Beach House Bistro in Morro Bay

Laughter is brightest in the place where the food is charismatic and that sentiment was personified with the Beach House Bistro. Located in Morro Bay, this quaint and fun little slice of heaven instantly drew us in with its tiki-esque decorations and warm spirit. My husband immediately saw the dessert menu placed on the wall and barked an order for Lemon Meringue Pie (it said only two were left and he want taking chances). The other quests all laughed at his 5-year-old type of desperation for the pie, and we instantly became friends.

While we waited I enjoyed the embellishments that clearly expressed the interested of the husband and wife team, Liz and Gerald Bednorz. A combination of beach attire and SF Giants memorabilia made this eatery comfortable and charming. Gary nearly fainted with pleasure at how good the pie tasted. The tart was magnificent with proper ratios of pie mix to soft buttery crust with toasted meringue and candied pepitos on top. Gary declared that the pucker content was superb and the pineapple mint leaf (grown out in their garden) wrapped it up nicely. He declared, “Honey, someone in that kitchen knows what is up”. A true compliment from a man of few words and a complicated palate.

We ordered a taste of the clam chowder which features dill and thyme to make it unique and fantastic. I ordered at 2005 Castoro Zin to accompany the rest of the meal. I started with the Beach Bundles, a wonderful blend of havarti and cream cheeses, laced with salmon, fresh dill and chives in a crispy fried wrapper. Resting on a bed of salad, carrots and wonton strips, these were a surprising delight.

Gary having found a pastry chef upon which he planned to propose, ordered the Six Layer Chocolate Cake with fudge frosting and a strawberry compote. He inhaled this chocolate bacchanal while Liz came over fascinated at this grown man with the huge sweet tooth. She explained that her secret is love and that she is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy. She studied classical cuisine, pastry preparation and presentation. When she was not in classes, she worked in the pantry department of A. Sabella Restaurant in San Francisco. Creativity is one of her strengths, thinking of new ways to present desserts, new applications to old recipes. Gary got down on one knee (he forgets his is married when a spectacular pastry chef comes along). She declined and introduced us to her husband.

I had the Calamari Picatta that was served in a large soup bowl and was by far the best preparation of this cephalopod I have had anywhere. I was speechless and not willing to share. The calamari steak was sautéed to perfection with fresh lemon juice, white wine, capers, mushrooms, garlic, shallots and finished with butter. It was thinly sliced and served on a bed of fresh linguini. The menu boasted, “Nobody does it better” and I wholeheartedly agree.

Gary had the Brandy Apple Pork Loin with garlic mashers and baked apple chunks. Again this dish defied expectations and the flavors melded so perfectly, we were thunderstruck. It featured lean medallions of pork, grilled to perfection, served with sautéed Granny Smith apples that were laced with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, brown sugar and a butter glaze. Savor and sweet and so virtuous.

Gerald came over to say hi in his flamboyant combination of the traditional chef’s uniform and told us he was with the CIA (that’s Culinary Institute of America) and this little slice of heaven had been his dream and now he gets to share it with his lovely wife. For ten years this lovely couple has been serving up a culinary dream in Morro Bay and I encourage you all to try it soon. I will be back often.

The Beach House Bistro is located at 2770 Main Street in Morro Bay, or call them at 805-771-9705. They are open Tuesday thru Sunday from 3:30 to 8:30.

Chagalls, Jimmy Choos, Tiffany and Snotty people

Today is the day Gary gets to take something off his bucket list. A hot towel shave with a straight edge razor. Looks to me like the woman is going to cut off his head, but he wants it, so I am glad his life insurance is up to date.

I walked over to the Chagall Museum while he is being mollycoddled. Although I own two pieces of his work, upon laying eyes on my sparkly shoes, the sales dude decides I am not worthy and is snotty. Insulting even. Stupid asshole. With a bad haircut and cheap suit. I tattled. I had experienced evil. No one should ever feel ashamed of who they are, no one should ever inflict that on them. I moved on to Saks Fifth Avenue. They are always nice at Saks.

In my little corner of the world, the shopping is either Wal-Mart or Goodwill. We have no Malls, no fancy stores, just surf shops. I am a bit taken when I walk in Saks and see whole departments dedicated to designer purses. Like stalls at the flea market, they are lined up with pretty salespeople with accents trying to tell you why you must have this $3000 Prada bag.

I listened to each one and was surprised how kind and un-judgmental they were. I clearly wasn’t wearing designer clothes and my sparkly shoes made a statement, just not an opulent one. But beach bums like me come to this store once a year to buy a whole wardrobe and they were pleased that they were nice to me as they do work on commission.

