Today, like every other Sunday, my From the Vine column appears in the Santa Maria Times and the Lompoc Record. While the newspaper is definitely distributed mostly in Santa Barbara wine country, I always cover news and stories in both San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.
Even better news, no matter where you reside, be it San Francisco, LA, Paris, or in Christchurch, New Zealand, you can read my column free online by clicking on this handy little link:
Believe me, if you love Central Coast wine country, you don’t want to miss my column. This week it starts with the news about SLO Brew Rock, which is now open in its new second location in front of the SLO Airport on Broad St. (Hwy. 226) where they’re serving fine brews and a good lunch and dinner daily. There are some killer snacks like deviled eggs, six halves “just like your mama made,” $6; three maple oinkers (bacon) on a stick, $6; or housemade guac with thick, crunchy tortilla chips, $10. The lunch menu is quite a bit lighter in offerings than the dinner menu that begins at 3 p.m. But you can get a substantial meal with their reasonably-priced “hand-held” choices in sandwiches, burgers, and wraps which range from $8 to $12, served with your choice of fries or red cabbage slaw.
I must admit I was disappointed to discover, when I returned after a media tour and samples, that at lunch you can only get the limited menu. After having an addictive taste of Chef Tom Fundaro’s smokehouse specialties, especially the maple whiskey glazed chicken that’s roasted over a slow burning wood fire for 12-hours, I came back with my partner Dan for more. The very friendly bartender apologized before telling me, “The dinner menu is only available from three o’clock on.” I’m here to say to owners Rob and Hamish, do not limit your Chef’s great BBQ/smokehouse menu by denying your hungry clientele some of the best dishes on the menu! What are you thinking?!
The smokehouse boards also include Carolina style pulled pork, Texas style SLO smoked brisket, and housemade smoked sausage, all of them served with pickles, onions, and Texas toast, ranging from $8 to $17 per board. And then there’s the stout chocolate cake with whiskey frosting, $7 for a generous slice. I could have eaten the entire slice, but only limited myself to the bottom third of the layers so there was less frosting. I normally find frosting distasteful. But I loved that frosting (and I don’t even have an appreciation for whiskey!!!). I could go there and just enjoy a whole slice of that cake with a pint of SLO Brew Reggae Red. I’m sure Johnny Kenny, head of live music and marketing, would tell me there was a superior choice among their brews to drink with it. However, after becoming a foodie in the late 1970’s I know what I like.
In today’s From the Vine column, I also covered the upcoming and very popular Whalebone Rock Music Festival (previously known as Beaverstock, but the name was squashed by the people who own Woodstock). Castoro Cellars in Paso Robles, founded by Niels and Bimmer Udsen named it for Woodstock and Niels nickname ‘Beaver,’ but had no problem with the request to cease and desist. They simply renamed it for one of their estate vineyards. Learn all about it and their hippy-like music and arts festival that has become one of the most popular events on the Central Coast at www.whalebonemusicfesitval.com.
And last but not finally, there’s the new Los Alamos General Store, featuring the fines wines of Pico, as well as their excellent local peers and imports. They have a new Friday blind tasting they describe as “Four wines, one unicorn, and oodles of wine education for only $10 per wine geek.” What fun, and did you know they also have a dinner house? It’s well worth checking out at: www.losalamosgeneralstore.com.
Or go straight to the link above to read my original column to see if you really want to learn more about any of this news!