in San Francisco

Accidentally, I’ve wound up in San Francisco for the winter. Olives are dropping from trees on the streets, and I’ve been saving some for bringing home, and growing the pits into houseplants. I’ve read you can expect a crop from an olive tree in a pot, but even so the foliage is beautiful.

Also, the plum trees are in bloom. My grandmother-in-law, for some 45 years a student of Zen, told me the other day that in Japan plum blossoms are a symbol of bravery, on account of that they are the first fruit to bloom in the spring, and thus the most likely to lose its crop to frost. I like that, thinking of them as brave, rather than stupid which is what some farmers I know have called them.

The apples here are boring compared to what I’m used to in the east, but then with demand sucking them up so fast this year, the apples left in the east this time of year, at least in Vermont, are pretty boring too. More disappointing, the citrus available here, that I’ve seen so far, has not knocked my socks off. And I came too late for persimmons. But the new-harvest olive oil is in, and a joy.

Restaurants are pissing me off, as typically too precious or pretentious or expensive, often all three. I am beginning to turn against this new foodism, as readers know. But here it’s as bad as anywhere.

On the other hand, wine and cheese availability, considering only that which I can afford, is stunning, and there are shops that hurt my heart to be in, to be surrounded by such plenty, with the expectation of being able to enjoy some of it. I am currently drinking the best bottle of wine I’ve probably had in six months, a Fronton from Chateau Flotis, the second bottle I’ve bought in the city, and I spent on it $12. Gorgeous.

But I’m missing West Virginia. While I can buy fifteen varieties of mushrooms here quite easily, I’d rather learn to pick them in the woods myself for free. And make cheese, and cure meats, and ferment cider, and everything else I do and want to do, and can do there, without being a rich man. And eat no worse than a rich man. Except, of course, for wine. Achilles heel of us here at the antipasto.

7 Comments on “in San Francisco”

  1. Will Huenink says:

    My wife in indignant I dissed the citrus. Two years ago I was very impressed with it, and my esteem now is not lessened. Just, it doesn’t seem any better or more varied than it was then, and what’s available in no way compares to the diversity in apples I’m used to on the east coast. Of course, I know where to look on the east coast; I make it my business to. So yes, it’s an unfair accusation, but shame on Bi-Rite and Rainbow for not impressing me better.

  2. Missus says:

    The farmers market blood oranges knocked your socks clear across the room. Just sayin’.

  3. annabelle lenderink says:

    Dear Will and Mrs Will, I am a new subsriber and also an organic farmer in the bay area and as such I would like to at least offer you some of my produce as an attempt to make up for disappointments so far. It’s mainly radicchio’s ( I grow fullsize Variegata Chioggia, Bianco Invernale, Pan di Zucchero, none of that baby stuff here) and some really great Puntarelle, also big and beautiful, as it should be. A few other little things as well. So I hope you are still in SF, I deliver on tuesday’s and would love to make you a box, or we can arrange a pickup at the Sat. Ferry building if you don’t mind going to the zoo.

  4. Will Huenink says:

    Annabelle! That is a very lovely thing of you to offer! Mrs. Will and I are very keen on radicchio, bitter things in general as well as a great many other things besides. Where do you deliver on Tuesdays? Or maybe we could drop by your farm sometime? We could use more field trips out of the city, and are curious to see how someone such as yourself grows such things. Incidentally is your family from the eastern Netherlands?

  5. annabelle lenderink says:

    Absolutely, on all counts, starting with the last, the Lenderinks are from de Achterhoek, and on into Germany, and Yes would love for you to come to Bolinas. Am leaving on Monday 2/28 for a month so presumably before then, sunday’s are good, also friday’s, Deliveries on tuesday’s are almost anywhere in SF, tot ziens, XX Annabelle

  6. Will Huenink says:

    In that case we must be cousins. My grandfather always said “if it ends in ink, dink or stink we’re related to it,” and all of his ancestors were from exactly there, mostly Aalten and Winterswijk, and on into Germany. I’ve met Dutch people who didn’t recognize an ink name ending, so my strengthening hunch is that it really is a fairly strictly localized form.

    Hows the 18th or 20th sound? You can email me

  7. Dana V says:

    What a happy making Comments exchange!

    I wonder if apples from colder climes are all the better for it, just like kales and roots are sweeter for the frost. Anyway, there are some NoCa varieties that might be worth looking up. A visit to Anderson Valley and Philo Farm might be a good field trip.

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