Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Lately, I've been thinking about writing a book called "Awesome Day Trips." Well, I'll have to work on the title - but seriously, I'm so into mastering the art of day-long getaways. What works, what doesn't? How much sun is too much sun? How much driving should be done? Now it's starting to sound like something from Mother Goose or Doctor Seuss (ahh, stop rhyming!) - it's not a childrens' story. Anyway, you get the picture!
This past Saturday, Sarah and I spent the whole day out of the city. We had a plan in mind, but some activities were spontaneous. We knew where the day would begin and where it would end, but mostly we went where the wind took us. With a little bit of planning (nothing set in stone), it's actually easier to let things just happen. So, without keeping you in too much suspense, welcome to our day (which, by the way, was a 17 hour endeavor):
A day beginning with a pancake is a good day indeed. A long adventure benefits from a hearty breakfast, which is what happened for us in Ben Lomond (note: this is a "place" not a town or a city, FYI). Some earlier research lead us to find a quaint diner called Spanky's. It was the perfect pit stop on the way to our next destination: Big Basin State Park.
Big Basin is California's oldest state park, dating back to 1902. How had I never been?
We decided to take the Redwood Trail, a short walk through the trees with lots of fun facts. Like, for example: redwood roots only grow about 6-10 feet deep, which is surprisingly shallow given their height (around 380 feet!). So, one might wonder, how do they withstand the storms and high winds? How do they not fall down? Well, the roots extend as wide as the tree is tall, linking, as if holding hands, with the adjacent trees. I'm sorry, but is that not the sweetest thing?
Our friend Maggie said we couldn't miss "Mother of the Forest" - the tallest redwood in the park (actually Maggie was the driving force for most of the day - giving us the idea to go Big Basin and also suggesting our main event later in the eve - wait for it). So, back to the trees. A resilient force, the "mother" stands at 329 feet. In the abstract, that number has no impact on me. Standing at its base is another story.
It was so tall, I didn't know what to do with myself. Necks don't go back that far! Where was the top? To get the full effect, watch this.
After Mother of the Forest, one can only marvel at the poetry of trees. Winding down with the nature portion of our day, we took a rest by a beautiful meadow.
Big Basin is technically in Boulder Creek, another "place" a la Ben Lomond. Stopping into this place was not on our agenda, but we couldn't help but pop into some antique stores. We spent a while in one that caught our eye, trying on rings and picking out records. Alas, it was getting close to lunch time and we had another destination in our plans: Santa Cruz!
Just 9 miles on a windy road and there we were! After strolling around downtown, we got sandwiches at New Leaf - a cozy local market that I always like to visit when I'm in Santa Cruz. Their made-to-order sandwiches are de-lish!
Our original plan was to see a movie in Santa Cruz - but the sunny weather and the blue sky vetoed that agenda item. We had many hours in Santa Cruz before our special evening event (wait for it), so we thought we'd spend them on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. We screamed on the roller coaster, got soaked on the log ride, rocked side-to-side on the Rock-n-Roll, ate churros, and played Dance, Dance Revolution in the arcade. Does anyone realize how hard that game is?
Amusement parks aren't really my thing, but I was very swept up in the purity and fun of the whole thing. Just strolling along the boardwalk in the beating hot sun, it was the concept of "forever summer" embodied. My favorite thing to watch were the Sea Swings, a ride designed in Italy. We didn't take a swing, but were still mesmerized by the people with their feet dangling in the air.
Every day getaway must come to an end, but before ours did we had somewhere to be. Our final destination was the Mountain Winery in Saratoga, where we had tickets to their summer concert series. Who was performing on their outdoor stage? Lucinda Williams!
We enjoyed pinot from the winery as the sun set over the vineyard.
Showing off my Boulder Creek purchases! I'm not really a two-rings-on-one-hand-kind of girl (think Rayanne Graff from My So-Called Life or Emily Valentine from 90210), but I couldn't help myself and it felt right. The turquoise was an obvious choice, but then I spotted the little heart ring. I couldn't help but think about the redwood roots linked, as if holding hands...
Lucinda on stage under a star kissed sky. It was a perfect summer day - going from town to town, place to place, accepting spontaneity's invitation, driving along the California roads, car wheels on a gravel road...
