Wednesday, June 27, 2007

June in Sunset

Local folks probably won't find this a surprise, but Wild Horse's 2004 zinfandel ($17) was mentioned in the June issue of Sunset as one of a handful of great barbecue wines.

"Good acidity keeps the yummy mix of dark berries, pepper, herbs and mocha from going jammy," the magazine says.

The magazine, leaving shelves now as the July issue comes out, also has blurbs on Cambria Pines Lodge, lauding its lush grounds at peak bloom time, and Avila Beach's La Fonda Hotel, which the writer says has the same cozy charm as Avila itself and calls a paen to pleasurable detail, especially the 24-hour chocolate pantry.

Bob and Cary Woll's backyard in Los Osos is featured in a story on creating a great setting for outdoor dining. You can see it here.

Tomorrow, I'll take a peek at the July issue that just arrived in my mailbox.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Embarcadero boomlet

As the Avila Beach revival continues with a fresh face for summer, another of the county's coastal towns is adding new businesses for the tourist crowds.

Two restaurants, a wine-tasting room, an art gallery and a bakery are among the new businesses opening on the Morro Bay waterfront.

Embarcadero Grill, at 801 Embarcadero — the former location of the Fish Bowl Restaurant - is a barbecue fish and chips joint.

Looking for something other than seafood? Harry’s Rib Co. at 1154 Embarcadero is a new option.

Joining Morro Bay Wine Seller, Templeton-based Aron Hill Vineyard opened a tasting room that offers people the chance to sip wine while gazing at Morro Rock and the bay.

The John Landon Art Gallery at 845 Embarcadero, the second gallery for local artist John Landon, joins the art dealers along the waterfront.

And a mother-daughter-owned combination bakery-boutique will feature desserts from the the family’s traditional Sicilian recipes, shirts, specialty clothing, lingerie and hand-made jewelry.

You can read more about the Embarcadero boomlet here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Lakeside wine, pinot and paella

One more summer wine festival this weekend with the lakeside Atascadero Wine Festival, the 12th annual, featuring 85 wineries, music from the Mighty Croon Dogs, food, art and others vendors.

The Lakeside Tasting Saturday goes from 11:30 am-4 pm; tickets are $30 in advance/$30 at the door and get you an event glass and 10 tasting tickets. There's free shuttle service from the Sunken Gardens. Buy tickets online or at the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce, at 6550 El Camino Real.

Proceeds benefit the Charles Paddock Zoo, where ticket-holders can enjoy free entrance Saturday, and other projects in Atascadero.

Sunday, the participating wineries host their own events. For a list of the wineries, go to the festival's web site.

Speaking of wine festivals, go ahead and mark your calendar now for June 8, 2008, the date of next year's Pinot and Paella cook-off, a smaller but growing event.

In fact, go ahead and buy your tickets now - this year's event sold out more than a month in advance. And it's well worth the price of admission.

Taste some of the best pinot noirs from around the Central Coast and chow down on the most inventive and tasty paella dishes the area's best chefs can create. (One of this year's selections included alligator, though my favorite -- and the winner of the People's Choice award -- was from 10th Street Vineyard Cafe.

Pinot and Paella, in Templeton's Community Park, is smaller and less rowdy than some of the other local festivals, but clearly gaining quite a devoted following. Consider joining it.

In the meantime, you can find the recipe for 2006's winner as featured in Vintages magazine here.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Horseshoes and horsepower plus music by two lakes

This Sunday is Father's Day, and if father and child are both of legal drinking age, one fun way to celebrate is the Father’s Day Horseshoe competition and barbecue at Cass Winery. Sign up with Erin at or call at 805-227-2888.

If you and Dad are more comfortable poking around under the hood, head to Pismo Beach for the three-day Pismo Beach Classic Car Show, which takes over the town with more than 1,200 classic cars. New this year is a different kind of horsepower -- the Budweiser Clydesdales will be clomping around town and showing off for pictures and petting. Find out more about all the festitivies in our story in Ticket or at

You can also make a weekend of family bonding at the Live Oak Music Festival, which is near Lake Cachuma in Santa Barbara County but reputedly well worth the drive. The Tribune's Pat Pemberton writes about the festival in Ticket this week and takes a look at the local bands in the lineup. You can also call 805-781-3020 for information.

To wind down from the work week and kick off the weekend, head to Bianchi Winery Friday at 6 p.m. for a lakeside concert with FUNK:30. Pack a picnic or pick up something from the deli case. Patio seating is limited, so bring lawn chairs or blankets. No outside beverages allowed. Reservations suggested. $20/per person or $10/per lakeside member. Call 805-226-9922 ext. 31.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Not yet making plans for fall? Maybe you should

Mark your calendar for Nov. 2-4, the just-announced dates for the SLO Vintners Association's 17th annual Harvest Celebration.

The grand tasting and auction will be from 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Avila Beach Golf Resort, with more than 30 wineries and restaurants.

The festivities kick off Friday night with winemaker dinners that often sell out in advance. Sunday brings open houses at the member wineries in Edna Valley.

