Noodle City

Did you know that you can get great pho right here on California’s Central Coast?  I didn’t think you could for a long time, but luckily I was wrong.  Whisk and I had to drive to Santa Barbara one day for work, it was a chilly, rainy day and we wanted something to eat for lunch that would warm us up before we started work. Whisk got on her phone and started searching for different lunch options when she came across a place to get pho, Noodle City in Goleta.

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Noodle City
(805) 683-6818
5869 Hollister Avenue
Goleta, CA 93117

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We started our meal off with a Vietnamese iced coffee for Whisk, and a Thai ice tea for me.

If you have never heard of pho before, or have never had the chance to try it, it is great.  Pho originated in the early 20th century in northern Vietnam.  It is a rice noodle soup that has many variations.  You can have pho made with chicken, beef, beef tendon, tripe, and also shrimp.  Usually when you order pho a plate will come out with bean sprouts, lime, and herbs such as cilantro and Thai basil, these are used to mix into your soup.  Condiments typically used to flavor your pho would be: Fish sauce, siracha, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and chili sauce.

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Jalapeno, limes, bean sprouts and Thai basil all ready to be mixed into our pho.

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Fish sauce, soy sauce, siracha, hoisin sauce, and chili sauce.

Whisk first found out about pho while living in New York, she and a friend would visit a little Vietnamese restaurant in Chinatown.  At first taste she wasn’t to fond of pho, but after figuring out the right mix of herbs, sprouts, and condiments she ended up loving it.  I was first introduced to pho while living in Southern California by my brother.  I had never heard of it before, he took me to a restaurant in Huntington Beach and I thought it was delicious.

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My bowl of pho included: Rare steak, well cooked beef, soft tendon, and bible tripe.

Noodle City was a good find.  It is a small, family run restaurant.  Whisk and I each ordered a bowl of pho and really enjoyed it.  The beef broth they make is rich and flavorful and is important for the base of a good pho.

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Whisk’s pho included: Eye round steak, well-done flank, soft tendon, bible tripe, and beef meatball.

We have now been to Noodle City twice and loved it both times.  Even though it is about an hour drive for us to get there we will definitely keep coming back, especially during these chilly winter months.

If it is hard to find a place to get pho near where you live you can also make it at home.  I tried a recipe from a blog that I like a lot called Steamy Kitchen.  I made my own beef stock and used her recipe as a guide.  The stock is time consuming to make, but it is worth the effort.  I wouldn’t buy boxed or canned beef broth to make pho, the store bought stuff just doesn’t have enough depth or richness to it.

Here is a link to the Steamy Kitchen recipe:  Steamy Kitchen Pho

Here is a link to my beef stock recipe:  Fork and Whisk Beef Stock

Enjoy!

Fundamental L.A.

A few week’s ago at Whisk’s work her boss recommended that the next time we were down in the L.A. area that we should check out a restaurant called Fundamental.  Her boss lives in L.A. and seems to be in the know of some good places to eat, so we thought we would take his advice and try Fundamental out the next time we were down south.  Turns out I had to be in L.A. the following week for work, Westwood to be exact, and fortunately Fundamental was only a few blocks away from where I was going to be working for the day.

Fork and Whisk:  Fundamental

We arrived at the restaurant at about 7:45 on a Tuesday night and got seated right away.  Inside Fundamental it is very casual, stripped down, and comfortable.  Their is no artwork on the walls, just some lights that shine on the walls, and lights that hang above the tables.  You can choose to sit in the dining area or take a seat at the counter where you can watch your food being prepared.

Everyone at Fundamental was incredibly friendly.  Servers were knowledgeable about the menu and were very attentive.  The kitchen team has fine dining experience, and they bring their skill and technique from that fine dining background to you in a non-pretentious, approachable way.

Fork and Whisk:  Fundamental LA menu

Menu the day we were there.

Fork and Whisk:  Fundamental LA dessert menu and after dinner drinks

Dessert menu and after dinner drinks.

The menu at Fundamental changes weekly and is split into two parts.  The left side is labeled Plant, keeping a focus on plant based ingredients, the right side is labeled Animal, with more of a focus on animal proteins.  They are small plate servings and our server recommended that we each order 2-3 menu items and share them.  The menu prices were very affordable considering the high quality of food you are served, having a range from $5 up to $21 on the night that we were there.

