As I traveled around the Northern part of California this September I was extremely excited to be in the birth place of “Fresh, local, scratch” and recycling in the restaurant world. That being said since this trip was about relaxing and celebrating my marriage, I promised it would not be all about food—or at least as much as I could step away from something that is at my very core.
I did not research before going and we just ate in places we either came across in our travels, locals recommended or that popped up on Urbanspoon and Yelp. We would start looking in the area when we got hungry and then just pop into the coolest looking place. Without a doubt every place we went had the Mason Jar as some type of serving vessel—from upscale restaurants to little mom and pop’s. Desserts, beverages, appetizers, soups—all sizes as well—tall, regular size, pint, jelly jar; from humble food storage vessel to a star!
One of the trends in restaurants or food trucks in this part of CA is that they served basically one thing with variations on the theme. Homeroom in Oakland CA is a cool little corner spot that Mac + Cheese is what they do. Every kind with almost anything you can image mixed in. They offer vegetable sides and desserts but the main focus is all about the Mac. Sourcing the freshest ingredients, limiting their menus and making everything to order– these places rocked!! I never thought I could get extremely excited over eating Mac + Cheese but menu items like-The Exchange Student-creamy gouda, scallions, ginger butter and spicy sriracha or Mac the Goat—rich and tangy fresh chevre(locally sourced), sliced scallions, spinach, and crispy breadcrumbs with a drizzle of olive oil—my mouth was in heaven.
Homemade syrups and soda’s hot hot hot; mixologist not bartenders, less meat, and smaller portions-that is what we found all around CA.
Two other aspects never stopped impacting & astounding me and have instilled a great desire to return soon: the freshness of the food everywhere and the commitment from the whole state on every level to take care of the environment. Eating an all meat crab cake sandwich, right after the crab was caught in front of you on the water-oh so sweet!! Vegetables of every kind picked the same day and prepare very simply so the flavor of the individual vegetable or fruit was the star-not a side kick. This was not just at the most expensive places but universal. Food trucks offering squeezed for you fresh juices with produce straight from the farm that day.
Then the commitment to reduce waste was very evident. Recycling and composting at both the ballparks we attended, recycling containers in public areas, composting cans supported by the cities just like our recycling and garbage pickup. Network among the restaurants, homeless shelters, grocery stores and farms to use the food that cannot be sold to the public to help fed the tremendous amount of homeless people. They use Face book, Twitter and blogs to get the information out there and even have a huge source of volunteers to help transport the products.
Feeling truly blessed to have had this experience and so proud to see just how trendy we really are at MG! Our core values are alive and well in CA, too.