I made a comrade at the Lancôme makeup counter, as I have to order my façade material on-line and needed someone who knew makeup to be my guide. She told me of new items, gave me free samples and put me on her mailing list. We chatted and giggled and became wanton friends. Thank you -Regina Chappell you are a cosmetics genius.

I moved downstairs to the shoe department and that is when my heart stopped beating. What is it with woman and shoes? I am a flip-flop girl through and through, but in the shiny presence of Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik, Valentino, Chanel; I nearly fainted. I took pictures of the shoes and texted them to my daughter. I held them like golden chalices. I filled my closet with impossible to wear shoes that will probably only rest on my husbands shoulders.

My Husband joined me with his shiny new face (throat in tact) and we waltzed into Tiffany’s. I have never received a little blue box. My daughter has. I was determined to buy myself one. I was immediately attracted to a shimmering set of earrings. Only $85,000. Then I looked at a giant pink stone choker and my hunny asked what kind of stone it was. I guessed a Zirconia and Mr. Belvedere salesman spit. Like choking on lemonade. “Miss, let me assure you that Tiffany does not sell fakes. This is a Pink Safire, very rare, I am sure you could not afford it”.

WTF? The funny thing is that these sales people cannot afford this stuff, what gives them the right to be cruel? Bottom line, I will never get a blue box.

We moved over the bridge to Berkley to a snappy beatnik hotel called The Durant. Each room was named for a famous Berkley-hippy and the Do Not Disturb sign on the door was a sock. There were burnt bras in the lobby and images of people running naked in the bathrooms. Small rooms with huge TV’s and one block from campus and the famous Telegraph Street.

We ate in the Hotel Restaurant/Bar Henry’s who boasted a new chef. Gary started with the Bourbon bread pudding, bourbon sauce, and butter pecan ice cream. Though this act shocked the waiter, the dessert was great. (Really, you live and work in Berkeley and some dude insisting on dessert first puts you over the edge? Maybe you should eat some mushrooms). With that thought, we tried the garlic Parmesan foraged mushrooms. They were Marin county mushrooms, grilled with garlic and Parmesan, resting in a Meyer lemon aioli and were both musty and fresh (but not magic). I had to try the caramelized brussel spouts. Who does that? Incredible with a calabrian chili, Parmesan and vegetable sugo (which is a long cooked Italian pasta). Surprise of the night.

Gary then ordered the “angry” mac & cheese. It is angry, cause it is hot.

It was a delicious comfort food with a four cheese sauce, Sambal Oeleck, crushed tomato and scallions. Gary added house made bacon and we saw the bottom of the bowl. I had the chicken and waffles, which were done differently with 2 organic chicken breasts, dipped in buttermilk and fried. They relaxed on 2 Belgian waffles with a Vermont maple cream. The accompanying apple cider braised collard greens where tasty.

The menus at Henry’s Berkeley gastro pub are updated frequently, reflecting both seasonally appropriate fresh foods and creatively evocative fresh ideas. Henry's
is located at 2600 Durant Avenue, Berkeley, CA, 94704. 
Phone is 510-809-4132. Website is

Day 2 in San Fran. Bums, Art, Fish (both admired and eaten)

The second day my husband was still fighting the “whitemanworkethic” and woke up yelling at his email, threatening his switchboard and cussing technology in general. I threw it all away and drug him on to the streets. We bought a City Pass that gets you into a gang of activities and on all the public transportation. There is no better way to acclimate to San Fran, then hoping on a bus and going to SF Museum of Modern Art.

At the bus stop, two fine gentlemen were arguing and smoking a blunt. The one with the black eye, stiches in his forehead and no front teeth ask my husband to weigh in on their argument. Being a professional negotiator, he couldn’t resist. Both told their sides, the one with bucked teeth that he clenched while talking never opening his mouth made his case (I know you would like me to tell you the debate, but I couldn’t understand a word they were saying). The argument ended, my husband was proclaimed “One Cool Dude” and the reward of a token was offered. That got him off any work ethic and we enjoyed the museum.

SFMOMA’s featured exhibit was The Stein Collection pieces of fine art bought by Gertrude Stein from new artists, like Picasso, Matisse and Monet back in turn of the century Paris. Where she held court for Avant-garde painters and writers in her home she shared with her brothers. The American writer, Gertrude Stein famously said you can buy art or you can buy clothes, but you couldn't do both. So, the Steins decided to focus on artists who were their peers, artists who had not yet made their reputations. The exhibition brings together over 150 pieces that were once owned by the Steins from five different continents, public collections, private collections and from all over the world. It was wonderful and a prelude to our dinner at Chez Panisse in Berkley on Tuesday night.

