Friday, April 2, 2010

Real Food Love, California Style

Eliza and I taking in the early morning sunshine in Berkeley, California.

Hello lovely readers! I've just returned from a wonderful trip to the Northern California coast, where grass munching cows stroll along the road (and on the road) as they please, "free-range" as could be. We could hardly wait to get a juicy grass-fed burger!

We enjoyed some outstanding road food, the best being fresh oysters on the half-shell. This is what I call real fast food. We drove up to Drake's Bay Oyster Farm, my husband placed an order while I stayed in the car with our sleeping baby, the cashier shucked a dozen oysters for us and we savored them with a squeeze of lemon and a drop of hot sauce. I had never before had oysters plucked from the sea the same day I ate them, and these were succulent, salty, delicate and sweet all at once. Oysters are the perfect food for hungry travelers and food lovers.

I also loved our simple breakfast at Cafe Fanny (named after a French film heroine, as is Chez Panisse owner Alice Water's daughter), in Berkeley. A very nice cafe au lait and attention to the detail of the ingredients, made this little place superb. The butter was cultured, bright orange-hued perfection, tasting almost like a rich aged Cheddar cheese, and came from Strauss Family Creamery. Eggs were served soft-boiled in a cup, just as my mother used to make them for me when I was young. Buckwheat crepes with prosciutto, anyone?

We had a beautiful supper at Stellina, in Point Reyes Station. Local, grass-fed beef cheeks braised with rosemary potatoes and a cardoon gratin were both hearty, nourishing, and homey dishes. Dessert was a pear and oat crumble with cardamom infused whipped cream.

I loved the emphasis many restaurants there had on procuring local, sustainably produced food. We even checked out a few co-ops and natural foods grocers, the nicest one of which was Good Earth Natural Foods in Fairfax. They carried local milk in glass bottles and you could literally see 1/4 of the bottle was a top layer of yellow cream. Our poor Minnesota cows just don't have it so good, they have to wait until June for their milk to be rich in beta-carotene from rapidly growing Spring grass.

Though California was beautiful, lush, and green, I did miss Minneapolis and am happy to be back, brown grass and all.

This post is being shared with Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Real Food Wednesday.


  1. Sounds like this was a delicious trip! (well, I'll pass on oysters, but that's just me - heh!) It's amazing how food just sounds better when you know it's real. I hate eating something and thinking, "I wonder how much of this is genetically modified" or "how many preservatives are in this" and so on...!

  2. i used to dislike oysters as well, but these were so yummy and ultra fresh!