As much as I love a good restaurant and the thrill of a perfectly cooked steak, sometimes it's even more enjoyable to slow things down with a picnic. And there is no place I have ever been where I enjoy picnicking more than the Santa Ynez Valley. Before wine tasting on Saturday, Elizabeth and I stopped by the Los Olivos Grocery to pick up some food.
We'd been to the store before on other adventures in this area. In the back of the market is a deli counter, a few cold boxes of items, and a relatively impressive selection of cheeses. On my previous trip I'd had a turkey sandwich made here that was completely average. I decided to go a different direction this time: bread and cheese and cold cuts.
An hour or so later at Koehler Winery on the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, we took everything out of our picnic basket. We had purchased two kinds of cheese: Cypress Grove Chevre and Artequeso Manchego, a firm Spanish cheese that had been recommended by someone at the market.
We had Italian salami, prosciutto, and a package of sliced turkey, and we tore off hunks of bread and ate them with the meats. I had also picked up a large container of roasted vegetables. What I did not know about them - and was pleasantly surprised to learn - is that they were cooked with chili flakes and were quite spicy.
We purchased a bottle of Koehler's "Magia Nera" red wine to consume with our lunch. This is my favorite of their wines, and one of my favorite examples of the "New World" Super-Tuscans that pop up in a few places in this area. Too often (in my opinion) they strive to be overwhelming first and good second. This one is less intense, a perfect Sangiovese-Cabernet blend, and is a nice complement to the meats. (I wish I had brought a bottle to dinner with me; it would have paired beautifully with the Hitching Post II's steak.)