And share a dessert that everyone can enjoy? Great Flavors Bakery is here to help!
We load our artisan cakes with fresh, local, often organic ingredients and they are brimming with amazing flavor (and magically, no gluten–but you’d never, ever know by their award-winning* taste).
Order by Friday 11/17 and your cake (brown-butter pumpkin or carrot) will be created and ready Wednesday 11/22 for pickup or delivery in Five Cities and SLO city limits.
Each 9″ double-layer cake is frosted with genuine buttercream frosting (no shortening, lard, or margarine here). Our cakes are hand-crafted and made to order, so quantities are limited.
*Our carrot cake won top prize in the Cake category at the 2017 Arroyo Grande Harvest Festival competition. Even more exciting? We won in the taste-test of all cakes entered, not a gluten-free category. Sweet.
Super excited, humbled, and pleased to share that two of our Great Flavors Bakery products were winners in the recent 2017 Arroyo Grande Harvest Festival Bake-Off Contest.
Our sunshiny lemon cookies won 2nd place in the Cookie category.
And our spiced carrot cake won 1st place in the competitive Harvest Gone Wild category: bakers choice to creatively use the sugar and spice of the fall season. Wow!
Even more satisfying is that we entered these alongside regular, wheat-flour entries and made no mention they are gluten-free. That’s always our goal at the Great Flavors Bakery: to create the best baked goods, period. We’re honored by the awards and thrilled the judges loved them.
You can read more about the Great Flavors Bakery and our mission to fill the world with great flavors and fresh, local ingredients in products that happen to be gluten free. www.gr8flavors.com/bakery
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Some Ciders and Cheeses Meet in a Pub, and Here’s What Happened [Bristols Cider House and Fromagerie Sophie Pairing Event]
Ever wondered if hard ciders play well with cheeses from the around the world? Learn the outcomes of this uncommon pairing. Spoiler alert: deliciousness ahead.
Event Recap: Cider and Cheese Pairing, June 3, 2017
Hand-crafted ciders made true to English standards? Hand-crafted cheeses from around the world? Both in one place overflowing with the friendly energy of a British pub? As one of our favorite Brits, Austin Powers, would say, “Yeah, baby!”
Last Saturday, June 3, Bristols Cider House in Atascadero hosted the first of what the Flavor Team hopes is many cider and cheese pairing events with Fromagerie Sophie, the delightful cheese shop in San Luis Obispo.
Meeting the (Cider) Maker
When we attended last month’s 2nd Annual Central Coast Cider Festival in Atascadero, we met Erich Fleck, cider maker at Bristols. As we chatted over tastings of Anne Bonny and Black Beard, we asked about doing a more in-depth story on Bristols Cider House and the cider-making process. Erich was all in, and we were, too. (Stay tuned for our Bristols article – coming soon.)
As we arranged the interview with Erich, he mentioned the cider and cheese pairing. Maybe we’d like to do the interview and then stay for the pairing? When we heard about this match up – thinking of that simple yet sublime pairing of crisp apple slices circling the plate with wedges of cheese – we signed up right away. Good thing, too, because the 20 seats available for this inaugural event sold out quickly.
Five Ciders and Cheeses Await
The Flavor Team has enjoyed hard cider for a long time, appreciating how a quality cider reflects the talents of the cider maker as it’s crafted to match the creator’s vision.
While we know a little bit about cider making, we know close to nothing about cheese making (we do know that cows are often involved), so we were excited for the opportunity to experience and learn more about both.
We took our seats around one of three wooden farm tables. Our fellow cider and cheese explorers were equally excited to see what the afternoon would bring.
The Bristols Cider House owners Neil and Marci Collins and Jackie Meisinger (Neil and Jackie are siblings) founded Bristols in 1994 to bring English cidermaking to the Central Coast. As participants took their seats, Neil, Jackie, and Erich welcomed all of us and introduced Fromagerie Sophie co-owner Paul Doering. Sophie Boban-Doering arrived a bit later to walk us through the last cheeses in the pairing.
Paul placed gleaming porcelain plates in front of each participant, with five cheeses artfully arranged from left to right, while Erich and Jackie poured the first cider of the pairing. The excitement in the room was thick. We all couldn’t wait to begin.
Here are the five pairings and a few of our thoughts.
Cider: Bristols Original (The OG). A fresh and classically styled English dry cider.
Cheese: Kirkham’s Lancashire Mature. Unpasteurized cow, traditional rennet. Neal’s Yard Dairy, Lower Beesley Fram, near Goosnargh, Lancashire, England.
Flavor Team notes: We both really like the OG cider. You can’t go wrong with this quality, traditional cider. The hard cheese, like cheddar, we learn is made from raw milk from happy cows. Strong taste but very good. The pairing tones down the sharpness of the cheese.
Cider: Bristols Skimmington. A still farmhouse scrumpy with brettanomycus funk (from two strains) going on.
Cheese: Montgomery Cheddar. Unpasteurized British Friesian cow’s milk, traditional rennet. Neal’s Yard Dairy, Manor Farm, North Cadbury, Somerset, England.
