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.