Monday, June 27, 2011
Readers, if you were tired of me blogging about Outerlands would you tell me?
It's just that I can't really get enough of it. It's summer, which means the most wonderful fruit is in season, which inherently means that Outerlands will be presenting said fruit in the most beautiful way. When my friend Sophie told me she'd never been, it seemed only reasonable (necessary/urgent) that we went, right? Given my deep adoration for heading out to the Sunset to enjoy their delicious food, we thought it best to have dinner there before our Friday night movie.
Sophie's coat was very chic. She went off for a minute to check out the General Store, but sadly it was closed.
The drink you see is ginger lemon apple cider, spiked with Bourbon. It was a chilly night so this sounded perfect. I loved every sip.
I also love Sophie's red shoes. We both started with a salad: mixed mustard greens and cresta di gallo with apricots and spiced walnuts, dressed with a toasted seed vinaigrette. Sometimes, I think of what words on menus reel me in. "Toasted" is one of these words. The salad was the deepest green I'd ever seen. Sound bite from Sophie: I'm eating a Christmas Tree.
Main courses. Sophie ordered the Cauliflower soup, that comes with a side of Dave's levain toast - always a favorite. Normally, when I go to Outerlands, I don't order meat - I have no idea why. I think it's because the soups are soooooo goooooooood. But, this time, I went a different way. My dish: slow cooked prather ranch pork shoulder with asparagus, toasted barley and green garlic risotto, and morels. It was divine.
See how divine it is?
Sunset in the sunset - it's the closest you can get.
Then we saw this movie: Beginners written and directed by Mike Mills. It was a bit of an emotional roller coaster (FYI) but it was very sweet and aesthetically pleasing. I just love all of the actors in it. Ever since Trainspotting, I've had a major crush on Ewan McGregor. He keeps being adorable - even when he drops his thick Scottish accent. If you want a sweet family/love story, this movie is for you! It's summer, so when it comes to movies, we have to take what we can get.
Friday, June 24, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
Don't tell anyone, but I secretly want to live on a farm. It's a funny fantasy, though, considering that earth worms give me the creeps. I can't really see myself driving a tractor and working with tools isn't really my strong suit - I mean, seriously, what does a wrench do? Clearly, I have a lot to learn...
...and yet, I can't help but imagine the dreaminess of this life: living off the land, waking up at sunrise to harvest the field, embodying a sustainable and seasonal lifestyle, tending to and to caring for livestock. Maybe one day, I can pack it all up and do those things.
Until then, I can live vicariously through Sarah Barnes -- my beautiful friend and writer of the blog Girl Awakes. She's partaking in an 8 month apprenticeship on Soil Born Farms, an urban agriculture project in Rancho Cordova. This past Sunday, I traded sunny Dolores Park for the sunnier American River Ranch (it was in the mid-90's in Sacramento!). It was Sarah's day off which meant we got to play on the farm, swim in the American river, and ride bikes along the most beautiful bike path ever!
First thing's first: breakfast. After frying up a few eggs (collected from the coop only moments earlier), we had a sweet treat of yogurt (made by Sarah) and granola (made by Sarah). I'm liking this already...
After catching up around the picnic table, Sarah and I hopped on bikes and ventured out to the farm on Hurley Way, a one and half acre certified organic garden. Sarah described it as a sanctuary - it didn't take long for me to feel cozily cradled in its leafy arms.
Up on ladders and with our head in the trees, we harvested mulberries and watched the chickens do their thing. I could get used to this.
The ripe berries matched my nail polish - obviously, I dressed for the occasion.
Cleveland Sage - the essence of potpourri. Sarah knew the names of every flower, plant, vegetable and fruit - I was very impressed. She's learned so much - I bet if I lived on the farm like Sarah does I'd soon learn the purpose of a wrench.
I forget the names of these ones - but I thought they were the sweetest things. They called to me.
Artichoke - can you believe it!? Pretty purple.
First ripe pluot of the season - right off the tree. We got really full on these.
Deeply lost in its magic, eventually we had to pull ourselves away from the farm on Hurley Way. Luckily, we had our looming-jump-in-the-river to motivate us to hop back on bikes and trek on over. Did I mention that the bike path is the coolest?