Flavor Team notes: Skimmington is murky and still, rather than carbonated. The brett brings out a sweet, yeasty flavor and rich aromatics. The cheese is a traditional hard cheddar, with a snappy but subtle horseradish finish (yummy). We can see why Paul says it’s“England’s best cheddar.” Darn good cheese, both alone and in the pairing.
Cider: Bristols Granata. Named after the Latin word for pomegranate, this pretty pink and tart cider blends Newtown Pippin cider with 30% pomegranate cider.
Cheese: Langres. Pasteurized cow, traditional rennet. Aged five weeks. Tribalat Germain, Langres de Champenois region of France.
Flavor Team Notes: Lactic fermentation keeps the PH lower and results in “Shar Pei-like folds,” explains Paul. Very delicate, almost cakelike, yet with a strong flavor. The rind is washed in champagne and annato as it ages, and the finished cheese has two distinctly different textures: goo-like near the rind and firmer toward the center. The Granata is a lovely garnet-hued cider that has a bit of a bite. It toned down the Langres and made for a very nice combination.
Cider: Bristols Barti Ddu. Please don’t ask us how to pronounce it (we just like drinking it) but we do learn the name is Welsh for “Black Bart,” and that Bristols names its ciders after British pirates and noteworthy national figures. It’s a 100% Granny Smith apple cider that is dry hopped using English hops.
Cheese: Celilio. Organic unpasteurized cow’s milk, washed in Heritage Douglas Fir Gin, aged 75 days. Cascadia Creamery, Trout Lake, Washington.
Flavor Team Notes: Sophie shares this cheese is from really happy cows (we wonder if the Doug Fir Gin has anything to do with that) from a farm with the highest animal-husbandry practices. It’s creamy, almost like a Brie, and has floral hints (also tastes of fresh-cuts boards from the gin wash) that pair really well with the hopped cider. For the cider, generally neither of us likes hoppy cider, but this is one that may change our minds.
Cider: Bristols Black Beard. This cider, from a variety of applies like Arkansas Black, Black Twig, Honey Crisp, and Newtown Pippen, is aged 18 months in bourbon barrels. The result is the masculine side of bourbon (not the sweet vanilla side), and is slightly yeasty and definitely complex. Good stuff.
Cheese: Soumaintrain. Pasteurized cow, traditional rennet. Washed rind, aged about two month. Berthaut Soumaintrain (province of Yonne), Burgundy, France.
Flavor Team Notes: “Classic stinky French cheese” is how Paul describes this triple-cream cheese that’s an award winner from the Paris Cheese Competition. He shares how the cheese-making process results in the proteins slumping into its soft texture. The cider cuts some of the intensity of the cheese, and the bourbon aging seems to bring an assertiveness that goes well with the bold flavor of the cheese.
Flavor Team Flavorites
Andrew: The Bristols Granata (aka pomegranate cider) was outside of the norm and delicious. For the cheese, The Montgomery Cheddar really hit a note and can see why it is “England’s best cheddar.” It went well with the pairing, but good by itself. I am starting to like the infused ciders, but always a go for nice dry cider.
Kara: For cider, I give my Flavorites thumbs up to a tie between the Bristols Black Beard and Bristols Skimmington. To me, they’re rather on far ends of the cider spectrum, which I find interesting. Cheese-wise, I give another thumbs-up tie (don’t judge me). For sheer eating enjoyment, I also pick the Montgomery Cheddar. When I want a cheese to pair with some cider, I’ll go with the Soumaintrain. My Flavorite overall pairing is Pairing 2.
Watching the Evolution
As we were putting together this story, we talked about how our palates are developing and changing. We’ve definitely seen it with wine, and now we are seeing it in our cider tastings. For example, just a few months ago, I remember tasting some of the more lively or “less traditional” ciders (i.e., those outside the dry, crisp, appley, sparkling range). While I could appreciate the art in making them, I didn’t honestly love them. Now, Skimmington is one of my Flavorites and Granata is one of Andrew’s Flavorites.
It will be fun to see how our cheese palates develop over time.
And, hmm, an interesting a correlation to living a great flavored life. Palates – appreciation and enjoyment – change in more than food and drink, and that’s a very good thing in life, in my opinion. The more we learn and experience new things, the more new things come along to experience. Cool how that works.
Judging by the lively conversations going on at every table and the great interactions with Bristols and Fromagerie Sophie folks, the pairing was a complete success.
Great people, living their passions, sharing their gifts with world, and spreading joy one cider and one wheel of cheese at a time. It really does make the world a better place.
We hope there are more of these events in the future. We’ll keep our eyes open for the next cider and cheese pairing, and will post it in our Calendar.
Hope to see you there! ‘Til then, keep tasting the great flavors of life!
For More Information
Bristols Cider House
Have you had the opportunity to enjoy a cider/cheese pairing? What were your thoughts? Do you have favorite ciders or cheeses? Please let us know and we’ll cover those in future stories.
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2nd Annual Central Coast Cider Festival [16 Local Cider Crafters]
Feature Video Some of the best cider crafters and brewers on the Central Coast and our California neighbors in one room with dinner and music, you say? We’re in!
Hard Cider. Easy Decision.
Flavor Team members Kara and Andrew heeded the call and excitedly signed up for the 2nd Annual Central Coast Cider Festival in Atascadero, California. The event, held on May 13, 2017, featured 16 local cider vendors. Many were from right here on the Central Coast; others hailed from throughout California – from LA to Sebastapol.
