I am a devotee of Sunset Magazine! I, along with my mother and grandmother, have subscribed to the magazine for my entire adult life. I have attended their Celebration Weekends in Menlo Park, which feature all things wonderful in food, garden, and travel. They are always an informative, delicious, and great time. I have also toured four Sunset Dream Houses. The tours feature homes in existing neighborhoods that have been renovated by Sunset Magazine’s creative team, with a licensed contractor, and a slew of subcontractors. The results are always amazing and unlike anything I have ever seen.
Earlier this year, while visiting Paso Robles, I was thumbing through a new magazine called, San Luis Obispo County, an Insider Adventure Guide, and happened to come across a page advertising a new Sunset event, which celebrates the food and wine of the central coast: SAVOR The Central Coast. For over 20 years, my family and I annually travel to Paso Robles to visit friends. Over the years we have visited the many different communities of the central coast, dined at fabulous restaurants, drank terrific wine, sampled exceptional olive oil, taken many tours at Hearst Castle, slurped oysters in Morro Bay, walked along beautiful beaches, and shopped with reckless abandon. Ahhh….such sweet memories! So of course I had to attend Sunset Magazine’s SAVOR The Central Coast event!
Sunset’s SAVOR The Central Coast event was held Thursday through Sunday, September 26 – 29th of this year. On the Thursday and Friday, prior to the Main Event, Adventure Tours were offered to participants to get out into the magnificent landscape of the central coast and experience it first hand. Participants could sign up for such activities as watching the sunset at Hearst Castle with wine tasting, and dinner and dancing around the pool, enjoying an abalone cookout on the cliffs of Cayucos, plant their own grape vine at a vineyard in Cambria, or blend their own wine at a winery in the Paso Robles wine region.
On Saturday and Sunday, September 28 – 29, The Main Event was held at the historic Santa Margarita Ranch, which is 11 miles north of San Luis Obispo outside of the small town of Santa Margarita. Franciscan Padre Juan Crespi first recorded the rancho in 1769. The rancho was originally 17,735 acres and was needed to assist the near by Mission San Luis Obispo with crops and cattle. The local Chumash Indians were the labor force that worked the rancho. After the Spanish Mexican war, the missions were disbanded and the rancho was granted to Don Joaquin Estrada in 1841. Since then, the rancho has passed through three ownerships to its present day owners. The ranch is also home to a narrow gauge steam train called the Pacific Coast Railroad. The 19th century replica was originally build for and operated at Disneyland. A two-mile loop of track meanders around the property where visitors can get a glimpse of the landscape traveled by early California Spanish explorers and missionaries. The train, as well as the property, can be reserved for special events. The ranch is now owned by three local families and is a working ranch, which is home to large herds of cattle and a vineyard.
The Main Event was set up at the historic Santa Margarita Ranch’s central area, which highlighted the talents of winemakers, celebrity chefs, brew masters, fishermen, restaurants, artisanal food producers, and Sunset experts.
The Vons Music and Tasting Garden was where the many brew masters pouring there seasonal ales, stouts, and pilsners. In addition, restaurants and food producers where serving their tasty treats to be paired and enjoyed with the beer. A music stage was situated in the Garden, where live bands played great music all day and attendees danced.
The Marketplace was set up under a huge tent and in an adjacent open aired area. This is where one could wine taste from over 100 wineries in one delicious area from Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties. In addition, chefs from many regional restaurants were serving up small bites for the tasting. Some of the items I tasted were barbequed ribs, sliders, salads, oysters, and cold summer soup. There were many food producers too, serving up delicacies such as chocolate covered fruits, almonds, gelato, desserts, sausage, and cheese. It was truly a gourmand’s delight!
The Farm to Table area was an open-aired covered barn where cooking demonstrations were held. Participants sat on bales of burlap covered hay, to rest a bit out of reach of the sun, and listened to presentations such as creating garden-fresh pizzas, no-cook Mediterranean Sauces from the garden, Cocktail Time with Sandra Lee, and A Taste of Land and Sea with coastal ceviche. In addition, there were exhibits of recycled green houses, vegetable gardening in unconventional containers, and a farmers’ market.
For the wine enthusiast, Winemaker Central was where wine seminars were held and participants could listen, taste, and learn. A top panel of winemakers and experts were invited to lead these seminars with Sunset Wine Editor Sara Schneider as moderator. Seminar participants could choose from subjects such as Wine Beyond the Oak Barrel, Unique Whites of the Central Coast, and Explore the Great Wine Roads of the West. This was an opportunity for participants to engage with winemakers in a small setting to taste, learn, and explore.
Chef Central was held in the Ranch’s historic barn, which was where the celebrity chefs gave their cooking demonstrations. The barn is one of the last original buildings standing on the property from its former Rancho days. The old barn was built over rock walls erected in the late 1800s. The barn is absolutely beautiful with its vintage wood siding and exposed internal trusses, rustic internal rock walls, and vintage drop wrought iron chandeliers. Celebrity chefs Michael Voltaggio from Top Chef cooked both days of the Main Event, along with Nathan Lyon, host of Good Food America and Growing A Greener World, and Marcela Valladolid, cookbook author and Food Network host of Mexican Made Easy. I attended Marcela Valladolid’s cooking demonstration, along with Vons Executive Chef, Jeff Anderson. Marcela and Jeff prepared authentic Mexican tacos and pineapple and lime margaritas.
The entire event included so much more. There was shopping for taste treats, lectures from Sunset’s editors on camping, travel, photography, and planning your own central coast wine road get-a-way. A concert at Paso Robles’ new Vino Robles Amphitheater with singer songwriter Colbie Caillat was scheduled during the event. In addition, a 5/10K run walk was held in San Luis Obispo, which benefited the Cancer Well Fit Program.
I thoroughly enjoyed this very organized, well thought out, beautifully presented, and professional event. I will definitely be attending next year, September 25 – 28, 2014, where I will be attending some of the Adventure Tours as well as the Main Event. Please visit SAVOR the Central Coast website for more information on next year’s SAVOR event and where you can learn about all the fabulous events taking place along the central coast.
SAVOR CENTRAL COAST EVENT