Sunday, July 7, 2013

Favorite Central Coast Town: Avila!

For our anniversary week celebration, we hopped a bit around the Central Coast. We began in Paso Robles where I was playing music for a wedding, spent three nights in Pismo, made plenty of visits into San Luis Obispo, and then ended our time at Avila Beach.
For central coast shopping, no place can beat SLO, but for charming little beach town, Avila takes the grand prize. This place is fantastic for so many reasons:
  1. The weather: It is always the warmest beach along the coast. We were in sweatshirts and jeans in Pismo, then tanks and shorts in Avila.
  2. Avila Landing: Toward the end of the main pier, you can walk down a metal stair landing and get level with the water beneath the pier. It is pretty neat.
  3. Sea Life: The far pier is the hang-out for sea lions, seals, and even otters, as well as your usual beach animals. I seriously become a child when I see sea animals. I mean, little furry otters playing in the ocean?! Come on!
  4. The beach: It's clean. Need I say more? And the town: Adorable!
  5. The food: It's a small town, and it shuts down at sundown (seriously), but they make up for it in ice cream and candy (did you know that one of the three Reimer's is there?), as well as a couple of really great restaurants.
  6. And finally...Avila La Fonda. Read on!
Sea otters having fun, sea lions lounging, and a crab!
We stayed at Hotel Avila La Fonda whose goal is to provide you with the warmth and charm Avila Beach brings in a hotel form. They are all about hospitality, and I love that! Upon arrival, we found in our room a bottle of champagne in honor of our anniversary and a huge basket of tasty treats--drinks, cookies, snacks, chocolates, local yummies. We hardly made a dent in our basket of fun over the three days we were there. Downstairs in their "pantry" they sell a plethora of food items at or below cost. A quarter could get you a Coke!
The Avila charm continues throughout the day in the form of food. They've learned that you get to the heart through the stomach. 
  • 6:00-10:00 (That means 9:45 for us) - Chocolate-filled croissants brought in from a SLO bakery, Starbucks coffee, and fresh-squeezed orange juice. 
  • 12:00-2:00 - Nacho Bar! Chips, salsas, cheeses, guacamole, with Coronitas and fresh-fruit margaritas on the side.
  • 5:00-6:30 - Wine and hor-de-veurs, which really was more of a mini-dinner: pastas, breads, dips, cheeses. 
  • 8:00 - 9:00 - Freshly baked fruit pies from Avila Valley Barn and coffee
  • Midnight - Fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies and milk!
Yeah, we pretty much planned our life around the above times. On our way out (which may or may not have included tears), they gave us a parting gift of a Spanish tile, which is in our room to remind us to go back as soon as possible!

A great celebration in a great little town!
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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Lemon Frozen Yogurt with Plum Sauce

It's hot here. Really, really hot. Unbearably, can't-even-walk-outside-for-a-second hot.

You know what's nice when it's hot outside? Cold things. And cold things that taste good are extra nice!

I whipped up this little dessert a few days ago, and it has been such a treat for me! Yes, I had to use the stove to make the plum sauce (a crime when the temps are 105 plus), but it was quick, I promise. And I can't even adequately describe how much I love plum sauce now. It's tart like boysenberries, but smooth and sweet like cherries.
Lemon Frozen Yogurt
What You Need
1 quart full fat plain Greek yogurt
Juice from 3 small lemons
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup sugar (start with less, then add)
A couple tablespoons of orange liqueur (optional, of course)
1/2 t vanilla
1 t ginger (next time, I'll use a bit of fresh grated, but I used powder this time)
Pinch of salt

What You Do
Mix your ingredients and taste them! Honestly, I probably veered from what I'm saying here because I wanted my fro-yo to taste how I like my fro-yo, which is no doubt different from how you like your fro-yo. So I added a little more of this and that until I loved it, and then I poured that delicious mixture into my ice cream maker! If you have time, chill it for an hour or so.

Plum Sauce
What You Need
Plums (I used Santa Rosa because that's what I was given...they were perfect.)
Sugar
Vanilla (Extract or use a bean if you have it!)

*The ratio is 1 pound of plums to 1/2 cup sugar and 1 t vanilla (or a half of a bean). I had about 6 plums (1/2 pound), so I used 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 t vanilla.

What You Do
Using a paring knife, quarter the plums over a saucepan so all the juice drips into the saucepan. You can leave the pits--they add extra flavor! Stir in your sugar and vanilla, bring to a barely-boil, then drop to a low simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the pits and smooth with an immersion blender. Drizzle over anything you have, including the lemon frozen yogurt! The sauce will harden slightly in the fridge but keeps nicely.

Stay cool, and enjoy!
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