Catching up

Internet connectivity was not a given during these summer vacations, but I’m back home now, with an iPhone moderately full of photos. We stayed in Capitola, in a house on the river, and ate and drank a lot, as is our wont on these sorts of vacations. Shadowbrook, of the hillavator, was our first fancy meal, and I was impressed by the range and quality of the food. They even had the CAFF logo printed on the bottom of the menu. The food was much better than it had to be, given the restaurant’s setting and tourist draw.

We ate at Gabriella Cafe three times during the week. We’re kind of obsessive like that, and it’s my favorite restaurant in the area. (We ate at the F Street Cafe in Eureka three times in the week we discovered it, too.) The most exciting thing was that the lamb dish came with Pie Ranch wheat berries, which the cook said were “recently harvested,” so I decided that I had cut them with my own two hands. Well, really the most exciting thing was the food.

Our other restaurant obsession was the River Cafe, although we only had lunch there twice. After the first time, we tried to go to the UCSC farmstand. Due to incomplete reading on my part of the Country Crossroads listing, we only realized that it’s open two days a week when the GPS told us we had arrived at a large tree. But we paid a visit to the farm itself, instead.

It’s a beautiful, beautiful place, and I wandered around, indulging in my fantasy of joining the agroecology intern program.

Although I had talked a good game about hitting all of the farmers markets, the only one we made it to was the downtown Santa Cruz farmers market. As it says at that link, Rebecca King now has a booth at the market, and she was the first person I saw there. I was very excited to hear about her Adopt a Ewe program, and told her to count me in as I was buying delicious Greek lamb sausage and a wedge of Moonflower cheese. If you can only shop at one market, you could do much worse than this one. We got tomatoes, fresh pasta, salad greens and a powerfully fragrant Charantais melon. We got blueberries, and then peaches from Frog Hollow farms. So we had a market dinner that night, with pasta and lamb sausage sauce, green salad, and a peach and blueberry cobbler. It’s great fun to cook for a group of people who will gobble up even a very large dinner.

After we left the house, we trekked over to Live Earth Farm for their August community farm day. And what were they doing but harvesting wheat!

Tom planted tritcale as a cover crop, to stabilize a hillside in the newish section of the farm. About 30 people were there, wielding hand sickles and tying bunches up with twine. We didn’t get the whole field, since the plan was to go from field to pizza oven. After loading up the harvest in the trailer, Tom pulled it along with the big orange tractor.

That’s his adorable little girl riding along. We spread the stalks out on a huge tarp and starting stomping and twisting.

Although there was a fan (for winnowing) and a little electric grain mill, we didn’t actually get to the flour stage before we heeded the call of the River Cafe. But I hopehopehope that I’ll see some of these berries in the CSA box. We said goodbye to Toastie the cob oven on our way out.

I took home a bundle of wheat stalks, and my next project is to use them to make a corn dolly. Home again, home again, jiggity-jog.