If you’re a fan of pot pies, calzones or even turnovers, your taste buds will be happy to discover the “Authentic Cornish Pasties with a California Twist” at SloCo Pasty Company.
The half-moon-shaped, doughy delight with a braided edge known as a pasty — pronounced “PASS-tee” — are commonly thought to have originated in Cornwall, a coastal peninsula at the southwestern tip of England where inhabitants are more likely to refer to themselves as Cornish than British.
Literary references to pasties reach back to the 1100s and wind through two Shakespeare plays, but as a cuisine they’re firmly rooted in history as a working-class staple, especially to Cornish miners in the 18th and 19th centuries.
“Really, they’re street food that we’ve taken up a notch,” noted Kurt Stump, who opened SloCo Pasty Company in June 2011 with his wife, Gwynne.
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Both were introduced to pasties elsewhere, in Arizona and the Midwest, and harbored their pasty shop idea for several years before realizing the concept in downtown San Luis Obispo.
The Stumps designed their Chorro Street eatery with “the thought of creating an English/Irish pub atmosphere, a kind of a community gathering place,” said Kurt (who did all the woodworking, from building the bar to routing the wall panels).
About a dozen tables are sprawled between inside and out, and the high-ceilinged interior sports industrial-style lighting fixtures and archival photos of Cornish mines.
In keeping with the pub concept, SloCo Pasty really mines the English/Irish mother lode when it comes to potent potables, offering not only Guinness on tap but also Boddington’s, Smithwick’s (a revered Irish ale that’s been brewed since 1710), and (gluten-free) Magners Hard Cider.
To develop the SloCo Pasty menu, the Stumps did a lot of research and experimenting, processes with which they’re very familiar.
Both have doctorate degrees, Gwynne in biology, Kurt in physics, and he still has his “day job” as a medical physicist. Even Gwynne’s mother got into the act, contributing recipes for spot-on soda bread and a hearty Irish stew developed from her own mother’s recipe.
For an intro into this Cornish fare, try the Oggy, a time-honored take on the pasty that’s filled with steak, potatoes, onions and rutabaga.
From there, most of the names speak for themselves — Shepherd’s Pie, Bangers ’n Mash, Chicken Pot Pie, Carne Asada, and Chicken and Brie — but another popular pasty is the “Aporkrodite” with pork loin, feta cheese, gorgonzola and bacon.
Of course, this being the Central Coast, there’s also a beef Tri-Trippin’ pasty, but vegetarians can tuck into a Shroom with portabella mushrooms, an Italian Garden with squash and broccoli, and a Vegetarian Bake with veggie sausage, black beans, corn, butternut squash and green chiles. Dessert pasties run the gamut from pumpkin pie to Nutella and strawberries.
Not in the mood for pasties? The menu also includes a daily soup, salads such as the Vineyard and Orchard with spinach and grapes, and even the Canadian-inspired Slo Poutine — baked fries topped with gorgonzola cheese, feta crumbles and house-made gravy.
Indeed, everything at SloCo Pasty “is made from scratch,” said Gwynne. “We make our dough and fillings every day. There’s no just opening a can.”
That approach also lets the whole crew collaborate on fun specials like a cream of carrot curry soup or the St. Patrick’s Day-themed corned beef and cabbage pasty.
“We really never know where we’re going to go next with the specials, and we encourage our staff to do that — they’ve helped us open and have grown right along with us,” said Gwynne.