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, August 31, 2015

San Luis Obispo County: Hot August Days and Nights

Shell Beach sunset on August 29. 
San Luis Obipso County's fiery month reached a glowing finish. 

Some of the August highlights—both good and bad—included 2,400 acres burning just south of Santa Margarita in the Cuesta Fire, a great white shark chomping on a woman's surfboard in Morro Strand State Beach, humpback whales feeding along the Central Coast, and scorching sunsets lighting up the sky. 

Hats off to the 1,800 brave firefighters who brought the fire to a halt. Kudos to the gutsy Los Osos resident who swam to shore after the feisty shark bit her surfboard. Thank you to the giant mammals who continue to entertain us. Gratitude for the opportunity to witness kaleidoscopic evening skylines. 

Following are a few of my photo highlights for this hot August month.
 (sorry, no shark pictures


August 1: The juvenile humpback whale that's been feeding around San Simeon Bay since mid-July lunged up right in front 
of me while I was standing on the pier. A moment I'll never forget.



August 5: The Morro Bay sunset seduced everyone in its wake with a red-hot sliver of color. 


August 13: "Junior" the whale couldn't get enough to eat in San Simeon. 


August 17: The Cuesta Fire fumed up the San Luis Obispo skyline. 


August 29: On my second great sailing adventure this summer, I witnessed the after effects of a giant 
humpback whale breaching near Avila Beach. Boom!


August 30: This complacent humpback whale danced along Cambria's Moonstone Beach. 
August ended on a very cool note. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Summer Corn Chowder Recipe

The 12th Annual Paso Robles Olive Festival 
This past weekend I braved the triple digit heat and headed to northern San Luis Obispo CountyAt the Paso Robles Olive Festival, held in Paso's Downtown City Park, this annual event brought a legion of farmers, olive oil producers and epicurean tasters together for a celebration of olive that's good. 

I paid homage to the khaki-colored fruit—born by the tree that has symbolized peace, wisdom and prosperity since ancient Greek times—by meandering through the park's booths of modern-day purveyors. 

My discerning pick of the day? 

The extra-virgin Arbequina oil produced by the family-owned ranch, Templeton Olive Oil. Cold pressed within hours of harvest, this bright olive oil was fresh and clean on the palate, peppery on the finish. I picked up a bottle and put it to good use. 

Following is a corn chowder recipe I devised that utilized this healthy, rich, buttery olive oil, along with Talley Farm's fresh sweet summer corn and some other savory veggies. Summer might be hot, hot, hot, but this seasonal dish is well worth heating up your stove for a few hours. 

CORN CHOWDER RECIPE
Serves 4 - 6

INGREDIENTS:

4 - 5 fresh ears of corn
1 1/2 - 2 cups red potatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 - 3 cups chopped carrots
2 stalks chopped celery
1 large onion
8 cups vegetable broth
2 cups half-n-half or cream 
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Chardonnay (optional if you don't consume alcohol)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
A few sprigs of Italian parsley
2 bay leaves 
Salt & pepper to taste

If you don't consume dairy products, feel free to omit the cream. Although adding dairy lends an extra depth of richness and transforms your dish from mere soup into chowder, the end result will be still be summery and delicious. 

DIRECTIONS:

STEP 1 
Shuck your fresh ears of corn, peeling away the husks and fibers. 



STEP 2
 Break the lower knob off the end of each cob. 
Hold cobs upright and securely in a large bowl. 
Slice downward and evenly to remove the kernels. 






STEP 3 
Set your corn kernels aside. 





STEP 4

Place the naked cobs, vegetable broth, 1 bay leaf, a few sprigs of parsley, 
and some pepper into a large soup pot and bring to a boil. 
Place a lid on top, reduce heat and simmer for one hour. 




STEP 5

Remove the corn cobs and strain your fragrant,
 sweet broth into a glass bowl and set aside. 


STEP 6 

In your soup pot over medium heat, add olive oil, onion, carrots, celery, thyme, 
and salt and pepper to taste. 
Sweat these veggies out, stirring frequently for 20 - 30 minutes, 
until the mixture starts to soften and slightly caramelize. 



STEP 7 
Deglaze the pan with the wine (or some of the broth), stirring frequently for a few minutes.


STEP 8 
Add the corn kernels and potatoes. 


STEP 9 
Add the broth, one bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste, then stir. 
Kick up the heat to bring to a low boil. 
Let it roll uncovered for 20 - 30 minutes until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Don't forget to taste test along the way for seasonings!


STEP 10 
Turn the heat down to medium-low and get out your blender. 
Purée between three to four cups of the mixture and add back to the soup. 


STEP 11 
Add the cream (if desired) and simmer for about ten minutes. 
Taste again and adjust for seasonings. 


STEP 12 
Ladle up and enjoy the remainder of your summer!



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