For me, a great vacation is a fusion of my favorite things: adventure and relaxation, fun and enlightenment, shopping and sightseeing and, of course, fabulous food. Amazingly, this blend came together on my recent WWF Tour (no professional wrestlers, but water, wine and friends!) After an easy 2 1/2 hour drive south from the Garlic Capital, we landed in a little oasis of beach bliss near Morro Bay, and in six glorious days, my friends and I explored, enjoyed and ate our way through town. I have managed, in the course of my travels, to find the most wonderful eateries in the most out of the way places, and my luck was running true to form when we picked Hoppe’s Garden Bistro for dinner.
Most of the locals had been recommending the place (the best way to find good eats when you’re on the road) so we brushed off the sand, put on our nicest resort duds and walked our appetites downtown to Hoppe’s. The general manager seated us at the best table with ocean view (thank you, Marcus) and our super-server, Denise, brought us a generous menu filled with intriguing dishes. I was very pleased to see garlic richly represented in many forms: roasted and carmelized, in butter, salads, and in the au jus and rouille*. I asked about the origin of the garlic and, although I’m disappointed to report that it wasn’t Christopher Ranch, I was assured that it was from the area.
We ordered an array of dishes: smoked pheasant raviolis with wild mushrooms, grilled pork tenderloin with with brown garlic butter and rosemary, roasted Colorado lamb chops (almost as thick as a brick!) and seared wild salmon with sake-miso beurre blanc (yes!), all accompanied by luscious sides of buttery roasted garlic, perfectly prepared vegetables, and creamy au gratin potatoes. From the very first forkful, we were cooing at our culinary good fortune and making yummy sounds at a noticeable level. And, no surprise here, we enhanced each course with some fabulous wines. The meal was so exceptional we added another F to our WWF Tour – in honor of the food.
The walk (a necessity after such indulgence) back to our lodgings was spent gushing over dinner and wishing Hoppe’s was closer to home. My only regret was not getting the chance to meet Chef Wilhelm Hoppe in person – to applaud his expertise – and to get in a plug for Christopher Ranch Garlic. After all, it’s the most flavorful garlic on the market, and the perfect complement to every chef’s cuisine.
*What is Rouille? I admit I had to look this up… Rouille is a thick sauce, of French origin, that is often used as a garnish with fish or fish based soups, like bouillabaisse. There are two different methods of creating this red sauce, both using a combination of olive oil, peppers and garlic. We don’t have Chef Hoppe’s recipe (one can only hope that he has a cookbook in the works) but there are a plethora of rouille recipes on the web.