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Because Missing Out Is Never Fun!

Petaluma Creamery

Taste tested four times.  Thumbs up!
Petaluma Creamery
621 Western Avenue
Petaluma, CA

The worst thing about sampling at Costco is that there’s always someone watching you.  The best thing about sampling at Petaluma Creamery is that there’s no one  watching you.

That’s right.  No one’s there watching you remove lid after lid from sample containers.  No one’s counting the toothpicks you’re tossing after each cube you eat.  And no one’s raising an eyebrow when you try a particular variety a third time “just to make sure you like it”.

Once inside the creamery’s retail store you’ll spot a large, refrigerated case with dozens of cheeses – everything from basic White Cheddar to unique varieties like spicy Smoked Firehouse Cheddar and mouth-watering Pesto Jack.  Go ahead: loosen your belt and sample cubes of every flavor if you happen to have skipped breakfast like I did.  Move to the right to taste spreadable cheeses and squeaky cheese curds.  Discover new favorites, then take home a few pre-packaged mini slabs or a log the size of a battering ram.

When you think you’ve had your fill of dairy, give your palate a break with a fresh-baked cookie or thick, luscious fruit tart wedge.  Life is about balance, right?

Roundman's Smokehouse

Don't be a wiener.  Step inside!


Roundman's Smokehouse
412 N. Main Street
Fort Bragg, CA
Roundman's Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

Roundman's claims they'll smoke anything; in this case, they're referring to meat, fish and cheese as advertised on the signage outside of their Fort Bragg shop.

I can't recall where I read about it, but I came specifically seeking out their Bacon Sausage.  Bacon Sausage?  Sounded like the best of both worlds would soon be converging inside this girl's mouth!  I ordered a few to throw into my cooler as I was about to embark upon my ride back home.

Days later, I took the links out of their butcher paper and fried them up, salivating over the aromas of sausage...and bacon.  The texture confused my palate as I tasted bacon, without the familiar crunch, but with the chewiness of a good, hearty sausage.  I pondered the juxtaposition of flavors and textures, then realized I shouldn't be thinking so hard on a Sunday morning.

Moments later, the last of my Mendocino County souvenirs were gone.




Olive Hut

Clearly, the safest place to shop for olives!


Olive Hut
3487 Highway 99W
Corning, CA  96021

If you spot what looks like an oversized tin can half buried in the ground, stop.  Park out front, then make your way inside.

Off the beaten path from that other well-known attraction, this Quonset hut supplies hungry road trippers with home-grown stuffed olives, pickled vegetables and international award-winning oils.  Produce, nuts, honey and other items round out the selection.

Avoid tourist traps and make a hit-and-run here for tasty local goods without the limited parking or high-pressure sales pitches.  Your oliveless martini awaits!


 

Newcastle Produce

Produce a few bucks for some tasty treats!
Newcastle Produce
9230 Cypress Street
Newcastle, CA

Markets like this are what California is all about: vibrant, organic fruits and vegetables, fresh baked goods accompanied by steaming hot coffee, and a myriad of cheeses, breads, condiments and other gourmet treats produced throughout the Central Valley.

I get angry when a platter marked "White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Scones" is holding only crumbs, however.  I suppose I should have shown up before noon.


With so many options, this is the premiere Newcastle stop whether you're creating the ultimate foodie gift basket or just grabbing a deli sandwich on the way to or from your Reno ski trip.  A variety of classes are offered so you can learn to make everything from sauerkraut to sushi.

Call ahead for the scones!






Granzella's

Olive this place!


Granzella's
451 6th Street
Williams, CA
Granzella's Bakery on Urbanspoon

Here's a suggestion: stop by charming, decades-old Granzella's before heading to nearby Colusa Casino.  That way, no matter what happens at the blackjack tables, you'll at least have something to eat on the way home to distract you from your pity party.

Better yet, why not start the day with a hot breakfast at Granzella's Restaurant?  Fill up on country fried steak and Belgian waffles, then head into the delicatessen for some treats to share later.

This region sure loves their olives, and you can find plenty of them here in jars, oils, and at the tasting bar.  Not your cup of tea?  Pick up locally-made fruit preserves, marinades, spices or specialty pastas and breads.  For the ride home, don't miss made-to-order pastrami and roast beef sandwiches or heaping scoops of Italian gelato.

Granzella's also boasts a rather large selection of traditional and microbrewed beers...but let's save those for your arrival home.

