GLORIOUS VIEWS AND STRAIGHTFORWARD FARE: One of the Hearst Castle sights that tends to tickle visitors the most is not the Neptune Pool, supernaturally beautiful though it is, nor the vistas seen from The Enchanted Hill. It's the placement of the ketchup and mustard bottles on the long and elegant dining room table, an homage to the home's namesake, a man who liked his condiments close. That stretch of California coastline does boast tony dining choices, and very good ones, too, but we like to think that the spirit of simple and hearty supping reigns as well. Look down aways from San Simeon to Cambria, a nestle-y nook of a town with a host of tasty eateries and one springtime eating event that is all about that most comforting of comfort foods: chili.
SPICY SUPPING: Oh, absolutely, you're right: Chili can be complex, given that it is a stew that can have two or twenty different ingredients, depending on the flair and fickle nature of the cook. But it is a simpler idea, in spirit, and hearty, too, and we think it pairs well with its spectacular surroundings and pretty Pacific setting. Like Hearst's ketchup bottles inside his grand estate, a day dining on chili in the beautiful burg of Cambria feels like a nice balance of comfort and grandeur. That balance will be struck again, flavorfully, on Saturday, April 18.
THERE'S BEER TASTING, TOO... and a car show and the enjoying of a fine springtime Saturday at the Vets Hall and Pinedorado Grounds. To try the chili you'll need a tenner, and cash for beer, too, but the pleasure of comfort-eating in a lovely Central Coast town has no pricetag. And, honestly, back to William Randolph Hearst's condiment-focused obsessions: Wouldn't you put out the ketchup, too, if you liked it? You probably would. There's no rule that amazing surroundings dictate that we need to ultra-fancify our foods or manner of comporting ourselves.