It was a beautiful day, and driving alongside the post-drought now-full Atascadero Lake, we saw lots of people out enjoying activities on and around the lake. Paddle boat peddlers, Frisbee tossers, and dogs walkers were out in force. We pulled up to the Pavilion on the Lake building, where a large crowd of cider-thirsty people were already gathered, rearing to get inside and start tasting.
Just ahead, a car was leaving. Obviously, they did not know what huge event was starting in just a few minutes. Our “Rock Star” parking spot procured, we joined the happy cider conga line waiting for the doors to open. IDs officially checked, neon green wrist bands applied, and tasting glasses and dinner tickets in hand, we walked into the window-walled Pavilion that looks out over Atascadero Lake.
It was time to get down to the serious business of cider tasting and meeting the interesting people of the Central Coast Cider World.
The energy of the room grabbed us as we entered the hall. Inner and outer circles of vendor booths filled the hall, and a band – Erin & The Earthquakes – was playing at the front of the room. The vibe was as sparkly and effervescent as the ciders we were excited to sample.
The band was great, and we’d love to hear them at a separate event. Being in the same enclosed room with a few hundred cider fans, however, meant the event was loud. Really loud.
It was hard to talk to the cidermakers, learn more about their journeys and their methods, and have a conversation. Several of them mentioned the noise level as well. We hope the organizers consider different options next year. But truly, that was the only downside of the whole event.
A Thirst for Cider and Quest for Knowledge
So, we high-fived and used sign language as we began making our way around the room. Our goal? To meet and talk with all 16 cider makers and try all the ciders in the room. Would we meet our apple-flavored quest?
We tried to make it around to everyone, and we did a pretty good job. Because we wanted to focus on our core Central Coast ciders first, we started with those on our handy note card, which was provided by the event organizer (great, clever idea).
About halfway through the three-hour event, dinner was served and we joined fun cider fans at the stand-up tables outside on wide deck overlooking the lake. Prepared by Chef Jeffery Scott, the English-style pig roast dinner, with rice and some of the yummiest coleslaw ever, really hit the spot.
We were hoping to have the opportunity to learn more about Chef Scott, as he’s got a very interesting story himself. We look forward to meeting him in the future.
After some good conversation over dinner, we returned to the tasting booths. So many ciders, not enough time.
Here are some of our takeaways, thoughts, and Flavorites contenders from the event, listed alphabetically. (We list all vendors at the end of this story).
What were your faves?
Bristols Cider House – Bristols in Atascadero is a cider icon, and sponsored this event. It’s great to see the camaraderie among cider makers and the shared spirit to bring great ciders to their fans. We’ve enjoyed tasting Bristols ciders at their fun Cider House, and have found Bristols on tap at various SLO county eateries. Tonight we met both cider makers and tried several ciders, including Mangelwurzel (fermented with beets) and Anne Bonny, fermented in bourbon barrels. Yum. That is good cider.
Golden State Cider – Perhaps our Flavorite out-of-town contender, this Sebastapol-based cidery brings some high-quality ciders – in cans, which is a great portable way to enjoy ciders at the beach or wherever. Co-owner Jolie Devoto-Wade shared an exceptional Gingergrass brew (two thumbs up) plus their other mainstays Mighty Dry and Mighty Hops. Golden State gets Flavor Team member Kara’s vote for best logo ever (and covets a t-shirt). We hope to learn more from Jolie about their cidery.
Gopher Glen – A newcomer to the hard cider world, Gopher Glen is not new to the apple-growing world, where they have the oldest commercial apple orchard on the San Luis Obispo coast. On their farm up See Canyon Road, near Avila, they grow more than 100 apple varieties, including heirlooms found only there. Owner and cidermaker Raven (great name) Lukehart-Smith introduced us to their four new ciders. Standouts were the Righteous and Fieldrun, both of which use a blend of apple varieties. Arkansas Black, a variety of apple, is used exclusively in Gopher Glen’s single varietal hard cider of the same name. Gopher Glen’s apple farmstand and cider sales open in July. We’ll keep an eye open and visit in the next few months.
Hemly Cider – Cidermaker Sarah learned her trade in Tazmania, from a leader who’s in the winemaker Hall of Fame – cool, right? What makes Hemly Cider stand out is the use of pears as well as apples. This creates a nice different flavor profile on its own. Then Sarah masterfully blends other things for surprisingly tasty results. The Jalapeno cider? Yes. Trust us. It would be great paired with some Mexican food. Ole.
Jean Marie Cidery – Co-owners Connor and Branden offer two distinctly different ciders: Mama’s Boy and Training Wheels. Both are fresh, crisp, and exactly what you want in a high-quality cider. Training Wheels is made with saison, a yeast used in brewing beer, so it’s got a more beer-like flavor. Interestingly, when the Flavor Team first met the Jean Marie team at the SLO Hard Core Cider Festival in October 2016, we tried Training Wheels and decided it might be an acquired taste. Now, several months later, we tried it again and it’s tasty. Maybe our cider palate is developing and we’re growing into our cider repertoire. Training Wheels seems especially apt for some good food pairings. Anyone have ideas to share?
