Saturday, August 11, 2012

Bread Garden Bakery… Berkeley’s Loss Paso’s gain


When I heard the Bread Garden Bakery was relocating to Paso I asked myself why?  It is one of the busiest most successful brick and mortar bakeries in the East Bay. It has been an institution in Berkeley for over 38 years. Anyone that has grabbed a cup of coffee at Peet’s , waited in line for one of their fabulous morning buns, and grabbed a loaf or two of the artisan breads to take home is probably wondering why as well. 

“The Bread Garden is a true artisan bakery that makes all kinds of excellent loaves of bread and pastries and, best of all, a crisp-topped morning bun that is one of the best coffee companions anywhere in the Bay area.”

Is it any mystery what has brought so many shop keepers and artisans  from both the Bay Area and the Los Angeles basin?.  The town square is still the center of town.  People gather on Friday nights for concerts on the park , share a glass of wine, and stroll through the downtown. People still patronize the brick and mortar stores that surround the town square.  Their is a lively arts community. The weather is delightful, and the wine industry has drawn an ever growing group of first class restaurants.

The Bread Garden’s menu will feature freshly baked goods, including 10 types of bread, 30 different pastries, 20 types of cookies and eight desserts.

Read more here:




A Full Pastry Case At the Bread Garden Bakery


Owner David Morris, says construction will begin next month with an opening date set for late September. The location will be 1229 Park Street, that serendipitously, according to the Historical Society was once a bakery. 


Retail, restaurant, office, gallery........



I think David Morris is going to be greeted with open arms in Paso.  I personally will be the first one in line when Bread Garden opens in September.  Well my mother might beat me!

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Project Update

My last “design related” post describing our vision for the lower patio area was here  My husband and son have been working on it off and on the past six months or so but lately rather diligently as we have a family reunion coming up and we need the extra space, not to mention a reprieve from the heat!! They do all the hard work…I just come up with the ideas that complicate things! Actually they come up with probably more ideas than I…but theirs are always more practical. 

These are the kinds of things I do that drive THEM crazy….I have already purchased the chairs, the clock, the shutters, and probably many things they think are unimportant!

Here is the clock waiting to be hung.  I love the fact that it is the same green as the trim.


I don’t have a picture of the shutters after I cleaned and oiled them so I won’t post until they are hung.

Here is what the “boys” have accomplished in just a few weeks.  They laid base rock (several truckloads) and laid this concrete wall. The base rock will be covered with “california gold” this weekend.


They designed and built this unique fence.  Here at the lake a fence has to be see through.  Well you know what that means…chain link, etc….ugly! They built this with redwood posts and rebar!


Next our good friend and plasterer extraordinaire John of Favazza Plastering came down and helped us out and wala! It now looks like this




And this…. after we began planting (with what we could find locally).  Notice the table base in the picture.  Our friend and very talented craftsman Jim built the base for us and we are going to add a zinc top.  I will post a better picture upon completion.




This weekend or the next couple we (meaning the boys) will be installing the metal for the fountain ala the fabulous design of katie denham that she posted about on her blog here  Then we will finish the tabletop, and hang the shutters and clock. I will have a more interesting follow up post to this in the next couple weeks.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Vivant Fine Cheese


Vivant is located in Historic downtown Paso Robles at 840 Eleventh Street.It is one block off the Square right next to the beautiful Hotel Cheval. The owner is Danika Reed, a veteran of the cheese business. She opened Vivant in 2006. She holds a degree in Dairy Science from Cal Poly. She gained  experience as a cheese maker for them, as well as a strong background in sales and marketing with Hilmar (one of the country’s largest cheese producers for private labeling and food service). Between Vivant and Hilmar, she worked in a variety of other positions in the cheese business,before opening her own shop.  Vivant’s first incarnation was as a mobile cheese tasting room. Her target customers were local restaurants. Chef’s could come to the truck and taste her  cheeses, purchasing them on the spot.

Vivant is now the Central Coast's premier cheese tasting room, featuring premium, local and imported handcrafted artisan cheeses paired with the finest Central Coast wine and beer. The shop carries about 150 cheeses both foreign and domestic with a nice selection of local offerings.


Vivant Fine Cheese Club


They have a lovely shaded outdoor patio where you enjoy a glass of local wine paired with their cheeses or one of their yummy sandwiches.  Their wine & cheese sampler is a bargain at $12.00.  The staff is friendly and very well informed.



