In this world, we have dog people and cat people.  We have early risers, and those who are not themselves until past noon. We have those who worship the sun and those whose heart sings with the first snowfall.  We have East Coast people, and West Coast people.  Phil and I are early rising dog people who worship the sun, and between East and West California is the jackpot.   😉

GG-bridge-12-2006(image from Wikimedia)

California holds a special place in my heart, because that was my destination the first time I left Brazil, back in 1986.  It was my first contact with a country that decades later, would become my new, permanent home.  For Phil, California is beautiful, diverse, and progressive, a perfect trilogy.  We have wonderful memories of all our times spent in that gorgeous state, and cherish every opportunity to travel back.  A couple of weeks ago we flew to Los Angeles, visited UCLA and the lab of our friend and mentor Ron Kaback, and also got together with my stepson and his fiancée (= the coolest couple of LA ;-)). We kept our rental car busy, first going to  San Diego where Phil had a meeting to attend, then driving all the way to San Francisco.  The trip ended on a high note: we spent a couple of days in wine country paradise, around Mendocino and Navarro.  We stayed with a couple of KSU Biochemistry alumni, who after retirement from business decided to grow Pinot Noir grapes, and are now one of the most successful Pinot growers in the region.  They took us to a couple of wine tastings, to several amazing restaurants (Stone and Embers was perhaps our favorite), and also arranged a surprise visit to Santa Rosa Farmer’s Market. We’ve been to many farmers markets in the past, but it will be very hard to top this one.

compositetomatoTomatoes in all shapes, sizes, and colors!  A feast for the eyes, made me sad that I would not be able to take a bunch with me to play with…

vinegarsTomatoes do not travel well in a suitcase, however, a 25-year-old bottle of white balsamic found a nice spot in mine, wrapped in plastic and surrounded by cozy sweaters… You can bet it will be featured on my next “In My Kitchen” post.

produceProduce of the highest quality peeking at us from every corner…

woodenboardWe were tempted to stick one of those in our suitcase, but their heavy weight would be a problem. So, we left them behind… ;-(

figsIt was also tough to wave goodbye to these gorgeous figs… but we were headed for a nice sushi lunch, and decided it was best to resist grabbing a basket or two.


Maybe my favorite spot at the market was Spicery, owned by a delightful woman called Evelyn. Our friends are serious gourmet cooks and familiar with the best sources of spices, including Penzey’s and Spice House. So, when they told me they rather buy their spices from Evelyn, I listened very carefully.  My favorite way to test a spice store is to ask for “pimente d’Espelette“.  Very hard to find. I posed the question, she opened a huge smile and said she has it but did not bring to the stand because not very many people ask for it, and she sells most of that precious item to restaurants.  I will be placing my order soon! And you can too…   Just follow this link and have fun browsing her products.


Of course, wine tasting was part of our weekend.

Can you imagine tasting wine on this setting? This is the view from Copain Wines that processes the grapes from our friends’ vineyards.


Look at the smile on Phil’s face!  I can only hope it was just for the bottle of wine. Red finger nails can be dangerous…   😉

We also visited Twomey, because according to our hosts, they do a wonderful job with Pinot grapes too.  Equally beautiful setting!


P&S_BigSur_100913A brief stop at Big Sur, magical place to wait for the sunset…


Until next time, California, we shall miss you!

ONE YEAR AGO: An Orange Frame of Mind

TWO YEARS AGO:  San Francisco Sourdough

THREE YEARS AGO: A Real Oscar Winner  (dog lovers: don’t miss this!)

FOUR YEARS AGO: Pane Siciliano


  1. Farmers’ markets are wonderful, you never know what treats you’ll find from honey in the comb to home preserved jams, jellys and preserves to baked goods that you can’t resist.


    • Preserved jams, jellys are hard for Phil to resist, I don’t eat them, never cared for jam maybe because I did not grow up enjoying this type of stuff. I like to cook with them, however…. But you are right, there were plenty of those too. I took a couple of photos but they did not turn out good so they did not make the “blog-cut” 😉


    • I have to say I am not that wild about wine tasting – I sipped a little bit on the first winery, Copain, but skipped the second completely. Maybe if I learned to spit the wine it could be doable. I like a glass of wine with dinner, but tasting never really appealed to me. Different folks, different strokes.. but, on the positive side, I can always be the designated driver in this type of outing! 😉


  2. Oh, that would be so hard not to want to pick up lots of fresh farm goodies!! But I think that bottle of aged balsamic was a great choice!! Very lovely trip, beautiful views and what a great looking couple you two are!!!


    • It will happen… with the three stepsons living in California (the one who is still in Arizona will move to SF maybe in January) we will have a lot more reasons to go back. April is looking like a possibility – should keep you posted sister! 😉


  3. Many feasts for the senses in your beautiful blog today, Sally. Thanks for the gorgeous pictures. I’m a night person and a turtle person but I do enjoy nature, great and abundant produce and pictures of a good looking couple. 🙂


    • Glad you enjoyed, Marcia! I have a lot more photos, but felt that the post was already too loaded and picture-heavy.