Meraki Hard Cider – Great to see this Pismo-based team again. Travis and Quincy brought several ciders, all of which were great. A new one had hibiscus for a nice flavor, but Waltzing Matilda is becoming one of our Flavorites. Its blend of ginger and lemon means refreshing, crisp, but not too tart. So good. Another standout is Totem. And what about the name? Meraki is Greek for loving what you do and putting heart and soul into work…and it shows in their ciders.
Red Branch – Our last stop of the evening was at the Red Branch booth. Sadly for us, most of their ciders were gone – a good sign for them and the quality ciders they make. We fondly recall the peach cider from this Sunnyvale cidery, which we tried at the SLO Hard Core Cider Tour last fall. Delish. Next time, we’ll make a beeline for the Red Branch booth.
Reef Points – Local to our Cambria and Morro Bay areas, co-owners and cidermakers Patrick Martinez and Dane Jacobs were pouring three of their delightfully dry ciders including Unhooked, a sparkling cider with a beautiful rosy hue and flavor from aging in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels (from our local Niner winery in Paso Robles – a cool collaboration that we want to learn more about). We also tried Ramblings, which had a tropical flair, and a new cider aged in bourbon and rye barrels with a nice distinctive taste. All fantastic. All Flavorites.
Scar of the Sea – We have to admit: the very cool whale label artwork and nautical feel drew us in. Neither of us Flavor Team members is a huge fan of hoppy cider. After all, if we want hops, we’ll have a beer, do you agree? Scar of the Sea, however, makes an amazing hopped cider. Flavorful, delicious. We learned that Scar of the Sea is also a winery. We’ll have to check them out.
Tin City Cider – Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to get to the Tin City booth, but we have had their cider before. We also recently stopped by their tasting room in the vibrant Paso Robles Tin City enclave of craftspeople and had tasting flights. Definitely some inventive and good things coming out of Tin City.
The Day Winds Down
Like at the school dance, when the lights came up at 8:00, it was time to finish our last tasting and say adios to the 2nd Annual Cider Festival. Near the exit doors, a pop-up sales area provided a convenient opportunity to buy personal favorites from the vendors. Operated by Five Degree Wine Shop, it was a neat idea that we’d like to see at other cider events.
Quest (Almost) Fulfilled
We gave it a valiant effort to get to all 16 booths, and we came close. At least we had the great fun to try nearly a dozen. In addition to tasting some great ciders, we came away with an even deeper appreciation for the craft and art of cidermaking and the depth of a quality in our SLO County and California ciders.
We look forward to learning more about this industry and meeting the people who turn apples into crisp deliciousness in a bottle (or can!).
What is Hard Cider (a.k.a Cider Beer)?
Cider is an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented juice of apples.
The juice of any variety of apple can be used to make cider, but cider apples are said to be the best. The addition of sugar or extra fruit before a second fermentation increases the alcoholic content of the resulting beverage. Apple cider alcohol content usually ranges from 1.2% – up to 12% (Bam!) depending on style and fermentation methods.[wikipedia]
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Divine Thai: Explore the Savory Treasures of Thailand (without leaving the Central Coast)
Life’s a journey and an adventure, right? On our journey, we get to see new places, experience new surroundings — and savor the foods unique to the place. As the journey unfolds, we learn a little more about the world, and about ourselves. As part of our journey, we travel, and travel is good for the soul (in our opinion).
But travel, in the sense of opening ourselves to new experiences, can be close to home, too.
Fortunately for us on the Central Coast, we don’t have to travel to Thailand to experience the best of the country’s food (although Thailand ranks high on Flavor Team member Kara’s must-visit list).
So if, like us, a trip to Bangkok isn’t scheduled anytime soon, and we don’t have the benefit of being in a wonderful Thai family that cooks authentic meals — brimming not just with amazing flavor and freshness but with love and good wishes — the family at Divine Thai can bridge that gap.
Bringing Thailand to the Central Coast
Now owned and operated by the founders’ granddaughter Polly Lengsricha-em, Divine Thai shares family recipes that Polly’s Grandma Nattha and Grandpa Charlie brought from Thailand.
Situated at the corner of Grand and Fifth in Grover Beach, when you step in to Divine Thai, you’re greeted with a smile and a genuine welcome. For the time you’re there, you’re treated like family.
Divine Thai has been serving up the best (in the Flavor Team’s opinion) Thai food in Grover Beach since 2007. Fun fact: if you walk by in the evening after closing, you can smell the homemade stocks, some made with 20 lbs of Thai chilis, simmering overnight.
Polly’s father oversees the ingredients for every dish at Divine Thai, and everything is made from scratch. In addition to the stocks, he makes their curry pastes and other sauces. Lemongrass and basil come from the family garden each day. Fresh? The food at Divine Thai can’t be fresher.
They also understand gluten-free preparation, and many items on the menu are already gluten free (including the curries). For other items, Polly and the team are happy to make them gluten-free; just ask.
When asked her favorite dish, Polly said it was a tie between Pad Thai and Charlie’s Catfish. More about that later.
If you order brown rice, you’ll be in for a wonderful surprise. Thai brown rice is almost purple, and the taste is as rich as the color. Chewy, flavorful. Try it and you’ll love it.
