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If there’s one locally grown ingredient that I never tire of, it’s the luscious, buttery-tasting avocado. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love it! It’s great in salads, spread on toasted bread, in dishes hot and cold and in the many additive styles of guacamole. Even better, this versatile fruit tastes great with beer, tequila, or wine!

So is it any wonder that the annual Avocado Margarita Festival in Morro Bay coming Sept. 9 and 10 is so popular? The event takes place in two venues in Morro Bay: a dinner party Friday and the main festival Saturday alongside the Embarcadero, which provides gorgeous bay views of the Morro Bay Rock.

Occasionally, I write about beer and even more rarely cover tequila or other hard liquors in my column. But when it comes to wine, I know from experience that red, pink or white wines pair beautifully with avocado; this fruit is that versatile.

We’re fortunate on the Central Coast to have so many great sources to buy avocados, which are served on my kitchen table several times each week. For the first time in the 10-year history of the Morro Bay Avocado Margarita Festival, they’ve made wine a prominent part of the event.

New this year is the Friday night dinner party, featuring unique avocado-based dishes by local chefs, paired with great local wines. They named it Taste of the Grove because it takes place at a beautiful avocado farm named,The Packing Shed, which can be rented for special events, weddings and other private parties. It’s just a short drive from downtown Morro Bay.

The price for the dinner party is $60 per person from 6 to 9 p.m., and your ticket gets you into the Avocado-Margarita Festival on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Should you choose only to attend the festival Saturday, the entry fee is only $5 per person. Taste of the Grove is sponsored by the California Avocado Commission, CA GROWN and the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce.

Among the great business combinations at the dinner party, the popular Thomas Hill Organics (THO restaurant) in Paso Robles will team up with Baker and Brain wines in Los Osos. Baker and Brain is a small production brand focused on pinot noirs and Rhone varieties made by two very talented winemakers, Josh Baker and Matt Brain. The foods and wines offered have not been announced, but from experience I know you can count on exceptional tastes their in their food and wine pairings. Not only that, they will both be showing off their talents by providing a demonstration during Saturday’s festival, featuring avocado hummus with Haussler Farms Sungold tomatoes on THO housemade sourdough flatbread.

During Saturday’s festivities, Artisan Chef Chris Kobayashi partners up with Morro Bay Oyster Co. and Shanley Farms to prepare fried oysters with avocado vinaigrette and finger limes. Farmstead Ed, a Paso Robles organic farm, will host a guacamole bar with servers from Best Ever Salsa Co., Taco Works, Talley Farms, The Groves on 41, Windrose Farm and Spice of Life. And Two Cooks Catering will offer a fresh avocado mousse.

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Although the planners didn’t release all of the details about all of the wine and food pairings, I can tell you about some of the great participating wineries and restaurants, as well as specialty food and beverage participants. Tequila and margarita lovers needn’t worry. There will be plenty of mixologists preparing their unique and refreshing salt-rimmed margaritas among other cocktails, and there will be plenty of stands serving ice cold brews.

Among the excellent Central Coast wineries will be both new brands and longtime favorites like Alta Colina, Baker & Brain, and Union Sacre. The chefs and farms are equally impressive, from Artisan, Fig Good Food and Chef Charlie to Farmstead Ed, Olea Farm, Stepladder Farm and Talley Farms, plus so many others, you won’t go hungry or thirsty. This is a great opportunity to taste many foods made by the artisans in our great community.

Games like Jenga and Cornhole keep everyone busy, especially the kids, and contests like winning a years supply of California avocados, make this event family-friendly.

Many Central Coast food specialists will be under the tents like Giovanni’s Fish Market, Libertine Brewing, Frank’s roasted corn, Old West kettle corn and the Pairing Knife food truck.

For more information, visit the events page at www.avomargfest.com. You can buy tickets and find deals on local motels close enough to allow you to walk to the festival and make it a weekend of fun.

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Contact wine writer Kathy Marcks Hardesty at kathy@centralcoastcritic.com.

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