Tag Archives: California

Trends in California CSAs

 

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Farmers in San Diego say they feel pressure to offer additional benefits in their CSAs – to sell different sized produce boxes, to provide various sign-up periods and to allow add-ons and weekly cancellations – all of which require additional time to manage.

During a panel on CSAs at the recent California Small Farm Conference, a question came up: Why are CSAs on the East and West coasts set up so differently from each other – and is it worth it? I was wondering the same thing, after researching the choices in San Diego, and noticing how unlike my experience with and knowledge of Virginia CSAs – where I received bags of turnips when other crops were suffering, and other CSAs doled out bushels of corn during the summer. In San Diego, I receive the same amount of produce in each box, and the contents thus far have be fairly standard.

It seems to boil down to the problem of retention and a difference in the underlying understanding of what a CSA even is.

“The trend in California is people want to choose what they want, and they don’t want what they don’t want,” said Robin Taylor, owner of Suzie’s Farm in Imperial Beach.

Farmers are desperate to attract and retain members to their CSA programs. Continue reading

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Blood Orange Margaritas & surviving the first months in San Diego

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When you’re working more than full-time for an erratic cafe owner with a weak grasp of the English language, standing on a concrete floor for such long hours that your hips start to burn, getting yelled at for turning away customers at 11:55 p.m. because you and the other overworked girl were ready to close up for the night, then San Diego isn’t quite the vacation that it had seemed on previous visits. It becomes real life.

I’m sorry that I’ve been missing from this space. I’ve jotted down many blog post ideas over the past weeks–months, actually–that I’ve been living out here. I’ve eaten lots and lots of good food, both at home and at restaurants, gotten sunburnt and bought bags full of blood oranges and avocados at markets.

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I’m moving to San Diego!

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The cake worked. The next Monday was sweeter, brighter.

And now, life’s about to be a whole lot sunnier.

In two weeks–likely on Valentine’s Day–I’m moving West, to San Diego, where a 70-degree heat wave at the end of January coincided with yet another “polar vortex” in the East. Sweaters are staying in Virginia. Kitchen supplies are coming with me. And pup’s along for the ride.

Here’s the plan: My wonderful parents are helping to box up my belongings next weekend. We’ll ship them cross country, and my furniture will find new homes. My last day at the newspaper is Feb. 11, and  I’ll spend a day or so back in my hometown. Then, the bulky Kitchen Aid and dog crate will get stowed in the trunk and I’m sure we’ll cringe at how little space there actually is. My dad’s a pro a figuring out the puzzle on car trips, so, hopefully we’ll have room for a few suitcases, a cooler of treats, some books on CD. The two (three) of us will spend the next five-ish days bonding in the 2000 Camry, with plenty of dog/human stops along the way. If all goes well, we’ll find a few adventures, and maybe even snap a photo at that little spot you may have heard of, the Grand Canyon.

At the end of the road, we’ll be able to pick up lemons and avocados at farmers markets, and shells and sand dollars at the many, many beaches… and more!

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It’s a huge, scary, life-changing, nerve-wracking, major leap of faith. Leap of love. And I couldn’t be more excited. Three thousand miles have stretched between Tom and I for two-and-a-half years, longer than I would have ever guessed if you had asked me back in October 2011, when he and his dad packed up the U-Haul for his own adventure. And finally, within days, we’re going to be together–with the pup–in a sunny California city of 1.4 million.

The move will also be a personal challenge, for, as I have learned, California is really, really far from Virginia, where my family and friends live. Making this decision has been quite an endeavor, with many tears and questions and doubts over the past few months. But, knowing Tom’s there, that we’ll finally be in the same place, and lemon and orange trees abound, that makes it worth it. Timing couldn’t be better, and really, I’m not yet 25, so what better time is there to drop everything and embark on such a huge, invigorating (expensive) change?

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After writing over a check for two arms and a leg, we have a bright little apartment next to Balboa Park that we’ll call home for the next 12 months. I’m excited to decorate, though compromising on colors and furniture will likely be our first challenge to overcome. Plus, I’ll be on quite the budget until I get the whole job thing sorted out. If only Rachel could bring in a paycheck, too.

I’ll share what I can as we drive, and as we start this new part of our lives. Rachel and Tom will certainly have some acclimating to do with each other, while I get over freaking out that I’ve gone from a small Civil War-obsessed town of 27,000 to being surrounded by 50 times as many people, many who surf. Fredericksburg is 10 square miles, San Diego is 372. The differences are just beginning.

So. If you have tips, advice, questions, warnings, restaurant recommendations, frugal decorating tips, relationship suggestions, dog traveling tips or just some love, please share! This is big, and I need you with me! And I really can’t wait for the adventure, and to take you along with me. Let’s go!

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Ferragosto: Italian summer holiday comes to San Diego

Ferragosto, a charity gala for Little Italy’s schools and a church, was the big event for my long weekend in San Diego, the reason to fly west that particular weekend in mid-August.

