Paso Robles is one of my favorite places to visit for wine and food. This past weekend was their annual Harvest Festival with special events happening at most wineries. We will use any excuse to go wine tasting and let’s not forget about the food.
We arrived late afternoon and stopped by Barrel 27 on the east side of Highway 46 to try some wine before we checked in to our B&B. The wines they were pouring were big and full bodied Rhone varietals which are great food wines. On our way out, we decided to pop in to one more winery before check-in so we stopped at Ecluse Winery on the west side of Paso Robles. We are club members there and they were pouring some library wines as well as sampling some Cabernet from the barrel. This wine was already great to drink.
Upon arrival to Belvino Viaggio, our B&B, we met our friends inside for a bite of cheese and wine before we headed out to dinner. Dinner that evening was at La Cosecha Bar + Restaurant which is owned by the proprietors of Il Cortile Italian restaurant in town.
The menu looked appealing with Spanish American appetizers and entrees. We began our dinner with a hot pot of Queso Fundido with chorizo and cilantro, but I couldn’t taste a crumb of chorizo and the flavor fell flat for the entire table. Next, the Anticuchos de Carne were Brazilian Spiced Beef Skewers that tasted amazing. The smokiness of the meat was incredible and the chimichurri added another level of herbiness to the dish.
Esparrago (Asparagus) was our next appetizer with poached egg and Manchego cheese sauce with a dash of white truffle oil on top. Who doesn’t love anything with cheese sauce? What else can I say, but this plate was delicious.
Cordero Asado Costillas Cortas were Braised Lamb Short Ribs with Red Wine Sauce sitting in a bowl of polenta with mint pesto. The meat was very tender and hearty, but the portion seemed a little small and the polenta was just average.
The best dish, in my opinion, was the Seco de Pato or Duck Confit on a bed of Herbal Rice and Salsa. The meat was fall off the bone good, but the rice was outstanding and I hardly ever think rice is that good. The flavors on the grains were soft and light with hints of herbs and heat from the salsa. I really enjoyed this plate.
The next day we hired a driver from Destination Drivers to drive us around in my car to visit multiple wineries. Alta Colina, a new winery for us, was our first stop of the day and the wine maker was pouring when we arrived. The GSM’s (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) were smooth and delicious and I felt the best of the day.
We made it to another one of our favorites, Oso Libre, to taste some wine, but more importantly to have a Chorizo Burger on this special weekend. The meat was over the top great, which is raised right at the winery. We all enjoyed the rich, spicy, oh so perfectly fatty burger….yum! Denner Vineyards is another long time favorite and we stopped in to taste as well as to pick up our wine club bottles. The day was beautiful and it is always so nice to sit out on their patio and sip delicious wine.
That evening we dined at Artisan (which has moved to the square) for dinner. The food was nice, but not as artisanal as it was before. The menu is twice the size and the options seemed more standard than interesting. The Brussels Sprouts with walnuts, capers and bottarga were cooked right, but the flavors were not there. As for the Duck Ravioli, the pasta was very dry and the Hen of the Woods Mushrooms needed a little broth or sauce to pull it together.
Pizza is a new addition to the menu, and the flatbreads at Artisan had a nice charred crust and decent toppings, but lacked creativity. Where is the chef? This cuisine seems so safe in comparison to our previous visits.
The Pork Porterhouse with apples and kale was nicely prepared and the side of sweet potato casserole was very fun and flavorful. The best thing of the evening was the Oatmeal Stout Sundae with Peanut Butter Fudge and Beer Nuts, now that’s the way to end a meal. The food was good, don’t get me wrong, but not as good as we know it can be and maybe it was just an off night.
We had a nice time at the Paso Robles Harvest weekend. We had a chance to catch up with old friends and we definitely enjoyed the wine and food. If it wasn’t for my car problem, it would of been a perfect weekend, but that’s another blog.