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Bacon. It’s Not Just for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Anymore.

San Luis Obispo Bacon Fest

In late November of 2013 we attended the SLO Bacon Fest at the conference center at the world-famous Madonna Inn. We were ecstatic to find a local event after attending one of the best events ever created, Bacon and Barrels, in Santa Ynez earlier in the summer. More on that event later. Read more…


Seven Sisters Fest: The Start of Something Wonderful

Seven Sisters Fest

I have always loved festivals. I grew to become a little obsessed with them when I worked for Walt Disney Imagineering designing and building theme parks. Every group get-together I hosted from then on had to have a theme, and had to be a complete experience. I became an OCD host at my own house parties creating contests and prizes, themed foods, appropriate place settings for the evening, and moving from conversation to conversation like a hummingbird making sure every person was having fun. Then I happened to go to an LA Burning Man event that changed my life – and made me even worse.

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Food Experiment #1: Curry Salmon, Chevre and Onion Toast

So since we don’t eat out ALL the time, I figured it was time to let you in on the little experiments I do around the house. It’s a well-known fact to my friends that I love to cook. It’s a creative outlet for me, and a stress reliever. When you’re cooking, you’re not thinking about work. You’re working on not burning yourself or cutting off a digit. You’re inventing and get to enjoy your invention immediately.

When you come to eat at my house, you’re not going to get something ordinary. Usually, as I do with my family, I whip up something from whatever is at the house. Sometimes I’ll have a vague idea of what we have and pick up an ingredient or two, but this is all part of the creativity and fun. Oftentimes, these experiences turn out super good. I have one cooking right now. So I figured I’d document what I came home to, what I came up with, shoot a quick pic, and let you know how it turned out. Deal? Read more…

One Giant Plate with A Little Something for Everyone

The Magical Mystery Plate

The Magical Mystery Plate

One of the first places my wife and I discovered when we were seeking fine dining with a Central Coast flair was the SeaVenture Restaurant on the third floor of a hotel sitting on the sand of Pismo Beach. There are a few places like this up and down the coast, but the SeaVenture has a special charm of its own that sets it apart. It’s not trying to be a modern day metal and glass monstrosity. It’s intimate and decidedly loungy feeling with what look like hand-carved blocks of marble in the entryway exhibiting an old craftsmanship we don’t see in many newer restaurants. Some of our best times have been long leisurely meals watching stunning sunsets or migrating whales, but this is also a destination when we just want to class it up for an evening and grab some light bites and drinks. There is one dish that is our defacto for these missions. Read more…

Battle of the (Turkey) Bulge: Winning Recipe 2012

Cranberry Sauce with Port and Figs

My fav T-Day recipe in a looong time.

Every Thanksgiving I experiment with the menu. This year was no exception. I tried a new orange peel and rosemary turkey brine that seemed to work better than others in the past. There was a lot more spice in this one – the orange peel worked well, the apple juice was a great exchange for cups of sugar in the water. I made roasted garlic mashed yukon gold potatoes. Yumm. But the roasted garlic got lost in the potatoes. I skinned the potatoes, which was a good choice, but would add another head of garlic next time and probably a good amount of pepper. The stuffing was a real bear to make and was good, but I wanted better: cornbread stuffing with linguica and kale. Making the cornbread for the stuffing and drying it out didn’t work like I wanted. The cornbread turned to mush, the linguica needed to be skinned to not be a chewy distraction, the kale was lost.

But the real winner to me, with modifications I will recommend, was the Cranberry Sauce with Port and Dried Fig. I first saw fig added to cranberry sauce on an episode of Iron Chef, so was eager to try it and was going to do it anyway when I found this recipe. Figs just seem like a perfect counterbalance to cranberries. They’re soft instead of crisp. They’re sticky sweet to offset the tart. But then the addition of port seemed like a real taste rounder, and I was right. Cranberry sauce is a high note in music, and the port, with its hints of rich base fruit and some barrel characteristics really grounded the dish. There were new layers to the taste profile now that made it both incredibly complex and satisfying – especially for wine lovers. And cooking it with a rosemary sprig and some black pepper? Genius. I love this one and am going to try it with my revisions again very soon.

Check it out at the above link or click here to try it yourself. Be sure to report back to me what you think. I think you’ll love it.

A Rare Perfect Menu Found at the Cliffs

The Cliffs Resort

That’s right. This really is the view.

I don’t get to write about this kind of experience often. But as my wife and I met days after President Obama was re-elected to celebrate with a nice meal at Marisol, we stumbled on an endangered culinary species – the perfect menu.

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San Francisco Strikes Again – Restaurant Gary Danko Is Worth the Weight

One of my favorite things about documenting our food and wine explorations is being wrong. A recent such humbling experiences was when we decided to try Opus One at their winery in St. Helena two years ago. From everything we’d heard, all the way up to the entry into an opulent, modern architectural marvel in the middle of vines, we were convinced we’d be treated like wide-eyed wannabe noveau riche, forced to swallow overpriced swill and comment with insider lingo about its complexity to make ourselves appear as part of the club. But that didn’t happen. The place was incredibly inviting, the servers were great listeners and seemed sincerely complimented by our feedback, and the wine had not been oversold. It was damn good. That illusion of expected bravado was shattered once again on this year’s trip to pick up our daughter from summer camp where we visited Matrix, a new favorite winery, and the top-rated restaurant in San Francisco (according to Yelp), Restaurant Gary Danko.

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The Six Million Dollar Burger

Summertime is barbecue time. Hence the shortage of restaurant reviews lately. I’ve been struggling this year because the San Luis Obispo area has been very mild, and the beach area I live near has remained shrouded in moisture, making my red oak left outside in the sun virtually non-combustible. I can’t get anything to light. I need a new fire strategy. But you can’t NOT barbecue around the Fourth of July, so I made a charcoal exception, invited friends over, and subjected them all to a burger experiment.

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“Sister Kitchen, Oh the Time Has Come, And You Know That You’re the Only One”

Strangely, the South County area of San Luis Obispo is chock full of Thai food restaurants. Even stranger, nearly every one of them is good. So going out for Thai has become the defacto in our household when we want something delicious and, at least on the surface, healthy. So everyone around here has their favorites for different reasons. As just some dude writing about food, this makes writing a review difficult because what criteria do I use? Great noodles? Great barbecue? Great curry? Exotic dishes? Today I’ve decided the criteria will be “freshness.” Read more…

French for a Day. On Prom Night.

So my Sophomore daughter was asked by a Junior to join him at prom, which sent the house into a tempest of activity – make-up, hair, nails, dresses. Not a lot of time to make food at home, so we started our day with a short walk down to Le Petit Cafe in Arroyo Grande to enjoy a French Country Breakfast from the most adorable French couple you’ve met – Stephane and Sylvie. Remarkably decadent and simple at the same time – Sylvie’s fresh made baguettes, croissants, french toast and angelic pastries, plus Stepane’s ham and Swiss crepes with chive spread, coffee and OJ. So good. After taking 4,000 pictures of my daughter and her date, and waving as they rode off into the sunset, it was time to pick a great dinner place and recount our own prom days to each other. We decided to continue with the theme and went to Et Voila in San Luis Obispo. Read more…

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