A COOKING ROAD TRIP IN JANUARY â€¦â€¦On Saturday, January 6, we set out for a little road trip heading south on 101. Objectives: drive on the best roads to avoid weather issues; relax allot; visit friends and familyâ€” do a little cooking using ingredients from the local markets; see some sights! And from all perspectives our objectives were met! It was an easy driveâ€”longest leg 11 hours but most days were 5-6 hours of driving. Once we reached a destination we were chauffeured around, and that was sure nice. First stop was Calistoga and the Napa Valleyâ€”a wonderful place for foodies! Good friends moved there recently and took us to the Cakebread Cellars winery and HONIG Winery. Both favorites of ours and the tours very worth while. From Napa we arrived at cousins in BREA, CA for a quick overnight getting ready for the long drive to SCOTTSDALE AZ, via Palm Springs. Road conditions still great, but hills around Palm Springs had a liberal dusting of snow, and the temperature allowed for Sweaters and not the short sleeves both of us packed. Snow also threatened in Scottsdale but held off for our visit. In Scottsdale we visited family who said Yes, when we offered to cook, and proceeded to invite 20 of their friends and neighbors! Felt a little like a Small Plates class back at EVOO! While in Scottsdale, we toured the Taliesin campus of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. It was inspirational! http://www.franklloydwright.org/index.cfm?section=home&action=home
Leaving Scottsdale/Phoenix, we headed back to BREA, CA to visit those cousins again, this time long enough to take a short side trip for a little family reunion in OCEANSIDE. Again we volunteered to cook and what do you know? They said YES, too! By now we were mentally listing how to make this a permanent part of our road trips. MEALS in exchange for lodging, not a bad deal. The tools we brought along were simple and easily did the job! Yes, we â€˜roughedâ€™ it at some households where cooking supplies were from generations long passed. (It’s okay though Aunt P and Uncle J) Oh, and never assume every household has a cutting board! But still and all our basic supply kit of one good French knife, a paring knife, bread knife (we made bread everywhere we went) did the job. Also we had packed our seasoning trinity: sea salt, fresh black pepper (mill), and of course, our coriander mill with extra seeds on the side! We packed EVOO, too, forgetting where we were goingâ€”to olive country! Next time weâ€™ll buy it along the way.
We had no idea what we would make each time, until we went to the markets. It was especially easy to shop in Napaâ€”picking up fresh lemons, eggplant, red peppers, zucchini, portabellas, and fresh herbs. We picked up a few homemade sausages in our friends favorite butcher shopâ€”and they were amazing! In Brea and Scottsdale, we also went to Italian markets to pick up some of our ingredientsâ€”we find these stores to be similar whatever city we are inâ€”run by the family and been there for years! They are pretty reliable and reminded Bob of Cleveland shopping trips. We loved these market trips because it is a good way to get a feel for the areaâ€™s food scene and at the same time weâ€™d usually sample interesting finds along the way.
The trip home was very pleasant considering we just missed the LA freeway snow and ice ordeal. Exactly one day later and we would have postponed our return by at least a day. Who would expect snow on the CA roadways! Actually we avoided all snow issues in Januaryâ€”even back home–it snowed 6 inches on the beach! Our house/poodle sitter, Glynis Valenti took great snow pictures for us.