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Plan your Wine Tasting: California South Central Coast

There are an amazing number of vineyards throughout California, but sorting through the options and determining which producers actually offer tasting rooms can be a pretty daunting task. Here you will find all of the information you will need to schedule your own trip to the best tasting rooms around! The Southern Central Coast region as part of this article primarily covers two counties of California: San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County. As described by wineinstitute.org, the top grape variety for wine in San Luis Obispo County is Cabernet Sauvignon with 8,600 acres. Merlot comes in at second with 4,200 acres of land. Chardonnay tops the wine grape variety in Santa Barbara County with 7,100 acres, with Pinot Noir coming in next with 3,200 acres. The wineries on this list were chosen based on the criteria of: Highly rated wines (across multiple rating sources), open to the public, and a focus on non-commercial brands with wide distribution. This list is by no means a comprehensive list, but rather a selection of top choices to help with your planning of a trip to the area. Please feel free to comment with your feedback. We would like to hear from […]

Know Your Pestos – Recipes for Classic Sauces Part 1

Pesto is simply a technique which combines nuts, salt, herbs, aromatics (such as garlic), and oil together to form a paste.  The word pesto derives from the Italian verb “pestare,” which means to crush.  Originally, all pestos were made by crushing and grinding the ingredients in a mortar and pestle. Most of the Italian recipes add cheese (almost always Parmesan), and quite a few use vegetables such as roasted peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes.  There are versions of pesto that are found in other cuisines (such as the Spanish Romesco sauce) – but we’ll address those in another article. The pesto sauces are very versatile – you can use it with any pasta, or mix it with marinara sauce.  It is also a great cooking sauce for basting roasted chicken or on roasted vegetables.  Use it as a finishing sauce or condiment on burgers, fish, or make a pesto butter for using on steaks. In this article, we explore some of the classic Italian recipes.   Pesto Genovese      Ingredients 1/2 cup lightly toasted pine nuts 4 cups washed and dried fresh basil (about 3 large bunches) 2 garlic cloves, peeled 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon pepper 1/4 lemon 1/2 cup […]

Serpico – A New Star(r) on the Philly Scene

MsL-Foodie and her significant other, MrR-Foodie, have made the transition from NYC to Philly.  This is a wonderful happening for The Serious Foodie, as it will give us a presence in one of the more interesting, and growing, foodie scenes in the Northeast. Steven Starr has had a big hand in changing the Philly dining scene, and his collaboration with Serpico may even begin to transform South Street, too. The subtly marked “SERPICO” sign and a tiny menu box are fixed to a dark brick facade with a dark porthole door, so it’s easy to miss – our taxi driver did.  The DinnerDoctor and MrSeriousFoodie were in Philly when South Street was THE hot restaurant scene in the late 70’s and early 80’s – but it is now hard to imagine a fine dining establishment among the head-shops, t-shirt stores, pawnshops, and hookah cafes that now line this once-iconic stretch.  Serpico has begun to change this impression. We’re big on open kitchens’ and this one was very captivating, where guests can sit by the chefs at counters lining the kitchen to watch Serpico’s team assemble their artful dishes with deft precision. Serpico worked with famed chef David Chang at his […]

A January Foodie Road Trip

There is no better time to take a foodie road trip than the dead of winter – most people are recovering from holiday over-eating so there is no problem getting into most any restaurant. And with the temperatures in the Northeast in single digits, most people in their right mind were not out and about.  But we’re not in our right minds. Besides all of these reasons, we were looking for a good way to break all of our New Year’s resolution in one fell swoop. We started in NYC, when the temperatures hit record lows – it actually was painful to walk the streets.  Over the course of 10 days, we made our way through six cities, ending in our sunny home environs of Bradenton, FL.  We went to a number of fine dining restaurants, and some fun dives including a good sampling of  barbeque. Here are the restaurants we visited (links provided to the reviews on each restaurant): NYC: Barbournia, Hill Country Barbeque Market Philadelphia: Serpico Stafford, VA: Zibibbo Smithfield, NC: White Swan Barbeque Charleston, SC: Peninsula Grill, Husk, Rue de Jean Ellenton, FL:  Hickory Hollow Barbeque Sarasota, FL: Louie’s Modern  

Buttery Butter – A California chardonnay

Guest review, Signore Georgio from Colorado, sent me the following review on a high end tasting, but value priced wine: “We tried a new (for us) wine while on Molokai, HI:  the 2012 Butter, CA chardonnay.  We enjoyed the wine, but we like most wines while on Molokai, and ordered 3 bottles online once we returned to CO.  The wine is aptly named as it is lightly oaked and has a real softness to it.  Interestingly, we drank this wine over 3 nights and it got better each night.  The winemaker, Rob Lloyd, used to be the winemaker for Rombauer, a favorite value wine of ours, and there are similarities between the two wines – but the Butter Chardonnay is less than half the price. It appears the winery is out of the 2012 but a few wine stores still have it in stock.  I look forward to tasting the 2013 to see if the winery can, or will, continue making appealing chardonnay in this same price range.  If the 2013 is as good as the 2012, I’ll be tracking down a case at least.” A note to our readers:  Signore Georgio from Colorado and his wife have a great collection […]

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