Where to begin with this trip?!? Firstly, I would like to thank the team at Best Food Facts for putting this all together and for inviting me to be a part of this incredible travel and learning experience. Full disclosure: This trip was sponsored by and paid for by Best Food Facts. Although the trip was provided to me, I was not compensated to attend the trip, or to write these recap posts. All opinions are my own, as always. Because this trip included so many incredible experiences, I have divided it up into two posts, to keep from writing a novel for one post.
This trip lined up perfectly with my trip to Portland, since #TASTE15 was set to start only two days after #indulgeconPDX ended. Phi and I spent one extra night in Portland, because we had gone on an all-day excursion to Hood River Valley, and then Best Food Facts flew us to California a day early to hang out with them and get situated in Davis.
We flew into Sacramento because that’s the closest airport to Davis, and then Bethany from BFF picked us up and brought us back to our hotel. The hotel was fantastic! I had two queen beds all to myself, and was next door to Phi, which you know made the trip amazing. We stayed at the Hallmark Inn right in downtown Davis, which I totally recommend, as it’s connected both to CREAM (I’ll get to that in a minute) and Massage Envy. Both Phi and I woke up early on Tuesday to get massages at Massage Envy then we set out to explore Davis before meeting up with the group.
After our massages, and getting showered and ready for the day, we ventured out and found the most precious little French bistro to grab brunch. Phi and I did our typical favorite thing, and got two different dishes and shared them. I got the biscuits and gravy, she got the eggs benedict. Hers was slightly better, but both were lovely and the cappuccino was superb. I highly recommend Cafe Bernardo.
On the first evening, we met up with the group in the lobby of the hotel, then got on our fantastic party bus to head to Putah Creek Winery to learn about viticulture, learn about their wines and grapes, as well as enjoy a delicious dinner with different wines paired with each course. I didn’t take very many photos during dinner, as I was focused on the fantastic company of the ladies at my table, as well as the delicious subtle notes of each of the wines, and the perfect way in which they paired with the superb food.
This was such a lovely experience. I got to see sauvignon blanc grapes up close (my favorite wine!) as well as taste a wide range of reds and whites. I enjoyed my first chardonnay. This is not to say I’ve never experienced chardonnay, just that I’ve never enjoyed it. Until now. And I think they taught me the secret to which chardonnays I will enjoy…un-oaked. The flavor of the un-oaked chardonnay was so much less rich than a traditional chardonnay and didn’t come off as too much for me in the way that it normally does when I have an oaked chardonnay.
I sat with Liz from Liz Ventures, Lauren from Paint the Town Ag, Phi from Sweet Phi Blog, Jocelyn from Brucrew Life, Adriana from Adriana’s Favorite Recipes and Bethany from Best Food Facts. We enjoyed goat cheese coated in honey, crostini, carrot hummus, salad with salmon, duck confit and polenta with a delicious ratatouille. The meal was finished off by the most preciously light goat cheese cheesecake with a strawberry coulis.
We all thoroughly enjoyed this fantastic meal, then packed back on the bus and headed back to the hotel, where a few of us hit up CREAM (again!).I guess this would be a good time to talk about CREAM. CREAM is the most uniquely fun ice cream store. First you choose a cookie. They have several to choose from (my favorite being snickerdoodle), and you can even mix and match with two cookies. Then you choose an ice cream (they have about a dozen flavors to choose from, some of which rotate). Then they make that into an ice cream sandwich and you can choose a topping (I chose teeny mini marshmallows every single time (all 3 OMG) and it was total perfection. Apparently the original CREAM is in Berkeley but they have one in Davis now, and I highly recommend you check it out!
We then went to bed because we had a somewhat early morning the following day. Phi and I got up early and went to a small local coffee shop that I had experienced the day before during Phi’s massage. This local shop, Mishka’s, has a fantastic selection of baked goods. The first day I had a blueberry muffin, and the second day I had a peach scone. Both days I enjoyed a latte, and the decor and ambience of that place is so cozy. The first day I even sat outside and just took in Davis. It was sunny, with a slight chill in the air. Basically, it was perfect.
But back to the second day. The weather was perfect this day as well, which was wonderful, as we were heading out to a local strawberry patch to learn about the farmers and do some strawberry picking of our own.
When we arrived at T & Y Strawberry Patch Market, I was already dying to go inside. There was a colorful sign for fresh blueberries that just lured me in, and I wanted blueberries and raspberries and figs and plums. I wanted it all! I could smell the fresh berries already. We picked up Newt, who was our “tour guide” of the farm, who took us to the strawberry patch where they grow the strawberries (about 20 minutes down the road).
As we stood in the middle of the field, with strawberry plants all around us, we listened to Newt give us the history of how this farm came to be, and how his parents were the true picture of the American Dream come to life.
He described how his parents were refugees of the Vietnam War. Both were from Laos, but neither knew the other. They met here in America and began farming, as it was a marketable skill they both possessed, and the language barrier made it difficult for them to do much else. They worked hard for years, until they were able to buy their own farm, and grow their own strawberries. Once we met Newt’s mother, it became obvious how they had achieved such success. She was out in the field herself. She had a hat and boots on and a scarf wrapped around her hat covering her neck, I presume to protect her from the sun. Newt explained that his mother came out every morning at 6 am and picked strawberries all day. She graciously showed us around, and she and Newt explained the different varieties of strawberries, and then they gave us baskets to pick our own. Being from a city, picking strawberries is not something I’d ever done (other than in Oregon two days before) and I had certainly never had a basket to pick as many as I wanted! I filled my basket to the top, then ate them all on the way back to T & Y Strawberry Patch Market. As we arrived at T & Y Patch Market, we of course wanted to know about the name. T & Y are the initials of Newt’s parents. This truly was a family farm. And this truly was an American Dream come true. And we were part of it. I felt so honored that they showed us around their farm and showed us the variety of crops that they have. We then went into the market and we could pick out what we wanted to purchase. I purchased two jams from local farms (peach and raspberry), a local honey, and of course, T & Y Strawberry Patch Strawberry Jam. I knew immediately my carry on would now be a checked bag, and I knew that it was totally worth it.
Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of #TASTE15 California