Organic For the People
I often tell people that letting me loose in a farmer's market is like giving a gambling addict a ticket to Vegas.
I spend all the money I have, and then head to the ATM for more. That was certainly true at the Ferry Plaza Market down on the Embarcadero. Just thinking about it, with its myriad temptations and delights, makes me sigh.
That said, I am very happy about the Farmer's Market situation up here. There are numerous markets in Marin, offered at different times throughout the week, so that if you miss one, you can hit another. Here is the list I've compiled thus far:
FARMER'S MARKETS IN MARIN COUNTY
Sunday - 8am to 1pm - San Rafael Civic Center (year around)
Sunday - 10am-1:30pm - Sebastopol Downtown Plaza (May through October)
Tuesday - 4pm to 8pm - DeLong Avenue in Novato (May through October)
Wednesday 12-5pm - Tamalpais Drive @ Hwy 101 in Corte Madera
Thursday - 8am to 1pm - San Rafael Civic Center (year around)
Thursday - 6pm-9pm - Downtown San Rafael @ 4th Street (April through September)
Saturday - 2pm-5pm - Walnut Park & Petaluma Boulevard
Saturday - 9am-1pm - Point Reyes Station (June through October)
It makes me happy to know that all that wonderful produce is so accessible. I do have pangs of sadness over the fact that I can't slip into Recchiuti for the Rose-Caramel truffle that I adore, and that if I want a hunk of my favorite cheese from the Cowgirl Creamery, I have to drive up to Point Reyes to get it. But these are minor quibbles - and not having those places so handy has saved me quite a chunk of change.
I've put myself on a Market budget, in fact. I did it for a couple of weeks as a lark, and now it has become a game. Before I go, I stop by the bank and withdraw 2 twenties. That's it! You simply cannot imagine how much stuff 40 bucks will buy. When I recall that ridiculous article by Julie Powell in the NYT last week, proclaiming that buying local and organic is out of the price range of most people, I scoff.
Each week, I literally have to take a trip to the car halfway through to unload, and then go back for more. This morning, at the San Rafael Civic Center, I got a dozen large brown eggs, fresh flowers (including the artichoke flowers pictured to the left), baby beets, swiss chard, pluots, grapes, herbs, pink chard (gorgeous!), enough basil and garlic for a bowl of pesto, baby squash (look at those blossoms! How adorable are those?!), sweet white corn, arugula...
AND a croissant to get me started. 40 bucks, people. That's awesome.
Strip Mall Sushi
It was hotter than Hades here today.
I feel sticky and limp. Tried to take a nap in the late afternoon, but just ended up tossing around, the exact opposite of a refreshing snooze. The sun finally went down, but the breeze is sadly absent. Not that it matters much; I can't open up the doors and windows for more than a few minutes at a time, because we don't have screens on them yet, and the bugs here are monstrous. I've spent hours in the pest repellent section of the local Target. Call me paranoid, but my love is out of town, and I don't fancy waking up in the middle of the night all by my lonesome self to find an enormous spider marching across my leg.
Heat. Bugs. An almost-empty house. I fear this will be a long week.
So I had a hankering for sushi tonight. To be entirely clear, this hankering is a regular occurence - I could eat raw fish every night of the week, but as I work at a restaurant most nights, I don't go out for sushi as often as I would like to.
I'm a huge fan of Hiro's in Petaluma
- beautiful art, wonderful sushi chefs, lithe young waitresses in sexy black outfits - but tonight I thought: there must be sushi in Novato. And I shall find it, by golly. So I hopped on Google and found a listing for one not far away - Taki on Ignacio Boulevard
. I hopped in my car and drove down there to find... a low-slung strip mall, anchored by a tired old Safeway, like some relic from 1976 that should have been razed to the ground long, long ago. But I was undaunted; there is nothing I like better than discovering a gem hidden inside an otherwise dismal setting.
I marched inside and headed straight for the sushi bar. There were two chefs behind the counter, both bent over their work. A polite young man took my order for a cold Asahi, which I sipped while I watched and waited. And waited. After about 10 minutes, one of the chefs looked up and told me that it would be "a while" before he would be able to take my order. No problem there. The problem was that the longer I waited, the more I noticed things that made me uneasy.
The sushi bar was cluttered with bleachy-smelling hand towels and discarded chopsticks. Orange flecks of tobiko were scattered like sand, the remnants of meals long finished. To my right was an empty room with rice-paper doors and floor cushions; the low-slung table in the center was a mess of bottles and rice. Worse yet, the fish in the case in front of me had a lackluster quality; much of it was in small, pathetic bits, as opposed to large, firm pieces.
I wanted to leave. I felt fidgety and sad, wishing I could bolt, but I had a beer in front of me, and I know what it feels like to be on the other side, when people sit down and look around and head for the door. And so, while I waited for the sushi chef to get back to me, I decided to order only two things, two entirely safe things, and for that to be the extent of my meal. He finally did get back to me, nearly a half hour after I sat down, and took my order for a spicy tuna roll and a salmon skin hand roll. Ah, me.
They were served alongside a mound of bright pink ginger, the awful dyed stuff that makes me cringe. I cringed. Then I ate my spicy tuna, gulped my beer, chowed the hand roll, and left.
There may not be sushi in Novato after all.