Whisk and I each ordered two items and shared them, then finished by splitting the churros for dessert.  We really liked the food.  It was fresh, seasonal, interesting, and most important of all, it was tasty.  The churros with butterscotch were insanely good, I would go back just for those alone.

Fork and Whisk:  Sweet potato soup

Sweet Potato Soup: Mafe sauce, curried peanuts, cilantro

Fork and Whisk:  White and Purple Cauliflower

White and Purple Cauliflower: Pickled florets, avocado, crispy shallot, Thai coconut sauce

Fork and Whisk:  Crudo of yellowfin tuna

Crudo of Yellowfin Tuna: Yuzu, kosho, shiso, cucumber

Fork and Whisk:  Japanese sword squid

Japanese Sword Squid: Chimichurri, padron pepper, garlic chip, orange

Fork and Whisk:  Churros with butterscotch

Churros with butterscotch
These were so delicious, I forgot to take a picture when they first arrived to the table.

I would definitely recommend Fundamental, especially to anyone who lives in the L.A. area.  Friendly service, tasty food, and a comfortable setting.   You can find Fundamental on the web at www.fundamental-la.com.

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Traditions

When I was about 5 years old I started wrapping caramels with my Grandma and Grandpa around Thanksgiving time.  It was the start of a tradition that would go on for the next twenty or so years.

Fork and Whisk:  Caramels

Their would always be two pots of caramels made.  My Grandma and Grandpa would do all the laborious work, standing in front of the pot, constantly stirring and getting popped with hot caramel gooey liquid.  When the caramels were done they would pour the caramel onto a couple of greased sheet trays to cool.  Hours later after the caramels cooled off they would cut them into bite sized pieces, and we would sit at the kitchen table and wrap them all.

Fork and Whisk: Caramels

Wrapping caramels as a child was always fun.  Many times my Mom would come and help us wrap the little candies as well.  As I got older Grandma showed me how to make the caramels, I always like the idea of knowing a secret family recipe that couldn’t be shared.

Fork and Whisk:  Caramels

The past three years I have failed to go up to my Grandma and Grandpa’s house to help them make and wrap caramels.  I have broken tradition, and to be honest I was sad breaking tradition.  I am sure I had plenty of excuses on why I couldn’t come up to wrap caramels, to busy with work, friends from out of town were visiting, etc.  But in reality I am no busier than anyone else, everyone has a full schedule of obligations and work as the holidays approach.

Fork and Whisk:  Caramels

I don’t like the idea of being to busy and to stressed to slow down for a few moments during the holiday madness to spend some time with friends and family.  Thanksgiving is about being thankful for what we have in our life, the important things in our life.  Whisk and I are both grateful to be children of a loving God that has blessed us incredibly with great family and friends.

Fork and Whisk:  Caramels

This year we wanted to make a point of trying to slow down a bit during the busyness of the season and be present with each other, our family, and our friends.

Fork and Whisk:  Caramels

When we got married we thought it was important that we would each bring traditions from our own families and continue those on, but we also thought that it would be important to create some of our own traditions.

Fork and Whisk:  Caramels

Last week we went up to Grandma and Grandpa’s house and resumed the caramel making tradition.  This year Whisk and I stood in front of the pots and did the stirring while Grandma and Grandpa wrapped all the caramels the following day. It was nice to visit with them and catch up.  It was special for me to share something that has been part of my life for a long time with my wife as this is the first year she took part in this tradition.

Fork and Whisk:  Caramels

Last Christmas (our first one together), Whisk shared a tradition with me from her side of the family.  On Christmas morning they have quiche and a happy birthday Jesus cake.  I love that idea and it is one that will continue on with us.

A tradition that Whisk and I have started together is that we try to go hiking every major holiday.  It is a great way for us to spend time together, getting some exercise, and enjoying the great outdoors.

Traditions are important, they bring family and friends together.  Traditions create memories and experiences that can be shared together for years and years, as well as being passed on to the new generations.

Fork and Whisk:  Caramels

Fork and Whisk:  Caramels

Licking the bowl clean at the end is always one of the highlights of making caramels.

