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Gourmet burgers, martinis, and 
a toast to pets

There's nothing mundane about a trio of luscious events



When people find spare money tough to come by, entrepreneurs quickly become creative at finding ways to make you decide you can spare a little change. And indeed they have at the Park Restaurant, Rosa’s Italian Restaurant, and Shadow Canyon Cellars, all of which are offering excellent reasons for going out for a great time. If you’ve already received President Obama’s stimulus tax cut you’ll find these outstanding events worth spending a few dollars on for some good wines and good eats.

Hamburger Wednesday at the Park
Hamburgers at the Park, mind you, is an event that has nothing to do with eating fast food on a blanket in a park surrounded by trees and buzzing insects. This is a special offering at the outstanding Park Restaurant in SLO where you’ll feast on the best hamburger you’ve ever sunk your teeth into. Chef Maegen Loring appreciates good food, be it foie gras or ground beef patties. When tough times hit she decided to offer a gourmet treat at a discount price. And since she never cuts corners when it comes to quality, the hamburger was a natural addition to her menu. You can only get it, however, on Wednesdays.
The chef prefers Hearst Ranch beef when it comes to the straight-up hamburger, and from experience I agree their ground beef ranks among the finest. But she also makes this casual dish fun with her creative burgers, like the Vietnamese pork burger or Thai fish-burger. There’s also a vegan burger made from a mix of veggies with garbanzo beans and/or potatoes. But it’s not just the patty that’s special here. Everything from the mayo and ketchup to the fresh buns baked just before the restaurant opens is made by Loring and her team. They offer four burger choices with beef and turkey patties featured each week, and two other choices blended by this uber-talented chef. These excellent burgers are priced between $12 and $15 each with choice of fries, fried in duck fat (yummy) or olive oil, or a house salad.
“It’s become a who’s who of wine industry people on Wednesday nights,” Loring admitted. “There’s a great buzz going on in here and it feels great.” The usual menu is also available, as are her wonderful house-made desserts. The Park (1819 Osos St.) has limited seating so reservations are strongly advised; call 545-0001.

Sunday, May 17
The Vodka Martini Shakedown
When I helped judge the martinis during the inaugural competition at Rosa’s Italian Restaurant I was very impressed. Not only did these bartenders from our terrific South County restaurants get creative with their martinis, chef Doug MacMillan put out an outstanding buffet. With the bartenders providing their martinis for the guests to taste and vote on, a good time was had by all. MacMillan created this cool event to benefit the SLO County Food Bank and St. Patrick’s Outreach Program, and the ticket price is a great value at $60 each.
It takes place at Rosa’s from noon to 3 p.m. Not only do you feast on MacMillan’s delicious whole poached salmon with lime citrus vinaigrette, crème fraîche, or roasted-red-pepper sauces, you’ll taste scallops Rockefeller, traditional pasta dishes, salads, and an array of other treats, plus you can try the unique martinis from each of 10 competing restaurants, including: Alex BBQ, Corner View, Gardens of Avila, Mother’s Tavern, Novo, Old Vienna, Pelican Point, Seaventure, Steamers, and the Quarterdeck; the latter was last year’s first place winner for their peach martini. Nu Monet will be providing live music, there’s a raffle and a silent auction for such prizes as a case of wine, winemakers’ dinners, and collectible bottles of wine.
The celebrity judges include: Mayors Mary Ann Reiss of Pismo Beach and Tony Ferrara of Arroyo Grande, and chef Evan Treadwell of Lido at Dolphin Bay Resort, among others. One piece of advice: get a designated driver or a cab for the ride home, like I did last year. Tickets are available at Rosa’s, 491 Price St., Pismo Beach, online at, or by calling 773-0551.

Thursday, May 14
Wines for Canines & Felines
Ask me to drink wine to support dogs and cats and I’ll raise my wineglass in a toast to that great idea. So, apparently, will a lot of San Luis Obispoans. The first event for the animals took place six months ago at Monterey St. Wine Co., and it was well attended by an enthusiastic group of wine lovers who contributed generously. New Times’ advertising rep Rhonda O’Dell, who’s compassionate about pets, coordinated the winetasting event to benefit SLO County’s orphan dogs and cats; a noble cause, in my opinion. It was so successful Rhonda decided, why wait another year to do it again? This time it’s at the excellent Shadow Canyon Cellars, where you’ll pay $10 for three pours of their premium wines. Armida Gibson, co-owner with her husband/winemaker Gary, said they’ll have their Rosé, Viognier, late-harvest Pinot Blanc, Syrah, and Grenache, plus her Pinot Noir-based Sangria to choose from.

This charitable event takes place from 5 to 8 p.m. at Shadow Canyon Cellars, 956 Monterey St. at the corner with Morro Street in SLO. No ticket purchase is necessary, just show up at the door to support your favorite Siamese or collie by tasting wine and buying raffle tickets. They’re offering three tastes for $10 (40 percent of sales benefits the animals), and raffle tickets for $2 each or six tickets for $10. Shadow Canyon is also offering 15 percent off wines purchased by the case. Rhonda gathered some excellent prizes from restaurants, hotels, and other local businesses, including: the Cliffs, Seaventure, Avila Beach Golf Resort, the Crushed Grape, Rosa’s Italian Restaurant, Sandalwood Spa at Trilogy, McLintocks, Edna Valley Vineyard, and much more. The raffle will provide prizes every 15 minutes during the event.
“Even if you don’t drink wine, you can still show up and support the charity,” Rhonda noted. “It’s close to the Farmers Market so you have a good excuse to make it a night out.” The next Wines for Canines & Felines fundraiser will take place at Ron’s Nursery in Grover Beach on Wednesday, Nov. 11, when their annual Christmas wonderland will be set up. For information on foster care and adoption of cats and dogs, call 748-6358.

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


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