Great Date Idea: Andy’s Orchard

My friends the W sisters invited me to go apricot picking Sunday. We left really early and headed to Morgan Hill and Andy Marinai’s Orchard. It was $15 for all you can eat stone fruit sampling (like a farmer’s market but with a much wider variety of fruit, jams, chocolate covered fruit…), a farm tour (Did you know it’s the pits that flavor cherry cola?) and picking (also all you can eat stone fruit sampling). According to KQED Food, “Mariani’s 250-plus varieties of stone fruit — cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums and hybrids — represent the most extensive collection of heirloom fruit on the West Coast.” Andy is a wizard of horticultural.

At the tasting, I filled my belly. My favorite was the Raspberry Red Nectarine. I was very patient and didn’t elbow any fathers or step on any kids (it was Father’s Day). It’s a tasty zoo. I don’t make for the best agrotourist because the fun fruit facts from our docent bored me and it was really hot. I soon wandered into the trees. There were cherries to pick. I got a few plums. I was disappointed that the apricots were either not ripe or cracked. I bought some in the store.

My friends made a delicious not too sweet fruit tart with a biscuity crust. My coworkers raved about the delicious cherries. I went cherry picking outside of Los Angeles once and the trees were rather stumpy. It was like fishing with a net. I recommend picking at Andy’s Orchard as a fun family activity. If you’re like me and don’t have a family, take your foodie friends or a date. You can feed each other sweet things and show off your adorable straw hat.

Andy’s Tips

  1. Don’t buy Styrofoam fruit at the grocery store and find a trusted farmer at the market because sometimes you’re being sold that same Styrofoam fruit illegally.
  2. Know what’s in peak season.
  3. Speckled nectarines are the sweetest.
  4. Don’t be afraid to smell the fruit to check for ripeness except plums and cherries.
  5. Don’t cook peaches.
Great Date Idea: Andy’s Orchard

José González WooHoo?

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Listening to José Gonzálezos reminds me of a driving into downtown Los Angeles with KCRW on the radio. I’m past any traffic trouble, feeling mellow, and the night is full of possibilities. Or, it’s season 1 of Friday Night Lights and Tim Riggins is convincing Lyla to attend her cheerleading completion even though Jason is paralyzed and there’s José González setting the mood with his song Storm. That was nine years ago. The world, my world has gone through some serious upheaval but José González has stayed the same. He’s still singing the best cover of The Knife’s Heartbeats and it’s just as soothing.

My friend A had an extra ticket to his show at the Fox last night because her boyfriend who lives in Indiana couldn’t make the trip trip after all. I think this is the kind of music you snuggle up to, at least that’s what everyone else in the audience was doing but A was gracious enough to announce, “I’m so glad I came out with you tonight” after he’d crooned his last tune. The music made me feel good nostalgic. I couldn’t tell you which songs were from his new album Vestiges & Claws (the first since 2007) because the music hasn’t changed at all.

My only problem with the concert was the fucked up girl next to me. Who gets fucked up at a José González concert? Maybe you fuck at a José González concert, but why consume copious amounts of alcohol/drugs on a mellow rainy Sunday night with a classical guitar, some violins, and a flute on stage? Fucked up girl kept screaming, “WooHoo” at the top of her lungs. Fucked up girl gobbled up two bags of chips. Fucked up girl passed out and made me crawl over her upon returning from the bathroom. Fucked up girl disappeared for a long time but her companion didn’t seem to want to miss any of the show and stayed put. On my way out I saw fucked up girl passed out in a different location with her companion nearby rolling his eyes.

I get upset and empathic when I see a fucked up girl at a show. I wonder if I should intervene, if she’s being taken care of? Still, this time wasn’t nearly as bad as when I saw a fucked up girl remove all of her clothing on a cold night on the lawn at Shoreline or another fucked up girl tumble head over heels down the concrete amphitheater stairs at the Greek in Berkeley.

Please fucked up girls, take care of yourselves and stop woo hooing in my ear when I’m trying to snooze at a José González concert.

José González WooHoo?

La Note Is No Bon Jovi

La Note
Years ago my friend and I arrived at MOCA in downtown Los Angles for an art party. The line went down Grand, past Walt Disney Concert Hall and stretched around the block to First Street. My friend exclaimed, “This art party is no Bon Jovi!” Apparently, a Bon Jovi concert was the only event she’d consider waiting in line for longer than an hour.

I rarely go to La Note in downtown Berkeley. Weekend brunch waits are even more enormous than their pancakes. You can arrive at 8 am and still wait. Long lines for breakfast in the Bay Area are why I’ve patronized Doyle Street Café in Emeryville for years. Unfortunately, the secret got out and the wait is now long even for their mediocre food.

The food at La Note is not mediocre. It’s good, almost sometimes maybe great. I judge a breakfast place on the eggs. For the love of god, please don’t overcook eggs. I always undercook eggs. This grosses some people out but those people are wrong. My scrambled eggs at La Note this morning were perfect. I also ate bacon, sourdough toast, and some of my date’s raspberry oatmeal pancakes but the eggs were the best part.

The ambience at La Note is just OK. I’ve heard the back patio is super nice. My favorite breakfast places look like dumps in Concord or they’re in strip malls. Some are dumps in Concord strip malls. La Note looks nice ish. There are probably some chicken knick-knacks around.

Finally, my date’s grapefruit had a hair in it. The hair was like really in there. As he pointed out, “There are scarier things we can’t see in our food.” We think our waitress might have said, “Good luck to you guys” referencing the fact that we were on a date. That was odd but she backed me up on the fact that a Diet Coke is a superior beverage choice to coffee first thing in the morning so I loved her for that. Go to La Note on a weekday.

The salad Nicoise is also good

La Note Is No Bon Jovi

Not The Best Ethiopian Food in Oakland: Cafe Colucci

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Not our actual lunch but actual food from Cafe Colucci

The first time I tried Ethiopian food I was 21 and studying abroad in East Africa. Living in Los Angeles after college, I took my fare share of trips to that section of Fairfax right before you get to LACMA and not just for the exotic cake store. I’ve eaten my fair share of doro wat and injera.

When I first moved to the Bay Area, I lived at 60th and Telegraph in Oakland and was excited to be close to the row of Ethiopian restaurants at the Berkeley border (because I think I’m cool like that). I rarely choose Ethiopian food but I’m always glad when someone else does. When I do choose to eat it, I pick the restaurant based on the ambience. Have you been to that one in the basement of the Clarion Hotel in downtown Oakland or the Eithiopian food jazz club on Filmore in San Francisco? The truth is, the only place I’ve eaten in “Little Eithiopia” is Barcote (because it was someone’s birthday) until today.

I had lunch at Cafe Colucci with my friend and colleague Allan who is as previously mentioned in this blog, opinionated about the springiness of his food options. My boss refused to join us because he seemed legitimately terrified of the injera expanding in his stomach. We had some kind of meat dish and a vegetable sampler. Enh. It was fine. The meat was not tender enough. I asked Allan about the springiness level of the injera and he said, “There are two different axis, the chewiness axis and the springiness axes…” Basically, it was springy but not chewy enough. They also have a market and cooking classes. We didn’t partake. Finally, my stomach does not appear distended.

Berkeleyside likes Cafe Colucci

Exotic Cakes

Not The Best Ethiopian Food in Oakland: Cafe Colucci