Mountain View Farmer’s Market, Santa Cruz, and onto Mendocino

Eating on the West Coast is not like eating on the East Coast. The meals I had in San Francisco at RN74 (an urban Wine Bar and Restaurant) and The Slanted Door (in the Ferry Building Marketplace) were nothing like I’ve never had, in the beloved New York City. Clearly, every great meal starts with superior produce: in the Mountain View farmer’s market, an aroma from strawberries floated over the stalls, and the samples of nectarines and peaches, handed out in abundance, were lusciously succulent and delectably sweet. But it’s not just the produce. There is much to say about the chefs at these two particular restaurants! Cheese souffle and tempura-fried mushroom appetizers at RN74 were sublime, and the first prize at the The Slanted Door went to the perfectly grilled and flavored branzini and a side dish of sauteed summer corn with trumpet mushrooms and cilantra.
The Mountain View Farmer’s Market is well worth a visit. The fruit and vegetables here are truly organic – not the pseudo organics sold in the East and amounting to nothing more than the large farm’s produce with organic pesticides. Produce here is organic European-style, lovingly grown by human hands on small farms and exhibiting all the signs of real fruits and vegetables: color, aroma, and taste. The vendors at the market practically pushed generous samples into our hands and by the time we were done with the market we’d tasted enough to satisfy our taste buds and our bellies. The only two things we actually bought were a little blackberry pie and a scoop of homemade ice cream.
Much as a visit to the market is warranted, you may very well skip the nearby Santa Cruise boardwalk and beach. An Ocean City, N.J. look-alike: mobbed, loud, gaudy, with people spending the money they don’t have on expensive trinkets they don’t need. Overpriced revolting food is side-by-side with flashy rides and attractions. The only worthwhile activity was watching sea lions lounging on the warm rocks by the wharf.
Back to San Francisco, it is still the same old San Francisco, lacking New York’s dynamics. Nice as it is, nothing seems to change here from one visit to another. The homeless, rugged and ominous-looking vagabonds, are still perched at every corner and in between. Not the meek bums of the Northeast who very politely ask the passer-bys for spare change, thank them profusely regardless whether they open their wallets or not, and wish them to have a nice day.
So our plan for this trip was to branch out of the city and into the Mendocino Country – some 150 miles up the coast.
The trip took us a little over 3.5 hrs. The first 2 hrs was driving through nondescript towns and stretches of land, but once we exited the highway and entered route 128, the scenery changed. The road went up the mountains and switch backed between luscious green hills. We passed many a winery perched on top of rolling hills with vineyards perfectly arranged in their front yards. I had no idea that Mendocino country was so rich in wineries! This was so much more pristine, unspoiled, and eye-pleasing than both Napa and Sonoma.
When the vineyards winded down, they gave way to a fairy forest of redwoods – the light filtering through the mighty canopies and shedding magical rays on the road we travelled.
At the end of the fairy tale forest we turned onto route 1A, the coastal road to Mendocino.

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