WanderFood Wednesday: Amazing Flavors at Purple Pig in Chicago

by Samantha Scott
( August 26th, 2014 )

Purple Pig Chicago

The Purple Pig in Chicago is an experience not to be missed. This restaurant came highly recommended to me and I’m so glad I went. Great atmosphere, delicious food, and in the heart of a city known for it’s food, it holds its own and then some. If you ever want to give your taste buds a real treat, you definitely need to go here.

Purple Pig is tapas style, so everything is arranged as small plates, designed to serve one to two people. They are very accommodating with the ordering process, which I found refreshing. Customers are encouraged to order on a rolling basis, and food comes out when it’s ready.

Fried Manchego Cheese at Purple Pig

There was a lot to choose from, all different types of flavors, plenty of vegetarian options, and a good amount of seafood. And then my eye lit upon what could be the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen: Fried Manchego Cheese. Let me say that again: FRIED MANCHEGO CHEESE. First of all, Manchego is probably one of the most delectable cheeses ever and if you fry something it automatically enters it into a whole other stratosphere of yum. This dish was paired with Membrillo, a divine jam made from quince fruit, and it was everything it sounds like and more.

Bone Marrow at Purple Pig

I then sampled one of their specialties: Roasted Bone Marrow with Herb Salad. If you’ve never had bone marrow before, it is well worth trying. A bit like a cross between butter and olive oil, spread over lightly toasted bread, it has a rich taste, something that hits you at the back of the palate. A true treat, I make a point to have it wherever I see it and I can safely say, this is one of the best I’ve had!

Charred Cauliflower at Purple Pig

Charred Cauliflower with Toasted Breadcrumbs followed, offering a nice freshness. The cauliflower was perfectly cooked, which, if you’ve ever tried cooking cauliflower or broccoli, or other such vegetables, you know can be tricky business. I liked the loose structure of the breadcrumbs, they added a great texture and didn’t make the cauliflower doughy, as breadcrumbs can often do.

Octopus at Purple Pig

Octopus with Green Beans, Fingerling Potatoes and Salsa Verde came next. Beautifully cooked with nice tangy flavors, it was the perfect in-between dish, complementing the heavier fried cheese and bone marrow and the lighter cauliflower perfectly.

Have you ever visited the Purple Pig in Chicago? What was your favorite dish?

Eat Well, Travel Well ~ Samantha

Photo Credit

Purple Pig Entrance: Roberto Bolanos via Flickr

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WanderFood Wednesday: A Delicious Journey Through the Highway 1 Discovery Route, PART 2

by Samantha Scott
( August 19th, 2014 )

Moonstone Beach Boardwalk

Part 2 of my journey through the Highway 1 Discovery Route began in the wonderful little town of Cambria. This ocean side town boasts a plethora of restaurants, gift shops and art galleries. I stayed at the fabulous Olallieberry Inn a charming B&B located right on Main St.

Olallieberry Inn in Cambria, CA

The house is old, celebrating its 140th year, and it creaks in all the right places, creating a truly unique vibe. Romantic, yet welcoming to solo and family travelers, it’s a comfortable spot with a great outdoor area, delicious breakfast (banana pancakes with olallieberry jam…need I say more?), and outstanding hospitality.

Olallieberry Inn Back Porch

A short walk from the inn brings you to the lovely Main St drag. I noticed as I drove out of town that there seem to be two main drags for shopping and restaurants. As my time was limited I only got to explore the first one. Cambria is definitely a big enough small town to warrant staying a few days!

Robin's Restaurant in Cambria, CA

I had dinner at Robin’s Restaurant, located just off Main St. Larger than it looks, with a beautiful garden area out back, which features live music on Sunday’s,  this fabulous restaurant offers an eclectic mix of choices, such as curries, and Spanish cuisine. World cuisine influences are sprinkled throughout the menu from appetizer to dessert, along with an equally eclectic wine list. Every Sunday, they feature a different local winery, which I thought was a wonderful touch.

Fried Artichoke at Robins in Cambria

I started with fried artichokes, paired with an unapologetically bold and spicy sauce, and this trend would continue throughout the meal, with the pork chop I had as my main course. Bold flavors sprang forward, making each bite exciting and delicious. The Ancho chile sauce tasted so unique: at once exhibiting new world BBQ characteristics and old world spice and smoothness. Like a nineteenth century American cowboy collided with the conquistadors of old Spain. Paired with a beautifully interesting chorizo cornbread stuffing which, aside from being amazing and way lighter than it sounds, also brilliantly blurred cuisine lines.

Goat Cheesecake at Robins Restaurant in Cambria

Finishing up, I couldn’t resist the sound of Goat Cheesecake. And I was most definitely not disappointed. This milky, creamy, flavorful cheesecake melts in your mouth as subtle flavors and aromas dance around your nose and mouth. It was the perfect way to finish a perfect meal.

Moonstone Beach Walk Wildlife

The following day I spent the morning strolling along the enchanting Moonstone Beach Boardwalk. This long stretch features beautiful views, plenty of places to walk down to the beach itself, and more ground squirrels than you can shake a stick at. It’s a wonderful place to view the changing colors along the coast as the morning fog lifts.

Stolo Family Vineyards

Not far from the town of Cambria is the wonderful Stolo Family Winery. Featuring a focused list of supreme, small lot wines, the winery boasts a beautiful tasting room, bright and airy, with high ceilings, local art for sale (including ceramic tiles by Laurel Sherrie!), and old photographs adorning the walls, bringing the history of the land right into present day.

