musings about food, travel, creativity and life

Art + Food + Friends = Fun!

Moroccan cooking anyone? Sashiko embroidery? Scarecrows? These were all part of this week’s events when a group of women friends and I made our 7th annual art retreat to Cambria.

Cambria is a delightful town on the Central California coast. During October, the town is filled with decorated scarecrows of all different styles. There are the Seven Dwarfs here; a surfer there; a fortune-teller just down the street. In fact, one has to be careful to not think that tourists, who just happen to be standing still, are scarecrows. The area is also full of enticing shops, restaurants, and lovely places for hiking and walking along the Pacific Ocean, along with Hearst Castle only ten miles away.

Our art focus was embroidery, especially a folk Japanese technique called Sashiko which is based on a simple running stitch as its primary mode of decoration. I found it easy to learn, very meditative, and enjoyable to do. We had hands-on instruction, saw instructional videos, sewed, talked, walked, and then sewed again.

The second class came froa friend who is enamored with Moroccan cuisine. We all helped her chop mint for the tea, olives for the orange-olive salad, almonds for the pastilla, and green onions for the couscous that accompanied her chicken tagine dish.

As we were doing all of the chopping, we nibbled on yogurt-stuffed dried apricots, actually a Turkish specialty. They were pretty and tasty and would be perfect to bring to a potluck either as an appetizer or dessert. When we finally all sat down to dinner, we were treated to a beautiful table setting and some of the chef’s tales of her travels in Morocco.

When we weren’t sewing or cooking, we enjoyed the local shops and restaurants…Madeline’s and Wild Ginger for dinners, Linn’s for polenta pancakes and banana chocolate chip muffins, the Patricia Griffin Studio and Gallery for fine pottery, Mojo’s for coffee, Yarn and Skein for knitting projects, New Moon and Half Moon Boutiques for clothing, and Home Arts for the beginning of holiday shopping. And then there was the foray to Morro Bay to the stylish succulent and home decor shop called The Garden Gallery.

What were my best souvenirs from this trip? I returned with a set of enticing art and culinary directions, a renewed appreciation of the beauty of our Central Coast, and gratitude for the fun and inspiration of friendships, some of which go back forty five years. My goodness. Thank you, life!           

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