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A culinary road warrior, renowned cookbook author and chef/owner of Refugio Kitchen, Brigit Binns, is used to trusting her taste buds when it comes to discovering great food. Enjoy tasting your way through town with Brigit as she works on perfecting her palate and inspiring you to do the same with her foodie-focused itinerary.
Breakfast at Kitchenette
Eat: Start off your day with the brown rice hash (kimchi pickles, feta, egg, and Kitchenette hot sauce), almond croissant French toast, or the pork posole verde with linguica, avocado, cabbage, feta, jalapeno and a crispy soft-boiled egg. More of my favorites are the ricotta pancakes (with peaches and bourbon-maple syrup), beer-braised corned beef hash and the chilaquiles (house soy chorizo, feta, black beans, avocado and a fried egg). For those arriving a bit later, treat yourself to an outstanding lunch–pork short rib burrito, turkey bánh mì, slow-roasted lamb dip– you get the picture.
Maverick Tip: Breakfast is served! A sister restaurant to Artisan, brothers Chris and Mike Kobayashi bring a whole new food sensibility to Kitchenette with their rustic, honest, wine country cuisine. Not only are these guys committed to quality and sourcing from our local farmers, they wholeheartedly support local, organic, fair trade and sustainably raised agriculture, which you can taste in every delicious bite.
Snacks and Wine Tasting at Niner Wine Estates
See: A grouping of trees naturally growing in the shape of a heart, that’s Heart Hill at Niner Wine Estates.
Drink: Niner Wine Estates is known for their estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and flagship blend Fog Catcher.
Do: Cooking classes and special dinners are held throughout the year. They also serve lunch Thursday – Sunday from 11am-4pm.
Try: Estate extra virgin olive oil and coffee beans that are barrel aged in old Niner wine barrels by JOEBELLA.
Maverick Tip: For Niner, it’s all about the estate and growing everything on site. They’re not just growing the grape vines, they’re also growing fruits and vegetables, and they’ve got an animal program, too. When it comes to ingredients, their motto is clear: “Grow what we can, and know who farms the rest.”
Wine Tasting at Dubost Ranch Winery
Eat: Pizza made in their gorgeous new copper oven
Drink: Zinfandel, Estate Viognier and the Rosé
Try: Olive oil, wine jelly and any of the other produce grown on the property – separately, of course!
Maverick Tip: For the past 134+ years, the Dubost family has been farming their 400-acre property. This really is a family operation, where everyone has dirt under their fingernails and helps out. The blue truck that’s on the cover of my cookbook, The New Wine Country Cookbook: Recipes from California’s Central Coast, lives on Dubost Ranch. Since it’s such a family operation, visitors will often have a chance to meet family members while tasting wine or enjoying a meal.
Lunch at Thomas Hill Organics
Eat: I encourage you to try the specials of the day while enjoying the gorgeous outdoor patio, complete with fireplace and bar at Thomas Hill. On a recent lunch visit, I had the salt cod fritters with yogurt gribiche and preserved lime radishes. All ingredients are fresh and the menu changes often depending on seasonal availability of ingredients.
Drink: Anything the guest vintner is recommending.
Maverick Tip: With only a very small freezer mostly used for the house-made ice cream, Chef Tim Veatch creates a dynamic menu using organic, regionally produced food and working with local purveyors for their poultry, fish, grass-fed beef, lamb and exotic meats. Nearby farmers provide all of the fruits and vegetables which are straight-from-the-earth fresh, and their breads are crafted by local bakers.
Wine Tasting and Early Dinner at Cass Winery
Eat: The award-winning Benny Burger made with a fried estate-grown duck egg, Chef Jacob Lovejoy’s house-made bacon and an estate-raised grass-fed burger, all served with a fresh garden salad.
Drink: Pair the burger with a glass (or two) of the Cass Cabernet Sauvignon
Maverick Tip: The café is open daily from 11am-5pm and is perfect for an early dinner after a short roam around the property. There’s a dining area in the tasting room, but I recommend enjoying your food/wine pairings out on the shaded veranda next to the Cass estate vineyard.
Farm Tour of Windrose Farm
Eat: The farm is home to 12 acres of vegetables (which rotate depending on the season), six acres of apples and stone fruit, five acres for sheep, and the rest available for habitat and wildlife (animals, birds and insects) which all help the rest of the farm to flourish. Visitors (myself included) buy their farm-fresh produce from their farm stand.
Try: Tours of Windrose Farms, offered every Saturday from 10am –5pm for an hour. Learn about farming techniques for produce including apples, potatoes, onions, garlic, green beans, peppers, squash and tons more!
Maverick Tip: Everything co-exists together from the vegetables and lambs to the bacteria (the good kind!). Owners and farmers Bill and Barbara Spencer are amazing people, and their fruit and vegetables are highly sought after throughout all of California!
Olive Oil Tasting at Kiler Ridge Olive Farm
Taste: The Kiler Ridge estate olive oil on Thursday-Monday from 11am-5pm at the farm’s frantoio – an eco-friendly, solar powered building that houses the milling equipment and olive oil storage tanks.
Try: A tour of the olive orchards with Audrey, offered Saturday and Sunday at 11am. Interested in learning about olive oil production? Sign up for Gregg’s production tour Thursday-Sunday starting at 2pm.
Maverick Tip: This olive farm on the west side of Paso is one of the most gorgeous locations with absolutely incredible views of the entire west side through their olive orchards.
Lunch and Wine Tasting at Grey Wolf Cellars
Eat: Chef Jeffry Wiesinger of Jeffry’s Catering serves delicious lunches at Barton’s Kitchen Window, Friday-Sunday from 12-4pm. One of our favorite menu items is his mouth-watering smoked tri-tip sandwich (made with tri-tip that he smokes himself using oak and cherry wood) topped off with a Zinfandel BBQ sauce on a toasted French roll. Another must-eat: Jeffry’s multi-award winning Paso mac and cheese steak.
Drink: Grey Wolf Cellars wines as well as the other Barton Family wines poured in the tasting room.
Maverick Tip: Spend your entire day out there eating, drinking and enjoying the view!
Cooking Class/Dinner at Refugio Kitchen
Try: Two different types of classes taught by me throughout the year: a demonstration class and a hands-on class. Every class features a winemaker who comes out to talk about their wines, what they’re pouring and how each wine pairs with my food.
Maverick Tip: When I’m not out eating in one of Paso’s many fantastic restaurants, you’ll find me cooking in my Refugio Kitchen. My husband and I designed the entire property for guests to come together and enjoy the beauty and bounty of Paso in a home-like setting (or rent the entire house - with this glorious kitchen!)