What better place to experience my first cold brew of spring than San Francisco, at a hipster-y little place near Golden Gate Park? As I entered the sparsely-decorated coffee house (artisanal lightbulbs dangling) I knew I was probably the butt of some joke or another. I mean, I get that the all-glass cold brewing system—which looks like something out of a Breaking Bad episode—is pretty to look at, and I know it delivers a smoother, less bitter flavor. But $6 for a freaking cup of coffee? C’mon! Recently, I experienced my second, less expensive cold brew of the season, and at a place far closer to home. Spearhead Coffee in Paso Robles may share the same taste in lighting as their Bay Area counterparts, but they are not one and the same. Although modern, clean, and spacious, I still got that “down home” feel from Spearhead, which carries locally made Grrrnola on the shelves and features super friendly baristas saying “howdy, neighbor.” My cold brew—strong, both in taste and caffeine—came in a mason jar reminiscent of the days when Paso was more cow town than wine country. Wait. What? Hipsters have adopted the mason jar as their own, too? Ah, well. Better buy myself an ironic wolf sweater and just get on with it already.
• Spearhead Coffee’s Cold Brew—$4.50 a jar; 619 12th St., Paso Robles.
I’ve been hanging out with a lot of baby sheep recently. This is how I know my life is going pretty good. No matter how my world might fall apart, if I keep running into miniature farm animals, it’s all gravy on my mashed potatoes. On a recent trip to Hidden Oak Winery in Templeton, I found myself face-to-face with an adorable cluster of just-born sheep. Overlooking rows of undulating (yes—undulating) vineyards, I felt a sense of rebirth and renewal. Or, perhaps it was the sunny 2012 viognier in my glass giving me those new age-y feelings. The estate-bottled, full-bodied wine is full of apricot, peach, and rich honey goodness that makes you want to spin around like you’re in The Sound of Music. In other words, it’s pure happiness in a glass. I say, if you can’t come face to face with a baby sheep, this is a fitting alternative. However, if you can make it to that scenic hilltop tasting room, I recommend doing so. Did I mention there is no tasting (or sheep-petting) fee? Get happy, folks!
• Hidden Oak Winery’s 2012 Estate Viognier—About $30 a bottle and free tasting; 4671 S. El Pomar Road, Templeton.
Gulp! Next round’s on Hayley Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org.