A playlist to celebrate The Golden State.

We at Parker Sanpei are hard-core Californiaphiles. (Where else can you ski and surf in the same day, grow lettuce year-round, be in the movies, define the cutting edge of technology and make top-of-class wines?)

In homage, we recently brainstormed our favorite songs about this beautiful place. May this serve as your new go-to summer playlist!

 

21-atxlAnd here’s one from a favorite musician (who also happens to be Central-Coast-born-and-bred), Damon Castillo, called “California Minute.”

Happy California Summer!

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Trend: SAKE MIXOLOGY

THO_HR-157Our friends over at Thomas Hill Organics Bistro & Wine Bar are taking their commitment to vibrantly original farm-to-table cuisine behind the bar with a new cocktail menu featuring alternatives to spirits like sake and sherry. We were lucky enough to attend their recent cocktail kick-off party to taste the lineup, and let’s just say Thomas Hill Organics is the place to be this summer.

Developed by innovative mixologist, Matthew Hanson, the new cocktail menu puts a twist on classic cocktails like The Margarita and The Old Fashioned using fresh produce from Thomas Hill Organics’ diverse network of local farms. And, just as THO dishes offer a “melting pot” of global inspiration, each cocktail boasts flavors from across the world that complement one another for a taste experience unlike any on the Central Coast.

Debbie Thomas

Debbie Thomas

“We had been experimenting with creative mixology by offering Mimosas and Bellinis made with Cava and fresh squeezed juices, and the response was overwhelmingly positive,” said Debbie Thomas, proprietor. “The new cocktails blend seamlessly with our approach to food: fresh, seasonal, local, and inventive. We can’t wait to share them.”

The star ingredient of the new THO cocktail menu is definitely sake, the Japanese alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice. “Sake is an amazingly versatile medium with as rich and diverse a history as wine,” said Hanson, who enjoys anchoring cocktails in sake for its pleasant brothy or savory qualities.

“While sake, and the cocktails we have derived from its use, pair well with many foods, specifically those high in acidity that benefit from the rounding capabilities of its umami characteristics, sake itself does not have the same tradition of food pairing in Japan that wine enjoys in the Western world,” said Hanson. “In many instances, the best sakes are those which don’t interfere with the food. What I’ve done is attempt to bring it to the foreground, both in the cocktail itself, and what those cocktails complement on the Thomas Hill Organics menu.”

Examples of fresh sake cocktails at THO include The Lemon Drop, The Margarita, The Mojito and The Ginger Grant, an elegant concoction of Momokawa Diamond Sake, fresh ginger, lychee purée, Cava, and candied ginger.

Pouring shot-sized samples of sake and sherry cocktails for the kick-off party

Pouring shot-sized samples of sake and sherry cocktails for the kick-off party

Sherry, Spain’s dry fortified wine, has enjoyed periods of extreme popularity in the United States, and is trending high in eateries and bars across the country. “Sherry shares a bit of that umami with sake,” said Hanson, “but carries with it a subtle salinity and nuttiness and the benefit of oak barrel-ageing, making it an excellent lower-alcohol substitution for whiskey in many circumstances.” The current THO sherry cocktail offerings include The Sherry Julep, made with Sangre y Trabajadero Oloroso sherry, fresh mint, orange bitters, raw sugar, and topped up with a splash of Cava.

For more information about the new cocktail menu or to make a reservation, please visit ThomasHillOrganics.com.

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Showing (Culinary and Mixology) Spirit for the World Cup

719px-WC-2014-Brasil.svgAs teams across the globe prepare to compete in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil this month, our friends at La Cosecha Bar + Restaurant in Paso Robles are preparing to mark the occasion by offering authentic Brazilian dishes paired with Brazilian cocktails. Additionally, during the quarter finals, fans will be able to order cocktails inspired by the country for which they are cheering.

“We wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the culture of Brazil and some of the other countries represented at the World Cup,” said Owner and General Manager, Carole MacDonal, whose husband and partner, Chef Santos MacDonal, is of Honduran decent. “As a restaurant showcasing Latin-inspired cuisine and cocktails, it made sense for us to celebrate accordingly!”

