Thursday we picked up the car and moseyed south to San Jose to stay over with Rowan and Russell: good conversation and good pizza and wonderful grinds itself coffee in the morning. Spike appeared and we all went to Original Joes for huge things with masses of spinach and bacon. If the bread wasn't so good I might have managed the whole eggplant parmigiana :)
We emptied our postbox - many back issues of Inc and Fast Company and lovely books from Tim Pratt - and dropped off whisky mead with saffronrose of this parish and drove over to meet our friends Jon and Tamzen and convoy down to Paso Robles.
it's a couple of hours drive, much of it through pretty hills with the sky turning pretty colours. The Hampton Suites seems to have us flagged as 'we like you' as they gave us an even bigger suite, so we hung out on the sofa and geeked gently and poked fun at some of the winery descriptions in the guide until dinner at Artisan.
I didn't note down all the wines in the elite local flight, but they were all excellent, including the chateau margene. simon's meatball gnocchi was rather more substantial than my chicken wing confit which was an elegant boned version of buffalo wings. simon had the veal wellington with a yummy cauliflower thing and I had duck with dirty pecan rice with ham hock. Simon had pumpkin pie cheesecake and I attempted to customise my apple fritter sundae with pear sorbet but they'd run out!
saturday we started at windward: I'm not sure about the 'signature peacock tail finish' but definitely cherry in the pinot noir and there was a cute cat that had adopted the winery and apparated into the summerhouse. JanKris aslo had a cute kitty that had adopted them: excellent unpretentious blends and varietals and they've added a sparkling raspberry to the peach and almond we already liked. We stopped at Eagle to admire the castle and the moat and had lunch at the new deli at Four Vines, roadstand 46 (I've been saying hatstand all weekend) where the fried chicken is awesome. The new tasting room at Four Vines is very echoey but it's nice to have more space and the Heretic and Maverick and Naked Chardonnay are as good as ever: the new 9-blend Cypher is rich and portugese in flavour. we turned down to Jack Creek: out of the way, pricey but excellent wines. Denner was closed for their pickup party so we stopped at Jada, which has sold out of almost everything and finished up at Norman where we succumbed to a case of 2003 Monster zinfandel. we stocked up on tangerine olive oil at Pasoliveo, so there are more chocolate orange brownies in our future.
a quick float in the hot tub and dinner at Justin: pumpkin walnut soup or trout, pork belly on french toast with pear sauce (which we had in the amuse bouche of biscuit and prosciutto), venison wellington or pheasant with cream sauce and cornbread stuffing and chocolate bread pudding or a deconstructed pumpkin pie. yum.
i do wish I hadn't finished with the coffee as it upset my stomach so we had a late and gentle start, driving in to town for coffee at the Amsterdam Coffee Shop where they play the satellite radio Coffeeshop station. we peered in at the studio space and admired the trees in the square and wandered through the olde fashionedde sweete shoppee complete with Dick and Jane books, then drove back to Justin for the winery tour.
hmmph: this client has a word limit.