Where it All Began
Divine Thai was born as Thai Dheva in San Francisco in 2004. “My grandparents Nattha and Charlie started the restaurant, and my whole family was involved.”
Business was great, but rent kept rising. “When the rent tripled, we decided to move Thai Dheva to the Central Coast and found a great location in Grover Beach.”
With the move, Polly’s grandparents sold the business to her parents and another couple. The four partners opened Thai Dheva in 2007. In 2013, the other couple left the business, and Polly’s family took over completely. They renamed the restaurant Divine Thai.
While the name changed, the family recipes and approach thankfully remained. While her parents are now 50% retired, they still make the curries and other staples of the menu.
In addition to Polly, you can meet other family members when you visit.
It’s not just the Flavor Team that believes Divine Thai is divine. The family’s restaurant and recipes have been recognized as top notch in competition.
The Wat Thai Temple in North Hollywood opens its doors to the public on the weekends so the community can enjoy the best Thai food around. To be included, each purveyor must compete to win a space among the coveted food stalls. The annual competition is fierce, and winners are awarded the opportunity to sell their food for one year at the temple.
“My parents first won the competition in 2002, and we served at the Temple from 2002 – 2005. It was a great experience. We set up our mobile kitchen and made our award-winning recipes, including Pad Thai Noodle, Crispy Fried Green Mussels, Rice Flake Noodle Soup (Kuey-Jub), Pink Lady Noodle (Yen-Ta-Pho), and Boat Noodle Soup.”
She added, “Between 2,000 to 3,000 people visited the temple every weekend, so it was a great way to share Thai Dheva with many people.”
And the Food. Did We Mention it’s Divine?
The pumpkin curry is swoon-inducing and earns a Flavorite nomination in the Great Flavors annual competition. (Stay tuned for more about our Flavorite Awards in the coming weeks.)
In addition to that and Polly’s personal favorite Pad Thai, the Charlie’s Catfish is an exceptional signature dish. Lightly breaded fresh catfish laced with a sauce made of a Thai herb similar to ginger, young peppercorns, basil, and coconut milk, it’s a combination of sweet and spicy goodness. It can also be made gluten free.
The Divine Thai family creates fresh specials to reflect the seasons. Winter brings a variety of hearty soups and spring announces the arrival of fresh rice-paper-wrapped Spring Rolls.
While the restaurant does not have a liquor license, it offers free corkage. As Polly said, “You supply the party; we’ll supply the glasses.”
If you’re planning a wedding, consider having your reception at Divine Thai.
What’s Next for Divine Thai?
When Polly’s not at the restaurant, she’s studying for her law degree from UCSB, which will complement her MBA in Accounting.
Future plans include opening another location in SLO county, as well her personal dream to provide nourishing food and helpful advice. “I’d like to create the concept here based on a restaurant I saw in Boston called Legal Seafood. Ours would be called Legally Delicious, and we’d serve wonderful Divine Thai meals with a bit of legal advice. In fact, I just recently answered a customer’s questions about deeds.”
Polly’s combination of business savvy and an unwavering belief in sharing her family’s recipes and the spirit that infuses each dish is a recipe for success.
Pumpkin Curry (or Pad Thai or Charlie’s Catfish) Just Might Just Foster World Peace
Open every day at 11:00, it’s easy to conquer your Divine Thai craving and sate your wonderlust for the time being.
The Flavor Team encourages you to try it soon — and let us know your Flavorite from Divine Thai.
Camaraderie and community transcend language and geography.
Food: German Category: Pub Gluten-free friendly: Yes
The Umami of a Place
If a restaurant is to become the go-to place for locals and a destination for out-of-towners, great food and drinks are assumed.
Instead, it’s the special sauce — the umami of the indescribable combination of ingredients beyond taste — that make a place unforgettable, as its warmth and welcome weave into your heart and beckon you to return.
Beda’s Biergarten in San Luis Obispo is that place.
Can you Taste the Gemütlichkeit?
Focusing on food from the Rhineland region of Germany, Beda’s Biergarten showcases family recipes. Many items are gluten free or can be modified to be so (just ask), and several options are vegetarian. Drinks center around great German biers, while hand-selected Central Coast wines and locally made Bristol’s hard cider round out the drink menu.
From a range of top-quality sausages (all gluten free) to gulasch, frikadellen (German meatballs), spätzle (fresh-made noodles), and sauerkraut, to a bowl of the delightful Beda’s Stew (also gluten free) on a rainy day and a slice of Black Forest Cake (gluten-free as well), the food brings the comfort of a German pub to the Central Coast.
While the menu is tasty all around, it’s the copious quantities of gemütlichkeit sprinkled on everything that brings friends, both old and newly made, back to Beda’s Biergarten again and again.
Yes, Virginia1. There is a Beda. And a Helga.
A long time ago (in 1982, to be exact), Beda and Helga Schmidthues flew to San Francisco on their honeymoon to visit Beda’s sister, who had moved to Carmel. On that trip, they decided one day they wanted to live in California.