As he does whenever he opening160creates a new dish at La Cosecha, Chef Santos hunted down the freshest, most authentic ingredients for recreating his Brazilian fare for the World Cup menu, including the famously hot malagueta pepper and the pequi fruit, which is hard to find of outside Brazil.

For the months of June and July, guests to La Cosecha may choose from a menu of three Brazilian cocktails which includes the Traditional Caipirinha (cachaça, limes, sugar),

Seasonal Caipirinha (with local, seasonal berries and a splash of St. Germaine), and La Batida (cachaça, coconut cream, lime juice and turbinado syrup), in addition to a selection of Brazilian beers. When the quarter finals begin on my fav10July 4, the bar at La Cosecha will also offer an ad hoc menu of cocktails originating from the countries still in competition. (Imagine Spain verses Argentina.)

As for cuisine, Chef Santos has crafted an elegant and authentic menu of Brazilian dishes including:

Brazilian Seafood Stew
Mussels, clams, shrimp and white fish in a savory fish broth and coconut milk, served with white rice and malagueta pepper sauce

Chicken from the Cerrado
(Cerrado is a vast tropical savanna ecoregion of Brazil that stretches into the states of Goiás and Minas Gerais.) Braised breasts and thighs in a savory sauce with cachaça and pequi, served with rice.

Coconut flan

For more information on La Cosecha’s World Cup menu or to make a reservation, please visit www.LaCosechaBR.com or call 805.237.0019.

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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.

GAP YEAR

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.

VOLUNTEERING

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.

PLAY-SLASH-WORK

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:

 

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

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!)

 

Dinner
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…

 

SARoompanorama

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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INSIDE TRACK: Paso Robles Wine Festival

Calling one’s self an expert is both bad form and an invitation for ruin. But if we at Parker Sanpei are experts at anything, it’s navigating Paso Robles Wine Country.

PRWCAAttend the annual Paso Robles Wine Festival to celebrate the taste, tradition and triumphs of wine ambition in Paso Robles Wine Country.

 – www.PasoWine.com

The 32nd annual Paso Robles Wine Festival is May 15 through 18 this year, and events take place across Wine Enthusiast’s Wine Region of 2013, the diverse and beautiful Paso Robles AVA.

Events run the gamut from winemaker dinners to educational seminars, a Grand Tasting, and myriad open houses at over 130 wineries across the appellation. Here are a few of our must-attends:

  • Winemaker Dinners at Thomas Hill Organics Bistro & Wine Bar and Il Cortile RistoranteHow does one choose between a dinner of Grilled Quail Ras El Hanout paired with a 2012 Austin Hope Grenache and Braised Buffalo Short Ribs paired with The Farm Winery 2009 “The Big Game???” That’s exactly what you’ll have to do if you’re interested in Wine Fest’s winemaker dinners on Thursday, May 15.  Two of our favorite eateries, Thomas Hill Organics and Il Cortile will be offering sumptuous menus paired with Paso Robles wines sure to reinforce your love for all things Paso.
  • Reserve Event and Auction at City Park, Paso Robles: On Friday, May 16 from 4 to 6:30 PM, you will find us sipping reserve wines from over 40 participating wineries paired with fare from local restaurants. We think the charm of downtown’s City Park, the warm weather, and the company will push the good vibes over the edge.
  • Winery Open House: Barrel 27 and McPrice Myers: We are huge fans of these somewhat off-grid producers, and we’re pumped that they’re opening their doors throughout the weekend to share elegant wines alongside tri-tip, pinquito beans, and more cooked up by the godfathers of Santa Maria-Style BBQ, the Santa Maria Elks. Don’t expect rolling vineyard views or posh digs. These guys are young, obsessed, and legit.

For prices, tickets, and more information on any of these events and others, please visit www.PasoWine.com. See you there!

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Love your mother.

Planning something lovely for Mom this weekend?

This video, entitled “A New Perspective For Moms” went viral last year and we have saved it all this time to share with you. So what if we’re a bit behind the curve? The sentiment still holds true that we mothers are too hard on ourselves while our children are far more gracious with us than we ever realized. The perfect reminder for Mother’s Day.

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