After having our minds altered by the artist at SFMOMA, we hiked to China town to visit our favorite eatery there. Chef Jai’s was first found on a Pedi cab and has become a staple of ours every time we even drive by the city. It is a small bistro on Kearny run by a husband and wife and constructs the finest Chinese food. My beloved is the green bean and sweet potato dish with spices and Mandarin juices is exceptional. We also ordered the fried noodles and Generals Mao’s chicken dish. The Ashi is cold, the food hot and the service is temperamental. I do not believe Chef Jai’s wife likes her servitude at this magical diner, but she is defiantly part of the charm.

Chef Jai’s Unique Hunan and Mandarin Chinese Cuisine is located at 925 Kearny St. San Francisco, CA 94133, 415.398.1626.

Because it was sunny and 70 degrees in the city we decided to head down to Pier 39 and take a cruise on the Blue and Yellow fleet out into the bay, under the Golden Gate Bridge over to Alcatraz and back. Neither of us had done this tourist must see and we were excited to be on the water. With the cold salt water splashing on our faces we enjoyed the trip. Since we were in full tourist mode, we went to the SF Aquarium. This underwater labyrinth of tunnels where the fish swim over your head is an aquatic indulgence. We chased sharks and tried to make friends with Sheep heads.

We headed down to the Ferry Building to partake in the delightful artisan foods offered there. I was sad to see the Caviar Bar was gone, and strengthened by the Cow Girl Creamery. Gary ate about a dozen cookies from Miette, a dainty little pastry shop, inspired by the patisseries of Paris. I pressed on and we slurped a dozen oysters at Hog Island Oyster Company. It is the San Francisco oyster bar and retail outlet for the Tomales Bay oyster farm, where we had been know to eat 4 dozen in one sitting.

No trip to the Ferry Building is complete without a stop at The Slanted Door.

Slanted Door is Charles Phan’s nationally acclaimed Vietnamese restaurant that has one of the most original and tasty bars. With no reservations, we sat at the bar. The Mixologist was a surprising treat as he lectured us on a proper cocktail and bragged on his house made mixes. It was then we discovered that this was the bartender I had just done an article about for the upcoming Savor The Central Coast. He will be coming to my slice of paradise to compete in a “Mixology Smack Down”. Small World.

We started with his signature cocktail of Brazilian Queen's Park Swizzle made with Pampero Aniversario rum, mint, lime, Angostura and Peychaud's bitters, with crushed ice. It was sweet and strong and defied any liquid libation I had ever tried. Gary had the Whiskey Cocktail with Buffalo Trace bourbon, Angostura and orange bitters, gum syrup, orange peel; served on a large hand cut ice cube so none of it melted and diluted the drink. We were pleased as punch.

Gary ordered the blackberry swirl ice cream with bergamot orange cotton candy expertly prepared by Executive Pastry Chef Chucky Dugo. The cotton candy’s presentation was phenomenal and the taste was simple and sweet. The ice cream melted in his mouth.

I ordered the Slanted Door Spring Rolls. Rice paper exterior with shrimp, pork, mint and peanut sauce interior. They were light, fresh and delicious. Then we tried the caramelized wild gulf shrimp with garlic, onions and chili sauce. With the accompanying jasmine rice, this sauce and dish defined excellence. This is the one restaurant where the casual family atmosphere melds perfectly with the superior tastes and unusual dishes.

The Slanted Door is located at 1 Ferry Building #3
San Francisco, CA 94111. Phone is 415.861.8032 and website is

We Run Away From Home to San Francisco

We filled the tank with gas and bought a small garbage can, bag of ice, borrowed two Slurpee cups. The garbage can became our champagne bucket we deposited two Moët flagons. We loaded the CD player with Jimmy Buffett CD’s that was listened to in our early days when the champagne came from the gas station and we cooked tortellini over a campfire. Yes, we were trying to capture what 10 years of retail had sucked from our lives.

San Francisco was our destination with no reservations and a penchant for finding the inexplicable. We ended up serendipity-essly at the Hotel Phoenix, a hotel known in the 60’s for housing the coolest bands that came to the city to play. It was in the tenderloin district, but on the bus line and had an Andy Warhol pool. We fit right in with the backpacking Europeans and Gays on a budget.

