Thursday, May 10, 2012

Avant Tappas and Wine

Avant Tappas and Wine in Buellton, California, is off the beaten trail but definitely a great find!  Don't let the fact that it is located in an industrial area fool you. The restaurant has a great ambiance and we were greeted with a smile from the manger, Joe Padilla. Avant not only has a great menu and fantastic food but also something a little different and unique. One wall is lined with dispensers from different wineries and you can try as many as you would like. You receive a card that inserts into the machine and then you can choose from a 1oz pour, up to a full glass. Find one you love ( and you will find quite a few) and pour yourself a glass of vino to compliment your meal. The card keeps track of your total and they add it to your bill; really fun and easy! Be sure to have some tappas before your meal and I highly recommend the yuppie crack; Applewood Smoked Bacon,Dates,Goat Cheese with a Balsamic Reduction,Basil Oil Drizzel. YUMMMM!!!

You can find Avant on Facebook where Joe usually has a great special going just for 'fans'. Avant also has specials on Groupon from time to time so keep an eye out for one. If you aren't familiar with Groupon then you should definitely check it out. Groupon offers great discounts on local services when enough people buy.  

At the back of the restaurant is a the sister company Terravant. Terravant is a production facility that prepares and bottles wines for quite a few of the local wineries. Joe took us on a tour of the facility and it was really quite impressive. Huge vats of grapes that were going through the process of becoming some of the wonderful wines from the Santa Rita Hills

PhotoArt may be purchased at Kimberly Kay Photography

Avant's general manager Joe Padilla. Tell him Kim and Russ sent you. 

Just one of the delicious meals you will find on their menu.
a  Local Grass Fed Slider Trio... 
Caramelized Onion & gorgonzola, Cheddar & JalapeƱo, 
Mozzarella & Balsamic Reduction 

Nearly 90% of the wines served at Avant are made right on the premises, at 
their sister company Terravant. Joe took Russ and me on a tour after lunch. 

Delicious wood-fired pizza's. My favorite is topped with Artichokes,
 SundrieTomatoes, Kalalmata Olives,  Basil Oil and Feta Cheese. 

Terravant wine company is a custom crush wine production facility 
where they produce and bottle wines for more than a few dozen local wineries.

 Some of my favorite wines are being made in these!

Bottled and ready for shipment

You can find Avant at 35 Industrial Way in Buellton, California
Check out their Facebook page for weekly specials and upcoming events.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

California wildflowers

We are at the tail end of wild flower season, on Mount Figueroa, in Los Padres National Forest. Figueroa mountain road is a beautiful drive and when the flowers are in bloom it  is quite spectacular. The wildflowers on Figueroa Mountain are off to a very unusual start this year, largely due to the lack of rain and unusual weather. It is no surprise the flowers are exhibiting a bit of confusion; flowers that normally do not bloom until mid April, early May, bloomed in January this year and are now drying out. It may be a short and rapid flower season this year; but it would still be worth the drive because the area is beautiful and has abundant hiking trails. The dismal wild flower forecast doesn't mean there won't be anything to see. Flowers and shrubs are in bloom, just not in that drive-by-fields-of-color kind of way. This season you will have  to leave your car and spend some time looking around on foot to appreciate nature's beauty. Pack a picnic lunch with your favorite bottle of vino and enjoy the beautiful views of the valley. 

All photo art can be purchased at Kimberly Kay Photography. ENJOY!

There are a large variety of flowers that usually grace the hillsides so you may want to bring along a field book of the California wildflowers. Flowers that you might see would include; buttercups, fiddlenecks, Johnny jump-ups, blue dicks, chinese houses, hummingbird sage, fiesta flowers, lomatium, miner’s lettuce, lupine, pink owl’s clovers, red Indian paintbrush, shooting stars, miniature lupine, sky lupine, cream cups, fillaree, buttercups, goldfields, coreopsis, shooting stars, royal lupine, beautiful pink, orange wall flowers, fiesta flowers, coreopsis, purple nightshade, prickly phlox, spiny lupine, morning glories, coreopsis, milk thistle, flowering gooseberries, chocolate lily's and of course California poppies! 

Don't forget your adventure pass before you go and make sure to pack your camera!

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