Two years later, Beda and Helga moved to San Francisco with nine-month-old daughter Julia in tow. A day trip in 1986 took them south to San Luis Obispo. There, a SLO sunset and the charm of an evening walk up Higuera during the Farmer’s Market helped them fall in love with the place. A year after that, in 1987, they relocated to San Luis Obispo — their new American home.
And a long time before all that happened, Beda and Helga first met in a German brewery, Schumacher, in Düsseldorf at a special one-night-a-year event called Latzenbier. They have been together ever since. At Schumacher and their other regular neighborhood hangout called Käte’s, friends met friends and new friends became old friends while sharing tables and conversation over German food and beverages.
After they moved to the U.S., Beda continued his businesses representing German artists and book publishing. They loved their new country, but they came to realize they missed one thing from their native country. It wasn’t the food (they made their own German food from their family’s cherished recipes) or the bier (they could buy some German beers from the liquor store).
It was the gemütlichkeit – the camaraderie and the friendly, welcoming feeling of Käte’s that they missed.
A New German Import
The recession after 2008 took a toll on Beda’s art rep business and it was time to do something new. No stranger to hard work, Beda and Helga tossed around several ideas. The one they kept returning to was the idea of importing gemütlichkeit to SLO. They wanted to create a place that felt like the pubs in Germany: filled with genuine camaraderie, friendliness, and welcoming to all.
“It takes a lot of work, time, and commitment to create a business and build a career,” Beda shared. “You might as well create something you love.”
With that as their focus, and with the support of friends who shared their dream, Beda and Helga in 2014 bought a former coffee shop near the corner of Broad and Orcutt Road on the south side of SLO. In 2015, Beda’s Biergarten opened its doors and welcomed its first new friends.
A Lighter, Brighter Side of Germany
The space at Beda’s Biergarten reflects the Rhineland style of architecture—airy, light, and more European feeling than the heavy, dark style that many associate with Bavarian Germany.
The food, which Helga oversees, also reflects the region in which she and Beda were born and raised. “Like any country, German food is regionally influenced,” said Beda. Think about the differences in Northern Italian versus Sicilian food, or Sichuan versus Cantonese Chinese cuisines.
Visiting Beda’s is a German culinary adventure. “We provide variations on a theme,” explained Beda. “Our goulash may be different from the one you are familiar with, or our sauerkraut may not be the one you think is ‘authentic.’ For example, Germany and many neighboring countries have gulasch, which means stew. Hungarian, Polish, and German gulasch are all different, and our rendition reflects the Rhineland region, as does our sauerkraut.”
Beda and Helga stay true to their regional family recipes, and it often happens that customers with German heritage will bring in their older relatives to enjoy the food and gemütlichkeit. As they’re leaving, they often whisper to Beda, “Don’t tell anyone, but your gulasch is better than Grandma’s.”
Where Gemütlichkeit Begins
This is the first restaurant Beda and Helga have owned, but you’d never know that from the friendly and efficient interactions of the entire team. It’s evident that gemütlichkeit starts behind the counter.
“We still have three of our original staff,” said Beda, “which is almost unheard of in this business.”
Andrew, front-of-house manager extraordinaire, knows his customers and their favorites by name. Adam, evening bar manager, and Brian, morning bar manager, are also part of the original crew.
“Teamwork is vital to our business. If someone, whether a staff member or a customer, has a suggestion, we’ll make a change if it makes sense.”
Beda and Helga support the local community through special events, such as “Tap Takeover” nights for different groups, and rotating daily themes. Here are a few to consider.
• Happy Hour: Tuesday and Wednesday 2pm – 6pm. Friday and Saturday 8PM to close. Sunday all day.
• Tuesday: Industry Night (tell your server)
• Wednesday: kids under 12 eat free all day
• Thirstday: 2nd drink 50% off on Thursdays
• Saturday: Klonig Boot night, with a selected beers on special and a tutorial on how to drink from the glass boot
• Funday: Happy hour prices all day Sunday
• A gluten-free event is in the planning stages for this spring. Stay tuned for more on that.
Lastly, while there’s a TV in Beda’s Biergarten, it’s not a sport bar. However, if there’s a soccer game or a special event, it will be on and fans will be cheering for their favorite team.
No matter what day you come in, you can be sure that you’re in a politics, religion, and contentious subjects free zone.
If there’s one rule at Beda’s Biergarten, it’s this: enjoy yourself.
“Leave your worries at the door,” said Beda. “Come in, relax, and unwind. If you want to take your worries home later, they’ll be waiting for you outside, but you may find they have disappeared.”
As we wrapped up our conversation, Beda shared one more thing.
“This is the most demanding job I’ve ever had. And I love it. My biggest joy is that people smile, laugh, and have conversations while they’re here, and when they get up to leave, they are happy and thank me for a wonderful time. That makes everything worth it.”
Beda’s Biergarten is a mirror of Beda and Helga: offering camaraderie, genuine friendship, and connections. “It’s what we are, what we were raised with, and what we believe in sharing with the world.”
Thank you Beda and Helga. We raise a glass of hard cider to that.
1 “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” is a phrase from an editorial in the September 21, 1897, edition of The (New York) Sun and has since become part of popular Christmas folklore in the United States. It is the most reprinted editorial in any English-language newspaper. (courtesy Wikipedia)
3230 Broad St #130
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
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Combining local ingredients with a regional flair, Karami Salsa joins the great flavors of green chiles with a delicious twist.