Do you have traditions with your family that you do during the holiday season every year?  What are they?  Feel free to share, we would love to hear them.  If you don’t have any traditions then now is the perfect time to start some: Going for a hike, driving around looking at Christmas lights with a cup of hot chocolate, cutting down the family Christmas tree together, baking Christmas treats together, reading certain verses from the Bible together, going to a Christmas church production, cooking Thanksgiving dinner together, the ideas are endless.  Whatever tradition you start with your family I hope it will bring you closer together with your loved ones and bring joy to your holiday season.

Have a great Thanksgiving this Thursday and a wonderful Christmas season.

Fork and Whisk.

 

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Artisan: The Birthday Lunch

About 3 weeks ago my Mom celebrated a birthday.  Unfortunately the day of her birthday Whisk and I had to be out of town for work, so we decided we would celebrate the following week.  We wanted to take her somewhere special and someplace that she hadn’t been before, so we decided on Artisan.

This is the third post we have written about Artisan since we have started the Fork and Whisk blog.  I really only intended on doing a post about Artisan the first time we went there, and all our other visits I could just relax and not think about writing about our meal.  But in typical Artisan fashion, with the delicious food and great service, I felt compelled to write a post about our most recent visit.

Whisk and I both have our days off from work in the middle of the week, so we decided we would take Mom to lunch then go and see a movie.  It was a quiet day in Paso Robles and Artisan wasn’t that busy when we arrived.  We started our meal off with a salad that acted as an appetizer, fried rock shrimp, spring mix lettuce, with a ginger citrus vinaigrette.  It was a delicious start to lunch.  After our salad we each had an entree.

Fork and Whisk: onion rings with house made ketchup

Onion rings with a house made ketchup.

Fork and Whisk: seared tuna salad with green beans and quinoa

Seared tuna, sesame green beans, red quinoa, garden tomatoes.

Fork and Whisk:  Meyer lemon risotto with roast chicken breast

Pasture raised chicken, la quercia pancetta, meyer lemon risotto.

Our entree’s were great.  Everything was cooked perfectly.  Mom had a hearty soup with great depth and layers of flavors.  Whisk had the seared tuna and I had the chicken with risotto.  Whisk’s seared tuna was tasty and substantial without being overly heavy.  My chicken and risotto was packed with flavor and perfectly cooked.  So now that the entree’s are done, and this being a birthday celebration, it is time for dessert.

Fork and Whisk:  Churros with chocolate dipping sauce

Best churros I have ever had!

Fork and Whisk:  Chocolate Boston cream pie, chocolate chip sherbert

Chocolate Boston cream pie, chocolate chip sherbert.

We ordered  a couple desserts to split among us.  Mom ordered the chocolate Boston cream pie, and Whisk and I ordered the churros and chocolate.  The chocolate Boston cream pie was delicious and rich, perfect for sharing.  The churros, all that I can say about the churros is they were the best that Whisk and I have ever had.  They were awesome.

This experience, like the other’s at Artisan was great.  It was special getting to be with my wife and Mom, enjoying each other’s company and getting to enjoy some great food at the same time.  I feel that these are important times, connecting and being with the people you love in your life, creating and sharing memories, even if it is just a causual lunch on a Wednesday afternoon.

Fork and Whisk:  artisanpasorobles.com

www.artisanpasorobles.com

Artisan has the formula figured out and I still 1000% recommend this restaurant to anyone that lives on the Central Coast, or will be traveling through.  Do yourself a great favor and stop at Artisan.  I can’t wait to go back and eat there again.

 

 

 

Chego!

Chego! has been on our list of LA restaurants to try for about 8 months now. We first found out about Chego! while scanning through the eater.com website under the Los Angeles section.

Chego! serves rice bowls, as well as appetizers (which they call snacks), and desserts.  Their food is tasty as well as interesting, here are a few rice bowls I would like to try in the future:

The Beefy T Bowl hot chili fried rice, diced prime rib, braised shoyu garlic paste with fried egg and fried shallots.

Chicken Adobo Bowl braised chicken, grilled onions, garlic shoyu, vinegar, Sprite, basil, fried shallots.

