Author Archive for kathymarckshardesty

- Welcome to the Central Coast Critic, aka Kathy Marcks Hardesty, on Facebook and WordPress! I'm a freelance food and wine columnist who has covered the amazing growth of the Central Coast restaurant and winery scene since early 1996. My lifelong career, however, began many years earlier when I started working in restaurants and bars in 1979. I would spend 12 years in the restaurant industry, six years front of the house followed by six years cooking professionally. I am also a graduate of the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. Believe it or not, I left it all behind once I had the opportunity to start working for Wine Spectator magazine in San Francisco. I started out as the assistant to the tasting coordinator and soon became the editor for the restaurant award program, which I still describe as the greatest job of my life. During the seven years I worked there, I never missed a day of work, I loved my job. But that was working for someone else who called the shots. When I moved to the Central Coast in 1996, I finally realized my lifelong dream, of becoming a freelance writer. I have so many great stories from my 35 years in the business. Many were funny, some were sad, and there are a few poignant tales, but those were the milestones that made me who I am today. I'll be building upon my biography regularly as my blog gains momentum, and sharing all of the highlights of my life in my biography as the Central Coast Critic.

Crabby Christmas 2017

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We’re crabby! We love the late fall and early winter holiday season because it means it’s finally Dungeness crab season again! So when I read that San Francisco was back in its crabby season, and the Dungeness was finally safe…

Cioppino at Ember for December!

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Here is yet another one of the thousands of reasons we love Ember! Dan and I love Ember in Arroyo Grande so much that we visit at least once and usually more times every single month. And during this year’s…

AronHill Vineyards in Paso Robles

JudyAron and Richard

My bi-weekly column, From the Vine, in the Santa Maria Times and Lompoc Record, about AronHill Vineyards, was published today, Sunday December 3, 2017 My column featuring AronHill Vineyard is all about one of the few of the many Paso…

From the Vine on Food & Wine Pairing

Tercero 2017

From the Vine, my wine column in the Santa Maria Times & Lompoc Record was published today, November 19, 2017 I love the fall and winter holiday season for the opportunities to write some food and wine pairing columns. While…

Thomas Hill Organics (THO) New Menu

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Revisiting THO SLO on its First Anniversary!  Hard to believe, isn’t it, that the SLO version of Thomas Hill Organics (THO, which was originally founded in Paso Robles) has already celebrated its first anniversary! So upon receiving an invitation to…

Vegetable Butcher–Freaking Amazing!

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It’s rare when a chef can impress us over and over again. And yet that’s exactly what the Vegetable Butcher Did! We have never been fond of tomato soup, but one taste of Chef Becky Windels version and we are…

The Qupe-Verdad Tasting Room is Open!

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It’s time, once again, for my From the Vine Column about the opening of the new Qupe-Verdad tasting room in the Santa Maria Times  Of course, all of my regular followers already know my bi-weekly From the Vine column also…

Kathy’s Choice Workman Ayer Wine Co.

Michel Ayer

Kathy’s Choice- Workman Ayer in Santa Barbara County November 2, 2017 An interesting new brand came to us recently from winemaker Michel Ayer which is made in Buellton, Workman Ayer. Not only did we find both wines impressive, we found…

2017 Harvest Report Looks Good!

Night Harvest at Stone Corral Vineyard - Courtesy Stephen Ross Wine Cellars

Harvest 2017 in From the Vine  My bi-weekly wine column in the Santa Maria Times and the Lompoc Record was published today, October 8, 2017. It’s about the 2017 Harvest Report and wine festival. Each year I report on what…

Exciting Opening–Blue Moon Over Avila!

Call us impetuous but we can’t help but share news of an exciting new Avila Beach restaurant opening next week–Blue Moon Over Avila! If you loved Chef Jose Dahan as much as we have over nearly two decades (and we…