The Joys of a visit to San Luis Obispo


In San Luis Obispo, we were delighted to find Thomas Hill Organic Kitchen, a serious farm-to-table restaurant serving creative, fresh food and highlighting unique wines from the Central Coast. With a dynamic menu reflecting local abundance, Thomas Hill Organic Kitchen sources a vivid array of fresh ingredients to concoct bold, imaginative honest dishes that are bursting with flavors. The dynamic owner, Debbie Thomas, and her talented Executive Corporate Chef, Kurt Metzger, believe in the significance of organic, regionally-produced food and work closely with local purveyors for poultry, fish, grass-fed beef, lamb, and exotic meats. Nearby farmers provide all fruits and vegetables to Thomas Hill Organic Kitchen which are always straight-from-the-earth fresh. Their breads are crafted by local bakers who are celebrated artisans of their trade. We assure you, you can taste the difference. You have to go to L.A. or San Francisco to find this brand of superior cuisine flourishing with such unusual components.

So what did we have? After a glass or two of 2013 Myers-Deovlet blanc de blancs from Santa Barbara County, we dove into a dish of roasted cauliflower & truffle tater tots with lemon herb aioli. A crusty Blanco pizza appeared with white sauce, mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan, roasted garlic and thyme. Then a crisp baby beet salad made an appearance, all done up with marinated baby beet carpaccio, arugula, cara cara oranges, shaved fennel Laura Chenel goat cheese and tossed in a sherry vinaigrette.

Service was bright and crisp; friendly, too. Our mains were a Painted Hills rib-eye, medium rare with smoked fingerling potatoes, English pea puree, roasted morels, grilled asparagus and preserved lemon-thyme butter. Plus we dove into pan roasted duck breast perfectly done in a orange-miso sauce and with chow mein noodle cake, bok choy, cara cara and daikon sprouts dancing about. Wish we’d have saved room for the Corvina seabass, a delicious entrée with dashi, soba noodles, shiitakes, sugar snap peas, bok choy, and daikon sprouts.

We saved room for the lovely desserts, a lemon olive oil cake with
blackberry-rosemary ice cream, fresh berries, vanilla oil and lemon sugar and a scoop or two of Negranti’s sheep’s milk ice cream. All in all, a wonderful and cerative experience.

Did we mention the room? It is a zen-like high-ceilinged affair with an L-shaped bar and a breezy outdoor patio. It is elegant yet casual with subtle, good quality art on the walls. A wood-fired pizza oven glows gently. Thomas Hill Organic Kitchen, 858 Monterey St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401, (805) 457-1616, http://www.thomashillorganics.com. An amazing discovery waiting for those who seek the rare fine dining experience that magically appears when the best, carefully selected products meet the best culinary hands in a bistro atmosphere of total devotion to quality.

We chose to spend the night at Apple Farm Inn and enjoyed wine country hospitality, comfortable deluxe lodging, and honest value. This is a hotel that embodies a true atmosphere of tranquility, combining the charm of wine country inns with the modern conveniences of a luxury hotel. Located just off US 101, on the Central Coast of California Apple Farm Inn is an ideal headquarters to explore San Luis Obispo: festivals, farmers markets, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, a historic mission, superb food, and a creek that runs through town. Minutes away, rolling valleys offer the best in California wine tasting. A short drive north on Highway One brings you to Hearst Castle and the spectacular shoreline of Big Sur. Lush gardens, a charming restaurant, a brimming gift shop, and a step back in time at their authentic millhouse completes the picture. Apple Farm, 2015 Monterey Street, San Luis Obispo, CA, 93401, (800) 255-2040, (805) 544-2040. http://www.applefarm.com


San Luis Obispo enjoys all the spoils of a life well lived on the California coast. This is the ultimate playground and the perfect place to escape. We shopped for artisan creations, sipped specialty wines, hiked up one of the local peaks, and lay on a sun-kissed beach in just 24 hours. We also hiked and biked. The possibilities are endless. A children’s museum, an art center and a history museum add to SLO’s cultural appeal, as do its many art galleries. Festivals and special events of all kinds take place on the plaza in front of the Mission year-round. Forty-five minutes north, the incredible art, history and architecture of Hearst Castle awaits. Visit http://www.visitslo.com

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