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, 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 There you can purchase her beautiful paintings, read her blog and find out more about upcoming exhibits!

Eat Well, Travel Well ~ Samantha


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

by Samantha Scott
( August 12th, 2014 )

This past weekend I had the pleasure of visiting some destinations along the Highway 1 Discovery Route.

View from Harford Pier

Located along the California Coast, these 10 destinations highlight some of the most picturesque areas, fun activities, and of course delicious food of the San Luis Obispo county area.

Gardens of Avila Restaurant

I began my journey in Avila (pronounced AH-vila), a charming, funky, beach town just a bit north of Pismo Beach. I had a fabulous brunch at the Gardens of Avila Restaurant, located at the Sycamore Springs Resort.

Sycamore Garden, Avila

This luxurious oasis takes pride in its well spread out, quaint cottages and rooms available for guests to stay in, spa and yoga offerings, and especially their beautiful garden.

Squash at Sycamore Garden in Avila

Restaurant Manager Jason Kamas showed me around, talking with enthusiasm about his goals to expand the garden and the high importance placed on visiting the garden frequently, taking cues from nature on what to include on the menu. The menu, he said, changes consistently based on what’s fresh from the garden.

Edible Flowers in Sycamore Garden, Avila

My brunch choice was eggs benedict, on his recommendation. I’m always wary of this dish because it’s often way too heavy for my taste, but decided to give it a try. I didn’t regret it! Fresh, perfectly poached eggs, some of the most heavenly hollandaise I’ve ever tasted, lemony and flavorful, and scrumptious english muffins made for a perfect start to a busy day.

Energized from my delicious breakfast, I ventured into Avila Beach for a few hours.

Olde Port Fisheries, Harford Pier

Avila Beach boasts Harford Pier, a hidden mecca for fish lovers, and one of the last remaining piers that allows visitors to actually drive all the way to the end. There you are rewarded with a classic, no frills fish shop, as well as seafood restaurant Olde Port Inn.

Olde Port Fish Market

The honking of sea lions is constant, the smell of the ocean strong and wonderful, the creak of the pier visceral as the wood bends with the weight of many feet and lumbering cars taking in this truly remarkable hidden gem.

Sea Lions off Harford Pier

A little ways back into town there are a great selection of restaurants, a local wine shop, local coffee shops, all making this a vibrant place to visit and a must along the Highway 1 Discovery Route.

On your way out of town you’d be remiss not to check out Avila Valley Barn. Perfect for young families, this lovely spot has animals, pony and hay rides and its own little ice cream shop. It also has a wonderful Farmers Market selection of fresh fruits and veggies.

Fresh Produce at Avila Valley Barn

Beautifully rustic, with fantastic baked goods, local honey, jams, olives and a plethora of gift items, this is a fantastic stop on your way into or out of Avila Beach.

Local Honey, Avila Valley Barn

Lastly I wound down the day with a wine tasting at Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards. This wonderful and welcoming tasting room features ample outdoor seating, live music, local art for sale, and the occasional glimpse of the peacocks that roam the property!

Kelsey See Canyon Winery

As I wound my way up to Cambria (stay tuned for Part 2!) upon departing Avila Beach, I tried to think of some adjectives that would describe it. Eclectic sprang to mind because it encapsulates this lovely spot’s personality. Although there were many tourists around, it was not touristy, and this is the golden combination for any destination. Easy to get to, yet tucked away in feel and vibe, it is a stop not to be missed!

Eat Well, Travel Well ~ Samantha 

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


WanderFood Wednesday: Gazpacho

by Samantha Scott
( August 5th, 2014 )

Tomato and Fennel Gazpacho

Incredibly versatile, this delicious cold soup is one of the best ways to cool off in the hot summer months. Traditionally tomato based, the best gazpachos I’ve tasted have a delightful tangyness and a burst of flavor surrounded by subtle tones of spice or other vegetables woven throughout the main base. This base doesn’t have to be tomato either. Here are 4 modern interpretations of gazpacho, all of which are just making my mouth water! Is it lunch time yet? ...

Watermelon: A fairly popular chilled soup in the sweeter range, watermelon just begs to be paired with something peppery or spicy. Because watermelon has such a unique flavor, combinations can be tricky for a gazpacho base, but many recipes, such as this one make use of a lot of different flavors, including serrano chile for the spice…mmm!

Cucumber: A perfect veggie for gazpacho for its freshness and propensity for showing up in all sorts of summer coolers, such as cocktails. Cucumber is paired a lot with basil and gazpacho is no exception. Here is a recipe with a refreshingly simple approach, letting the cucumber shine!

Avocado: My list would not be complete without one of my absolute favorite summer foods. Avocado creates a thick, creamy gazpacho, and paired with tomato as a base helps give it even more dimension. This recipe sounds amazing and is vegan to boot! Alternatively, avocado makes a to-die-for garnish as in the Tomato Fennel Gazpacho pictured below.

Tomato Fennel Gazpacho at Spruce Restaurant, SF

Bell Pepper: For a more earthy take on Gazpacho, roasted bell peppers are the perfect choice. This recipe sounds incredible!

Gazpacho is your classic mix and match kind of offering. There are endless combinations of flavors, spices and garnishes. What are some of your favorites?

Eat Well, Travel Well ~ Samantha

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