They are open Monday, Wednesday , Thursday & Sunday 11:00 – 5, Tuesday by appointment only, Friday & Saturday 11:00-7:00

If you would like to expand your cheese repoirtoire they have a  bi-monthly cheese club.  The shipments have a different theme each month and include tasting notes, suggested wine pairings and recipes.  For more information on the club go here


Vivant Fine Cheese


  If you would like more information about their services, offerings, or directions go here

Monday, May 14, 2012

Villa Creek Restaurant & Villa Creek Cellars


Wine grapes brought  Cris and Joann Cherry to Central California in the mid nineties, but it was the quality of life that seduced them to stay.  There is something about Paso. They sold their Mexican restaurant in San Diego and put their efforts into renovating  ‘dive bar’ on a prime corner of the downtown Paso Robles city park. The rest as they say is history. In the spring of 1998 the Cherry's opened Villa Creek.

Villa Creek


They were one of the forerunners dedicated to taking advantage of the area's finest local products.  Villa Creek has created a niche showcasing what they call early California cuisine.   Renowned Chef Tom Fundaro has been working with local farmers since 1998 preparing local, organically or sustainably farmed products in a rustic style that is Villa Creek’s signature.  Not only do they serve innovative fresh local cuisine for dinner they have one of the liveliest bar scenes downtown.

                                                                                                             photo via villa creek website

A limited menu is available at the bar, featuring favorites like carnitas tacos, not nachos, and the shepherds plate.



                                         Not Nachos

For the full bar menu go here:

Should you linger after the incredible appetizers, they do have one of the best wine lists in the area and an incredible seasonally tweaked menu.

                                 boneless beef short ribs with sage gnocchi

One of the seasonal favorites that people rave about are the butternut squash enchiladas

                             photo via villa creek website

To see the full dinner menu go here:

The restaurant itself is beautifully decorated creating a lovely early California ambience that complements the food.


Okay so they have a fabulous (one of the very first) established restaurant in Paso.   Next they decide they should make wine to complement the farm to table food they serve at Villa Creek.  They are visionaries. They wanted to crank it up a notch.  Villa Creek is one of the few that are in a class by themselves….The winery is not fancy. They have a couple of motley, friendly dogs that greet you when you pull up.  The clincher is the wine…Cris Cherry himself often is pouring..,.He doesn’t ,make his presence known.   Suddenly you realize..hmmm he is the master of the whole operation.   All of their wines are wonderful. The Willow Creek Cuvee is one of the most lauded.  The Wine Spectator Insider gave the 2009  93 points.


The High Road James Berry Vineyard  2009 also earned 93 Points.

We personally love their “Pink” which is a bargain at $14 and always sells out quick.  It is a great summer wine. “Tank fermented saignee shows notes of peach and lead to a rich palate of just ripe strawberries, orange zest and anise. With it’s strawberry flesh hue and light body, Rosé is just as fun to look at as it is to drink.?

ROSÉ, 2011, $16

Not only is the wine itself wonderful.  The artwork on the bottle is created by the Cherry’s daughter Camille.  And $2.00 from each bottle goes to a wonderful local charity Jack’s Helping Hand that serves ailing and disabled children.  To learn more about it go to







Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Hospice du Rhone & Edward Sellers Love

Mark your calendar for the 20th celebration of the Hospice du Rhône wine event taking place April 26-28, 2012 at the Paso Robles Event Center

This is an exclusive weekend surrounding all things Rhône. A palate provoking weekend embracing the enchantment, history and tastes of the Twenty-two Rhône varieties.  This event draws Rhone Producers from all over the United States and the World.  For a list of producers attending go here “Throughout the weekend, tip your glass with worldly Rhône wine producers, journey through the largest international collection of Rhône variety wines and savor Rhône exceptional cuisine all while taking in the inspiring and spirited Rhône community.”

If you would like more information on the entire weekend of festivities and to purchase event passes visit their website  This is an extremely popular event so if you plan to attend do it now.  Many events are already sold out. 

At present Villa Cantina is still available for that weekend.  If you are interested in renting click on the VRBO link at the right of this posting.

One of our favorite wineries in Paso is Edward Sellers.

Ed Sellers had never even heard of Paso Robles until eight years ago when he came up from Orange County to visit an old college roommate. 
Six months later he and his wife Dani bought the undeveloped property across from Summerwood Winery. For a couple years they operated their tasting room in downtown Paso Robles until they built their present tasting room on the estate. The property on Hwy. 46 includes 30 acres, 20 of which he started planting with Rhone varietals in 2005.  With a focus on the Chateauneuf-du-Pape style wines from the Rhone Valley of France, Sellers buys grapes from a half a dozen Westside growers to supplement his own vineyard’s fruit, and will make about 4,000 cases this year. Sellers now has a new winemaker Jeremy Weintraub who comes to Paso from Napa Valley, where he made wine for Seavey Vineyards for four years. Before that he worked for  Shadow Canyon for three years, so he knows the people, growing conditions and varietals well. Ed and Jeremy both agree that they “want well-balanced, food friendly wines that have good acidity to stand up to the fat in food, and the richness in food, but don’t become the food.”

