First, thanks to all of you and your great tips for our trip! we ate a Big Sky twice and really enjoyed it! Because we had a great espresso maker at the house we rented, we didn't end up checking out any of the coffee houses in town :( The Thurs nite market was fun; we bought lots of great veggies and enjoyed a fresh meal the next night.
We discovered that Arroyo Grande, the town which was actually where the house was (the rentor was not exactly truthful about the house being in SLO...), is an amazing trove of unexpected delights! The butcher on the main street had filet and NY strip which definitely rivaled the best steaks we've bought in NYC! The Viennese bakery, also on the main st, had pastries the likes of which my father didn't think he'd ever eat again in this country, now that basically all the old bakeries in the formerly german part of NYC are gone. Now, natch, can't remember the name, but wow! We had a slice of a tasty linzer torte, this chocolate covered marzipan atop a shortbread cookie thing (our fav), a rum ball(the least good), a macaroon. Sure, these were, perhaps a wee heavyhanded, not french patisserie, but heck, they were darned good!! also, Doc Burnstein's ice cream was tasty too! The low-fat choc yogurt even tasted like real chocolatey ice-cream! far and away the best fro-yo ever!
the one thing we didn't find was great bread, which was a bummer. we'd been to this amazing bakery in Pacific Grove. again, forgot the name, man, i am useless... but it had some vaguely euro name, possibly was a hungarian bakery? anyway, they made the most extraordinary whole wheat bread. crunchy crust, incredibly moist inside. wow. great for bfast, pb&j, turkey sandwiches, whatever. so delish!
thoroughly enjoyed the vineyards too. Domaine Albert was great, their Syrah and Pinots are fantastic! we went up to Paso Robles and LOVED Windward and Turley. We didn't care as much for the Santa Maria wines, though we were certain they'd be the best...go figure.
Thanks to all for helping make our trip special!