Sleeping Around – The Central Coast

The current pandemic travel model resembles travel of bygone eras, what once produced summer memories might include a road trip in the family station wagon, kids and dogs pile into a wood paneled wagon and head to a National Park. Antsy to travel, a few of our clients are taking to the road on mini-escapes.

Forthcoming, I plan to mosey down the Central Coast of California, I missed the Bruce Munro Field of Light at Villa Montalvo, it has moved to Paso Robles until January 3, 2021. I’m off soon to preview and perform site inspections along the way. Over the last decade, the Central Coast has become a flourishing wine destination.

Originally named El Paso de Robles, or “The Pass of the Oaks,” the town and its surrounding hillsides and canyons have been spared the devastating fires that have recently struck Sonoma and other farming regions. Paso Robles is now a Central Coast wine country mecca; for years, it was merely a blip to refuel en-route to Santa Barbara, summer is usually blistering hot, and we would scarcely nod in the direction of the oak studded golden hills from the road. The Paso Robles summer rodeo and mid-state fair banners barely fluttered in the static searing heat. In the Midwest, ‘Fair Food’ is a summer staple, i.e. deep-fried butter on a stick or fried Oreo cookies, these fair delicacies didn’t tempt me to explore Paso Robles. In the early years, Paso Robles’ farmers and ranchers were major producers of almonds, grain, cattle and Zinfandel. The region’s multiple micro-climates and diverse soils have led to a vibrant wine industry. Paso Robles is now home to 11 different wine sub-appellations. As a wine-growing region, what sets Paso Robles apart from other regions is its elevation, 10-mile proximity to the Pacific and the fact that it has a coastal climate — which means that consistently hot dry sunny days are followed by cool nights — with thick sea fog, which blankets the region nightly.

There are a couple of well-regarded hotels in San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles. A choice of locations in Paso Robles, downtown amid the mix of small shops, or a bit outside town close to the Sensorio exhibit. Allegretto Vineyard Resort is not your typical resort, from the Tuscan styles to the museum caliber artwork, it was Paso Robles first full-service hotel. On 20 acres, guests can stroll the through centuries-old grapevines, olive trees and stone fountains in the courtyard — reminiscent of a villa in the Italian countryside. Bocce ball, pool cabanas nestled below the vineyard, spa and Italian dining! At the back edge of the property, the spacious swimming pool and multi-jet hot tub are surrounded by vineyards and six cabanas with chaise lounges, you can count on finding me here with a bag of reading materials!

We’ve reserved private wine tastings for clients in this area – however, there are a plethora of interesting tours and tastings: Jam Making at Hartley Farms, Olive Oil Pressing at Groves on 41, Oyster Shucking in Morro Bay, Farm & Creamery Tour at Step Ladder Creamery, Chocolatiers Classes and for those who love Clydesdales yes, you read that right. The Covell Clydesdale Ranch is the only one place on earth where you can experience the majestic Clydesdale horses grazing on nearly 2,000 acres of rolling pastures speckled with pristine Monterey Pines and overlooking an exquisite view of the Pacific Ocean. At any given time, the ranch is home to approximately 100 Clydesdale horses of all ages, sizes, and abilities for riding and/or driving. The concierge at Allegretto Vineyard Resort can organize all or some of these activities. Wine tasting is mostly all private appointments during the pandemic, which is the best path to taste wines, in my humble opinion!

Cass Vineyards has added Dinner in the Vineyards with Chef Charlie Paladin Wayne. Sourcing ingredients from local growers and from their garden estate and the nearby Pacific Ocean. The Vineyard has also added what looks to be an interesting Inn built completely out of repurposed shipping containers. The Geneseo Inn is perched above the vines, full report coming soon!

My Journey will continue south, twenty minutes south of Paso Robles, is the small college town San Luis Obispo; which has a new hotel, a property designed by the folks who own Hotel Healdsburg. Hotel San Luis Obispo is a modern urban resort that embodies the essence of SLO. As alluring as the hills that surround it and as easygoing as the quintessential California beach towns just down the road. All of the 78 rooms are located on the 2nd & 3rd floor, so leave your doors open for fresh air, many suites have small balconies with views of the eastern hills. High-ceilinged, airy rooms, the white-walled interiors are brightened with colorful furnishings and commissioned artworks rooted in the hotel’s local heritage.

Chef Ryan Fancher, returning to his roots in California’s Central Coast from Northern California Wine Country, oversees the hotel’s two onsite restaurants: Piadina, a fresh California take on Italian cuisine based around the wood-fired oven, and Ox + Anchor, a modern spin on the classic steakhouse. His Northern California’s Napa Valley skills were utilized at some of the country’s best chefs, including Richard Reddington at Auberge de Soleil and Thomas Keller at The French Laundry. Fancher’s expertise earned him the role as the opening team sous chef at Per Se in New York, a Pronounced Pedigree. He most recently led the culinary team at Barndiva in Healdsburg, where he gained praise and recognition for his culinary creations and imaginative use of ingredients.

