The vacation consisted of 7 wineries and 2 days of nothing but good food, wine, gorgeous countryside and conversation with friends. I'm very relaxed.
If you ever happen to be looking for a restaurant in downtown Paso Robles (Say, for example, if you are taking the 101 from the San Francisco Bay Area to Santa Barbara), YOU MUST GO TO ALLORO. The food was superb. I decided not to have risotto ai frutti di mare (my standby) in favor of gnocchi piemontese, which was divine in two ways: one, the gnocchi was perfectly formed and consistently light; two, the sauce was a drool-inspiring balanced combination of strong mushrooms, tomatoes, cream, and several herbs. The risotto, ordered by one of my friends, came in a gargantuan dish, and it was just as good if not better than my gnocchi, both in al dente consistency and in balance of fresh seafood/shelfish with the lighter flavors of tomato, wine, and herbs. The two other diners in our party had homemade spinach ravioli and they raved as much as the rest of us. Tiramisu was excellent, as was the after diner coffee.
The food was amazing, but more importantly, this restaurant that we chose by rock-scissors-paper turned out to have a wine list that has received the "one of the best wine lists in the world" award from The Wine Spectator. Mind you, a good wine list in my estimation includes values--good wine that costs very little and is only appreciated by people who happen to be adventurous enough to try it despite its lack of prestige and popularity. So the best part about Alloro according to me? They had enough variety and quality on their wine list that I was able to order a bright and cheery Valpolicella from Veneto and a clean, fruity white Fruili (pinot grigio) for a total of $40. Two bottles of excellent wine, in California, at a nice restaurant, for under $40? I was in Heaven. Fruili, in particular is wine that I love to buy in Italy for EU 8-10. Several times, I have asked, where could find this value wine in the US. Always, the response was a laugh, and "Beviamo tutti qui, in Italia." (We drink it all here, in Italy) Apparently, a few bottles make it to Alloro. Go try some.
In blogland, blogger gave the archives back, so I guess I won't migrate to MT this week. I also managed to get comments up on the site, via Haloscan. Very easy instructions and script generator. If you're looking for a friendly comments host, I recommend 'em. If you're solvent, I recommend donating.
This week promises to be full of sleeping in, catching up with friends before I disappear into the black hole of school, working out, taking care of chores, more good food, drinking some of the wine from the trip, and, of course, more relaxing. Monday, my new life begins.