Sequins and pearls, vests and hats–we donned our ’20s best before hitting the red carpet with Tom’s coworkers on Saturday night. Admiring everyone’s themed outfits may have been my favorite part of the night, as boas, fringe, pearls and headbands filled the designated city blocks. Though, we certainly got some stares on the trolley as we made our way downtown.

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L.A. day trip includes Pizzeria Mozza, La Brea Tar Pits and Hollywood

One of my beach books this summer was Bill Buford’s “Heat,” part memoir, and part biography of Mario Batali, the New York chef made famous by Food Network. A girlfriend loaned it to me, along with some light chick lit, but a bright yellow cover drew this particular book to the top of the stack. I’d seen the old episodes of “Molto Mario” a few times, but knew little about the red-haired pony-tailed chef.

This isn’t going to be a story about Mario’s journey as a chef, because you should just read the book or use Google for that.

What I do want to share is that on my latest West Coast trip, I had the chance to eat at Batali’s newest restaurant venture, a partnership with baker Nancy Silverton, in Los Angeles, Calif.

A two-and-a-half hour drive up I-5 from San Diego, L.A. itself is overwhelming, meaning that Tom and I would have to pick and choose just a few things to do. Visiting the La Brea Tar Pits, a walk along Hollywood Boulevard, and a drive through Beverly Hills seemed like good starting points. But with more than 20,000 restaurants, I wondered how we’d choose, and how we’d avoid getting caught in a tourist trap, though we seemed to anyway for a quick dinner at Venice Beach. Continue reading

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Day 4: Solvang to San Diego

I didn’t want our Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip extravaganza to end. It meant I had to leave California the next morning, to come back to Virginia. But, we made the most of our last day—not surprisingly, with coastlines and delicious meals.

We started off in Solvang, a Danish village about half an hour from Santa Barbara. The town was founded in 1911 by Danish expats. It’s now mostly a tourist destination with bakeries, restaurants ad merchants offering Europe on the West Coast. And the bakery we went to was authentically Danish, and truly delicious. For breakfast, Tom and I each ordered a pastry at Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery. It was one of the best pastries I’ve had, with light, buttery dough surrounding a rich cream cheese filling.

How do I choose just one?

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Day 1: San Diego to San Luis Obispo

Our Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Extravaganza 2012 was so much fun—and I didn’t want to leave, for obvious reasons (aka Tom is there!). Now, I’m working on a story for the paper about it. I’ll give you sections of that draft until it is published, in a four part series, detailing our awesome four days on Highways 1 and 101. (Read about Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4.)

Day 1: San Diego to San Luis Obispo

Crows ate our dinner before we cooked it over the campfire one night. Fog covered many viewpoints along California’s majestic coast. And our packed itinerary had to be scaled back considerably.

But these few setbacks couldn’t ruin our four-day road trip up the Pacific Coast Highway, which offered stops for bakeries, wildlife and postcard-worthy photos. One of the few benefits of my boyfriend, Tom, relocating to San Diego is the chance to visit the West Coast. We explored much of the city on my last visit, but this time, we wanted to see more of the grand state.

Driving the Pacific Coast Highway in the Avalon.

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Pacific Coast roadtrip itinerary

Three days! We’re still working out the final details of Roadtrip 2012 up the Pacific Coast Highway. Tom and I will be spending four days, three nights, exploring the area between San Diego and Monterey, just south of San Francisco. After much debate back and forth, we decided to skip San Fran, because it would have added at least $250 to the trip and cut out a lot of the other nature-y things we could have done in our short time span. But we like doing fun things and saving money and seeing pretty things, so this is the rough itinerary we’ve planned so far:

Friday: Drive through Los Angeles, up to Santa Barbara. Visit a vineyard and have a picnic. Visit Solvang, a Disney-fied Danish village with supposedly awesome bakeries. I like bakeries. Stay in a fun sounding, cheap mom and pop hostel in San Luis Obispo. Visit a brewery in town.

Saturday: Head north to the Big Sur area to check in at a no-reservations campground. Drive up to Monterey, then to Carmel and the Carmel Mission.

Sunday: Do some nature-y things in Big Sur, including seeing McWay Falls and elephant seals. Camp on the lower end of the Central Coast.

Monday: Head back toward San Diego. Find fun places to stop along the way.

Like I said, it’s definitely a rough itinerary. But I’m very, very excited. We do have at least the one night booked. And I’ve got a few books, maps from AAA, and most importantly, a West Coast Road Food guide book.

(P.S. Our trip was great fun! Here are details on Day 1 (San Diego to San Luis Obispo), Day 2 (Big Sur), Day 3 (Big Sur to Santa Barbara) and Day 4 (Solvang to Santa Barbara to San Diego). We didn’t get to do nearly everything we had hoped, but it was still an amazing drive, with amazing views. If you’re trying to plan a trip, I’d love to help you out!)

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