Kimchi Spam Bowl with fried rice, scrambled eggs and baby bok choy with a touch of butter and toasted sesame.

 

Fork and Whisk

A packed house on a Thursday night.

Chego! was packed on the Thursday night we went.  It is located in a small strip mall with very little parking.  We drove around for about 40 minutes looking for a place to park until one finally opened up.  The restaurant inside has a good vibe to it.  They have a long table in the middle of the restaurant with no chairs, but you can stand and eat your meal there if you just want to eat and go.  We wanted to stay awhile and take our time so we ordered at the counter and found a seat towards the back of the restaurant.  The music inside played at a pretty good volume, but it was nice to listen to and kind of relaxing.

We shared an appetizer (snack), each had a rice bowl, and each ordered a dessert. The food was very tasty.  I like that they do incorporate a good amount of vegetables into their bowls.  By the end of the meal I was full, and probably did consume to many calories, but at least I got a lot of veggies mixed in with it as well.

Fork and Whisk: Mushroom Egg Rolls

Mushroom Egg Rolls: deep fried with mushroom tofu chive filling and soy garlic fish sauce.

Fork and Whisk:  One Chubby Pork Belly Bowl

One Chubby Pork Belly Bowl: kochujang-lacquered kurobuta rice bowl with fried egg, pickled radishes, water spinach, Chinese broccoli, cotija, peanuts.

Fork and Whisk:  Sour Cream Hen House

Sour Cream Hen House: marinated grilled chicken rice bowl with fried egg, Chinese broccoli, sour cream sambal, Thai basil, sesame and red jalapeno.

Fork and Whisk:  Pina Krackalada

Pina Krackalada: coconut sticky rice with candied pineapple, puffy rice krackle and sesame.

Fork and Whisk:  Sriracha Candy Bar

Sriracha Candy Bar: Chocolate crisped rice bottom, caramel, Sriracha ganache, spiced candied peanuts and dark chocolate.

Fork and Whisk

Fork and Whisk

Chego! is a place I would definitely like to eat at many more times.  Food was tasty, service was friendly and knowledgeable, and the prices are very affordable.  If any of you who read this end up going, let me know what you think, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Fork and Whisk

Address: 3300 Overland Ave, LA, CA 90034
Phone: 310-287-0337
Website: www.eatchego.com

 

 

54 TWENTY

Fork and Whisk:  54 Twenty restaurant

Last week my wife and I had the opportunity to take a trip to Southern California for my work.  The work that had to be done was in Newport Beach, and I didn’t have to be there until 4 pm, so we thought we would leave a little early and tryout a restaurant that was on our list.  My wife is the one who found out about 54 Twenty from tastingtable.com, and soon after told me about it.

When I saw their menu online I knew it was a place that I wanted to visit.  It falls right in line with some recent topics here on Fork and Whisk.  They use grass fed beef, pastured eggs, and also proper portion sizes.  We also thought it was kind of cool that they get some of their produce from Babe Farms right here on the Central Coast.

Fork and Whisk:  54 Twenty diner

A look at their open kitchen from our table.

54 Twenty is a diner style restaurant open for breakfast and lunch.  It has great diner classics done with a modern twist.  Their french toast, for example, is stuffed with a cinnamon cream cheese, strawberry and thyme jam and topped with a tangerine-maple syrup (I will be ordering this next time).  Their reuben also looked delicious, instead of the traditional corn beef they use free range duck along with pickled red cabbage, gruyere, rye bread and pastrami chips.

It would also be worth noting that while they are not open for dinner at the present time, they do have some upcoming tasting menu dinners you can attend by making reservations.  If it works out in our schedule we are going to try and make one of them.

Fork and Whisk: Steak and Eggs

I ordered the steak and eggs: Paso prime coulotte, triple-cooked fries, baked eggs

Fork and Whisk:  Bacon steak, eggs, coffee dusted potatoes

Whisk had the bacon steak braised in maple syrup, eggs, and coffee dusted potatoes.

Fork and Whisk:  outside of 54 Twenty

54 Twenty is located at:
5420 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Phone: 323-464-1570

If you live in the Los Angeles area or will be passing through, 54 Twenty is definitely worth stopping at for a delicious bite of food.  If you are interested in checking out their menu or learning more about one of their upcoming dinners you can find them at www.54twenty.com.  Enjoy.