Our cycling adventure was a nice break from the obstacle course that biking in San Francisco can sometimes be. The path is peaceful and well paved, offering a pure state of relaxation with its ongoing flatness. The occasional hill or dip only furthers a state of calm. It runs along the river so while you're gliding along you can see people kayaking and tubing on the water - which was so blue I couldn't believe it.
By the way, Sunday marked my first time ever riding a fixed gear bike (ironic that I had to leave San Francisco to climb aboard). Super nerve-wracking, it took me a while to get used to the pedals never stopping and the awkwardness of braking. Overall though it was mostly fun and exhilarating! It was a day of firsts -- although I never got to use that wrench.
The American River on a hot day, also known as an invitation to dive in.
Farmer Sarah poses for a picture.
Me, freezing in the American River.
As usual with days like these, it's almost impossible to get in the car and drive home. Walking back from the river, we caught a glimpse of the cows. Sarah introduced me to them and even had a few anecdotes about their antics. I didn't want to leave. Generous as she is, Sarah sent me home with bags of produce from the farm - plenty of greens, squash, root veggies and garlic to save me multiple trips to the market. This was the real thing.
On my way home I thought of how lucky Sarah is to be living on Soil Born Farm. I also thought of how lucky I am to have her as a friend. Our Sunday together reminded me to be open to all new opportunities as scary as they might be. With Sarah glowing and smiling all day, how could I not be inspired by her experience?
Thank you, Sarah, for such a perfect day on the farm! xoxo
***note: since publishing this post, the blogger has since learned the purpose and use for a wrench. She's quite pleased with her findings and feels ready and prepared to continue dreaming of living on a farm***
Thursday, June 16, 2011
It's a truth universally acknowledged that Tartine Bakery rules. Just ask the people lined up outside on a Saturday morning. Or a Sunday morning. Or a Sunday afternoon. Or on a Sunday evening. Or on a Wednesday.
All day everyday, people flock to Tartine to taste baked perfection - orange zest morning buns, seasonal bread pudding, and croque monsieur (just writing those last two words and I started to smell it.) See, I'm not even there and Tartine has magical powers.
I'm just like the rest of them - I love Tartine. However, I'm always in the market for a new and exciting bakery because, honestly, who doesn't love a good bakery - potentially one whose line isn't so long!
So, when I read about Devil's Teeth Baking Company on Tasting Table (an email newsletter than delivers food culture daily) I was eager to check it out. Here's what I learned: DTBC (as it will now be referred to as in this post) is very close to the ocean, out near the Avenues in the Sunset District. We all know I have a weakness for the Sunset. Remember this? And this?
Anyway, on the DTBC website, the first things that might catch your eye are these words: There are very few things better on earth than starting a morning with a cup of coffee and some hot beignets. I couldn't agree more and, seriously, way to reign 'em in. Way to get me up early on a Sunday morning, dragging 3 friends out to what I imagined would be a culinary delight (and a sweet treat guarantee).
After the journey out to the Sunset (some bike...
...and some drive - you can see my car in the very far left of this photograph) we were ready to explore this new bakery - and potential breakfast go-to!
There was talk that they had Blue Bottle Coffee. I love Blue Bottle! Not just because it's great coffee, but because it has a sense of humor. You either have to go to the Ferry Building (farthest east end of the city) or to DTBC (farthest west end of the city) to get some. OK, that's not entirely true (there is most certainly some Blue Bottle scattered around the city) - but I like the idea that if you run Bay to Breakers, you can start and end your journey with a cup of this deliciousness.
At tasting table's suggestion, we all ordered what they refer to as "the big gun" - the breakfast sandwich. While sitting outside on a bench in the fog, we enjoyed (and performed a running commentary on) our scrambled eggs, bacon and cheddar cheese stuck inside a buttery biscuit. Some of us started with our beignets, some of us saved them for dessert. Some of us photographed the bags that held them, as they slowly proved that what was inside was very, very fried.
Fried to order, that is.
Getting dressed that morning, I never thought that black would be a bad choice. It just goes to show that those that run this fine establishment were not greedy with the sugary goodness. The beignets were a knockout and DTBC is just another example of why the Sunset isn't just a place to watch the sunset.