We asked the front desk about the attached restaurant and he declared that it served “Comfort food”, just what comfort food was to a guy names Miller, and we couldn’t wait to find out. Chamber’s was an opportune comfort.

Chambers struck us as tres chic with the walls lined with thousands of vinyl records and a sound track to match. Our starter dish was a truffle dip with wild mushrooms and severed with Ruffles. The truffles dominated the jelly jar it was served in and we wondered again about Millers comfort.

Next course was chicken liver pate topped with buttered leeks, that where spicy and savory with a raw quail egg. Spread on a crostini this was cherubic. The pancetta roasted figs with a ricotta salata and a balsamic reduction it all floated in as if it was capturing my soul, made me groan with pleasure. These dishes were only $7.00 each and overflowing with smack. The main course of Kobe tri tip steak served on a broiling hot stone that continued to cook the meat if you liked, sizzled our slab. It came with pickled vegetables and a mushroom brand reduction with a pungent piquancy. I also had the lightly breaded and fried green beans (cause if there are Haricot verts in the house, I order them) adorned with cherry tomatoes, dried olives, gremotlata, and capers. They did the bean justice.

Executive Chef Trevor Ogden is serving some impressive comfort food that will bring me back every time this hipster is in the city.

We took our wine (a 2007 Foxen Pinot from Julia’s Vienyard) and stuck our feet in the pool, amazed and enthralled with the 69’s floating below us.

Or call for reservations at 888.226.8205

The Gardens Of Avila

I love dining here in California’s Central Coast, the chefs are phenomenal, the produce fresh and each restaurant has i
ts own unique something to offer to the people. One of my favorite chefs, Pandee Pearson has recently moved to one of the most romantic spots on the earth, Avila Gardens in Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort. I have followed Pandee to many fine dining establishments, but this one suits her best. She has a huge garden that she tends out in the grounds, so the lettuce and vegetables are picked fresh daily. She has planted 100 heirloom tomato plants, so I am looking forward to that fruit coming in season and see what surprises this innovated chef has in store for us.

Pandee's multicultural health conscience cuisine revolves around seasonal high quality fresh ingredients taking great care in preparation and sound cooking methods. She feels that the ingredients should be the "stars" and the chef's job is to create interesting combinations that are complimentary and reflect balance.

We started with our traditional method, Gary had a chocolate banana crème pie that was stuffed with fresh bananas and had a hint of chocolate with a graham cracker crust. He inhaled it. I had the Pan Seared Scallops that are served in two beautify fan shaped shells and cook to heavenly perfection with a surprising combination of caramelized shallots, shaved almonds, capers and a sweet brown butter sauce. The combination is surprising and inspired. The hot fresh baked bread emerged from the kitchen and I slathered it in butter and ate more than I should have.

This dining room is usually filled with a sea of international customers and it is fun to see how those from other countries revel in our local food and chef. A sweet French couple and their children dined next to us and we struck up a conversation. They had traveled from South America and were working there way up the sand states tasting wine. Being French, they bestowed the best overall wine region to ours. They also commented that this chef must be beautiful because her food was so stunning, I assured them that she was.

We brought our own wine for this special event, as the Gardens have no corkage fee for local wines. A special Dark Star Petite Syrah complemented our meal suitably. Their wine list is impressive, so if your not sitting on a celebratory bottle, trust in their impeccable taste to pair your meal with wine.

Our main courses impressed us thoroughly. Gary had the Pecking Duck done in the French style cut and pan seared. It sat over a delicious mixed grain pilaf with cherries, pistachios, golden raisins and mint. The savory flavor of the duck was brought out in this fragrant dressing. The accompanying brocolini were cooked to flawlessness and the port wine sauce gastrique floated the food dreamily. I had the grilled rib eye steak that along with being an enormous cut of meat, cut thru the knife like butter. I substituted the homemade steak fries for a garlic mash potatoes, because if there is mashers on the menu with a chef this good, I must try them. The Bordelaise sauce that it all swam in was aromatic.

Gary snuck out to the patio to smoke a Romeo and Juliet smuggled from a foreign land while I enjoyed the chocolate mousse. This version was more like a chocolate patê. Cut in two slices and laid across hazelnut liquor with a sprinkling of pistachios on top, this was like eating a divine puff. Gary returned to grab the last bite of my chocolate and we walked the garden path happy, full and in love.

The Gardens of Avila are open every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner
Monday - Thursday: 8:00 am - 2:00 pm and 4:00 - 9:00 pm
Friday and Saturday: 8:00 am - 9:30 pm and Sunday: 8:00 am - 9:00 pm. They are located at 1215 Avila Beach Drive in Avila or call for reservations at (805) 595-7365.

