I may officially be the "Arts & Culture" blogger, but the bumper sticker on my car should read "I Break for Food & Wine Festivals". This upcoming Sunday afternoon, there is a great mellow Food and Wine Event in Templeton City Park - the annual "Pinot and Paella" Festival. Typically about 16 top local chefs for bragging rights to "Best Paella" , and about a dozen wineries for bragging rights to "Best Pinot Noir". I just checked, and this year they are expecting about 20 chefs and 20 wineries to participate.
The Templeton City Park is a wonderful, little-known venue in SLO County. It is about one large square city block in size, and filled with huge mature oak trees that provide lots of shade on even the warmest days. There is a large gazebo in the middle, in which a good local band performs during the event. The park is so big that the event - even though hundreds of people attend - still has lots of room for people to stretch out and enjoy the ambience and music. The event goes on for several hours, and there is plenty of food and wine for everybody, so there is no need to rush.
Even if you don't plan to buy a ticket, this is a great place to bring a bottle of wine and a picnic lunch.
However, be forewarned - even if you do bring your own picnic, the sight of so much good food and wine - just steps away - is likely to tempt you into buying a ticket after all. Spanish Paella is one of those flexible dishes that allows for every chef to put their own unique spin on the basic dish. At this event, I've had it with mushrooms, with deer meat, with rabbit, vegetarian, spicy, mild etc etc. I'm more of white wine drinker personally, but you do need the rich red Pinot to be be able to complement the strong Paella flavors.
Another great thing about the event is that ALL the money raised goes to local Youth Arts charities. So this is a great way to feel virtuous, even as you stuff yourself. It doesn't get any better than this.