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New Times' staff sips and saunters around downtown SLO on Sept. 27 

click to enlarge AFTER HOURS FUN New Times Marketing and Events Coordinator Rachelle Ramirez had some fun with photo props at Habitat Home and Garden.

Photo By Karen Garcia

AFTER HOURS FUN New Times Marketing and Events Coordinator Rachelle Ramirez had some fun with photo props at Habitat Home and Garden.

When asked what it's like to work for a local media outlet, I always say it's a great way to get to know an area.

New Times, if you didn't already know, is located on the bottom floor of a building in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo. I won't speak for my colleagues, but I do love setting up an interview outside of the basement—I mean office—to just get out and soak up some vitamin D.

Through these reporting outings, I've gotten to know a lot of different people and plenty of places I wouldn't have otherwise become acquainted with.

click to enlarge WHOLE EXPERIENCE A visit to The Ritual not only came with a hard cider and food pairing, it also had musical entertainment. - PHOTO BY KAREN GARCIA
  • Photo By Karen Garcia
  • WHOLE EXPERIENCE A visit to The Ritual not only came with a hard cider and food pairing, it also had musical entertainment.

Although our stories take us to different corners of SLO County, there are also the shops and people we haven't met right near our office. I'm not talking about the local restaurants we frequent for lunch—shout out to Woodstock's Pizza, San Luis Taqueria, Thai Classic, Firestone, and Sidewalk Market! Thank you for being our go-to when we need a quick and delicious bite to eat.

Yet it's safe to say we haven't seen all that our downtown has to offer.

Luckily, the New Times editorial crew was invited to the third annual Sip n' Saunter event on Sept. 27 put together by the Downtown SLO Association, which takes place literally all over our city's downtown area.

This year, 40 different stores, restaurants, bars, and salons participated in the event. On this Friday night, there's a drink and/or food vendor ready to give us a taste at each location.

The event begins at the association's office, where we gear up with a wristband, wine cup, and map of participating locations. We look at the map to see if there are any shops that are beckoning our taste buds. There are a few places we mark off as a must, but for most of the night we just walk down the street and look for a green lantern, which signifies they are ready for us to Sip n' Saunter.

click to enlarge MORE PLEASE Hands Gallery had a beautiful selection of hand-crafted goods, from jewelry to clocks, to look at while munching on wraps served by Mother's Tavern. - PHOTO BY CAMILLIA LANHAM
  • Photo By Camillia Lanham
  • MORE PLEASE Hands Gallery had a beautiful selection of hand-crafted goods, from jewelry to clocks, to look at while munching on wraps served by Mother's Tavern.

Making the trip to every single vendor doesn't happen, but we definitely make a dent in the list. We go into a lot of stores I usually walk by or window-shop at.

We explore The Ritual, a men's clothing and barber shop, which recently moved to its new location on Higuera Street—just a few doors down from its original spot.

I might not benefit from their barber services, but I do see a lot of clothing items, pocket knives, and other accessories that I can give as gifts in the future. Their vendor pairing is Tin City Cider's Polly Dolly (a cider and rosé blend) or Hard Cider with Hops with a spoonful of mac and cheese from Giuseppe's Cucina Rustica.

There are also a lot of wine favorites that are served and new wineries I haven't tried before.

Habitat Home and Garden is one stop that has some beautiful, one-of-a-kind furniture pieces that we learn are pre-treated, so if a little wine gets spilled on a couch, it's easy to clean out.

click to enlarge SAVORY GOODS The New Times editorial crew can't really get over the arancini and crocchette served up by Flour House—delicious. - PHOTO BY CAMILLIA LANHAM
  • Photo By Camillia Lanham
  • SAVORY GOODS The New Times editorial crew can't really get over the arancini and crocchette served up by Flour House—delicious.

Thankfully, we take a lot of care to not spill any of the wine we're served from Fillipponi Ranch and Ancient Peaks Winery, or drop any of the arancini and crocchette provided by the Flour House.

Arancini and crocchette are Sicilian fried rice balls, stuffed with 'nduja and provola, saffron, tomato and Parmigiano salsina. On the outside is a potato croquette with prosciutto cotto, provola, Parmigiano fondue, and calabrian chili aioli. So that's a mouthful of ingredients, but it's also a mouthful of deliciousness—which definitely makes me want to visit the Flour House and see what other offerings it has on its menu.

click to enlarge SWEET TREATS Sheila Kearns Chocolate & Confections was sampling their milk, dark, and bourbon chocolate (pictured here) treats. - PHOTO BY CAMILLIA LANHAM
  • Photo By Camillia Lanham
  • SWEET TREATS Sheila Kearns Chocolate & Confections was sampling their milk, dark, and bourbon chocolate (pictured here) treats.

Overall, the Sip n' Saunter is a fun way to get to know our local businesses, taste some great food, and have plenty of wine—or beer—in between. I appreciate how the vendors, both new and already established, tell us more about their business or product.

It's also nice to spend time together as an editorial team outside of the newsroom, getting our necessary dose of outdoor weather, food, and drinks.

click to enlarge PIT STOP There was a lot of walking involved in the event, so Assistant Editor Peter Johnson (left) and I chose these fancy chairs at Sheila Kearns Chocolate & Confections to take a quick break. - PHOTO BY KASEY BUBNASH
  • Photo By Kasey Bubnash
  • PIT STOP There was a lot of walking involved in the event, so Assistant Editor Peter Johnson (left) and I chose these fancy chairs at Sheila Kearns Chocolate & Confections to take a quick break.

We talk about work, the food, and run into a lot of people we've interviewed for stories in the past. It's amazing to see how many people turned out for the event. Everywhere I look, there are people with blue wristbands and maps finding their next stop.

We sipped, we sauntered, we conquered downtown. Δ

Staff Writer Karen Garcia is typing away in the basement, dreaming of sipping wine at kgarcia@newtimesslo.com.

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