Category Archives: Travel

Celebrating FOUR years: Our most popular posts.

Birthday-Wishes-for-a-Four-Year-OldWe at Parker Sanpei can’t believe it’s been four years this week since The Dish went live. Four years! In those four years, we’ve covered everything from the history of Father’s Day and mustards of the world to emergency preparedness and the best music festivals in the west. We’ve also shared personal tastes and memories on everything from our least favorite food trends to how we dropped it all to pursue a love of wine. And speaking of wine, we’ve talked lots, and lots, and lots about wine.

We’ve also met thousands upon thousands of you through a shared passion for food, wine, travel, and hospitality. Thanks for making these four years so delectable!

To celebrate the occasion, we’ll be re-running a few of our most popular posts to date. Enjoy! And happy holidays!


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Four favorite foodie factory tours

Not that you asked, but when we were kids, some of our favorite Mister Rogers episodes were those that took viewers to factories that produce everyday things like crayons, graham crackers, or erasers. Today, we at Parker Sanpei are suckers for a good factory tour – they’re fun, educational, cheap (if not free) and if they have anything to do with food, there’s sure to be at least one delicious nibble involved. Here are our four favorites:

Tillamook_CheeseFactoryTillamook Cheese Factory, Tillamook, Oregon

Come hungry! Tillamook invites guests to tour its Oregon factory, where cow’s milk is delivered and converted into cheese within 24 hours of arrival. Perks include plenty of tastings (including a cheese curd tasting) and a cafe featuring grilled cheese sandwiches and Tillamook ice cream.

IMG_7164Monteith’s Brewing Company, Greymouth, New Zealand

The grey skies in aptly-named Greymouth on New Zealand’s west coast are brightened by Monteith’s, a popular mainstream brewer. Visitors to the factory get an all-access tour, including a cozy sit-down in the taproom and the opportunity to tap significant volumes of Monteith’s beer themselves.

Riedel Glass, Kufstein, Austria

Anyone who has ever witnessed the beautiful art of glass-blowing will appreciate this tour of one of Riedel’s Austrian factories. Tours include an in-depth look at the glass-making process and a comparative tasting in several different glasses.

Jelly_Belly_FactoryJelly Belly Factory, Fairfield, California

Considered by many to be the best factory tour in America, the Jelly Belly factory tour takes visitors step-by-step through the process of making its sweet treats with plenty of bean-sampling along the way. Afterward, grab lunch at the Jelly Belly cafe, which sells jelly-bean-shaped hamburgers and pizzas, followed by (what else?) jelly beans for dessert.

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Get your sparkle on, Santa Barbara-style.

At this year’s Wine Bloggers’ Conference, we met a new kindred spirit in Liz Dodder, author of


“My name is Liz and I’m a drinker, eater and traveler. I’m a food & wine blogger, writer, photographer, recipe developer, web designer, social media maven and Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW).”

Liz is also a zealot for sparkling wine and has put together the first sparkling wine guide for Santa Barbara County. Have a look.

Sparkling Wine Map SB

According to this map, Santa Barbara County is host to ten places where sparkling wine is sampled. (Looks like our weekend just filled up!) Furthermore, Liz is working on another sparkling wine guide for San Luis Obispo County, and says there are several more wineries selling bubbles than we ever would have imagined. (Looks like our September just filled up!)

For questions or info on how to get printed copies of this map in your tasting room, contact Liz via

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Have Degree, Will Travel

It’s graduation season, so we thought we’d take a look at how graduates in recent years are bridging the gap between college and entering the work force. Economic uncertainty, greater numbers of graduates and an ever-growing job shortage don’t make jumping directly into a professional career a reality for everyone. Instead, greater numbers of grads are embarking on life-changing journeys, volunteering, and getting creative before jumping at the first job that comes their way. Here, we look at how modern grads are making delicious lemonade out of lemons from the fallout of the recession.


Our own Jaime Lewis on gap year in Italy.

Our own Jaime Lewis on gap year in Italy.

An established tradition in the UK and other parts of the world, the “gap year” is a year-long sabbatical taken for travel. The gap year is often taken between graduation from college and professional life, but many professionals who have already established a career opt for a year-long sabbatical in the same spirit. “Gappers” have been known to immerse in language course programs, work on organic farms for food and lodging, and take paid or unpaid internships. Although these gaps are meant to be stops along the career path, they often become forks in the road, taking graduates down a different, better path than any they had imagined while in school.


care a vannersWith needs so great across the globe, many recent grads find meaning in taking time out to support a good cause before leaping into the rat race. Programs like Global Work & Travel Co. set volunteers up with projects in countries like Africa, India, Nepal, Thailand, Morocco and Vanuatu for anywhere from two to twelve months. Projects range from rescuing wild animals to caring for orphans, wildlife photography and teaching preschool. Other volunteering projects include working with Habitat for Humanity to build affordable housing for those at home and abroad. Habitat projects like Global Village involve raising funds for building initiatives across the world, while the RV Care-A-Vanner program rallies people of all ages who travel in recreational vehicles to join affordable house-building projects across the United States, wherever they may roam. The best part? No previous construction experience is required.


Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard

Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard

Sometimes the only chance to pursue a passion occurs after college, when the ink is still fresh on the diploma and the first loan payment bill hasn’t yet arrived. Plenty of recent grads pick up a hobby like candle-making or letter-pressing, or (ha!) winemaking…and then the “side job” becomes the job-job. Stranger things have happened! Examples: Randall Grahm, Mark Zuckerberg, and a whole lot of other very successful-slash-crazy entrepreneurs.


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A Perfect Three-Day Weekend, Four Ways

Still making plans for Memorial Day? Haven’t even started? Don’t let the holiday find you splayed out on the couch bingeing on Game of Thrones and eating Cool Ranch Doritos. Get out there! Eat something special!

Easy for us to say, eh? Here, we asked each member of the Parker Sanpei Team to share how they want to spend this Memorial Day Weekend.

Elissa WieseElissa Wiese, Account Manager
Cocktails With Girlfriends

My weekend plans somehow always include: bathing suits, baseball caps or big hats, the beach, Ray Bans, and cocktails with my girlfriends.  We rarely all drink the same thing, so here are three ideas that would please a group.

Memorial Day Cocktails

Aloha Sparkle

  • 1 oz. Skinnygirl White Cherry Vodka
  • 4 oz. sparkling water
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • Garnish: pineapple wedge, cherry, mint sprig

Combine all ingredients in a glass filled with ice and stir. Garnish with a cherry and mint sprig.

Mister Three Step

  • 1½ oz. Campari
  • 1½ oz. Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
  • 1 oz. bourbon
  • 1 dash celery bitters
  • lager beer

Combine all ingredients except beer in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a glass filled with ice. Top with lager beer.

Red, White, & Boom

  • 1¾ oz. SVEDKA Stars & Stripes
  • ¾ oz. lemonade
  • ½ oz. triple sec
  • 1 oz. cranberry juice
  • 6 limes, juiced
  • 12 c. ice
  • Garnish: blueberries and strawberries

Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher filled with ice. Garnish with blueberries and strawberries.

Kyndal KennedyKyndal Kennedy, Acct Manager
Leisurely Staycation

Long weekends call for time in the kitchen (and the beach, of course) cooking up something special for me and my man. Here’s my ideal menu that is simple enough to save time from slaving over a stove, but gourmet enough to know you’re doing something right:


Strawberry Shortcake, hold the whip cream…or not.
Eggs Benedict

salmon-asparagus-salad-cl-lLunch (Picnic on the Beach)
Shrimp and Beef Skewers with Soy and Scallion Butter. Add skewers of fresh veggies and you’re set!
Sun Tea
Prep everything at home and take along with a small charcoal grill to the beach.
(Don’t forget shelter from the sun!)


Keep dinner light and simple after a day of sun, fun and food!
Grilled Salmon and Asparagus Salad
Parrish Family Sauvignon Blanc

Jaime LewisJaime Lewis, Copywriter
Family Chill Time

A long, sunny weekend with kids calls for plenty of time poolside with friends, a date at the drive-in for mom and dad, and at least one glorious dinner from the grill.

Delicious poolside snack to share: Chimichurri Popcorn

  • ¼ cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Mix together  first seven ingredients for chimichurri and let rest. Pop popcorn kernels in vegetable oil. Once popcorn is popped, mix the chimichurri sauce into the popcorn to evenly coat. Spread out onto a baking sheet and let cool. Pair with Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale.
sunset-drive-in-theatrePerfect Mommy/Daddy Date: Time with kids is awesome, but Mommy and Daddy need to be able to look each other in the eye and finish a sentence every now and then. For this, adouble feature at the drive-in, Indian food, and a bottle of dry German Riesling or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has been our go-to date since time immemorial. It’s cheap, it’s fun, and it’s tasty.


Delectable Family-Friendly Dinner…(in just one hour!): Pancetta CheeseburgersBalsamic MushroomsWhite Bean and Tomato SaladCoconut Cupcakes.

LiLindanda Parker Sanpei, Principal
In the Lap of Luxury

The kids are grown and we are free to do whatever we want! My perfect long weekend could go one of two ways:

bernardus1) Spent at Bernardus Lodge in Carmel Valley.  Bernardus is a sort of one-stop-shop for me. I love its terrific spa, super food, great shopping nearby and near-perfect year-round weather. A couple’s massage, a glass of the lodge’s proprietary Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir by the pool, shopping at The Barnyard, and a dinner of Sonoma Duck would absolutely fit the bill…



2) …If I wasn’t flying to Puerto Vallarta with a handful of other couples for an indulgent getaway weekend! I would reserve the 5-bedroom Villa Paraiso at Villa Amor in the tiny fishing/surfing village of Sayulita, just outside PV, and plan for plenty of communal barbecuing, stargazing, swimming, exploring, hammocking (is that a word?), and laughing into the night with a glass of something delicious in hand.

