New Times Editor Camillia Lanham knows how to put together a mean party platter. Oh lordie, does she! A recent affair showcased an endless array of bodacious bites (homemade risotto balls, French bread ’za courtesy of New Times’ own Dora Mountain, fine cheeses smeared with creamed honey, stuffed jalapenos …the list goes on). Each plate was supposed to pair with a particular beer. The trouble is, after a few of those beers and a coma-inducing plate of food, it’s kind of hard to keep up with decorum. I do, however, distinctly remember sipping on Central Coast Brewing Company’s Lucky Day IPA, which paired beautifully with Staff Writer Jono Kinkade’s spicy Thai squash slaw. Malty, citrusy, and mighty powerful—no wonder it cut through the fog of cheese-dipped pretzel bites and imported French saison. I’ll go on a diet tomorrow. Today, I just want to bask in the glow.
• Central Coast Brewing Company’s Happy Day IPA—$3 for a 4 ounce taster, $6 for 16 ounces, and $16 for a 64-ounce growler; 1422 Monterey Street, SLO.
Like a homespun local band that kicks butt (American Dirt) or a hole-in-the-wall joint that makes the best steak ever (Jocko’s), Felten Cellars is unassuming, but mighty. Winemaker Steve Felten, former director of winemaking for EOS Estate Winery and former winemaker/general manager at Norman Vineyards, is a proud Paso wine hero—a guy who spends the bulk of his time trying to figure out what makes grapes tick. His ultra boutique brand, Felten Cellars, is worth discovering for yourself. What began as a home winemaking kit Christmas gift some 40 years ago has evolved into a lifelong obsession with creating smooth, memorable wines, and it shows. His 2011 San Luis Obispo County Pinot Noir is as good a calling card as any: The wine inside tells you all you need to know about the man behind the bottle. Hand-crafted in the traditional Burgundian style, this smoky, cherry-pie-filled delight is aged in 25 percent French oak for 16 months, hand-punched in open fermenters, then pressed and barrel fermented to dryness. I paired the ruby-hued wine with purple asparagus, earthy mushrooms, and a hearty marinara pasta dish, but it would be just as comfortable alongside a slice of Nardonnes ’za and an old guitar. This is Paso wine at its finest: elegant, yet totally downhome.
• Felten Cellars 2011 Pinot Noir—$21 a bottle; feltencellars.com.
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