Did you know that coffee can grow in Southern California? Turns out there’s the perfect little microclimate out in Goleta for such things. Last August, I had the opportunity to tour the beautiful Good Land Organics Farm and harvest coffee cherries. Along the way, we also visited passionfruit vines, dragonfruit, flowering cherimoya, finger limes and more.
Finger lime and passionfruit samples to try before the tour.
Last year, news broke that the beloved Yingst Ranch would be closing after the 2014 season. The news was a huge bummer, considering what a beautiful and wonderful farm Yingst was. They were a U-Pick operation in Littlerock, sorta out in the middle of nowhere near Palmdale. They grew the most gorgeous, juicy-delicious heirloom plums and peaches as well as apples and pears.
Before they closed, a friend and I drove up last summer to bid them farewell and pick/buy as much fruit as we could handle. It was bittersweet–we got some stunning 49er peaches and a large bounty of fresh heirloom plums and pluots to take home.
Warning. This post is going to have a lot of orchid photos.
The first time I remember seeing orchids and hearing that word, was on the Big Island when I was a kid. We had been driving around the island all day. We met a man from New Jersey who grew coffee (and maybe some other things 😉 ) and sold ice cream. We went into a macadamia nut packing house where I watched a bunch of ladies in hairnets in front of a conveyor belt I Love Lucy style. And then after running around on a black sand beach, we headed back to Kona. On the way, we stopped by a giant greenhouse, which ended up being filled with orchids.
Thank goodness for Vegan Yack Attack. I had no idea Vegan MoFo (Vegan Month of Food) was approaching in September. I’m glad I know now as I’m headed to Maui September 2nd and now I have time to prepare some posts for when I’m gone. I am so behind on posts anyway that it should be easy. Maybe. Hopefully. I said I was going to come back this time with a recipe, but I’m terrible, so I may save some of the for MoFo…it’s so close!
For now, here is this short one about grapefruit.
A friend told me about this grapefruit pick in the valley. The grapefruit was chemical free and cheap, so I took myself picking. The place was called Orcutt Ranch and the grounds were gorgeous. I basically had the place to myself. I proceeded to frolic about like any good hippy would do and take pictures and pick yummy grapefruit. When I got home, I made Grapefruit Shortbread Cookies.
Cherries. I didn’t eat my first cherry until sometime in my early or mid-twenties. Man, I was missing out. Since then I have been in love with cherries of all kinds. Every year I attempt to make a pilgrimage to some cherry farm to get my fix of sweet cherries. Because I live in Los Angeles. So the only way I can find a fresh sour cherry is to win the cherry lottery. I found them once. Two years ago. At Whole Foods. I spent a small fortune buying as many as I could and freezing what I could not use fresh. They ran out soon enough and I’ve missed them. I have a few leads for next year though, so we’ll see.
A couple of weekends ago I had the glorious pleasure of returning to CJ’s Farm. I had been there once before, last fall to pick the most beautiful heirloom pumpkins. This time it was boysenberries. This triple cross between a European raspberry, blackberry and loagnberry is not so easy to find here in Los Angeles. They are around the Hollywood and Santa Monica Farmer’s Markets for a very brief period if you’re lucky to find them at all. And sometimes when you have that kind of luck, they are the worst type of sour and just awful.
Imagine my excitement when I learned that CJ’s was not only growing boysenberries, but was opening their wonderful farm to the public for u-pick. The ripe boysenberries were deliciously tart yet still sweet. They were the best I’ve ever had. I picked the biggest option available because I already knew I wanted to bake them into a pie.
While sitting comfortably and looking out from our beautiful lanai, we are not only graced with a beautiful view of the ocean, but also of the island of Molokai. When I visited Maui last fall, I was taking in the view and then started to think about Molokai. What’s over there? How do you get there? It looks so close. And close it is. Only a 15 minute or so Cessna ride away, you can be on Molokai in a flash.
When I was in Maui last month, I thought it might be nice for my dad and I to take a day trip over there. I bought us plane tickets, did a little research and over to Molokai we went. The view from our tiny plane was breathtaking.