Friday, August 29, 2014

A Mediterranean Feast in a Vineyard !

   Awhile back,when I was visiting Santa Barbara,I was wondering what activities I could do that would be fun. The thought came to me to check out local cookbook author and cooking instructor  Pascale Beal's website ,where she lists her cooking class schedule. Pascale was raised in England and spent her summers in France,learning to cook French food from her mother and grandmother. Although a lot of her classes are held in her home,of which I have taken a couple, I noticed that she was going to be creating a picnic lunch to be held outdoors in the Zaca Mesa vineyard,which is in the Santa Inez Valley, a beautiful hilly area behind Santa Barbara. That being my supreme cup of tea,I immediately signed up and I think I may have gotten the last spot !
   The drive out there was beautiful, taking the winding roads up into the Oak Tree filled hills, going past pastoral vineyards lined with rose bushes out in front.
   Pascale and her friendly helpers were at the serene vineyard site to greet our group of eight. She  was cutting into a gorgeous, rectangular Mediterranean Quiche filled with onions,mushrooms,zucchini,eggs,cheeses,and tarragon,and the other ladies were tossing the gorgeous salads !

Along with the quiche,we indulged in a Mache and Pluot Salad (a pluot is a cross between a plum and an apricot) with an Herb and Pesto Vinaigrette..., Little Herb Tomatoes..., Roasted Carrots with Spices in a Herb Yogurt Sauce..., and a Couscous Salad with  Fresh Apricots.The hungry guests introduced themselves to one another,coming from various locales in California, and we listened to a representative from Zaca Mesa Winery tell us about the wines they were serving with our picnic feast.

For dessert we had sweet,but not too sweet Banana-Date Cake with a Mixed Berry Salad, that had orange juice and mint leaves added, along with Vanilla Cream.....a perfect ending to our delicious lunch !
   The combination of the beauty of the vineyard, the scrumptiousness of Pascale's Mediterranean cooking,and the camaraderie of the guests made me feel like I had died and gone to Heaven ! Woooweee ! We each received a signed copy of Pascale's "Spring" Cookbook ,which Haleluia had the picnic recipes inside, and we could  also  purchase more cookbooks if we had wanted to !
   If you are ever in the Santa Barbara,California area, check out for a schedule of her cooking classes, the lovely kitchen and food items she sells, her  gorgeous seasonal cookbooks ,and her entertaining writings about cuisine ! She has a new cookbook out called "Salade" which is overflowing with beautiful salad recipes !
   P.S. Santa Barbara is one of the most beautiful cities in the world....Mediterranean architecture, purple Jacaranda trees,Bird of Paradise flowers lining the main State Street,the azule Pacific Ocean.....well, you get the picture ! Just one of God's beautiful and incredible creations !!

Thank you Pascale, Sherry, and all the others who helped to create this fabulous cuisine and a memorable experience ! You are truly using and sharing the gifts,talents,and passions that God has blessed you with, to bless others and me ! Au Revoir et que Dieu vous benise !

P.P.S. I  hope God is recreating France in Heaven...because I reeeeally want to spend a billion years there...learning to cook from French mothers and grandmothers too...before moving on to Italy !!