By the way that old roommate that Ed Sellers came to meet on that all important visit is John Carson.  His wife Kendall is the tasting room manager and she and her team run one of the friendliest and informative wine tasting rooms in the area.

photo via Edward Sellers website

Monday, April 9, 2012

Wine for Paws & Earth day Food & Wine Festival



 Beau and Riley would like everyone to come out and support  The 4th Annual Wine 4 Paws on April 14-15.    70 wineries from Edna Valley to San Miguel will be participating.  To take part all you need to do is visit any of those wineries that weekend.  You can find a list of participants at .  These generous wineries will be donating either a percent of your purchase or your tasting Fee to Woods Humane Society.

Need a map to find your way to the Wine 4 Paws Wineries? You can contact Beau & Riley , print a map & passport from, or pick one up at any participating winery that weekend.” Passport, you say?  That’s right – it’s FREE, and when you help a winery generate a donation, they’ll stamp your passport”. With four stamps you can turn that passport in to any winery when you’re done, and you’ll be entered in the Wine 4 Paws raffle. Who knows, you might  win a private tasting plus wine for you and some friends, a free wine tasting tour, a night’s stay here in Paso Robles, or other great prizes – you’ll get a reason to return to Paso and reap the benefits of Wine 4 Paws! To see a list of prizes, visit the website.   

If you’re looking to park yourself at one location for the day, visit the wineries with special events that weekend.   Mondo Cellars will donate a percent of their sales not only Saturday & Sunday, but also from that Friday’s Sunset Happy Hour. Moreover, there’s a BBQ from 4-7 on Saturday at Mondo Cellars with the proceeds going to Woods.



The following weekend is the 6th annual Earth Day Food & Wine Festival. It is a weekend celebration of all that's best  on the Central Coast, including over 200 purveyors of sustainably produced foods and wine. April 20-21.  The main event is Saturday's Earth Day Food & Wine Tasting at Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery.  Over 200 purveyors of sustainably produced foods and wine will be on hand for a truly unique event: growers, vintners, and chefs coming together to serve out-of-this-world pairings of award-winning wines with one-of-a-kind dishes made with locally-sourced fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, olive oils, chocolates, and more.  For more information on the event go to



What is more fun than enjoying good wine for a cause and wine and food with a conscience!!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Fodor's Picks Top Ten Places to Travel this Spring #4, Paso Robles

Paso Robles has recently been picked by Fodor’s as one of the top ten places in the world to travel this spring.  Paso is in good company.  The top ten destinations chosen  are as follows: New York City, Tuscany, Miami, Paso Robles, Mallorca, Prague, Sydney, Denver, Saint Lucia, and Austin.

“From chic new hotels to can't-miss art events, the season's top destinations are blossoming with fresh experiences. Whether you'd like to revel in the music at Prague's spring music festival, taste wines near the vines in Paso Robles, or mingle with Tuscan locals before the summer crowds arrive, these trips are sure to brighten your season.”

image via Paso robles wine

“Why Go Now: Tour the wine trails of this burgeoning California wine region in mid-May and catch the 30th annual Paso Robles Wine Festival (May 18–20), too, with 70 area wineries pouring in Downtown City Park, and a gaggle of local chefs showcasing their farm-fresh fare. Also worthwhile: the 20th annual Hospice du Rhone (April 26–28), celebrating all things Rhône.

Where to Stay: The 90-room, midrange Paso Robles Oaks Hotel will debut later this spring with a wine tasting room, pool, and spa; or, upgrade to the 16-room Hotel Cheval, which debuted in 2009 as the region’s top boutique luxury hotel (and so it remains).

Insider Tip: Build your preference-based wine tasting itinerary via the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance’s recently launched Interactive Trip Planner.

Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Paso Robles Travel Guide for the latest hotel, restaurant, and shopping reviews.”

“Today the wine industry booms and mile upon mile of vineyards envelop Paso Robles; golfers play the four local courses and spandex-clad bicyclists race along the winding back roads. A mix of down-home and upmarket restaurants, bars, antiques stores, and little shops fills the streets around oak-shaded City Park, where special events of all kinds—custom car shows, an olive festival, Friday night summer concerts—take place on many weekends. Still, Paso (as the locals call it) more or less remains cowboy country: each year in late July and early August, the city throws the two-week California Mid-State Fair, complete with livestock auctions, carnival rides, and corn dogs’


To read the full article go here

and here

Another not to be missed spot the new Estrella Restaurant located in one of the most beautiful old buildings in downtown Paso right across from the park at 815 Twelfth Street. .



