California Dreamin' - episode 1

   Peaceful and green views outside Watsonville

Peaceful and green views outside Watsonville

Looking outside my window onto my snowy backyard, my California visit seems eons ago, not just a few days before. Eight days of nature and city walks, Farmers' Markets, restaurants, bakeries, ethnic foods, beautiful San Francisco and the reason for my visit - The San Francisco Fancy Food Show.

So, needless to say - I ate well and beautifully for 8 days! Watsonville, where I started with a visit to my friend Devorah, is the strawberry center of the country and the whole area provides the American salad bowl. The Santa Cruz Farmers Market, just up hwy 101, offered fresh citrus, variety of mushrooms, artichokes and greens, cabbages, dates and more. Such a feast for the eyes and senses!

 

   Beautiful, crisp organic and LOCAL artichokes at the Santa Cruz Farmers' Market

Beautiful, crisp organic and LOCAL artichokes at the Santa Cruz Farmers' Market

   Daffodils are such happy flowers!

Daffodils are such happy flowers!

   Interesting cabbages...

Interesting cabbages...

My taste buds went to town when I sampled the Mexican delicacies at the local bakery, Rebbeca's and then I singed my palate on tacos and salsa at the sprawling Mia Pueblo grocery store in Watsonville. That green salsa was so fresh, singing with limes and jalapenos that I couldn't get enough of it. Ended up buying a container of it, just to slather on EVERYTHING!

   Rebecca's colorful pastries

Rebecca's colorful pastries

   Couldn't get enough... went for a third...

Couldn't get enough... went for a third...

   Colors - everywhere!

Colors - everywhere!

Just couldn't get enough of the Mexican flavors and strolled the isles of the Friday afternoon Watsonville Farmers' Market. Take your pick: spiced peanuts, arepas, seasoned grilled corn, tacos, fresh roasted garbanzos,  spiced fruit drinks - I didn't know where to start!

   Rustic and welcoming

Rustic and welcoming

   Roasted fresh garbanzo beans

Roasted fresh garbanzo beans

   How hot can you go?? Roasted corn station

How hot can you go?? Roasted corn station

The surprise of the day was a fruit drink that Devorah insisted that I try. "You gotta try this! no charge" the guy says... Fresh fruit in a quart plastic container in natural fruit juice. Fresh, yummy - nice, right? I'll try a sample , free too - nothing to lose...

   Wouldn't want to be impolite...

Wouldn't want to be impolite...

   But then you add any or all of this: spices, hot sauce, lime juice - who knew??

But then you add any or all of this: spices, hot sauce, lime juice - who knew??

That drink just shifted on my palate like a gini from straight forward fruity sweetness into complex layers of heat, spice, tang and freshness - wow!! Had to take a picture with Oscar, the owner, who paraded his 5 (!) kids in front of us, told us about his new ice cream shop and his quest for freshness and excellence. Mexican hospitality, largess, entrepreneurship and zesty flavors! Delicious combination!

 Devorah & Oscar 

Devorah & Oscar 

Following full days we were welcomed at home by Evelyn, the princess, soaked in the view and relaxed with a glass of wine. Lots more to share as I bundle up in my chilly kitchen and dream of California...

   Evelyn pretends that she is not interested in her picture taken

Evelyn pretends that she is not interested in her picture taken

   Fog and sunshine - serenity

Fog and sunshine - serenity