The Tourist Life
Paso Robles, California: Another day of
food and wine, and no one tried to run me off the road. You just know that is
going to be a good day.
Everyone told us to not miss dinner at
JUSTIN, but at JUSTIN
dinner a set course meal and the price is $135 without wine. Wine is $45-$95
extra. For two hundred bucks, I would definitely want to choose my own food and
would want a bottle of icy Veuve Clicquot served to me by a smiling George
Clooney. (In this fantasy, George is wearing a tuxedo.) There is always a
solution to these dilemmas - lunch at JUSTIN. A $16 sandwich, a server named
Bob, and a glass of wine. I'm good.
With a noon luncheon reservation, we left the motorhome at 11:15a for a very
long drive up a very rough and twisting road. Again, a very pretty drive, but 40
minutes later, we decided we were lost. We saw no other cars for miles, and were
so relieved to come around a corner to find a JUSTIN sign and a parking lot full
of cars. Whew! I kept asking DT, "Who would think to open a restaurant all the
way out here???"
We were seated on the pretty outdoor patio, complete with
ceiling heaters, which were set to "high". It was chilly!
Here is the view from the patio:
The building houses two restaurants, a tasting room, gift
shop, offices, and a hotel - the
JUST INN. Behind the restaurant is a kitchen garden. During our lunch, a
gardener was planting lettuces and several times someone came out of the
kitchen to snip herbs.
We split truffle fries - which were topped with grated
Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley, tarragon and chives from the garden. Dave
had their signature burger and I had house-cured pastrami - served with
house-made kimchi and a side of Japanese sumonomo salad. To accompany my
meal, I had a glass of their Justification red (which I had quite enjoyed at
the tasting dinner last evening), but this sandwich really needed a beer.
Again, I did not eat the bread - but may have polished-off many of the
After lunch we had a stroll around the garden and chatted with the gardener.
(She is jealous of my Indio tomato harvest, her tomato plants are about one
Bee, with Borage - the blue petals will be served on a salad at the
JUSTIN tasting room
JUSTIN gift shop
Did not do a tasting. Did not buy a bottle of wine.
On the way back to Paso Robles, My Driver stopped several
times so I could snap photographs. For two days, I have commented about how
beautiful it is in the area, yet have shown practically nothing but food on
this website. Proof:
Pretty hillside at Tablas Creek Vineyard - they poured a white with the
salmon course at dinner last night.
The pretty Adelaida District - pronounced ADD-ah-lee-dah
Oaks on a hill
Deer and oaks on a hill
We passed another of the vineyards pouring last night at the tasting dinner,
Halter Ranch, so
popped-in to have a look at their just-opened new tasting facility... but we could not access
the massive building because I'd say someone is probably getting married
tomorrow (or maybe a tasting dinner coinciding with the wine festival) and the
bridge was "closed":
Wouldn't this be a beautiful setting for a wedding dinner? I was able to
snap just a glimpse of the new facility through the grape vines:
Next up was a visit to
Kiler Ridge Olive Farm, the stop we did not get to make yesterday due to
car trouble. (By the way, the Honda is acting mostly normal today!)
Marcus Aurelius greeted us at our car and escorted us to the front door (Oh
My Goodness - aren't the barn doors just stunning?) where we had a tasting
and I asked 547 questions about Kiler Ridge olive oil.
The view from Kiler Ridge Olive Farm
All these vineyards and the only thing we tasted again today was olive oil.
My (Mom's side) cousin, Randy, used to live in Paso Robles, so has been giving
us advice on where to go and where to eat and where to drink... so before our
dinner reservations tonight we went to
Villa Creek, as Randy
suggested, for a
cocktail before dinner across the street at
Artisan. Paso Robles
is crazy tonight! The quiet park square is now fenced-off and a gazillion winery
tents have filled the pastoral spot for the weekend wine festival. We could hardly find
a place to park. We enjoyed our cocktail at Villa Creek because we hijacked a
table of old dudes (i.e. people our age) having drinks with their daughters. They
visited the area often so gave us a few tips. Thank you, Cousin Randy, for
suggesting Villa Creek.
We walked across the street to find our reserved table at
Artisan - Paso Robles
server had lived near our home in Oregon for quite a while, so we became
instant friends. She brought us the special mini pizza of the night - crust baked
with creme fraiche, and topped with pickled ramps, smoked salmon and arugula
when pulled from the oven.
Claiming our entrees were taking too long, our new friend also delivered
(free) sweet potato fries with an avocado/garbanzo/garlic/tahini hummus.
Wow. We did notice this free appetizer being delivered to a wholotta
tables... so maybe it's their thang.
A large group at a table next to us were staying at the (mentioned above) Halter Ranch
and had done a bit of catch-and-release bass fishing in the lake at the
vineyard today. David Bancroft introduced himself to us and described his
newly-opened restaurant in Auburn, Alabama. (Okay, a little football trash-talk
did ensue.) His one acre restaurant,
acre, not far from the
Auburn campus and completely surrounded by a garden/orchard for the
restaurant kitchens, sounds like a place I would like to visit. Just when I think this garden-to-table
trend is only a west coast and New England thing... to learn parking lot
garden-to-table is happening in southern urban areas makes me smile. Real big.
You go, America!
I ordered my dinner only because it included potato risotto as a side. I
asked if the dish was Arborio rice with potatoes, but was told the "risotto"
was made with potatoes diced so fine as to resemble rice. Well, who could
resist trying potato risotto? Not me. The fact the potato risotto was topped
with half a local Rinconada Dairy crispy chicken and served with roasted
asparagus spears sealed the deal.
A very fun evening in Paso Robles and we have more excitement planned
Until my next update, I remain, your well-fed correspondent.
RV PARK: Vines
RV Resort - a fairly new establishment with long pull-through and back-in
sites. Full hook-ups, cable and free wifi. Bathhouse, laundry, two pools and a
hot tub (all pools have handicap-accessible lifts), on-site lounge with happy
hour prices, ball room, outdoor gathering area with tables and fire pits. Pet
friendly. Sites are somewhat close together and there is some noise from Highway 101. Nice landscaping. Picnic tables. We paid
$87 per night (up-charged Wine Festival weekend pricing).
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