Rockridge Market Hall

Eating on the sidewalk never tasted
so good!


Rockridge Market Hall
5655 College Avenue
Oakland, CA

Peek inside and you might think this is just another gourmet bakery, florist or butcher shop.  Step inside and you'll discover it's all of those...and so much more.

With eight distinct vendors under one roof, Rockridge Market Hall is your first - and last - destination whether you're grabbing a quick snack or planning an elaborate dinner party for twelve.  Grab some java at Highwire Coffee Roasters to sip while perusing grass-fed beef at Marin Sun Farms Butcher Shop, choosing between gnocchi and ravioli at The Pasta Shop, or contemplating a catfish sandwich from Hapuku Fish Shop.

Snagging a table outside may prove to be a challenge, but you can probably find a vacant mini-bench alongside parallel-parked cars out front.  Enough for your butt and a grocery bag, it's a nice spot to park yourself before you wolf down a sourdough roll filled with crunchy fried oysters, slaw and tartar sauce.  Heaven.

Jacob's Produce

Stop here if you know what's good for you!

Jacob's Produce
10954 E. Highway 120
Manteca, CA

Roadside fruit and veggie stands are some of my favorite things about California.

I would have passed Jacob's completely had it not been for the cars and trucks out front that caught my eye.  I couldn't resist stopping after spotting mounds of vibrant, fresh produce.

I started grabbing and filling bags as if it were some kind of ridiculous contest a la "Supermarket Sweep". A few apricots here, two avocados there, a bunch of bananas, a netted bag of garlic, and several red potatoes.  I must have looked like a loon to the young lady behind the register...

Grand total?  Six bucks and change.  What a steal!  Supermarkets can't even come close to that quality for the price.  Be a peach. Support your local growers!

Machado Orchards


I'll take seven, please!

Machado Orchards
100 Apple Lane
Auburn, CA

There's a long-standing debate between fans of Machado's and Ikeda's (across the freeway) because they both serve up some pretty phenomenal pies.

If you ask me, they both have their merits...but Machado's pie and fruit products take the cake (!), hands down, in the dessert battle.

During my visit, no less than half a dozen ladies scurried about the kitchen, fitting pie tins with dough, piling fruit sky-high into those tins, then crimping the edges of the top layer of dough to seal in the goodness. Along the wall, rows upon rows of pies were cooling; one of the managers kindly opened the sliding window so I could get a better photo.

Unfortunately, Machado was one of my first stops of the day, so it was hours before I could sample my first bite of the whole apple pie I had taken home.  It was worth the wait; tender, flaky crust, firm apples with the right combination of tartness and sweetness, and a subtle blend of spices that didn't overpower the fruit.  Perfection.

Get your burger at Ikeda's, then head over the freeway for dessert.  Or do dessert first.  Who am I to judge?

Yolo Fruit Stand


Bargains await!  Just follow the rest of the cars...


Yolo Fruit Stand
46710 County Road 32B
Davis, CA

The first time I came here was a Saturday and, as expected, the place was packed.  But 1:45 on a Thursday?  That's a testament to incredible variety and crazy-ass low prices.

Five heads of garlic for a buck.  Giant eggplant for a buck.  Generous sacks of dried local apricots and pears for fours bucks.  Almost-ripened plums, peaches and bananas begging for one night on your kitchen counter before you devour them.

Also snagged was a big container of peanut brittle...three bucks!  How can you go wrong here?  By not stopping the next time you drive by, that's how.

I've said it once, and I'll say it again.  Don't be a schmuck.  Support your local farmers!

Olive Pit

Go ahead...try olive them!


Olive Pit
2156 Solano Street
Corning, CA
Olive Pit Restaurant and Store on Urbanspoon

If you're driving anywhere near Tehama County and don't spot one of Olive Pit's 327 billboard ads, you clearly need to be paying more attention to your surroundings!

A popular stop among locals and tourists alike, Olive Pit continues to supply passersby with burgers and frosties like they have for over four decades.  The main attraction, however, is the expansive gift shop with more olive products than you can imagine.  I haven't tried olive body butter, but I'm sure it beats the crap out of Jergens.

Almond-stuffed, jalapeno-stuffed, pickled or smoked -  you can find them all here.  In fact, you can taste nearly every variety, along with olive oils and other products, at the hosted olive tasting bar.  Personally, I'm not a fan of green olives...but I will admit I developed a fondness for their house-made Chocolate Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Big surprise.

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