4pm on a Saturday
Tag Archives: cheese
Solvang is a little town in Southern California that pretends to be in Denmark. It was founded around 1900 by Danish immigrants who liked sunshine more than snow, but apparently still wanted windmills, wooden shoes, and Hans Christian Andersen.This is made “apparent” because if you go there today what you will find is windmills, wooden shoes, and Hans Christian Andersen.
Most people would describe it as cute more than quaint, and in concept it is simply odd- but in execution it is surprising in its level of commitment to a theme. It isn’t like there is just a main street with similar facade, the imitation game goes multiple blocks long and deep.They have bakeries and gift shops, a town square with a scaled reproduction of Copenhagen’s round tower, a mermaid statue, and a museum dedicated to Mr. Christensen and his fairy tales.
All of that is fine. Very nice. Whatever.
Th real reason to go there is because this place called the Succulent Cafe has hands down the best charcuterie and cheese platter I have ever experienced.
Go there. Eat it. Wear some clogs, have two blonde braids, read about a princess and a pea, or show up on a Harley, any of those things… just make sure you have what they call the 4+4 for $44. (four cheeses, four meats, and a whole bunch of great little nuts, peppers, spreads, jams, olives, etc.)
So there is this “thing” called the California Cheese Trail. I imagined it as a sort of cheddar brick road leading to a wizard who can instantly age Gouda. It isn’t. It is much more like the string of California Missions that the Spanish set up, except instead of Catholic churches and priests, it is herds and artisans. I should note that both are beautiful and have use for tasteless wafers.
It was raining when we arrived at Harley Farms outside Pescadero. We had never heard of Pescadero either. The rain was fortunate for us as it served to scare away all the people with sense and other places to be, so we had the place all to ourselves. If you want the place all to yourself you may have to plan ahead. Like a year in advance. The place is all booked from now till forever.
There is a reason why.
The first reason is that these animals make great cheese. It is the kind of cheese that inspires a bunch of poor planning lunks to quickly buy a Styrofoam gas station cooler to try to preserve this beautiful food through a long weekend. The goat cheese/chocolate cheesecake did not go in the cooler. We ate it before we left the parking lot.
The second reason to go is the dining. The party wasn’t for us and they wouldn’t tell us what they were serving that night. In fact, they never tell anyone what they will be serving. The surprise is part of the experience. It is a new menu every night (which is hard to fact check if they never tell you in advance what they are serving) and if the food is only half as good as the fromage, it will be worth it.
But again, the place is booked from now till forever so good luck.
Wine isn’t just a beverage, or even an industry, it is a country. It is of course those other things too, but since that first day a zillion years ago when someone decided to drink a bottle of spoiled grape juice the whole world has been spending inordinate amounts of time and real estate on grapes.
Half way between San Diego and Riverside is Southern California’s version of Tuscany. Or maybe its another version of Sonoma, or Napa, wherever it is like, it is called Temecula and I went there.
I spent three days at the Carter Estates and didn’t drink a drop of wine. I did however guzzle about a gallon of root beer and ate my weight in cheese. But I was not alone and there were plenty of others to make sure the wine didn’t go to waste.
Any place that has that much cheese is great with me, and the idea that it might be the sort of place where an ascot could be worn made me a fan.
An ascot. In real life.
Wine helps people do all sorts of things.
Like fly in hot air balloons. It was more than a hundred years ago that some French folks broke humans free from Terra firma, and since that time we have developed other things like airplanes and the ability to steer. Yet somehow people still climb into combustible unsteerable baskets and go up into the sky.
There was of course some swirling and sniffing, lots of toasting and nibbling, but most of all, there was an ascot.
The Ferry building in San Francisco is in some ways, exactly what it sounds like. You can ketch the Ferry to Sausalito there, or if you are like me, you can catch lunch.
Crowded, yet surprisingly sterile, the hungry masses are provided a wealth of options. Tacos, burgers, and bears Oh my. I did see tacos and burgers, I got carried away with the bears bit, ya know, alliteration and all. With so many choices one can pretty much do as they please, and what pleased me, pleased me in a big way.
I did not know that other word but it did not matter. It may just be a stall in a glorified food court, but in the case of Boccalone, the glory was well deserved. I have not been to any other food court vendor that had a locker in which it was aging its own meat. Besides, any place that can stay in business only doing one simple thing (salting pig parts), is likely doing it rather well. They are doing it well.
Having obtained a pile of prosciutto carried like a snow cone I walked around the corner for part two of lunch. Cheese. Good cheese.
Faux western kitsch normally repels me like a cattle prod, but this bucking bronco logo-ed shop had aged Gouda in the isles. Aged Gouda fixes everything. So does brie, Gruyere, and Stilton. The Cowgirl Creamery is better than their logo shtick implies.
There was a line full of the lunch crowd standing at their window and I joined them. The chalk board told me I had my choice of brie and apple, ham and Swiss, or any variation of cheese and bread. I went with a grilled cheese and fig jam.