Friday, September 28, 2007

25 cent wine tasting?!?

Tonight's wine tasting at Monterey Street Wine Co. -- normally $10 -- can be had for a quarter if you bring a book to donate for a child age 5-9.

And check out what's coming Monday, from Doug, John, Mecaela and Katrina

We will have a special guest bartender, Shannon Beighley, helping raise money for her Team in Training. Shannon will be running the Nike half marathon next month in San Francisco and is raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by have small fundraiser. Shannon, a San Luis Obispo native living in the Bay Area will be pouring wine here at Monterey St. Wine Co. Monday evening and will be pooling her tips with the money she has raised at other such fundraisers and will be making a large donation to the Leukemia and Lyphoma Society at the race. We hope you can come by purchase a special priced glass of wine and put some money in the tip jar for a great cause. Shannon will let you know about her training and her fundraising goal. Shannon will be pouring 5:00 – 8:00 PM so stop by after work and let have a glass of wine to find a cure for this particular form of cancer.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It's Ladies Night at Monterey St. Wine Co.

It's wine and chocolate tasting night for the ladies tonight at Monterery St. Wine Co.

From 5-8 pm, the wine shop will offer dry wines and then dessert wines to sip along with some chocolate treats. Cost is $10.

Most Fridays, the shop hosts winemakers for tastings of their wines. It being harvest time, however, most winemakers are a little busy. So the staff will host this Friday's wine tasting, with their favorite wines of the Central Coast. You'll also be able to sample some of the cheeses the shop sells. The tasting goes from 5-8 pm and costs $10.

It's a fun alternative to your regular happy hour.

The shop also regularly features new offerings, and this week is giving a good review to Black Hand Cellars.

Black Hand Cellar Hit n’ Run, Paso Robles. A red blend of 63% Syrah, 22% Mourvedre and 15% Grenache a terrific wine with rich ripe fruit, medium acidity and a long finish. Very limited production only 42 cases produced, this winery’s wines are getting better and it will be a winery to look for in the future. This is a very good bottle of wine, $25.99.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Oktoberfest in a month and a day

In Shell Beach, where I live, the party rarely comes to you. That's why I love this time of year there.

The Old Vienna Restaurant and Beer Garden is just around the corner from my house and Oktoberfest there brings a six-week party.

Thursday through Sunday from now until Nov. 3, the restaurant celebrates with food, music and of course beer -- the next best thing to being in the big tents in Munich, as the restaurant owners say.

Beer is served in large steins and Trio Internationale, the lederhosen-clad house band, gets the crowd going with traditional songs followed by Emimen or John Denver performed with an accordian. (Thursdays and Sundays feature more traditional music, and you never know what you'll get on Friday and Saturdays.)

Old Vienna serves a special menu during Oktoberfest, which usually packs the place to the gills. For $37, you have the choice between:

  • Oktoberfest Huhn und Bier: Half chicken, roasted and seasoned with paprika, the traditional Munich Oktoberfest meal, served with 1/2 liter of tap beer.
  • Wurstmeister: smoked bratwurst and bratwurst. Recommended with the German potato salad.
  • Goulash: The spicy robust "herdsman's stew" made with pork and a rich onion, paprika gravy.
  • Kassler Rippchen: Two smoked pork loin cuts, bone in, a traditional "old country" favorite.
  • Sauerbraten: Choice lean beef marinated in red wine with traditional spices, served thinly sliced with an authentic ginger/beef gravy.
  • Schnitzel: Center-cut pork loin, pounded thin, lightly breaded and flash-fried to light golden brown.
All meals are served with fresh bread rolls and butter; choice of soup or fresh green salad with house dressing; choice of German potato salad, parsley potatoes or rice pilaf; vegetable, red cabbage and sauerkraut. The cost also covers tax and tip, so all you have to worry about it your bar tab.

Call 773-4521 for reservations, which are recommended.

Firestone Walker and River Oaks Hot Springs celebrate the fall harvest in a one-day blowout next Saturday, Sept. 29, called Oaktoberfest.

The event, held at River Oaks in Paso Robles, is a fundraiser for Hospice of SLO County. Firestone Walker pours an Oktoberfest beer brewed especially for and available only at the event, with a tapping ceremony at 12:30 p.m. There are traditional German foods, polka music, tasting of Firestone and German ales, German-style wines from local wineries, cheese, cigars and a costume contest.

For the stout of heart, there's also the Beer Olympics, with keg tossing, stein racing and barrel rolling, starting at 1 p.m.

Tickets are $35 in advance or $40 day of event and can be purchased here. They include admission, an event stein, your first beer, and a card to sample your choice or beer or wine.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Avo and margs

This weekend brings an event I'm really looking forward to, featuring two of my favorite things -- the inaugural Morro Bay Avocado and Margarita Festival.

It takes place on the Embarcadero, in the parking lot across from Rose's Landing, from 11 am-6pm, and admission is free.