What if the ingredients for a beloved side dish from your native country are not just hard to come by, they’re impossible to procure?
The first generation of Karami Salsa was born from this predicament.
Japanese immigrants arrived in the high plains of Colorado in the 1890s to work the newly irrigated farmlands and build the transcontinental railway. They eagerly started new lives in a new land.
But there was one thing they missed. In Japan, every family had its own version of tsukudani, a traditional, salty topping made with kombu seaweed used over rice.
Nearly 1,500 miles from the ocean, Colorado didn’t have kombu, but the Japanese community soon saw the textural similarities of the local spicy green chili pepper. Like Japan’s tsukudani, the Hispanic influence in Colorado meant every family had its own recipe for taking the whole peppers and turning them into a family recipe of salsa enjoyed with many dishes.
Fast forward more than 100 years to Boulder, Colorado.
Business partners Kei Izawa and Jason Takaki co-founded Teppei, LLC, to develop organic and natural Asian sauces. Its initial product launch was exporting raw, blue agave nectar to Japan, which is still a mainstay of the company’s focus.
The partners also wanted to develop a product to sell in the US, but they hadn’t hit on the right idea yet.
This changed at Christmastime in 2012.
Takaki, a fourth-generation Japanese American, whose father was mayor of the southern Colorado town of Pueblo, grew up with the dual influences of Japanese and Mexican cuisine.
Takaki pulled five pounds of the spicy peppers from his freezer with the intention of making green chili for gifts. But as he started the process, he recalled a taste from his childhood – the Takaki family’s tsukudani. He added soy sauce and some of Teppei’s organic agave syrup to the local chili peppers, bottled it, and presented it to friends.
Fortunately, he gave a jar to Izawa and his wife Mariquita. They opened it, smelled the fresh ingredients, saw the great texture and bright visual appeal, and then tasted it. As they say, the rest is history.
“This is it!” Izawa told Takaki.
Karami Salsa was born.
The name Karami (pronounced ka-Rah-me) means “Beautiful Heat” (辛美), but while labeled “hot” on the jar, the heat of Karami Salsa is pleasing rather than mouth-numbing and overwhelming. The addition of organic agave, gluten-free tamari soy sauce, and a touch of garlic result in great flavors at different levels. Perfect heat, a tiny bit of sweet, and just the right amount of salt blend into a salsa that is simply delicious.
Izawa also describes Karami Salsa’s flavor as being full of umami, the so-called fifth taste recognized in Japan as a flavor that is round, savory, and complete…and yet indescribable.
Karami Salsa is great as a topping for burgers, brats, hot dogs, omelettes, and pulled pork and tri tip sandwiches; over rice, fried rice, pasta, and quinoa; and, of course straight up with chips.
The Flavor Team is excited to share the goodness of Karami Salsa with the Central Coast.
The Flavor Team has the good fortune to know the Izawa family as a result of the Japanese martial art of Aikido, which we all practice. We enjoyed the great flavors of Karami Salsa over Chinese food at a recent visit to Colorado, and shared special time with great people.
When Flavor Team member Andrew shared the Facebook post for the Hard Core Cider Tour’s first-ever stop in San Luis Obispo, I voted an enthusiastic thumbs up. What possible reason could the Flavor Team have for not attending this monumental and flavorful event?
Nada. Zilch. None.
We bought tickets that afternoon. And a good thing, too, as the SLO Hard Core Cider Tour sold out before its October 22, 2016, debut at El Chorro Regional Park.
As a personal side note, when I was diagnosed in 2003 with gluten intolerance, my beer drinking days were over. Fortunately, I wasn’t much of a beer drinker. A few years later, a friend introduced me to Strongbow hard cider from Scotland. Cider = naturally gluten-free food. Coincidence? I think not. I’ve been a hard cider lover ever since.
Perfect Central Coast weather (you know… bright blue sky, crisp air, warm fall sun, 72 degrees, coastal breeze), live music, outdoor games, and a couple food trucks provided the perfect backdrop for passionate cider lovers to discuss the merits of Braeburns versus Gravensteins, oak versus stainless, on both sides of the vendor booths.
According to Albert Martinez, Chief Event Organizer of Santa Barbara-based Hard Core Cider Tour, “the first annual Hard Core Cider Tour – SLO was a total success.”
He added, “We met our goal of a sold-out event, and we’re thankful for the support of the local community in having a great turn out and aiding us in the Craft Cider Revival along the Central Coast.”
The company believes in reinvesting in the local communities where they host the Cider Tours. This year’s SLO Cider Tour benefitted Bike SLO County, and was sponsored by New Times SLO.
More than 500 hard cider aficionados gathered to partake of and discuss the nuances of the wares of nearly two dozen cider makers from around the world. Fortunately for the Central Coast, many top-notch cider makers dot the map from LA to Eureka, and several call SLO County home. Cider makers from Washington and Oregon, as well as France and Spain, ensured global cider representation.
Sporting our age-verified bracelets, we picked up our adorable 2-oz cider tasting mugs and started the fun.
