Exploring Central California: Paso Robles & Cambria

I wore head-to-toe wool a few days ago. Which means summer is here! Talk about reverse seasonal depression.  I will probably complain about the weather a lot so please forgive me. If there is one thing I learned from last summer, is that getting out of the city on the weekends is a must. This past weekend, we decided to check out Cambria, a coastal town in Central California, from a friend’s recommendation and it was awesome!

Spotted a bee walking along Moonstone Beach.

On the way down, we made a stop in Paso Robles to scope out the town and do some wine tasting. The Paso Robles wine festival was happening that day so the downtown was buzzing. After searching on Yelp, we found Vivant Fine Cheese, a gourmet cheese shop that does wine tastings. It’s a really cute cheese shop with an outdoor patio. They had some of the best gouda I’ve ever tasted. Their selection of wines on the other hand were just okay.

Wine and cheese pairing.
The staff there were extremely friendly. Based on their recommendations, we checked out HammerSky, a vineyard known for their picturesque views. Chris said it was probably the best winery we’ve been to including the ones we’ve visited ones in Napa. 
It’s a very small vineyard so we got to meet the owner and when he learned we are originally from the East Coast, he brought over a staff member who grew up in Massachusetts. Everyone was so nice. Their wines are amazing. Our favorite was the Viognier, so smooth and refreshing. 
After hanging out at HammerSky for a while, we headed to Cambria to check in to our hotel, the FogCatcher Inn. I would totally recommend this place. Our room had a fireplace! Well to be honest, all the rooms have a fireplace but still it made me feel special. This was our view:
Moonstone beach.
It was a little difficult picking out a dinner spot. Since its a tourist destination I was worried going to a bland place and having overpriced food but after lots of foodie research we settled on The Sow’s Ear. The dishes are comfort-food like but with a twist. There were so many drool worthy items on the menu like Lobster Pot Pie, Mac n’ Cheese with Andouille Sausage and Chicken and Dumplings. 
Clockwise from left to right: Lobster corn dogs, Grilled Stuff Chicken Breast, Coffee Crusted American Kobe Top Sirloin, and The Ultimate Mud Pie. 
The next morning we ventured to Fiscalini Ranch Preserve to walk along the coastline. It was so pretty. I can’t imagine what its like to grow up here. I wonder if you would become jaded to scenery like this: 
By lunch time, we made our way out to the Elephant Seals. They are huge smelly animals and apparently dangerous. Not that I would want to get up close and personal with them anyways. We learned during these early Summer months, they go through a molting phase. Who knew seals molted? 
Most of them were sleeping. Chris actually thought some of them were dead. I just think they are very still sleepers. We spotted the more active ones doing some sort of belly fighting. 
The last thing in Cambria we checked out was Hearst Castle. What do you do if you’re filthy rich and own a lot of land? Build a castle on it! 
In anticipation of visiting Hearst Castle, we watched Citizen Kane, a movie that is loosely based on William Randolph Hearst’s life. I don’t know how true the movie is to Hearst’s life, but I could not stand Orson Welles’ character. He was very selfish and was always trying to buy people’s approval and love. In the movie, he builds a castle he names Xanadu and fills it with his collection of fine art from Europe. Which is very similar to the decoration inside Hearst:
Much like in the movie, the Hearst Castle was never completed. Which is amazing to think considering all the things he did accomplish to build. Check out this pool: 
One of the guest cottages:
I would definitely recommend visiting Hearst if you are in the area. We spent a few hours there but you could totally use up half a day taking all the tours and wandering the outside grounds. At the visitors center, you could also eat at the cafe that produces food from Hearst Ranch. Too much to do, so little time! On our way back to SF, we stopped in Big Sur to have dinner with friends at the Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant. Don’t be deterred by the very generic name, the food was amazing. 
Clockwise from right to left: Crab cake appetizer, Baked Salmon with Cauliflower, Special Four Cheese Pizza with Heirloom Tomatoes and Broccoli and Pistachio Cake with Nougat Ice Cream.
It was a wonderful weekend! There is definitely a lot more to explore in Central California. Hopefully I’ll get to do that more this summer. 
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