It is operated by Executive Chef Ryan Swarthout and Chef Travis Borba. "Estrella", (which is Spanish for "star", and a beautiful river area in north Paso) features "Latin Riviera Cuisine" with influences of Spain, South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean.”

                                                                                                                                            Plantain Crusted Mahi Mahi


                                                                                                                                                            Beef Tamales


                                                                                                                                                        Margarita Sorbet


If you would like to get more information or check out their menu go to their website



Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lower Patio Construction and Inspiration


Villa Cantina’s Verandas can get a little toasty in the summer so we have had this lower patio idea in our heads for sometime.  The boys got a break from construction projects and crazily are willing to go for it!

This is what it looks like now.  Pretty, huh?  This is the door that comes from the house.  Hopefully in the area just to the left there might be a planter of some sort.



If you look to the right of the door you will see this enormous wall




The fabulous Katie Denham of the blog  did an amazing tutorial on her blog about how to make this fountain.  Isn’t it fabulous?  We (meaning the boys) are going to build one similar to this on that big old ugly wall!



                                                                                          Hopefully ours will be as nice as Katie’s.  Thanks Katie for the tutorial!


On to the next big old ugly wall!  I purchased these on eBay from my buddy Michael at Capitol Salvage.  Have you checked out his EBay store here  He has amazing stuff.  Many treasures from Michael found a home at Villa Cantina.


After I cleaned them up they looked more like my inspiration photo on Pinterest here

love the color of those shutters  via 5th and State


Anyway…I think they would look great on either side of this window




Below it our amazing friend Jim Parsons and master craftsman is going to build a table similar to the one that we were inspired by


  He builds some fabulous tables.  We are going to add a zinc top but it will be very similar.  We are going to use these good old World Market Kooboo Chairs  to surround it that  Joni at first introduced us all to.


                                                           Hopefully it will look something like this by Eleanor Cummings. Not exactly Eleanor Cummings but …close

nice table  eleanor cummings


There is another bare wall to the right of the “massive bare wall” where there soon will be a fountain that I think this clock from Barreveld would look fabulous


Pinned Image

Maybe a console table below it something like this


gwen driscoll



Below is my inspiration photo from my pinterest board here



I liked this idea of using steel pipe as a trellis.  I have ideas but they aren’t always feasible.  Thankfully the “boys” approved and agreed it was feasible!

We will string the steel pipe from the fountain wall to the wall adjacent to it.  It will look something like this

amazing garden room love the trellis and chandeliers!


I thought it would be a great idea also to hang some sort of light fixture from the pipe.  Something like this from Saffron & Genevieve.  She has a great store in Santa Cruz.  You can check out her website here  She is extremely creative and also writes a fun blog here  I think “the boys” think the pipe won’t be strong enough but I am still hoping!!

love this light fixture via saffron & genevieve

I would also like to plant a Belgian Fence like this on those big old blank walls next to where the fountain will go in some sort of vine that the deer will not eat.  The deer are next to God in Oak Shores.  We love them and we plant what they won’t eat!!

Espalier on the!


That is about it for now!

I will keep you posted but we are making progress!!

For those of you who have been following this blog and are mainly interested in design you might want to check out my new blog

I will continue to post sporadically on this blog about the area, the wine, and the goings on at Villa Cantina so why not enjoy both!



Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Artist Spotlight, Sue Johnson


Sue says it is the light that inspires her to paint!  She wants  those who view her art  to feel the
same  excitement she feels when she ”spots an old building, a beautiful landscape
or foggy coastal morning’".

You can find Sue’s beautiful paintings, and if you are lucky Sue herself, painting at the Studios On the Park, downtown Paso Robles.

My personal favorites are Sue’s paintings of the central coast and surrounds. If you are interested in any of the paintings you see here go to: where you will find a link to Sue’s available paintings and how to contact her.

Afternoon Shadows by Sue Johnson Oil ~ 12 x 16

afternoon shadows 12 x 16 Sue Johnson

Farming by Sue Johnson Oil ~ 18 x 24

farming 18 x 24 Sue Johnson

Morning Surf by Sue Johnson Oil ~ 11 x 14

morning surf 11 x 14

Barn at Halter Ranch by Sue Johnson Oil ~ 9 x 12

barn at Halter Ranch 9 x 12 (sold)

The Estuary by Sue Johnson Oil ~ 11'' x 14''

the estuary 11 x 14 (sold)

Cayucos Cliffs by Sue Johnson Oil ~ 9'' x 12''

You can also find Sue’s paintings here:

Allied Arts Association
1350 Main St
Cambria CA 93428

Studios on the Park
1130 Pine St.
Paso Robles CA


Cambria Art & Wine Festival
Location: Cambria Village & Vets Hall
Event Dates: 1/27/2012 - 1/29/2012