Department presents family-friendly movies in the plaza amphitheater, free of charge. Movies screened throughout August include The LEGO Movie, Ghost Busters, and Despicable Me 2, all rated PG. 

Saturday, August 9 / 6:00 - 9:00 pm
Paso Robles Event Center
16th Annual Paso Robles Rotary Winemakers Cookoff
With an estimated 30 wineries participating, all proceeds from this popular cookoff benefit local high school scholarships.

Saturday, August 16 / 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Paso Robles Downtown Park
Paso Robles Olive Festival
Some of the festival events include olive oil tasting (imagine that!), the Head to Head Chef Competition, gourmet food vendors, fun for the kids, and of course...beer and wine tasting. 

Saturday, August 16 / Gates open at 1:00 pm
Chapman Estates, Shell Beach
Opera San Luis Obispo: Broadway by the Sea
This seaside outdoor concert takes place at the grandiose Chapman Estate. The afternoon delights include Broadway ensembles from "Guys and Dolls," "Les Miserables," and several other well known titles.

Saturday, August 23 / 2:00 - 6:00 pm
Avila Beach Golf Resort
The Macaroni & Cheese Festival
Touted as the "mother-ship of MAC & CHEESE," this artery-clogging event sells tickets that include 20+ tastings of Mac & Cheese, 20+ 1 oz. tastings of wine, beer and spirits, and live music to boot. 

August 23 & 24 / Saturday: 10:00 am - 9:00 pm, Sunday: 11:00 am - 5:00 pm
Grover Beach, Ramona Garden Park
Grover Beach's Stone Soup Music Faire
Two days of live music, eclectic vendor booths, and international foods. 

Saturday, August 30 / 12:00 - 5:00 pm
Mission Plaza, Downtown SLO
Brews & Bites
Participating breweries will showcase their craft beers along with tasty bites from local restaurants. Proceeds benefit the Woods Humane Society and the Central Coast Brewers Consortium.

August 30 - September 1 / Labor Day Weekend
Cambria
Pinedorado Days
Visit their website for the schedule of events that includes a parade down Main Street, a top sirloin and chicken barbecue with local beer and wine, a car show with over 120 entries, and live music. 

August 30 - September 1 / Labor Day Weekend
Morro Bay City Park
Art in the Park
Over Labor Day weekend, local artists will set up shop at the Morro Bay Art Associations's annual community event. 

Sunday, August 31 / Gates open at 2:30 pm
Avila Beach Golf Resort
Pops by the Sea 2014
This year the San Luis Obispo Symphony's annual outdoor concert by the sea features Jon Anderson, the voice of YES, and local chanteuse Inga Swearingen. 

Enjoy the steamy August events in San Luis Obispo County!


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