|This is all the excitment |
that you get at a magic party...
First - I got to go to San Francisco in June. Actually, I got to visit LA and San Fran. Scary part - it was 90+ degrees with 98% humidity in C-bus, but when we rolled off the plane in CA it was a cool 75 degrees with no moisture at all. Heaven!
We flew into LAX with its big spaceship out front and went to the rental car company to pick up our car. We had asked for a full sized model - since we are not compact car kinda folks - and was told they were out. Panic!! The gal at the counter says - we upgraded you to a luxury model. It’s in slot 42.
Lo and behold - it a was a freakin’ land yacht! A huge caddy with all the bells and whistles. The perrrrrrrfect car for our PCH drive as it turned out. Just don’t try parking in the LA or San Fran though...
After a night on a hard bed in an overpriced hotel in Hollywood, we hit the road. Being a Mid-west gal, my first impression of California - brown. Even in the middle of a drought here there are still vestiges of green, but even the trees looked dusty and brown on our way North out of LA on State Route 1.
|The brown, brown hills of Southern California|
The only thing that relives all the brown is the blue blue Pacific Ocean. As you think that all you are going to see are brown rocky hills, you come around a curve and BAM! the ocean hugs the coast and little towns are nestled along the edges. Then back up into the hills.
The good news about those hills is that they hide little canyons filled with tasty, tasty food.
I am sure I’ve never talked about this before, but I hate blueberries. I have no idea why - I always thought they tasted “musty” or something like that. I have no real term for it, but there is a componet in the flavor that I just do not like. Until I pulled into Restoration Oaks Blueberry Farm just outside of Santa Barbara. Tucked back into a space between two foothills was this farm selling these freshly picked blueberries. I almost didn’t stop- well -cuz I hate blueberries.
At $4 a pint, I just picked up one. They were tiny. They were blue. They were sweet and tart. They were some of the best damn things I have ever eaten. I immediately regretted not buying a hundred bucks worth.
So we head off down the road, munchin’ fruit and looking at hills and the ocean. We would see signs for avocados 10 for a buck, Strawberries, peaches, and cherries. After a while we transitioned into the large valleys filled with produce and immigrant labor. The companies advertise which brands are being grown in the fields - Andy Boy broccoli or Green Giant lettuce. And the workers walking through the fields behind the big machines, harvesting the produce that ends up in my market 2000 miles away. So while I am listening to the radio (mostly Hispanic music and news in this part of the state) I think about eating local and what would happen to all those people laboring in the fields.
We have spent the last 100 yrs coming up with ways to feed our ever growing population. Through a combination of technology and corporate greed, we’ve managed to come up with a fucked-up, but functional system. We have cities full of people who want fresh produce and meat and we have succeeded in making those items available. And the backbone of our produce production still relies on people who are willing to be farm workers. Farms have always relied on cheap labor to make them profitable. It used to be hired hands or your passel of 13 kids, and now it is immigrant labor. And god help all you folks out there in the cities if the immigrant labor disappears or is restricted. No more cheap lettuce and broccoli for you!
And I don’t see any of you telling your kids to go out and get in the fields...
So after my thought-filled afternoon we are nearing San Fran and I am getting hungry. We saw this little carry out and thought, we’ll just stop the use their bathroom and get something to drink... Maybe we’ll find and In -N- Out nearby...
|The Prunedale Market - damn fine eatin'!|
I walk in and the place smells like heaven - all smokey and meaty. Turns out the owner smokes his own tri-tip for sandwiches. We start to chat and he was awesome. I tell him to hook me up. Tri-tip is the cut of choice for Calli style BBQ. And he gives me a free cup of beef stew - though he tells me its spicy - he has to make it spicy for the locals and he thought a Gringa like me would find it too hot for my liking. I told him I like spicy and grow my own hot peppers- I am no ordinary Gringa. It was thick, meaty, smoky and spicy. It was - hands down - the best beef stew I’ve ever had. I went back to the car and gave Tony a bite - and he ate almost the whole damn thing. The sandwich was great too...but that stew. I want some right freakin’ now!!!! Why o why must you be a continent away!!! Let me stop to get a napkin to wipe off my chin...
