Posts Tagged ‘halloween’

Gin Tasting at Bambu Batu


Halloween must be one of the year’s best holidays. Children and adults alike have an excuse to dress as the characters and creatures they most wish to embody, and go house-to-house in pursuit of treats. For the kids, candy is the reward of choice. For those over 21, a good cocktail helps celebrate the night of spirits. For Bambu Batu’s next Art After Dark Celebration on November 1 from 6-9pm, we will be holding hard alcohol tastings from Re:Find in Paso Robles. The evening will also feature astrology readings from celestial superstar Harry Farmer and Tarot card reading by Francesca, plus live music and prizes for the best costumes.

Re:Find Handcrafted Spirits from Paso Robles uses saignée, or the free-run juice from grapes removed prior to fermentation, to produce their vodka, gin, and brandy. The juice is triple distilled to create the highest small-production spirits.  The company is the result of Alex and Monica Villicana’s efforts to promote sustainability through using an often ignored artisan product. While most gins and vodkas are made from grain and sometimes potatoes, grapes produce glycerol which are responsible for the “legs” found in wine. The unique base accounts for their unique flavor profiles as well as providing locavores a handcrafted option for their liquor cabinet.

For more information, or to find a location where Re:Find is sold, check out their website, call: 805.239.9456, or  email: Tours and tastings are offered from 11:am to 5pm daily at their distillery located at 2725 Adelaida Road, Paso Robles, CA 93446.

Feeling uncomfortable about handing out overly-sugary candy to trick-or-treaters this year?  Before you go out an buy a bag of high fructose corn syrup, consider some fun and tasty alternatives to the usual bowl of holiday diabetes.

Mandarin madness- Create your own mini jack-0-lanterns by inserting cloves into the skins of mandarin oranges. The burst of citrus and spicy smell of cloves will make your mouth water, and the little faces will give your kids an excuse to play with their food.

You must be nuts- Small bags of salted or roasted nuts are a nice, protein-filled alternative to candy bars. Make your own trail mix in small cellophane bags for a personal touch!

Hello honey- Little honey sticks are bright, colorful, sweet, and can be found in health foods stores in bulk.  Support your local beekeeper and enjoy a treat that dates back to antiquity.

Pop culture- Salty, buttery and crunchy, popcorn is a fast and easy treat that is full of fiber.  Stuff freshly popped organic kernels into non-latex gloves with candy corn at the fingertips to make “witches hands” and creep out the neighborhood kids.

Frightening fruit- Hand out some organic or low-sugar juice-boxes to keep the trick-or-treaters hydrated as they hoof it about town.


Halloween is right around the corner, and that means time to break out the sugary snacks, decorate the house in spider webs, and gouge a gourd or two.  The Maniac Pumpkin Carvers, based out of New York City, have a couple of tips to ensure that your jack-o-lanterns will not only become monstrous masterpieces, but also last longer than your Halloween candy.

Picking a pumpkin- When looking for your canvas, choose a pumpkin with a symmetrical shape and even skin texture.  Make sure your specimen has a good stem, for keeping the top intact will help your pumpkin continue to draw nutrients and decompose slower. (When it comes time to scoop out the innards, you’ll actually want to make the opening from the back, not the top.)

Prepping your pumpkin- Before getting ready to carve, wash your pumpkin in soap and water.  Cleaning the exterior will help prevent infection once you begin to cut into the skin.  Do not make the rookie mistake of scooping your pumpkin at this point!  Wait until after you have created your design and carved the front of your pumpkin.

Sketching the scary- Before digging in, sketch out your design on a piece of paper.  Remember that what you are drawing is a negative, and the pieces that will be cut out will eventually be the lighted, brighter parts of your image.  Once ready to transfer onto your gourd, you can either freehand the design, or tape the paper to the surface of the pumpkin, and use a piercing tool to create guidelines along your pencil marks.