Tickets, which cost $75, go on sale at and Taste on Monterey Street in downtown SLO Aug 1. Private tables of eight can be purchased for $800.

Dates for Paso Robles' popular Harvest Festival have yet to be announced, so stay tuned.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Of Wine and Apples (the Mac variety)

Two more things of note.

This Sunday marks the kickoff of the Winery Music Awards, a summer-long competition of local musicians. Check out our special section on the awards here, where you can read about the competion, find a schedule of events and listen to songs by the performers and vote for your favorite.

And Saturday morning, downtown SLO is expecting to be abuzz with the opening of the shiny new Apple Store at 899 Higuera St. Sure, we already have the MAC Superstore, but Apple's sleek stores are great places for browsing, even if there's nothing there you can't get at the Superstore in the Pacific Coast Plaza off Madonna Road.

Summer concerts heat up

The summer concert season is getting going, with all kinds of offerings. There's Saturdays in the park at Atascadero Lake Park, Sizzlin' Summer Concerts at Ramona Garden Park in Grover Beach, Twilight Concerts in the Park at City Park in Paso Robles, the SLO County Band at the Mitchell Park Bandstand in SLO, the Village Summer Concert Series at the Rotary Bandstand in Arroyo Grande and Concerts in the Plaza at Mission Plaza in SLO.

Here's the full schedule so you can mark your calendars, plus Tribune Staff Writer Sarah Linn's intro to the summer concert season.

I've mentioned before some of the restaurants and wineries hosting their own musical offerings. Read more about that here.


Atascadero Lake Park, Morro Road and Pismo Avenue, Atascadero

When: 6:30 p.m. most Saturdays, June 16 through Aug. 25

More info: 470-3178,

June 16: The House Red Band

June 23: No concert because of the Atascadero Wine Festival

June 30: PipeDream

July 7: The Cinders

July 14: The Shamblers

July 21: The Usual Suspects

July 28: Rough House

Aug. 4: The Martin Paris Band

Aug. 11: Critical Mass

Aug. 18: Up in the Air

Aug. 25: The Viper Six


Ramona Garden Park Center, 993 Ramona Ave., Grover Beach.

When: 3 p.m. selected Sundays, through Sept. 16

More info: 473-4585,

June 3: Matt Hatfield and the Iron Triangle

June 17: Blues DeVille

July 8: Monte Mills and The Lucky Horseshoe Band

July 22: The New Matrix

Aug. 5: Soulamente

Aug. 19: The JD Project

Sept. 16: Cadillac Angels


City Park, 11th and Park streets, Paso Robles

When: 5:30 p.m. Fridays, June 22 through Aug. 21

More info: 238-4103,

June 22: Bryan Savage

June 29: Rancho Deluxe

July 6: Incendio

July 13: Sugar Daddy Swing Kings

July 20: Banshee in the Kitchen

July 27: SLO Mambo

Aug. 3: The Martin Paris Band

Aug. 10: Monte Mills and the Lucky Horseshoe Band

Aug. 17: Mighty Croon Dogs

Aug. 21: John Neira and Friends


Mitchell Park Bandstand, 1050 Buchon St., San Luis Obispo

When: 6:30 p.m. Thursdays, June 28 through Aug. 9

More info:

June 28

July 5

July 12

July 26

Aug. 2

Aug. 9

In addition SLO County Band will perform additional concerts at these locations:

July 4: at 10:30 a.m. at the Mitchell Park Bandstand in San Luis Obispo

July 22: at 9:30 a.m. at the Portuguese Celebration in Cayucos

July 23: at 7 p.m. at Camp Hapitok at Rancho El Chorro Regional Park across from Cuesta College


Rotary Bandstand, Nelson and Short streets, Arroyo Grande

When: 1 p.m. selected Sundays, June 10 through Sept. 23

More info:

June 10: Nipomo High School Jazz Band, The Mud Skippers Dixieland Band

June 24: The Usual Suspects, The Bluz Dogz

July 15: Gold Coast Chorus

July 29: The Al & Val Duo, Blues DeVille

Aug. 12: Katie Boeck, J.T. Matherly & Toan Chau, Cuesta Ridge Mountain Boys

Aug. 26: Latin Perspective, acoustic atrium

Sept. 9: Critical Mass, Local Vocals

Sept. 23: VOCE, The Cuesta Wind Ensemble, Cuesta Jazz Ensembles

Special July 4 show: 11:30 a.m., Village Band, The Celebration Chorus


Mission Plaza, San Luis Obispo

When: 5:30 p.m. Fridays, June 15 through Aug. 31

June 15: Siko

June 22: The New Longview

June 29: Cuesta Ridge Mountain Boys

July 6: Resination

July 13: Damon Castillo

July 20: The JD Project

July 27: Rancho Deluxe

Aug. 3: The Shival Experience

Aug. 10: SLO Mambo

Aug. 17: The Viper Six

Aug. 24: The Cinders

Aug. 31: Big Daddy’s Blues Band

Monday, June 4, 2007

Check out Avila Beach's new face

Still catching up from being gone last week, but check out all the new stuff going on in Avila Beach -- just in time for the summer season.: and