While we were in California we were lucky enough to drive up classic Route 1 from Santa Cruz to San Francisco, in a bright red rental car no less. The drive was unbelievable— scenic is an understatement. It started off hilly, driving through the farms just outside of Santa Cruz. One of favorite stops along the whole trip was at this point, at Swanton Berry Farm. We had tried some Swanton strawberries at a farmer’s market on the Embarcadero, and they were berry delicious. And after seeing a classic pickup with a big berry on it and a “you-pick-em” sign… we kind of had to stop in.
Inside the quaint front door…
Just a ton of strawberries. Big, red, ripe and juicy berries, perfectly delicious and waiting to be eaten.
The farm also had every berry treat imaginable, jam tastings (strawberry citrus, yum oh yum), and an honor system for paying. There were chocolate covered strawberries, strawberry rhubarb buckle (that was really good!), granola with dried strawberries, mini pies and scones— any strawberry treat imaginable!
The rest of the drive? Cliffs, beaches, and surfers. It was a pretty sweet ride.
One of my favorite days in Santa Cruz, CA was Wednesday, their weekly farmer’s market. Located in the middle of town, the Santa Cruz farmer’s market was one of the absolute best I’ve ever been to. The fresh produce was abundant, colorful, delicious, and beautiful. Vendors were friendly, helpful, and offered lots of free samples. To top it off, there were several sections that had (awesome) live music, including some banjo and mandolin. I was a little bit in love with Santa Cruz, right at that moment.
These edible flowers were my favorite of the fresh and local offerings. Another thing we tried that was to die for was some local sorbet:
Slip and I shared the strawberry shortcake and the coffee almond:
I can’t really explain how amazing this was, because I’ve never ever tasted sorbet like this before. It was creamy and rich and delicious. I fell in love with the strawberry shortcake and totally ate all of it, but Slip was nuts for coffee almond. Next time I’m in Santa Cruz I better be there on a Wednesday so I can get more sorbet!
Another thing at this farmer’s market you don’t see around Philly farmer’s markets? Lots of fresh fish. There was even an oyster bar:
We decided to pick up some fresh fish (black snapper), lots of fresh veggies, and a loaf of bread, to make some dinner at the beach.
Once we got home I seasoned everything with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and fresh rosemary. We walked down to the beach and somehow, luck of all luck, obtained a fire pit as another group was leaving. Our friends met us later with our farmer’s market bounty and we built a beautiful fire, grilled it all up, and enjoyed our dinner with some beers, the sun setting, the sound of the ocean and Eric playing the guitar. A perfect night and perfect way to end our time in Santa Cruz.
Last Saturday we landed in San Francisco just on time to feel super hungry for lunch. We headed into Chinatown, with absolutely no knowledge of where to go, but decided an definite must was Dim Sum. So, how to choose a good place in Chinatown? Oh, of course, look for the ducks in the window:
I honestly can’t tell you where we were— a small place, I think on Washington Street, in San Francisco. But they had Dim Sum, and that’s what we were there for. Servers crowded our table with trays and trays of different dumplings, buns, and cakes. We had hot tea to go around and an array of intensely spicy sauces.
Including what’s here on this lazy susan (greatest big table invention), we had pork potstickers, shrimp and chive dumplings, parsnip cakes (how I love them), crazy shrimp rolls, taro cakes, sesame balls, pork buns, and steamed sponge cake (it sounded weird, so we ordered it— and it was delicious).
My favorite thing was definitely the sesame balls:
Light and warm, filled with sweet and simple black sesame paste, these were absolutely delicious and a perfect end to a perfect first meal of our California vacation. Dim Sum is one of my favorite weekend outings— now to find a great dim sum place in Philadelphia!
What an amazing and beautiful trip, with lots of good food. Time to blast this jetlag and get to bed ASAP, but I’ll be dreaming of yummy farmer’s markets, grilling over a firepit on the beach, and fresh strawberry shortcake sorbet, among other things. Like Dim Sum in Chinatown, Sprout in Palo Alto, Swanton Strawberry Farm along classic Route 1, Burma Superstar, and Crepevine in Berkeley. Oh, and Starbelly, Sotto Mare, and Blue Bottle Coffee in San Francisco, along with some indescribably adorable places, like Cafe Brasil, in Santa Cruz. I’d say it was a great trip!
On sale: Barefoot Contessa cookbooks, baking mixes, and coffee, plus Ina’s guide to entertaining, all at www.onekingslane.com
Easiest recipe ever? Pesto. Throw about 6 ingredients into a food processor and blend. Meanwhile, make some pasta al dente, and when it’s done toss it with this pesto. This pesto is a little different than your typical variety, because I used some of the bounty of last week’s CSA share. Here’s how you can do it:
Blend together the following:
- 4 scapes, roughly chopped
- 1 cup walnuts
- 2 large kale leaves, ribs removed
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
- 1-2 tsp. lemon juice
Process together and season with salt and pepper to taste. The scapes provide quite a kick, and the kale also adds a nice full flavor. Enjoy!
All measurements above are approximate— make sure to taste as you blend and add your favorite flavors so it is to your liking— more garlicky, more lemony, or more cheesey.
Exploring and enjoying some Northern California beautiful outdoors, spending the week in Santa Cruz and San Francisco. Expect to hear about Chinatown, Tapas, lots of fresh fish and lots of local wine, upon my return. In the meantime, look for some fresh recipes this week!
A few weeks ago I got of TON of fragrant and beautiful fresh oregano in my CSA share, so I decided I must make homemade tomato sauce. It was incredibly easy and incredibly delicious. I liked (loved) it so much that I decided to use more of my produce the next day to reinvent the sauce, sauteing some kale and mushrooms to toss in the sauce on top of some rotini. I’ve never used fresh oregano before but if you see if in your produce aisle (or farmers market, even better) I definitely recommend picking some up.
Tomato Sauce with Fresh Oregano
- 1-2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 sweet onion, diced
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large can whole peeled tomatoes
- 3-4 tbsp. fresh oregano
- 1 tsp. crushed red peppers
- 1-2 tbsp. heavy cream (optional)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Heat olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add entire can of tomatoes, including the juice, and bring to a simmer. Season with chopped fresh oregano, crushed red peppers, salt and pepper. Allow to simmer 5-10 minutes. Add heavy cream, if desired. Another option to increase creaminess is goat cheese, or grated Parmesan cheese.
- Remove saucepan from heat and allow to cool slightly. Using an immersion blender, blend sauce until desired consistency (I like to leave some of the tomato chunks in there). If you don’t have an immersion blender, allow sauce to cool and process in a regular blender, or you could try a potato masher. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
- Cook pasta according to package directions, until al dente. Serve pasta with fresh sauce and top with fresh ground pepper and Parmesan cheese.
I loved this sauce so much that the next day I used more of my fresh CSA produce— kale and shitake mushrooms— and added them to the sauce.
‘What’s for breakfast?’ said Pooh. ‘What do you say, Piglet?’
‘I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?’ said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. ‘It’s the same thing,’ he said.” —A. A. Milne, ‘The House at Pooh Corner’