I was so happy to get out of the City on Saturday. As is often the case in summer, the day started out a clammy sort of gray with a bit of sun here and there, and a chill in the air. While I generally, truly, enjoy our mild climate and cool rather than warm summers, sometimes I do crave an afternoon to bake. A dip in a pool. A yard. All those things are hard to come by in the city but a twenty minute drive over the Golden Gate Bridge changes everything; the fog lifts like a curtain once you’ve hit Marin to the north, and an abundance of summer sun greets you on the other side of the Bridge, with a corresponding increase in temperature of what, twenty degrees or so?
A friend had invited me to accompany him to a pool party in San Anselmo, a picturesque old town between Fairfax and San Rafael. I took him up on it. On arrival at the home where the party was held, I soon realized this was a showcase of a house, perched as it was at the top of the hill already studded with gated homes. The extra-wide front door swiveled open from center rather than the side, and as soon as one enters the house one sees the expansive view. The entire back of the house consists of floor to ceiling windows, 180 degrees of greenery, hills dotted with homes and the Bay on the horizon, part of Oakland visible under a thin blanket of fog. The pool is below, accessed from the downstairs level, and projects out from the side of the hill with a commanding view of its own.
Sigh, it was a FUN afternoon with many thanks to the host for throwing a great party and to my pal for the invitation! We had a lot of fun living the Marin lifestyle, so different from ours in the City!
Yesterday was a beautiful day, and when there’s ample sun in San Francisco, one has to capitalize on the opportunity to be outdoors before the FOG rolls back in. After a workout at the gym Saturday, I hopped on the scooter and made myself a little itinerary. From SOMA I would head south to Bernal Heights via Folsom, check out the oldest still-running farmers market in San Francisco, then head east to the Dogpatch, home of Flora Grubb Garden Center. Heading back from Flora on Third, I spontaneously decided to take Evens to Bayview, and explored the hinterlands along the all-but-unknown India Basin shoreline there, studded with warehouses, powerplants, junkyards and the like. I was delighted to see an amazing view of the city skyline from there, to boot!
If you’re a fan of farmers markets, you’ll love Alemaney. The selection of produce is extensive and varied enough to include lots of fruits and veg I ‘d never encountered, and all of quite high quality. I bought some cherries and strawberries for the crisp I’m going to make tomorrow.
I discovered something called the tay berry, billed as a cross between a black berry and a raspberry, so I bought some of those, too.
And the donut peach. . . ! It’s sort of short and wide and does look like a doughnut, and it’s incredibly sweet. I will toss a few slices of those in the crisp, too. The prepared food vendors are topnotch, including great soul food, MEXICAN and wood fired pizzas made to order. . . I had a salvadoran mushroom and cheese papusa for breakfast. . .
From here I wound my way to the Dogpatch. It’s a neighborhood of heavy industry, warehouses and a nasty reputation for being rough. It’s not pretty but there’s something I find kinda cool about the aesthetic, the rusted metal, huge cargo ships just off shore and the bare bones of the power plants. Lots of abandoned buildings which is a shame because as I said, the view of the San Francisco skyline from here is pretty cool. Some say this neighborhood could be the next up-and-coming success story and I hope it can be revitalized. The City extended light rail service to the neighborhood and some artists and small business owners are gradually moving in, like Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous, of my previous post!
Flora Grubb is another star of the neighborhood, with her gorgeous store that celebrates the idea of reclaiming discarded materials and making art of them. More than rare plants and an amazing succulent collection, she’s educating people on new and creative ways to pot and display plants, a talent which has earned her recognition beyond the city.
Check out this centerpiece of the store, an old car that Flora turned into a huge planter.
Flora Grubb must have been celebrating a sunny day as well- there was a food vendor tent set up in her garden selling huckleberry lemonade and fried chicken sandwiches, and even whoopie pies. I was happily surprised to see my buddy Michael waiting in line for plants, we haven’t seen eachother since last year, so we had a spontaneous lunch and caught up right there in the garden.
The ride ended with a leisurely exploration of the industrial coastline before heading back into the city. Thank God for gorgeous days, and for scooters!
Ll and I love to plan trips around food! It’s a great way to not only discover a new favorite spot, but a great excuse to get out and drive! Today’s roadtrip was planned out by L, and the destination was in the north Bay, around Fairfield and Pinnole, CA. It’s cherry picking season so we went there with the aim to get some early season stone fruit, cherries, apricots and a big box of strawberries, too. On the way, we went to Little Knopp’s Bakery at the suggestion of a friend. This just might be the find of the year! Arguably the best ice cream I’ve had in the last year. . . or ever?
Before I get to that, I should say the Little Knopp’s is a charming roadside spot, the kind you’re LOOKING for on a foodie roadtrip… unpretentious, off the beaten path, frequented by local folk, serving up authentic, good food. Surrounded by kitsch, one just has to stop to check it out! Located just along the border of the cherry orchard, listen for the sound of geese as you get out of your car… there’s a gaggle near the front door of the store. Inside, you’ll find jars of fresh honey and cherry preserves, vinegars, candies and nut mixes. . . and a bakery case of gorgeous, clearly house-made apple pies and cheesecakes. As the ownership is Greek, you’ll also find greek pastries like spanakopita, baklava and dipple, a gorgeous, thin wrap of filo dipped in honey. Then there’s the ice cream. . . it comes in a shallow but wide plastic dish, covered with an aromatic waffle pulled off the grill when you place your order. Cinnamon wafting, you plunge your spoon into the waffle to get to the ice cream underneath, now slightly softened by the warmth of the waffle. Mine was peaches and cream. . . not too sweet, with big pieces of fresh fruit stirred through. . . a well-balanced and creamy sweet milk cream which really set off the freshness of the fruit. Perfection.
After picking up our fruit at the orchard, we stopped by another roadside spot and pulled off the road for lunch- A bbq truck parked in the lot of a local winery on Suison Road in Rockville, called BJ’s. Run by a lovely family we ordered smoked tri tip sandwiches with their own home made bbq sauce and potato salad. Everything was incredibly good, with the nostalgic goodness of a firehall dinner back home. . .
All in all today was a triumph of a road trip. Now I can say I’ve been to Fairfield and hope to make this drive through gorgeous country a yearly tradition.