SF to OC—Taking a Little Extra Time Pays Off in Produce

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Driving home from San Francisco, taking the Coast Highway option through Pacifica and Pescadero as you leave the city rather than the slightly quicker inland way, has its benefits. The beautiful Pacific as a constant, right-hand companion is a big one. But there’s also a payoff in produce—farm stands line the route.

Southbound a week ago Sunday, pumpkins were plentiful, in Halloween orange and colors ranging from white to pale green to mottled tangerine. Fields of Brussels sprouts stretched in all directions, and I was (happily) surprised to find English peas for sale. In October, I expect sprouts—peas, no. I’ve bought them along this stretch of CA-1 in the spring, but apparently the temperate coastal climate allows for multiple harvests. Between Farmer’s Daughter in Moss Beach, and Bob’s, a bit further south in Half Moon Bay, I bought a bunch—you do need to shell basically a bale to amass a few servings. The considerable prep is completely worth it to me, though. Nothing tastes as green as fresh green peas. My husband immediately assumed that I’d be making the buttery mushy peas from Dublin 4 Gastropub chef David Shofner, and he was correct. The recipe’s in the link… Shofner shared it with me for Taste of Orange County a few years ago, and I’ve been making it ever since. Having the recipe has not affected my Dublin 4 habit in the least, though. The peas accompany Shofner’s stellar fish and chips, which means I have them every time we eat there.

Two more good stops await further south in Davenport, just north of Santa Cruz: Swanton Berry Farms, organic U-pick strawberries with an ocean view, and Fambrini’s, with excellent strawberries and seasonal vegetables, where this trip I found organic Little Gem lettuce in red and green. If it’s time for a bite or a cup of coffee, I recommend Gayle’s Bakery & Rosticceria in Capitola, where everything, sweet or savory, is just so good. I always bring home some of their breads—the Jewish rye’s a favorite, adamantly sour, with plenty of caraway. Their sandwiches are perfect for a roadside picnic if you’re not eating in. After that, it’s time to head for Castroville and Pezzini Farms for artichokes, and the aforementioned Brussels sprouts on the stalk, before hopping on the 101 to make up for not-quite-lost time.

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