Stolo Winery Tasting Room

As general manager Maria Stolo Bennetti described to me, the land was first owned by Italian dairy farmers and planted with a few vineyards which they tended in secret, making Grappa during prohibition. Today, those old vineyards are still very much in use, contributing to the production of the winery’s flagship varietals of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah.

Sebastian's Store in San Simeon, California

I rounded out my day with a stop at Hearst Ranch Winery Tasting Room, located in the historic Sebastian’s General Store in San Simeon. This fun tasting room offers a wide range of wines to try, and it’s hard not to be awed at the Hearst story. Definitely worth a stop, and the deli reportedly serves amazing sandwiches, although it is closed on Monday’s so beware of that!

A short ways up the road is one of the best viewing areas along the coast for elephant seals. These remarkable animals are part of the Stewardship Travel portion of Wine Coast Country’s 10 Destinations. Visitors can contribute to the preservation of this beautiful natural habitat if they wish, and this option is available every day of the year.

This ended my wonderful journey through the Highway 1 Discovery Route. What a beautiful area to visit, offering such a diverse group of activities and sights. Highly recommended; I was even there in peak tourist season and did not find that to be a deterring factor, which is saying something.

Do you have a favorite stop along the Discovery Route? I’d love to hear about it! Be sure to share your stories in the comments below.

Eat Well, Travel Well ~ Samantha 

*While this itinerary, accommodations and meals were arranged and provided for me by WineCoastCountry.com and Mental Marketing for review purposes, all views and opinions expressed are my own.


The Most Beautiful Places to Dine on the California Coast: An Interview with Artist Laurel Sherrie

by Samantha Scott
( August 15th, 2014 )

Artist Laurel Sherrie in her Studio

Laurel Sherrie is an accomplished artist, based in Southern California, known for her beautiful landscape paintings. I visited her in her studio, located in the town of Arroyo Grande, California. We drank homemade peach soda and chatted about her creative process and the inspiration she draws from the surrounding landscape.

Painting Materials, Laurel Sherrie Studio

“That one I’m painting from a photo I took in my car,” she said gesturing to a work in progress on an easel in the middle of her charming studio space at her home in Arroyo Grande. “It’s this beautiful scene I drive past all the time, but there’s no place to pull over and take a picture, so I just snapped it really fast one day.” This is how a lot of her paintings begin, she elaborates, saying that the surrounding area offers so much beauty and diversity, she’s never without inspiration. “It’s kind of the ideal place for an artist! I have coastline, and mountains, I have ranches, and desert.”

Laurel Sherrie Studio

Her landscapes are beautifully representative of the environment(s) in that area: lush, colorful, romantic, and expressive. Originally from Illinois, she came out to California in the late 60’s, lived in Berkeley for a time, and a brief stint in San Francisco, before moving down to Southern California which has now been her home for many years. She is passionate about preserving the landscapes of her adoptive home and is an active member of  SLOPE (San Luis Obispo Painters for the Environment) a group dedicated to promoting the beauty of the surrounding area and encouraging conservation.

In partnership with WineCoastCountry.com, Laurel has painted scenes representative of the 10 destinations along the Highway 1 Discovery Route, one of which is the Edna Valley. She took me to the Old Edna, one of her favorite places and, incidentally, a beautiful place to dine!

Beautiful Set-up at Old Edna

This charming B&B is a converted historical town site, nestled in the picturesque Edna Valley.

Old Fashioned Charm at Old Edna

Every inch of the Old Edna site is overseen by the proprietor, Pattea Torrence. Fiercely dedicated to the restoration of the original buildings, Pattea is a bundle of energy and enthusiasm.

Old Edna Proprietor, Pattea Torrence

As she welcomes us and walks us around the historic site, the place practically breathes with the life she has imbued into it. Her approach is to preserve the integrity of the old buildings, letting them speak through her distinct style which adds a modern vintage feel to the interiors.

Original Buildings at Old Edna

The Old Edna shares it’s space with Sextant Wines, which has their tasting room and Gourmet Deli there. We sampled some delicious paninis, a heavenly tapenade spread over even more heavenly garlic crostini, and of course Sextant wine. The ingredients were fresh, the bread was delicious and the flavors were bright, with nice spice and seasoning. The weather was warm, a soft breeze floating through, a chicken clucked nearby…I agree with Laurel! This is definitely one of the most beautiful places to dine on the California Coast. See below for her complete list!

Beautiful Spread from Sextant Gourmet Deli

Sextant Wine


Artist Laurel Sherrie’s  Top Ten Most Beautiful Places to Dine on the California Coast

1. Ragged Point Inn, north of San Simeon on Highway 1

2. Sebastian’s General Store in San Simeon

Sebastian's Store in San Simeon, California

3. Sea Chest in Cambria

4. The Cass House in Cayucos, a beautiful restored Victorian B&B

5. Back Bay Cafe in Los Osos, a cute place in a secluded area of Los Osos

6. Olde Porte Inn in Avila, on the Port Harford Pier (See PART 1  of my journey through the Highway 1 Discovery Route!)

7. The Sea Venture in Pismo Beach, fantastic 4th story views over the beach and ocean

8. Adelina’s Bistro in Nipomo, at Monarch Dunes Golf Club. Beautiful restaurant, beautiful surroundings

9. Rooster Creek Tavern in Arroyo Grande

10. The Gourmet Deli in Edna Valley, at Old Edna

Sextant Tasting Room at Old Edna

For more information about Laurel, visit her website LaurelSherrie.com. There you can purchase her beautiful paintings, read her blog and find out more about upcoming exhibits!

Eat Well, Travel Well ~ Samantha

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