      I guess you probably saw some extra ones in Facebook, the sea lions, running photos in San Diego etc etc 😉


    • Marcia, I am also a turtle person! We have a farm pond and I spend quite a bit of time sitting on an overturned bucket, bird watching and feeding turtles. There are several red-eared pond sliders that I have been feeding for years and they will come right to me to eat. I also occasionally see a common snapper that is impressively big (and ugly) with an interesting personality.


    • Interestng! If you have not yet been to Stone and Embers, make sure to go there, a wonderful place with one of the most delicious appetizers I ever had, that the chef called “mushroom chicharron” – you swear you are eating pork cracklings, but it is totally vegan. Mushrooms are pureed, dried between Saran Wrap and then processed with some other ingredients and baked to look like pork skin. Incredibly tasty!


    • I remember you mentioned that festival – March is a tricky month to be away – unless the Spring break would fall right at that wee, but in fact it won’t. It will be the following week, starting March 29th, I think.


  4. I loved the Bay Area! I lived in Belmont on the penninsula, just outside SF! My old stomping grounds! I moved away 13 years ago and I still miss it! I am reminiscing right along with you! I can’t tell you how many times I sailed in that bay and heard the fans at Candlestick from the water! And the many times I got hung up on sandbars too! 😉
    The Golden Gate Bridge I crossed many times…under and over! An amazing engineering master piece of a suspension bridge!
    I loved the city! I took the train in on the weekends and then spent time down on the Fisherman’s Warf or in China Town! Don’t you love Berkley and Haight-Ashbury! Hippie town! How about that curvy downhill drive “Lombard Street” 8 hair pin turns! If it snowed in SF it would be a nightmare! Scary enough as it is!
    There isn’t one place I haven’t explored while living there! When I went back…after the huge loss of all the start up companies it was a such shock. So much has changed that I didn’t even recognize my lovely old neighborhood. I would take the drive along the Pacific Coast Highway and it was breathtakingly beautiful! I loved Half Moon Bay, Medocino, and south to Carmel, Monterey and Big Sur. the most beautiful scenic drive on the west coast! I loved hiking the hills, riding my mountain bike and sampling wines in Nappa Valley’s wine country! The weather was perfect and no mosquitoes!
    Northern Cal. is my favorite part of the state! Sailing, restaurants, beaches, museums, theatre, vinyards, redwoods, sea lions and the delta too! I was never at a loss for something fun to do! I loved to go to the docks and buy fresh salmon and halibut! And don’t get me started on the garlic festival and oh the cherries and hot cashews to buy on the roadside! I could go on and on and on about all there is to do and see! LOL
    Thank you for the memories!


    • What a wonderful, wonderful comment! So glad my post could stir some memories on you too… I have A TON of memories from years and years back, many from the three years I’ve lived in Stanford with my first husband, and we drove around, Half Moon Bay, Berkeley, rock shows near the Golden Gate, blues shows in Oakland… amazing Vietnamese food in Redwood City…. way too many memories

      California is just too amazing for words!


    • Would have been wonderful to see you both! This trip was just too hectic, the only day we could have done it would be Friday, but driving from San Diego to San Francisco was a huge hassle and we barely made it to the meeting at the biotech company we had to go to. From there we again barely made to our dinner time meeting in Navarro. The traffic jam in Petaluma was unreal…


  5. Welcome home! Sounds like it was a wonderful trip, Sally. I’m glad for you both that it wasn’t all work and no play. Like yo, I really do enjoy hitting a city’s farmers markets when I travel. It’s such a masochistic thing to do. There are so many good things on display that I never know which way to look. Even so, I can’t buy anything. What would I do with it? It’s not like I can bring it home on the plane. Still, I’ll go the markets every time. 🙂


  6. Sally… what a fabulous post!! You’ve got me more excited than ever about California 😉 and I love Phil’s descriptive trilogy: beautiful, diverse, and progressive. How true. I think you managed to see and do more during your brief stay than we’ve done in the two months that we’ve been living here in northern California (darn kids, lol!). So much to see, learn and discover… that’s how we feel. Every day is a new adventure and we are surrounded by beauty. Lovely photos, (yes, the produce, incredible! as my husband says: ‘it’s as though every plant in the universe wants to grow here’ :o), and those vineyards…. I cannot wait to stay at a B & B in the Napa Valley… a dream date ;-).


    • You are living in paradise! Enjoy each day, and don’t worry, you will savor it all, moving to a new place involves so much stress, no sense trying to do too much too soon… it will all be there for you!


  7. Wow – you ‘hit it out of the park’ with this great post. You hit a lot of great spots in a short amount of time. California has so much to see and do. Great photos of a fantastic trip. Thanks for sharing and bringing back a few memories of my own! – Mike


    • Glad to have brought you nice memories! This post made me think about a ton of stuff myself, including my one and only experience at a nude beach, with two wonderful gay friends of mine from Stanford. I was the only woman at the beach, and the only one wearing bikinis 😉 I think it was called San Gregorian beach, but memory fails me.

      it was back in 1987, actually… fun times 😉


  8. Beautiful Sally. We, too, love California. My aunt and uncle live near Santa Monica, and this post reminds me that we need to make a visit in the near future. I loved seeing all the many stops on your journey, and I think you two make such a beautiful couple. Thank you for sharing!


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