Curious Epicurean

Archive for May 2011

It took exactly one trip to Paso Robles for me to fall in love.  With a sprawling wine country featuring more than 200 wineries, cute boutiques and inspired dining in downtown, Paso Robles is perfect for a weekend trip from the Bay Area. Arriving on a busy holiday weekend armed with a few recommendations from a journalist friend, we eagerly set out for wine tasting. We spent the weekend navigating throughout the AVA, which varies greatly between the west and east sides of 101. The steep hills and canyons on the west side of the AVA get a heavy marine influence. There was fog and moss hung from the large oak trees. The east side wineries are mostly flat.

The inviting patio overlooking the lake at Bianchi.

One of our stops on the east side, was Bianchi Winery & Tasting Room. The beautiful grounds and tasting room at Bianchi are worth the visit by itself. The spacious, open tasting room features floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook a sunny patio, serene lake,vineyards and the coastal mountains in the distance.

The tasting room at Bianchi

The winemaker at Bianchi focuses on two collections of wine: the Heritage Selection, which are all estate-grown, and the Signature Selection, with grapes sourced from select small-lot vineyards from across the Central Coast.

The tasting at Bianchi did not disappoint. Here are some of my favorites from our visit to Bianchi:

  • 2007 Zen Ranch Zinfandel, Paso Robles- Berry aroma, with honeysuckle and anise flavors. We paired our bottle with a zesty red pasta.
  • 2006 Barbera, San Juan Vineyards, Paso Robles-  Aroma of vanilla, bold plum and berry flavors. This is a bold wine that needs the right dish to compliment. We paired ours with spicy carne asada.

Bianchi is definitely worth a stop on a Paso Robles weekend trip. The tasting room is open daily and tours are offered.

My sister and mom threw us a great couples shower last weekend. Instead of the standard ladies-only event, we invited all the family and friends and had a great late-afternoon party. After reading countless wedding websites and blogs for content ideas for my other Twitter and wedding blog, I always have really great visions of what I want and no idea how to get there. Luckily for me, my baby sister is endlessly creative and could translate my aimless wish list of decor elements into beautiful arrangements.

My creative team and bridesmaids.

Flowers are a big part of any wedding-related event. In fact, some professionals say that floral elements should account for 10% of your overall budget. Looking for a way to stretch our floral budget, we decided to try the Oakland Flower Mart, a wholesale distributor of flowers in the East Bay. We arrived early in the morning and I was almost overwhelmed by the options! For great prices, we found exactly what we needed and more–for way under the budget.

The before:

Our selection of hhydrangeas, daisies dyed hot pink and orange, chrysanthemums, orange roses, and funny little green things

And after, with some creativity:

Roses and hydrangeas after some creativity.

We found a way to incorporate delicate hydrangeas into the hot pink and bright orange color scheme.