From our perch here in the foodie and restaurant capital of San Francisco, it’s not going too far to say that California has changed the way the world eats. Practices such as sustainable, organic and farm-to-table and trends like fusion cooking and gourmet food trucks were either started or refined here. And since the seasons are changing, we thought we would serve-up a shortlist of some of California’s fabulous food discoveries so you can get a taste of Golden State goodness for yourself.
Going To The Source
The East San Diego County hamlet of Julian lights up in autumn thanks to abundant orchards heavy with McIntosh, Pippin, Granny Smith and other unique apple varieties. There’s also piles of pumpkins and hay rides for the kid in you, or okay, actual kids too. Head north to savor Sacramento, America’s Farm-to-Fork capital thanks to its location at the gateway to the vast farmlands of the Central Valley. This is where you can experience a year-long calendar of seminars, festivals, tastings, restaurant weeks and more celebrating the region’s abundance during events like the Farm-to-Fork Festival.
If you’re serious about seafood, make your way to Monterey, where the Monterey Abalone Company raises California red abalone utilizing sustainable aquaculture. Their abalone can be found in area restaurants and across the country. Hog Island Oyster Co. is another standout purveyor of California-grown oysters. You can visit their farm in Marin County for a shuck-your-own feast overlooking Tomales Bay, or their namesake bar in San Francisco’s Ferry Building. And don’t miss out on one of California’s most iconic food experiences – having fresh cracked crab on San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf – paired with an oven-fresh Boudin baguette of course.
If you can’t make it to the orchards or the pier, the next best thing is one of California’s many farmers’ markets. At last count, there’s over 800 here – more than anywhere else in the country, which translates into abundant and diverse farm-to-foodie nirvana. Notable options to check out include the urban Los Angeles Farmers Market, founded in 1934 when LA was still the nation’s top farm county. It’s now a rambling collection of family-owned stalls and shops wedged between television studios and a sleek open-air mall. (Trivia note: a young Marilyn Monroe was the market’s first Cheesecake Queen). Others worth exploring include San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and down south in sunny San Diego, Little Italy’s Mercato, where seasonal specialties from San Diego County farms wow visitors and locals alike in the historic neighborhood.
Festivals For Food-lovers
Californians love a party, so what better way to experience the state’s culinary abundance than a festival? A sampling includes Mendocino’s Mushroom, Wine & Beer Festival, the Napa Truffle Festival, and the Mountain Mandarin Festival in California Gold Country for all things citrusy.
At local food fests, you’ll find tastings, food and wine pairings, special chef’s dinners, activities for kids and of course live music to work up an appetite. With so much to discover, it’s easy to become a bona fide Calivore!