 

Dinner at Artisan

My little sister celebrated her birthday recently and my wife and I wanted to take her somewhere special.  Back in August on our Central Coast “staycation,” we had a chance to eat at Artisan for lunch.  We both loved it and decided this would be a great place to take her on her special day.

Artisan is located in downtown Paso Robles.  The culinary team is led by Executive Chef Chris Kobayashi.  He creates seasonal menu’s using local and organic produce, even some produce from their own organic garden in Templeton.  All of the proteins at Artisan are either wild caught or sustainably farmed with no growth hormones or antibiotics.  I liked that the beef options on the menu were from grass fed cows.  Their wine list also supports  many of the great local wineries in Paso Robles.

For dinner we split a couple of appetizers, each had an entree, and ended up sharing a trio of desserts.  Everything I tasted I liked, but I would have to say that my favorite dish of the night was my wife’s rabbit porchetta.  It was the best rabbit I have ever eaten.

 

Meatballs, Ricotta Gnocchi, Piave, Guanciale

Burrata, Figs, Speck, Saba

Grass Fed Flatiron, Shallots, Fries, Cabernet Butter

Dixon Lamb Rack, Cassoulet, Lamb Sausage, Kale

Rabbit Porchetta, Carrot Risotto, Pancetta, Salsa Verde

Grasshopper Sundae, Walnut Brownie

Fig Cannoli, Mascarpone Cream, Olive Oil Gelato

Chocolate Malted Milk Cake, Rice Crispy Nougat, Rocky Road Ice Cream

Our dining experience at Artisan this time around was much like the first time we ate there.  We had a very friendly, attentive, and knowledgeable server who could answer our questions and give good menu recommendations.  We had a great meal in a comfortable atmosphere.  I definitely look forward to coming back to Artisan with friends and family to share great food, drinks, and conversation.

 

1401 Park St., Paso Robles, CA 93446     (805) 237-8638  www.artisanpasorobles.com

 

 

Thomas Hill Organics

On a recent date night my wife and I decided that we would head up to Paso Robles to a restaurant I had learned about from a colleague at work called Thomas Hill Organics.  We had spent part of our summer vacation up in Paso Robles and had some great wine and food while there, so we thought it would be nice to head back up and try out this newest recommendation.

Thomas Hill Organics is a market-bistro and wine bar.  They serve organic produce from their farm as well featuring wines from the Central Coast.  They work with local producers for their grass and well fed beef, lamb, free range organic poultry, fish, as well as their bread from local bakers.

Thomas Hill Organics offers menu’s that change weekly, as well as with the seasons.  My wife and I really like this.  It is fun to eat seasonally and I think that it keeps restaurants fresh and exciting.  I like the anticipation of seeing what new dishes will be on a menu each time I come.

I was also very impressed by their wine and beer list. It featured a very nice variety of local wines and beers with very reasonable prices.  We had a great bottle that was a Rhone blend from Tablas Creek Winery that we both enjoyed quite a bit.

For dinner we started out with some wine, then split an appetizer, a salad, an entree, and a dessert and that seemed to fill us both up plenty.

A Rhone blend from Tablas Creek called Patelin de Tablas composed of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Counoise. Had a great balance of spice and fruit.

Ahi Tuna Tataki, English Cucumber, Sunflower Sprouts, Avocado, Ponzu, Wakame

Grilled Shrimp Skewers, Purple Rice, Peanut Vinaigrette, Pluots and Sprouted Mung Beans, Strawberries, Sweet Thai Chili, Mint, Basil, Cilantro

Roasted Duck Breast, Purple Rice, Baby Bok Choy, Green Onion and Ginger Relish, Pickled Pears, Fried Egg

Tres Leche Cake

Overall Thomas Hill Organics is a restaurant that I have no problem recommending.  The staff was knowledgeable and friendly, the restaurant was comfortable and inviting, and most importantly the food was good.

To learn more about Thomas Hill Organics you can find them on the web at www.thomashillorganics.com.

Also, if you would like to learn more about Tablas Creek Vineyard and their wine you can find them at www.tablascreek.com.