Piercing your pumpkin- The Maniac Carvers use a host of tools, depending on the intricacy of their design. Anything used for carving is fair game, including woodworking tools, small handsaws, X-Acto knives, and kitchen utensils.  Remember that the further you carve into the outer shell, the lighter the image will eventually become. Once you begin to carve, the pumpkin begins to decay.  You can delay the process somewhat by spraying a mixture of lemon juice and water onto the surface as you cut.  Once finished, cut a hole in the back of the pumpkin for scooping.  After hollowing out the innards, replace the door, and seal the outside of the pumpkin with either vegetable oil or Vaseline to minimize exposure to air.

Juicing your jack-0-lantern- Instead of candles, the Maniac Carvers recommend LED or CFL bulbs which run at cooler temperatures.  For a flickering effect, you can purchase battery-operated candle bulbs that will not burn your pumpkin or heat transform it into an orange petri dish.

Now you are ready to place your creations on the porch, throw on a costume, and get ready to scare the snot out of the neighborhood children.  Happy Halloween!


The morning after Halloween, candy wrappers and discarded costume pieces end up littering the streets like autumn leaves.  Children (and let’s face it, enough of us adults) are pushed ever closer to the brink of diabetes.  Party decorations and leftover snacks line city dumpsters, and stores begin liquidating all of their orange and black inventory to make way for the red and green.  This time of year can be frightening for the environment, but with a few adjustments and mindful observations, your celebrations can be devilish without being destructive.

1. Fair trade and organic candy- If you are going to put yourself into a sugar-induced coma, you might as well ensure that your candy is free of artificial dyes and flavors.  Certified fair trade treats make sure that the horrors and tricks of the holiday remain in jest and not encouraging shady business practices.  For a list of sustainable sweets, check out naturemoms’ blog article for great recommendations.

2.  Reusable candy sacks- Pillowcases are the classic renewable favorite, but tote and fabric grocery bags work just as well.  Decorate your own bag with ghouls and goblins, or purchase reusable sacks like those available from ChicoBags and save it for Halloweens to come!

3.  Recycled Costumes-  The Salvation Army, Goodwill and local thrift stores are fantastic places to find costume material.  Instead of purchasing new items, sew, mix and match pieces to create a unique ensemble that breathes life into an old wardrobe and won’t break the bank.

4.  Halloween party can drive-  With Thanksgiving around the corner, institute a party can drive to help those who are hungry feed themselves and their family this season.  (I am proud to give credit for this idea to the epic Halloween rager that a local socially conscious San Luis Obispo house holds every year.  Even some hoodlums have a heart!)  SLO residents should check out GleanSLO, a group of farmers and volunteers that gather together to harvest produce and donate it the county food bank.  Spend the day in an apple orchard to enjoy the fall weather with the family and do something good for the community!

5.  Salvaged decorations-  For our party this year, my house is using all recycled or salvaged materials to create devils, angels, and various scenes of the afterlife.  Whatever was not acquired for free from Craigslist or reused from past celebrations was taken from dumpsters and local trash piles.  With a little rooting, we were able to pick up gigantic pieces of cardboard, outdated newspaper for paper mache, and wood from discarded pallets.  It may take a bit more time and ingenuity to round up all of the items needed, but it definitely makes for some colorful adventure stories.

6.  Go natural-  When given the choice between decorating your porch the styrofoam pumpkins or plastic corncobs, opt for the real deal.  When they have outlived their purpose, add them to a compost pile, use them to feed the local wildlife, or reuse them for Thanksgiving centerpieces.

7.  Walk instead of driving- Let the kids use their legs a little and work for that free candy when trick-or-treating this year.  Resist the urge to drive to distant neighborhoods or bring along the golf cart.  Bicycles are a wonderful way to get around, and as long as all traffic and safety laws are observed, an easy and enjoyable means of burning off a sugar-high.

8.  Buy local-  Purchase treats like apples, handmade chocolates and cider from neighborhood candy stores or produce stands.  Money stays in the local economy and fossil fuels are conserved by keeping transportation distances to a minimum.  In SLO, fruit and veggie lovers can find a CSA, farmers market or stand close to home by visiting Central Coast Grown.  We are lucky to have Powell’s Sweet Shoppe, Tropical Chocolates and Sweet Earth Chocolates to satiate our collective sweet tooth.