Farmer's Market Diet

I returned from vacation rested and ready to change the world. Well, my world anyway. For some reason, sleeping in a matchbox size hotel inspires me to make the prodigious changes I find unattainable sleeping in my feather bed.

I was going to eat healthier. Not that fast-food ever touches my lips, but in my post retail world where I wasn’t schlepping home to inhale an entire bottle of wine and pound of Gouda to take the edge off the day, I resolved to eat more veggies.

My mind works in a way that each change must be followed by a philosophy, a story a reason. There is no doing things just for the sake of doing them in my life. Everything becomes a possible story, business or trend. I wasn’t just going to eat more veggies; I was going to write a book about eating only from Farmers Market. Brilliant I thought and for sure it would be a best seller.

Then I went to Farmer’s Market and realized how unhealthy this idea might be. There were no proteins except duck eggs, garlic crème cheese and hummus. I wouldn’t last a week on this regiment. I wrote the idea in my book (which is now the size of an encyclopedia) of good ideas and bought some dates.

Here is what I made for dinner. Dates cut in half, a pecan half (placed for 2 hour in the freezer to maintain integrity), a small chunk of Spanish mancheco cheese all wrapped in a thinly sliced piece of prosciutto. Broil for 5-8 minutes.

Not only was this delicious, it convinced me that I am a carnivore and a new story for my new life must be formulated.

Thomas Hills Organics Review

It is amazing how pervasive food is; with every other TV commercial selling food, and every other TV episode takes place around a meal. In the big cities, you can’t go ten feet without smelling a restaurant. I am acutely aware of food and its omnipresence is astounding. I wrote about Thomas Hill Organics when they first opened three years ago. At that point they shared the patio with other businesses and had half the space they do now. They have grown nicely over time, but the quality of the food has surpassed even my expectations. There is a “WOW” factor to this cuisine as the chef’s bravely mix elements and flavors, yet still using only the freshest and most in season ingredients.

Most everything they serve comes from the Thomas Hill Organics farm that is family owned and run. It is dedicated to organically grown, unique, heirloom varieties of fruit, vegetables and nuts. The farm’s ten acres are home to more than 800 fruit and nut trees, a vineyard of Italian varietals, and raised beds filled with greens, lettuce, garlic, tomatoes and various seasonal vegetables and herbs.

Gary was famished and started with two desserts, as he has been dreaming about their lavender ice cream for years. This time the ice cream was sweet corn flavored and came with a Stone Fruit Cobbler. When a grown man describes something as “to die for”, you know it must be prodigious. His next venture into candy land was a Stoltey’s Bee Farm Honey Budino. This was a crème burlee like textured parfait with a butterscotch flavor and raw honey and pollen dusted over the top. Happy expletives jumped out of his mouth. He then inhaled the challah bread like a starving man. The bread is made exclusively by in-town bakers who are celebrated artisans of their trade and this challah bread made us want to get up and dance a jig.

I started with the pan seared Diver Scallop with Uni butter and fried sage leaves. The huge scallops are gently plucked from the bottom of the sea by divers and brought to us to enjoy with their cousin the sea urchin. The sage leaves were flash friend to lend a bite to every mouthful. It was a miraculous pairing from the deep blue sea. We moved on to the thin crust pizza baked in an open hearth on the patio. This delightful creation included curried crème fraiche, Dungeness crab meat, and fire roasted corn salsa and sunflower sprouts. The top was cold while the cracker bread-esque bottom held in the amazing amalgamation of flavors (and it was even better the next day as left overs).

Our main entrée was the celebrated pan roasted local sea bass finished with a hazelnut Italian salsa verde. The fish was cooked to perfection and the combination of the flavors on top, inspired. It also came with a warm salad of grilled apples, celery root, sliced Hass avocado and fava beans, with a Meyer lemon vinaigrette and Bengahli spiced crème fraiche. As full as I was, this was one of the best dishes I have tried. Eating is one of our indoor sports. You play three times a day and its worthwhile to make the game as pleasant as possible. Thomas Hill Organics has surpassed this achievement.

The menu changes weekly depending on the season and the availability of the ingredients. They work with local providers for proteins: local, organic, grass and well fed livestock for the beef, lamb and free range organic poultry. Their fish is fresh from local fisheries and providers. Joe and Debbie Thomas have created a little miracle in this courtyard on the corner of 13th and Park in Paso Robles. Open every day from 11:00 to 7:00 or check out the current menu at