 

Langer’s Delicatessan-Restaurant

Langer’s Deli opened in 1947 by Al and Jean Langer.  It has gone from its humble beginnings of a restaurant with only 12 seats, to a James Beard award winning restaurant and an L.A. landmark.  This past year Langer’s celebrated its 65th anniversary, quite an accomplishment, especially in L.A.  Langer’s is now run by Al and Jean’s son Norm Langer, his wife Jeannette, and their daughter Trisha.

Langer’s Deli has been a restaurant that I have been wanting to go to for a very long time.  I first read about Langer’s on the website eater.com as one of L.A.’s top 38 restaurants a couple years ago.  Lately I keep hearing Max Kellerman talk about Langer’s and their #19 pastrami sandwich.  If you are not familiar with Max Kellerman he has a daytime talk radio show on 710 espn radio called Max and Marcellus.  I listen to this on my lunch break to get my Lakers talk fix, and during that time he goes into great detail about how great the  #19 at Langer’s is.  I finally decided the next time I am down in L.A. I am going to stop at Langer’s and see what this #19 is all about.

Last week the opportunity finally presented itself.  My wife was in Newport Beach visiting a friend, so I figured after I picked her up we could go eat there on the way home.

We arrived at Langer’s right in the heart of the afternoon lunch rush.  Their was a bit of a line to get in, but it moved fast.  I loved the feel inside of Langer’s.  It was very comfortable and casual, felt like an old school diner.

The #19. Pastrami, Swiss cheese and cole slaw Russian style dressing. Delicious.

I ordered the #19 and my wife ordered the #44, and we split a plate of french fries.  Both sandwiches were delicious.

The #44. Hot pastrami, sauerkraut, and nippy cheese grilled on rye.

We both really enjoyed Langer’s.  This is a restaurant I will go back to many times I am sure.  It is the kind of place where you would become a regular if it was close enough to home.  Friendly, comfortable, and delicious.

Another great thing about Langer’s is that they have curbside service.  If you are in a rush and don’t have time to eat inside, just give them a call and they will have your food ready and deliver it to you in your car.

You can visit Langer’s at:

704 South Alvarado Street

Los Angeles, CA  90057

Or call them at (213) 483-8050

Also check them out at www.langersdeli.com

 

The Hitching Post

The Hitching Post restaurant is located in the tiny town of Casmalia, CA, a few miles west of Santa Maria.  The town itself has a population of only about 200 people.  The Hitching Post has had a long history, but has been owned and operated by the Ostini family since 1952.  In 1986 the Ostini family opened up the Hitching Post 2 restaurant in Buellton, but for this post we are going to focus on the original restaurant.

Casmalia is a town that is definitely off the beaten path, but people travel great distances to come to Casmalia just for the sole purpose of eating at the Hitching Post.  The restaurant is packed nightly by both locals as well as visitors from out of town looking for a great meal.

The menu at the Hitching Post has changed a bit over the years, mainly just the addition of different cuts of meats, chicken and seafood.  But one thing has always remained the same, and that is barbecuing over red oak wood.

Everything is barbecued over red oak.

Barbecued artichokes

So why has the Hitching Post been so successful for so many years?  What keeps bringing people back even though it is so far out of the way?  I think the answer is pretty simple.  The food is done right.  This is a no frills restaurant.  If you are looking for something fancy then this isn’t the place for you.  But if you are looking for a good piece of meat, cooked and seasoned correctly, then you can’t go wrong.  I like that they serve their meat with no sauces, just a great piece of meat, cooked right, it is one of the best dining experiences known.

Dinner at the Hitching Post is a big meal, so come hungry.  All of their full dinners include: Fresh vegetable tray, crackers, butter, bay shrimp cocktail or fruit cocktail, mixed green salad, choice of baked potato, french fries, or BBQ vegetables, garlic bread, coffee or tea, and ice cream or sherbert.  My wife and I had a great meal and will probably be back many more times.

I had the mocha fudge ice cream.

My wife had the peanut butter ice cream.

If you are interested in learning more about the Hitching Post and its history, check out their website at www.hitchingpost1.com.

The Hitching Post

3325 Point Sal Road

Casmalia, CA  93454

(805) 937-6151 or (866) 879-4088

 

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