Creamy macaroni and cheese. Crisp apples. Smoky, briny barbecued oysters.
Here in San Luis Obispo County, we love to eat. And we’re blessed with so much bounty — from fresh meat and seafood to flavorful fruits and verdant vegetables — that our cuisine is second to none.
Here are 10 ways to savor the flavors of the Central Coast this summer and fall.
Macaroni and Cheese Festival
What: Local chefs vie for pasta perfection at this 21-and-up event, which features all the gooey, cheesy mac you can eat plus wine, beer, spirits an music by Soul Scratch and The Kicks.
When: 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: Avila Beach Golf Resort, 6464 Ana Bay Road
How much: $60 to $80, $10 parking
Central Coast Oyster and Music Festival
What: Shuck yeah, it’s oyster time! Slurp down delicacies on the half-shell while you sip wine, beer and cocktails, groove to live music and watch performance artists.
When: Noon to 8 p.m. July 8
Where: Avila Beach Golf Resort
How much: $25, free for ages 65 and older and 12 and under. $10 parking
Central Coast Lavender Festival
What: Lavender isn’t just for laundry any more. Sample lavender-laden treats from cheese to chocolate as you shop for fragrant gifts and learn how to grow and preserve this aromatic herb.
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 8
Where: Downtown City Park, Spring and 12th streets, Paso Robles
How much: Free
Central Coast Beef and Wine Festival
What: Steak and syrah is among the possible pairings at this event celebrating Central Coast ranches and wineries. Munch your way through the meat-centric tasting menu while watching open-grill cooking demonstrations.
When: 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 26
Where: Halter Ranch, 8910 Adelaida Road, Paso Robles
How much: $95, $995 VIP table
Avocado and Margarita Street Festival
What: Guacamole lovers will see green at this event, which also features music, magic shows, art and a mini-avocado toss. (For a more intimate experience, try Taste of the Grove, Sept. 8 at The Packing Shed in Morro Bay. Avocado-themed dishes are paired with wine, beer and handcrafted cocktails.)
When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 9
Where: Embarcadero, downtown Morro Bay
How much: $5 to $7, free for 10 and under
Heirloom Tomato Festival and Dinner
What: Taste more than 40 varieties of ripe, juicy tomatoes and sample tomato-inspired dishes by local chefs, or enjoy a farm-to-table dinner featuring seasonal Central Coast produce.
When: Sept. 23 and 24
Where: Windrose Farm, 5750 El Pharo Drive, Paso Robles
How much: TBA
Taste of Downtown
What: Sample bites and sips from more than 35 Paso Robles restaurants and wineries while you admire colorful sidewalk chalk art at the free Arte De Tiza event. Burn off calories dancing to a DJ at Downtown City Park.
When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sept. 16
Where: Downtown Paso Robles
How much: $25
Info: 805-238-4108 or www.pasoroblesdowntown.org
Avila Apple Festival
What: Sink your teeth into crisp, sweet apples at this event showcasing the fruits of the Avila Valley. In store are an apple-themed dinner, apple and wine tasting and live and silent auctions.
When: 5 to 9 p.m. Sept. 23
Where: Avila Beach Community Center, 191 San Miguel St., Avila Beach
How much: $100
Pismo Beach Clam Festival
What: Two words: clam chowder. In addition to boatloads of seafood, including a clam chowder cook-off and a clam bake, the sun-soaked fun includes a wine walk, music and a parade.
Where: Downtown Pismo Beach
When: 5 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 20, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 21 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 22
How much: Free; $20 wine walk, $10 chowder contest, $30 clam bake
Golden Oak Honey Festival
What: Sample sweet honey treats and learn about backyard beekeeping and cooking with honey at this festival. Other attractions include a wine stroll, beehive hair-do contest, spelling bee and bumblebee obstacle course.
When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Oct. 28
Where: Downtown City Park, Paso Robles
How much: Free