SLO Bites

California's Central Coast holds a very special place in my heart... mostly because of my alma mater. If I may, I'd like to suggest Mr. Tony Bennett to remake his classic and title it "I Left My Heart in Santa Barbara."

Taking advantage of my last extended winter vacation before I shed my student status, I packed my sleeping bag and rain boots and revisited the beautiful coast to see my foodie accomplice and o-mazing friend, Jaime G. for a delicious weekend.
* Click to enlarge photos.

Thai Kitchen In Arroyo Grande:
Left to right: Pad thai, Panang curry, mango sticky rice.
A small, family-run that served up some exotic dishes in a town that's as American as apple pie.

Back in San Luis Obispo, or SLO...
Brunch at Neon Carrot:
left to right: fried egg sandwich on brioche, pulled pork breakfast sandwich, oatmeal date chocolate chip cookie. 
The sandwich and the burrito came with persimmons! How precious and seasonal is that? It's wondrous that a simple fried egg sandwich can be so tantalizing. And the breakfast burrito has the perfect ratio of tender pieces of pulled pork, egg, and potatoes. To round out of the meal, I got an oatmeal date chocolate chip for the drive down to Santa Barbara. No fuss food with a side of eco-consciousness... love!

Left to right: chicken tikki marsala, gobi aloo, and garlic naan. 
There's something magically comforting about naan and tikki marsala. Great on their own, but when the two are put together in one bite, it's a flavor explosion that's beyond words. Case in point. 

Keeping up with our tradition, we headed to our brunch spot in Downtown SLO despite the torrential rain. We couldn't sit in the patio by the beautiful creek so we opted for the next best thing- white lavender tea and silky fair-trade coffee! The tea even came its own cast-iron pot! 

left to right: lamb kefta, sirloin on ciabatta, lemon bread pudding. 
The sirloin and the lamb patties were flavorful without being overseasoned. The lamb kefta made an especially savory breakfast item the next day. 

My trip to the Central Coast wouldn't be complete without wine tasting. Deviating from our usual vineyard- Tolosa, we headed to Chamisal down the road and were greeted by this adorable barnhouse tasting room.
Viognier has always been my favorite so I was utterly surprised to find myself falling in love with a chardonnay (pictured below). Hands down the best chardonnay I've had to date- complex and creamy with a hint of caramel. If I didn't know better, I would think I'm describing a cabernet, too.
My new loves: cat perched on a post, 2008 Califa Chardonnay, wine cork tree topper.

On a miserable rainy day, nothing beats being around a hot stove and a home-cooked meal. To that end, blackberry glaze pork chops and crispy Brussels leaves were born.

For the blackberry glaze, reduce seedless blackberry jam with top-grade balsamic vinegar and sauteed onion.

The crispy Brussels leaves are more labor-intensive. Half each sprout and peel off leaves until you get to the center where the leaves are really tight. Save the centers for blanching and another meal. Scatter leaves on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Spray with olive oil and season with garlic salt and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees until crispy!

Serve with brown rice which were perfect for sopping up the delectable glaze!

As 2010 is quickly coming to a close, I realize that my fondest memories of this year revolve around food. There has been a lot of eating, experimenting, photographing, and discussing. Not to mention, the birth of my passion-turned-project- HEALing Foodie. I hope 2011 will be just as more tasty and every dining adventure be shared with great company- just like this trip.

What are your wishes for the new year?


Meghan said...

Food-wise, my 2011 resolutions are: 1)less cereal, more oatmeal and 2)no more almond butter straight from the jar with a spoon!

Elizabeth said...

Cereals and almond butter are fantastic, but sometimes they're too much of a good thing!

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