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The West’s Best Comfort Food Restaurants

Much as we’d like to believe we have seasons here in San Luis Obispo, the truth is, we don’t. Witness New Year’s Day, 2014, in which each of us spent time either in shorts and/or flip-flops. A travesty, we know.

But sometimes we long for the taste of a hearty, comforting meal, enjoyed before the warmth of a crackling fire. When such cravings hit, here are our favorite West-side restaurants in which to indulge.

Black Cat Bistro, Cambria, California

black_cat_bistro_logoIf the quaint Central Coast hamlet of Cambria wasn’t charming enough, Deborah Scarborough’s Black Cat Bistro has certainly thrown it over the edge. Located in Cambria’s East Village, the Black Cat Bistro was established in 2004 with a tasteful, French-infused menu and elegantly cozy decor. Dishes to swoon over include Braised Lamb Shank with pearl couscous, currants, cinnamon and kale; and a Duck Confit & Stonefruit starter with Happy Acres chevre, shallots, pepitas, cilantro, bread crumbs, and apricot-habanero glaze. Don’t miss the Central Coast-heavy wine list. 1602 Main Street, Cambria, CA 93428

Wolf Lodge Inn, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho


Just east of beautiful Coeur d’Alene in Idaho’s panhandle, housed in a wide-roofed red barn, is a fantastic example of The Great American Steakhouse. While the Wolf Lodge Inn’s decor is down-home with snow shoes hung on the wall, stuffed game heads, and even a life-size Indian mannequin, the food is legit. Thick steaks are cooked on an indoor wood pit barbecue, and the baked potatoes are truly Idaho-enormous. All entrees are served with, among other delectables, Krebel bread, which is not unlike an unglazed donut. Who’s complaining? 11741 E Frontage Rd. Coeur D Alene, ID 83814

Park Chow, San Francisco, California

park_restaurantCan you imagine such a thing as healthy comfort food? Park Chow can, and has been serving some of the tastiest “healthy comfort food” from it’s tucked-away San Francisco’s Inner Sunset spot since 1997. Favorite menu items to enjoy beside their roaring fireplace include a steaming bowl of Smiling Noodles of Chicken & Shrimp with bok choy, mushrooms and fresh curry; and the organic beef pot roast. We think of it as the ultimate neighborhood eatery, all the more for its breakfast/lunch/dinner/late-night service and kid-friendliness. 1240 9th Avenue, San Francisco, CA, 94122

Le Pichet, Seattle, WA

cover_pichet01This Pike neighborhood bistro is our definition of refined comfort. The ambiance is simple and très francais, just like the menu, which features plenty of charcuterie, mustards, cheese, freshly-baked bread, and roast meats.  The meal we dream of when the temperature drops? La poulet rôti à votre commande – roast chicken with apples and potatoes, cooked to order, alongside a crock of simple red wine, bien sûr1933 1st Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101


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Your 2014 International Festival Punch List

Life is short, travel-hungry friends! And what better time to put together a must-do list of festivals across the world for 2014 than now? Allow us to suggest a few, some you’ve always wanted to try, and a couple you’ve probably never heard of. You’re welcome!


carnival_in_rioRio de Janeiro, Brazil: Carnival
February 28th – March 4th, 2014

Street parades, samba dancing, fireworks, and crazed revelers mark this annual festival – the largest Carnival in the world – held before Lent every year. The first festivals in Rio go back to 1823, and, today, Rio’s Carnival hosts two million people per day on the streets.

Venice, Italy: Festa del Redentore
July 19-20, 2014

Festa del Redentore, Venice, Italy

This massive festival began as a feast to celebrate the passing of the Black Plague of 1576. Today, the festivities are marked by parties across the city, boats filling the Basin of San Marco, an extravagant fireworks display, and even a city-sponsored hangover breakfast on the beach in Lido.

Bastille Day Parade, Paris, France

Paris, France: Bastille Day
July 14, 2014

The first events of France’s democracy in the 18th century are celebrated with Bastille Day, or La Fête Nationale. A giant dance party at the Place de la Bastille, a military parade down the Champs-Elysées, and fireworks over the Eiffel Tower are always included.

Sydney, Australia: Vivid Festival
Late May, early June annually

Opera House Test

Top international artists transform Sydney into a spectacular canvas of light, music and ideas when Vivid Sydney takes over the city after dark. Immersive light installations mark the festival, but music performances in the Opera House and talks given by leading creative thinkers are also on the bill.

songkranPhuket, Thailand: Songkran Festival
April 13-15 , 2014

Dubbed “the world’s biggest water fight,” the Songkran Festival commemorates the beginning of the solar calendar, but has become a massive excuse to douse thy neighbor. Parades of trucks carrying full water buckets, barrels, and water guns are the norm, and kids especially enjoy the chance to spray anyone and everything they can.

Tunisia: International Festival of the Sahara
End of December annually


For four days at the end of December, thousands of people, mostly from all over Tunisia and other Maghrebien countries, flock to Douz, Tunisia, to celebrate the country’s oldest and most beloved festival. Established in 1910 to make people aware of and appreciate nomadic ways of life and traditions, the festival includes song, dance…and camels, camels, camels.

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