Tony spent some time talking to another customer in the parking lot while I was in the store. Turns out the owner does not have a liquor licence which is pretty much a death sentence for a small carry out. So instead he turned to BBQ to attract customers.
|My little man and his new hat...|
We did eventually stop at In-N-Out Burger. I would pit this fast food burger against 95% of the “restaurant” burgers in the state of Ohio and I know it would win. Fresh bun, juicy patty - its just damn good. Every single restaurant is family owned - and the consistency of the experience reflects that.
San Fran was awesome - though I did not get to eat at any of the places I had mapped out. I was actually there to work. Tony and I were specifically invited to run the convention suite at the Golden Gate Gathering. It’s a small magic convention run by four locals - Kent Gunn, Dave Nelson, Dorian Rhodell and Theron Schaub. It has a rather boisterous group of attendees - so boisterous that the hotel had threatened to kick the whole group out if they didn’t behave this year. Hench - we were the out of town hitters brought in to keep the peace.
Here is Kent reading the room party rules.
Needless to say everyone was very well behaved once we explained the situation and we have been invited back for a repeat performance. ( And to the young man who told us we were assholes my answer to you is - yes, yes we are and if you keep it up you’ll find out just how big a pair of assholes we CAN be.)
|Kent looking frightened - as he should...|
To all the folks that attended the 3G, if I didn’t make it apparent then, let me make it so now. I had a great time. I saw some amazing magic. I got to see old friends like Mike Gallo, Lee Asher and Allen Ackerman and make new friends like Kent Gunn and Howard Hamberg (Dropping some names!!!)
|Dave Nelson Licking a Pickle.... Don't ask me why...|
To everyone who wasn’t there - If you are looking for a small close-up convention that is fun and friendly with a tremendous amount of talent - then look no further... A word of warning though...get in early, seats are limited... And if you’re extra good, I will bring something super tasty for the suite...
My hope is to say a few days over this year and eat at some of the great restaurants in San Fran. It is a foodie town after all...
The drive back was awesome even if we were exhausted. I stopped at this little flea market and picked up a fruit cocktail from a Mexican couple who had a very busy stall there. It was amazing. I trust that folks in CA are familiar with this type of treat. But to a gal who is from the Midwest this was a real treat. Freshly cut papaya, mango, strawberries, pineapple and cucumber were mixed together and topped with salt, lime juice and this fruit salad season that had chili pepper in it. I’ve made it several time now - I even made a trip to La Michicana to get the spice mix they used at the booth. I know - I am so ignorant. But then again, I have the best time discovering all the stuff that I don’t know about. It must be awfully boring be a know it all...
I also picked up some fresh picked cherries and garlic in Gilroy - and you can smell the garlic as you drive through town.
The night before we flew out we stayed at a motel in Oxnard. As we drove in, we saw a restaurant next door - The script writing was indistinct in the dark and it looked like it said “Hurl’s”. Not exactly an auspicious name for an eatery.
The next morning we got up and saw that it was really named Henri’s. We inquired at the front desk and the young lady there gave it two thumbs up, so we figured we would give it a try.
It was pretty damn good. I ordered Huevo Rancheros and Tony ordered Corned Beef Hash. The ranchero sauce was home made, the eggs and hash were perfect. The coffee was just plain old coffee, but sufficient to get us up to speed. I love beans and theirs was excellent. (Though my fellow passengers on the plane didn’t think so later...)
|Transplanted East Coast Native Carol after enjoying her strudel...|
We also meet this really nice lady, Carol, sitting next to us. She lives in Port Hueneme but originally came from northern Virginia. We asked her about moving back East, but the siren song of the Pacific Ocean keeps her firmly in California.
We finished up our last meal in California with an apple strudel shared with Carol. The grill cook warmed it up on the griddle and it, like everything else was excellent.
The flight out was unexciting...and once we landed in Columbus we went back to sweating and bitchin’ about the humidity.
So that was about it for my California trip... I cannot wait for next year...