A Culinary Trip to Half Moon Bay, California

A cooking class in Half Moon Bay, California
Cassie Kifer

Most Silicon Valley locals head over the hill to Half Moon Bay to enjoy the beaches and the windswept California coast. While wine tasting and food adventures are probably not things you associate with this beach town, this part of San Mateo County has a long history of agriculture and celebrates fresh and local food. When I learned that a downtown kitchen store offered cooking classes, I decided to head out to Half Moon Bay for a food and wine-fueled afternoon.

We started our day with a stop at La Nebbia Winery (12341 San Mateo Road). This small wine tasting room is on Highway 92 just as you're coming over the hill into Half Moon Bay from San Mateo. The 40-year-old winery sources grapes from across California and offers a one-stop California tasting experience for visitors. Their signature local event is their "Barrel to Bottle" series. On eight Saturdays a year, you can bring your clean, empty wine bottles into the store where they will fill them with a bulk wine and seal them back up for only $5.75 each.

It's a great way to recycle used bottles and stock up on good wines at a great price. 

Learning to Cook 

After tasting, we were on to the main event--a cooking class at Toque Blanche (604 Main Street). The Downtown Half Moon Bay store sells local artisanal foods, cookware from around the world, cookbooks, fine wines and craft beers. The store offers quarterly cooking demonstrations featuring a four-course menu and an optional Italian wine pairing.

At our workshop, the instructors provided a demonstration of each recipe including cooking techniques. They shared a top-down live video feed on a monitor so you can see exactly how each dish was prepared For our course, the instructors prepared three different dishes: cauliflower soup with preserved lemon gremolata, farro salad with zinfandel-apricot vinaigrette, and chicken breast in mustard cream sauce. For dessert, they made no-bake coconut macaroons and a spicy chai tea. All of the dishes were explained well, and I left feeling confident I would be able to replicate the menu.

After the class, guests are invited to explore the store--attendees are given 10% off any purchase made that night. Toque Blanche was recently voted best Bay Area home goods store by a local readers poll and carries a wide assortment of specialty kitchenware and colorful pottery from around the world. They are best known for La Chamba, a unique, handcrafted black clay cookware that they import from Colombia. These beautiful creations would make a great gift for any food lover in your life.

More culinary things to do on the San Mateo County coast:

  • Take a cheese-tasting tour of Harley Farms Goat Dairy
  • Visit the Half Moon Bay farmer's market (Saturday, 9am-1pm, May through December)
  • Seasonal fruit and berry picking at Coastways Ranch (340 Cabrillo Hwy, Pescadero)
  • Visit local craft brewers: Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, Hop Dogma, Highway 1 Brewing Company