Santa Ynez Valley, home to the village of Los Olivos, is a mere 90 mins. south of Paso Robles and is known for its laid back small-town charm. If you’re seeking a comfortable afternoon of wine tasting, gift shopping and artisanal eats, Los Olivos has it all. Sparkling wine-tasting rooms, artisan gifts and fine dining. Spend the day in the quaint town’s center or book a tour for a self-indulgent day of wine or beer tasting. Wander through the myriad tasting rooms within a few blocks that make up downtown Los Olivos. Dine at a number of delectable artisan restaurants or lunch spots or take a chapter from a local favorite and enjoy a rustic barbecue lunch at R-Country Market — Santa Maria tri-tip sandwiches are the order of the day every Saturday and Sunday. If fine dining and wine pairing are more your speed, enjoy a succulent dinner at Los Olivos Café & Wine Merchant, which Wine Spectator magazine named the “Best Restaurant for Wine.”

The history of Los Olivos began with a stagecoach route in 1861, The Overland / Coast Line Stage established a station at Ballard, just south of present day Los Olivos. Running from San Francisco down to Ballard, and continuing south through Los Angeles before ending in San Diego, the stage provided important transportation back in the day.

Mosey to the lovely Fess Parker Wine Country Inn just near town. Nestled in the heart of Los Olivos, California, the Fess Parker Inn offers guests a quiet retreat in the midst of Santa Barbara County’s iconic wine country. The Fess Parker property is part of the Preferred Hotel Group – started as the vision of a Hollywood actor whose characters loved the wilderness:Fess Parker was better known as Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone on television in the 1950s and ’60s. When he set out to buy a vineyard in Santa Barbara wine country, it quickly became a family affair. Now his son Eli and granddaughter Tessa Marie have vineyards on more than 700 acres of land, and guests staying at the inn enjoy prime access to this fertile section of California countryside.

Third generation rancher Katie Parker McDonald offers private 90-minute horseback rides through the historic 714-acre Fess Parker home ranch. Fully customizable and for all levels, guests explore the ranch via horseback with a guide who shares stories of the family’s history on Foxen Canyon. Riders can also elect for offerings such as a picnic lunch or wine tasting at the Fess Parker Winery. A long list of activities including hot air ballooning, golf, bicycling on country roads, picnics, hiking and boating nearby.

The Central Coast has matured from deep fried butter on a stick locale to lovely hotel properties, esteemed vineyards, fine dining and activities for adults and the kiddos.We also work with a very well known bike firm who can offer a week of trail riding in this idyllic countryside.

Details soon – Follow me!

In Deference to Drinking Alone, Pandemic or not!

My mom would query me, do you drink alone? As if it were sinful or symptomatic of an underlying problem and may lead to addiction. My response: I live alone, do I need a companion to drink? If I have guests, I am more likely to indulge in more than one cocktail, and that may lead to trouble or an after-morning headache! Follow along and discover the Corpse Reviver 2, a cocktail concoction for post tippling relief! For deeper meaning of the actual word Cocktail, do mosey to Online Etymology Dictionary! .

The Day After by Edvard Munch

My go to Friday supper is Champers and Popcorn, the perfect pairing. Microwave fresh kernels in a small brown bag, melt butter, add a smidge of Himalayan Rock Salt or Sea Salt from your travels- everyone buys salt when they travel don’t they? One should, it eats up absolutely zero real estate in your baggage, makes lovely gifts and never gets stale! Pop the bubbly, nothing more satisfying. Served in a proper bowl, with linen napkin, dress it up!

When I travel, I frequently dine alone in elegant restaurants. I am certainly not going to miss the world’s best restaurant in Bangkok because I would be sitting alone. As it turned out in BKK at Gaggan, which had been voted No.1 for four years as Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant, the concierge mentioned there was a new Chef’s Table and would I like to see it and decide where to dine ..yes, please! In the end, I met other travelers and we were thrilled with the theatrical chef presentations, all 25 courses! Often in Europe, a hostess will offer me a stack of magazines, which I decline, my travel journal and camera are the perfect companions…I’m a copious note taker. Many bartenders have taught me various methods to make my favorite cocktail, a Rye Manhattan. Dine and sip at a bar and you will always learn restaurant secrets, be served petite bites of chef’s delectable cheese or a bartender’s treasured port. There is much to be learned at the bar, dining and drinking alone is never boring or lonely!

Digital drinking, zoom cocktails during pandemic doesn’t provide much inspiration for me. I would rather be in a foreign country and absorbing local culture.

Zoomable Pandemic Cocktails fill pages of newsletters, in looking forward to a forthcoming escape, planned pre-pandemic, to Paso Robles for the Bruce Munro Filed of Light at Sensorio.

I am moseying my way down the coast and settling in at the newish Hotel San Luis Obispo. Owned by the same peeps of Hotel Healdsburg, their cocktail page offers a weekly concoction, my first question to the bartender at the roof top High Bar, is there a personal inspiration for this drink: Corpse Reviver No.2… The San Luis Obispo Mission Cemetery is blocks away, if there is a secret, I intend to learn it!

Corpse Reviver Cocktail

Brief research yields that the Corpse Reviver family of cocktails are sometimes drunk as alcoholic hangover “cures”, of potency or characteristics to tongue in cheek be able to revive even a dead person. Corpse Reviver No. 2 is a classic, juniper-heavy London dry style. Faintly bitter fortified Lillet wine and a dash of absinthe are also said to settle a queasy stomach, be forewarned: four of these taken in swift succession will unrevive the corpse again.

Yield: makes 1 cocktail. Ingredients
• 1 oz. gin
• 1 oz. Cocchi Americano or Lillet Blanc
• 1 oz. Cointreau
• 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
• 1 dash absinthe
• Orange peel, for garnish

  1. Shake all ingredients together in an ice-filled cocktail shaker; strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with orange peel.