First stop was Andrew’s flavorite international cider: Green Goblin, made by Thatchers Cider, all the way from Somerset, England. It’s there we had the good fortune to meet event organizer Albert Martinez, who was doing double-duty pouring samples for Green Goblin.
The crowd grew as the afternoon shadows lengthened, yet the energy at the HCCT was always friendly, convivial, low-key, and fun. Several groups played bean-bag toss and tower building games as they enjoyed their tastings.
After enjoying several of the ciders, and revisiting a few to be sure of our ratings, we enjoyed lunch from the Cubanissimo and The Pairing Knife food trucks, while listening to local musicians Bear Market Riot and Medicine Hat.
As Martinez shared after the event, “We had a blast at the first SLO Hard Core Cider Tour, and we hope all who attended had as much fun as we did celebrating the revival of craft hard cider making.”
Martinez and the Flavor Team look forward to seeing everyone at next year’s SLO Cider Tour. We might be the ones with the Great Flavors food truck. Just sayin’.
Here are a few of our thumbs-up flavorites from the show, listed alphabetically.
*Check out the full listing of cider makers in attendance at the end of this story. Bristols Cider / Paso Robles, Calif.
Owner and cidermaker Weston uses 100% west-side Paso Robles apples in his Westy cider.
This is great clean, crisp cider. Just what you’d expect in a quality hard cider.
Flavor Team fun fact: We’ve enjoyed a glass of Bristol’s Westy cider on tap at Beda’s Biergarten in SLO after many a swim at SLO Swim Center (Sinsheimer) Pool. (Read the related Adventures and Activities article about our 100-mile swim challenge.)
Humboldt Cider Co. / Eureka, Calif.
Owner and operator Michelle Cartledge crafts what might be the show standout: Passion of the Fruit. With 8.6% alcohol, it’s one of the stronger ciders at the show, and the passionfruit essence adds amazing depth and flavor. Unfortunately, Humboldt Cider is not available locally, so it warrants a road trip to Eureka for a tasting and a growler at their tap room: The Local Cider Bar.
Jean Marie Cidery / Paso Robles, Calif.
Owners and cidermakers Connor Meznarich and brother Brandon offer two distinctly different ciders. Mama’s Boy is fresh and what you’d expect in a quality cider; Training Wheels might be an acquired taste. It uses saison, a yeast used in brewing beer, so it’s got a distinctly beer-like flavor. Available locally at California Fresh Market, Depalo & Sons Market, and several other locations.
Meraki Hard Cider / Pismo Beach, Calif.
Owners and creatives Travis and Quincy Storm craft several great ciders. Sebastapool Gravenstein, which is made with apples from the family orchard in its namesake town, and Totem are flavorites. Early Gold is also good. And their Persimmon doubles as a divine dessert cider. Hmmm… what about a pairing with a Great Flavors Bakery gluten-free dessert? Stay tuned for that. Travis and Quincy deliver growlers locally and enjoy providing Meraki ciders to corporate and other events. And the name? Meraki is Greek for loving what you do and putting heart and soul into work…and it shows in their ciders.
Red Branch Cider Company / Sunnyvale, Calif.
Jon Siddoway, account manager with Red Branch, poured us a sample of their peach cider. Oh, my. It quickly earned the second Flavorite Show Standout. Some fruit-flavored ciders are cloying (and some are like cough syrup). This one is none of that. It’s a magical blend of the best of apple and peach. In fact, we were swooning over its flavor and forgot to ask if it’s available locally. Luckily, Sunnyvale is a great day trip.
Reef Points Hard Cider / Cayucos, Calif.
Hailing from one of my flavorite beach towns, Cayucos-based Reef Points Hard Cider offers two distinct and equally great ciders. Co-owners and cidermakers Patrick Martinez and Dane Jacobs are pouring Kid Neptune, a dry, crisp, flavorful cider, and Unhooked, a delightful sparkling cider. Unhooked’s delicious secret is aging in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels at Niner Winery in Paso Robles (which the Flavor Team has enjoyed a few times), giving it the perfect hint cab flavor. Available locally from California Fresh Market and Depalo & Sons Market.
Tin City Cider Company / Paso Robles, Calif.
Collin Raynaud creates a well-balanced cider that’s easy to drink and enjoy. While it’s dry hopped, it retains it cider flavor instead slipping to the side of beer taste. Enjoy at the tap room or pick it up at California Fresh Market and DePalo & Sons Market.
SLO Hard Core Cider Tour Who’s Who
Hard Core Cider Tour (#HardCoreCiderTour)
Hard Core Cider Tour
P.O. Box 91113
Santa Barbara, CA 93190
101 Cider House – Los Angeles, CA
Ace Cider – Sebastopol, CA
Bristols Cider – Paso Robles, CA
Common Cider Co. – Dry Town, CA
Finnriver Cider- Chimacum, WA
Humboldt Cider Co. – Eureka, CA
Jean Marie Cidery – Paso Robles, CA
Meraki Cider – Pismo Beach, CA
Mission Trail Cider Co. – Bradley, CA
Rambling Route Cider – Yakima, WA
Red Branch Cider Co. – Sunnyvale, CA
Reef Points Hard Cider – Paso Robles, CA
See Canyon Hard Cider Co. – San Luis Obispo County, CA