There's a best guacamole contest, a best avocado-recipe competition, many flavors of margaritas, music, 30 local avocado growers and more.

For kids, there will be a best decorated avocado contest, stickers, coloring books and “Cali,” the six-foot mascot of the California Avocado Commission, who will have avocado scoopers and recipe books for the adults.

I'll be there, hoping to find some new ways to enjoy these two favored indulgences of mine.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Was the fix on?

Ok, I admitted that I actually liked Kim's room on the finale of HGTV's "Design Star" better than Cal Poly grad Todd's. But as Clive announced her as the winner Sunday night, I couldn't help but think there was something fishy going on.

First there are all the rumors about Kim -- a hairdresser with no design background -- having an in with producers on the show. (See the comments on an earlier post on the show here.) Then there's the fact that this beautifully designed space in the final challenge came from NOWHERE. I can't think of one episode from the run of the show where she really impressed. And finally, there is Todd's space. So throughout the entire season, week after week, he brings it with a design that is innovative and memorable -- often to the extreme. And then he falls down in the last challenge? Seems highly suspect.

So what do you think?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Todd fans, last day to vote!

I have to admit I'm a bit nervous.

I thought Cal Poly grad Todd was a shoe-in to win HGTV's Design Star competition, but I actually found myself liking Kim's final hotel suite design and considering Todd's a little uninspired compared to his previous performance. And she clearly has good hosting skills, even if she doesn't have the infectious energy of the big-kid-like Todd.

Still, taking the competition as a whole, rather than looking at only the final challenge, Todd has rocked it week after week while I can't seem to remember any of Kim's designs that impressed, let alone blew me away. And her design for the second-to-last challenge was downright ugly.

So, log on to HGTV or get out your cell phones to vote! Today is the last day for voting, and results will be revealed in Sunday night's finale at 9 p.m.

Read my other blogs on the show here and here.

Friday, September 7, 2007

A Cal Poly grad Design Star?

And then there were two -- and Todd, our Cal Poly grad, is one of them.

Earlier in the season of HGTV's "Design Star," I was worried that Todd, while insanely creative, wouldn't have enough traditional design skills to make it far in the competition. (Read my take here.) But I was wrong.

Each week, he continued to collect more laurels from the judges, for his inventive design solutions and his infectious energy (the winner of the competition gets a show on the network so "hosting skills" are considered as well as design).

This Sunday, he faces off against Kim in the final challenge, and "America" gets to vote on the winner. So if you want to see more of Todd (who wouldn't!) and get the bragging rights of a local boy on HGTV, watch the final episode at 9 p.m. Sunday and vote!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

It's an honor just to be nominated

Talley Vineyards was the only San Luis Obispo County winery to take home honors in Sunset magazine's annual wine awards.

Its 2005 Rincon Vineyard Chardonnay ($40) was the magazine's pick for beset Special Occasion ($30-$50) White.

"Rich, toasty apple-pie aromas are followed by fresh lemon-custard flavors spiked with minerals and lemon zest on a long finish," the magazine wrote.

A number of other local wines, however, were nominated, a testament to their quality and flavor even if they did not make the final cut. Here's a look at the finalists from San Luis Obispo County.

I think it's worth noting that the county's wines made a strong appearance in the more affordable categories, reflecting the value of the wines made in this area compared to others. I also think it's worth mentioning, Sunset, that none of the judges were from this region...

STEAL OF THE YEAR ($15 and under) - WHITE
Edna Valley Vineyard, 2005 Paragon Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc ($15)
Edna Valley Vineyard, 2005 Paragon Vineyard Chardonnay ($12)
Firestone Vineyard, which this year opened a tasting room in Paso Robles,
2005 Riesling ($12)

STEAL OF THE YEAR ($15 and under) - RED
Peachy Canyon, 2005 "Incredible Red" Zinfandel ($11)
J. Lohr, 2004 South Ridge Vineyard Syrah ($15)
EOS Estate Vineyards Novella label, 2004 "Synergy" red blend ($14)
Treana Winery's
Liberty School label, 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon ($14)

Alban Vineyard, 2005 Viognier 2005
Tablas Creek, 2005 "Côtes de Tablas Blanc" white Rhône blend ($20)
Treana, 2004 Mer Soleil Vineyard white Rhône blend ($25)
Wolff Vineyard, 2005 Mount Eden Chardonnay ($18)
Talley, 2005 Oliver's Vineyard Chardonnay ($26)

GOOD VALUE ($15-30) - RED
Edna Valley Vineyard, 2005 Paragon Vineyard Pinot Noir ($20)
Eberle Winery, 2004 Steinbeck Vineyard Syrah ($20)
Edna Valley Vineyard, 2004 Syrah ($16)

Domaine Alfred, 2004 Chamisal Vineyards Pinot Noir ($38)
McPrice Myers, 2004 Les Galets Vineyard Syrah 2004 from Arroyo Grande Valley ($32)

DEEP POCKET (over $50) - RED
Alban Vineyards, 2004 "Reva" Syrah ($74)