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Pallet to Palate satisfies every appetite 

Support local farmers and the Food Bank as well at the incomparable series of events.

click to enlarge MEET THE MASTERS :  Gregg Wangard of Marisol and four other stellar chefs will thrill diners at at the Cliffs Hotel with gala five-course meal for a good cause. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • MEET THE MASTERS : Gregg Wangard of Marisol and four other stellar chefs will thrill diners at at the Cliffs Hotel with gala five-course meal for a good cause.
The spectacular seaside garden at the Cliffs Resort in Shell Beach provides the perfect venue for many of our popular Central Coast food and wine tasting events, but some of these tastings are quite expensive. There’s one festival about to take place there, however, that nearly everyone
can afford.


The 3rd Annual Pallet to Palate, in celebration of local farms, occurs over a three-day weekend with a series of tastings, cooking demonstrations, seminars, and a gala dinner. The event’s board of directors also organize a two-week dinner series with ten local restaurants participating, each offering a special three-course, prix fixe dinner that showcases foods from local farms and artisans. “Shake the Hand that Feeds You” is the title of this year’s series of tastings, and you’ll be able to do just that when the farmers partner with the chefs during most of the public tastings.


Chef Robert Root, now at the Manse on Marsh, created the original event because he wanted to make SLO County residents more aware of local farmers. He literally put the spotlight on the hard-working agrarians who bring their fresh produce, fruits, artisan cheeses, and pasture-raised animals to chefs in our restaurants. Not to mention the farmers markets in every small town that provide outstanding, freshly harvested foods.


Pallet to Palate has been a smashing success, and Root is still among the chefs who do cooking demonstrations during the SLO County Farmers Markets. And it’s not just local foodies filling up the restaurants or the tent at the Cliffs for the “SLOcavore” (a person who prefers locally grown or produced foods) party and auction; this series of events attracts chefs, winemakers, specialty food producers, and tourists who pay very low ticket prices to walk away very well fed. “This year we’re trying to be as sustainable as possible,” Root noted. “If you’re green enough to bring your own glass, you’ll save $5 on the ticket price during the SLOcavore Party and Auction.”


On Monday, Aug. 17, the SLOcavore Party and Auction takes place at the Cliffs from 5 to 8 p.m. where you’ll be privy to gourmet foods and ultra premium wines beside the grand Pacific Ocean. You will meet the chefs and the farmers they’ve partnered with, and enjoy live music. There’s also a silent auction of collectible wines, food, and lifestyle lots you’ll want to win. Tickets cost merely $30, or $25 if you bring your own wineglass.


To cover the gala dinner, a highlight of Pallet to Palate, I attended a media luncheon and enjoyed a meal that was quite diverse and tasty. We tried all five courses that showcased the bounty growing in local farms now that we’re in the heart of summer. Not only will this gourmet meal be repeated for the public, you’ll be served some of our best local wines specially selected to complement each course.


click to enlarge PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
The gala dinner will be held on Sunday, Aug. 16, featuring five talented local chefs working together in the Cliffs’ kitchens: Anthony Reeves of Orchid at Inn at Morro Bay will prepare five delicious hors d’oeuvres paired with Segura Viudas Cava sparkling wine for the reception; Maegan Loring of the Park offers almond gazpacho paired with Justin Chardonnay; Treaver Lynch of SeaVenture is doing classic oysters Rockefeller paired with Bishop’s Peak Pinot Gris; Gregg Wangard of Marisol at the Cliffs offers baby arugula salad with Paradise blue cheese and thyme emulsion paired with J. Lohr Riesling; David McWilliams will prepare mustard-crusted lamb chop with seasonal vegetables and lamb sauce; and Russ Thomas of Two Cooks Catering will offer crispy lace cookies with sweet chevre and berries paired with Tolosa Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc.


This fabulous five-course meal is unbelievably low-priced at $60 per guest, including tax and tip. You couldn’t find that price for five courses paired with wine in any restaurant normally. Besides the fact that it’s affordable for many people to attend the dinner, this charitable event provides much-needed funds for the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County. Last year the event raised $11,000 for the Food Bank, the only source countywide for getting nutritious food to people in need from San Miguel to Nipomo. Carl Hansen, executive director of the Food Bank, said: “These events greatly benefit our community and spotlight some of the best cuisine available on the Central Coast.”


Each evening during the two-week series, ten participating restaurants will offer their own unique three-course menu, prixe fixe at $40 or less per person featuring locally grown foods. With each purchase $5 will be donated to the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County.  Participating restaurants include: Apple Farm, Black Cat Bistro, Full of Life Flatbread, The Gardens of Avila, Marisol, Novo, Orchid, Pizza Fusion, Paso Robles Inn Steakhouse, and SeaVenture Restaurant. Most of these restaurants have small dining rooms, so reservations are advised.


Throughout the Pallet to Palate event these participating farms are partnering with the chefs: Cal Poly Organic Farm, Ralph Johnson, 7th Heaven Organic, SLO Veg, Bautista Farms, Cirone Farms, Perez Farms, Morro Creek Ranch, Chaparral Gardens, Clark Valley Farms, Oakhill Mushrooms, Velazquez Farms, Rinconada Dairy, Green Acres Lavender Farm, Bloom Micro Greens, Hearst Ranch Beef, Dan the Sheep Man, Charter Oak Style Meats, Morro Bay Oyster Co., Ocean Rose Abalone Farm, Olea Farm, and Kendall Farms. Also among the restaurants and wineries generously donating are: Adelina’s Bistro, Catering by Charlie, Catering Unlimited, Corner View Restaurant, Full of Life Flatbread, the Range, Claiborne & Churchill, Talley Vineyards, and Turley Wine Cellars.


To get details about cooking demonstrations and the seminars, or to buy tickets, visit Tickets will be available at the door for most of these events, but if you want to get in, it’s best to order in advance.


“During these hard times please help support your local community by going to the Farmers Market. If you eat out go to a restaurant that supports local farms,” the ardent Root asks. “Look for them on our list of restaurants for the Pallet to Palate series. And remember you can’t beat the price at any of these events.”


You can reach New Times’ Cuisine columnist at [email protected].


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