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Everybody's workin' for the weekend!

Fine wine, food, ales, music, and surf�

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It’s finally come to the point where we have so many events every month, they’re taking place on the same dates and stepping on each other’s ticket sales. While that could seem a dilemma, it’s a good thing, since most events support a very good cause and offer an array of treats combined with entertainment. There’s something for every taste. Admittedly, I’m a sucker for a great cause, and that’s why I support them.

WHAT’S SHAKIN’ :  A champion will soon be crowned for the fast-approaching fifth annual Vodka Martini Shakedown. - PHOTO COURTESY BOUTIQUE RESORTS
  • PHOTO COURTESY BOUTIQUE RESORTS
  • WHAT’S SHAKIN’ : A champion will soon be crowned for the fast-approaching fifth annual Vodka Martini Shakedown.

Your choice, obviously, depends on your preference. Once you’ve decided that, choosing one over another becomes a lot easier. You may prefer a beer-paired dinner over a wine-paired dinner, or decide that you want to support a distinguished charity such as AmpSurf, which also supports Wounded Warriors. You might choose one because it features the wineries and restaurants you love. No matter what the impetus, you’re participating in something that’s great for the community.

The first weekend of June gets a jump start with two noteworthy events: Wine, Waves, and Beyond which takes place over four days starting Thursday evening with a surf movie, followed by a grand tasting with live music, a bikini fashion show, and a gourmet dinner featuring Firestone Walker beers. It ends Sunday morning at the beach beside Pismo Beach pier.

Taking place the same weekend is the Vodka Martini Shakedown, a bartenders’ competition; it’s only one afternoon, but you could actually support both events, as I do.

The infobox provided on Wine, Waves, and Beyond notes the date and time of each event with ticket prices. There isn’t a package deal, but that makes it easier to attend all the events or the one you prefer. The most popular event, the Firestone Walker dinner at Marisol at the Cliffs Resort, requires a reservation you must make ASAP. It always sells out first, partly because there’s limited seating. The chefs who cook for the Boutique Hotel Collection, the Apple Farm, Cliffs Resort, Gardens of Avila at Sycamore Resort, and Seaventure Resort will join forces at Marisol to prepare five courses specifically chosen for five special brews.

The event organizers prepared a media lunch featuring all five courses, and it was impressive. Among my favorite dishes were Marisol chef Gregg Wangard’s pan-seared, fresh halibut with mushroom toast, asparagus, and chive flowers paired with Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA; and Apple Farm’s pastry chef Willie Vey’s pretzel, peanut butter cheesecake topped with chocolate truffle paired with the Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin barrel-aged oatmeal stout.

WINE, WAVES, AND BEYOND:  This event runs May 31 to June 3. On Thursday, May 31, enjoy Surf Movie Night at the Fremont Theatre, 6:30 p.m., $10 admission. On Friday, June 1, come to the Barrel to Barrel grand tasting at the Cliffs Resort, 5 to 8 p.m., $45 presale, $50 at the door. Saturday, June 2, is the Brew Masters Dinner at Cliffs Resort, featuring five courses by five chefs from the Boutique Hotel Collection paired with five Firestone Walker brews, 6:30 p.m., $75 per person (limited seating). And Sunday, June 3, brings the Longboard Surf Contest at Seaventure Resort for men, women, challenged athletes, and winemakers, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., $30 entry fee. Visit winewavesandbeyond.com for details and tickets.
  • WINE, WAVES, AND BEYOND: This event runs May 31 to June 3. On Thursday, May 31, enjoy Surf Movie Night at the Fremont Theatre, 6:30 p.m., $10 admission. On Friday, June 1, come to the Barrel to Barrel grand tasting at the Cliffs Resort, 5 to 8 p.m., $45 presale, $50 at the door. Saturday, June 2, is the Brew Masters Dinner at Cliffs Resort, featuring five courses by five chefs from the Boutique Hotel Collection paired with five Firestone Walker brews, 6:30 p.m., $75 per person (limited seating). And Sunday, June 3, brings the Longboard Surf Contest at Seaventure Resort for men, women, challenged athletes, and winemakers, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., $30 entry fee. Visit winewavesandbeyond.com for details and tickets.
 

The beneficiary of this event is AmpSurf, an association of amputee surfers. Dana Cummings, executive director, explained that the nonprofit association’s mission is to promote, inspire, educate, and rehabilitate (PIER) disabled people, particularly our veteran heroes. They are taught adaptive surfing, and fun, safe outdoor activities. AmpSurf continually supports the disabled so they can achieve their goals in life. From their clinical trials, AmpSurf provides feedback to doctors, therapists, and prosthetic manufacturers to enhance the design and performance of prosthetic devices for sports and everyday life.

On Sunday morning, you’ll get to meet the surfers, amputees, and winemakers who will compete in competitions, including a challenged athletes’ heat. The city of Pismo Beach has sponsored $2,000 in cash prizes. There’s also a volleyball competition to name king of the beach, a classic Volkswagen display, and a barbecue and beach bar where you can buy refreshments.

The nice thing about Sunday’s event is you can watch the early morning surfers competing, see the VW exhibition, and enjoy food and drinks on the beach; if you leave early, it’s only three blocks to Rosa’s to enjoy the martini competition with an array of tasty treats. Sweet!

Martini lovers wouldn’t dream of missing the exotic vodka martini shakedown at Rosa’s Italian Restaurant where bartenders from local restaurants compete to earn first prize for creating the most unique cocktail. The results are always as beautiful as they are delicious, and everyone votes for their favorite drink. Rosa’s chef Doug MacMillan also brings in several expert tasters, resulting in a judges’ choice and a peoples’ choice winner. The two awards have never gone to the same bartender (if I can trust my memory after judging). The chef always prepares a delicious and generous buffet of foods to pair with the cocktails. That’s a good idea, since everyone tastes eight Absolut Vodka martinis, and we always have a good time.

There’s a raffle of cool prizes (an iPad among them), and live music during the June 3 event, the fifth annual Vodka Martini Shakedown, from noon until 3 p.m. You’re sure to find your favorite bartender here from these popular restaurants: Alex’s BBQ, Ciopinot, Gardens of Avila, F. McLintocks, Mongo’s Saloon, Novo, Quarterdeck, and Steamer’s. Sponsored by Absolut Vodka, all proceeds benefit the Arroyo Grande High School Culinary Arts Program, and the Ada “Rosa” MacMillan Memorial Scholarship Fund for the Culinary Arts. Entry is only $60 per ticket, which can be purchased ahead at Rosa’s Italian Restaurant in Pismo Beach. For more information you can write to chefdoug@rosasrestaurant.com or visit Rosa’s website.

Contact New Times’ Cuisine columnist at khardesty@newtimesslo.com.

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