I originally wrote this in the San Fransisco airport waiting for my flight home on Monday night. Unfortunately they do not offer free wireless at the San Fransisco airport, and I’ve basically been sleeping since I got home. Here’s my delayed blog entry – just pretend it had jet lag :
Luckily it was easy to find my way up to the town of Napa. I had thought about tacking a few days on to
the end of my trip and touring the wine country, but it seems stupid to do it
by myself—driving alone around the wine country? What was I going to do, just
smell the wines?
I did have a little trouble with the rental car. Mainly that it’s difficult to navigate in an
unfamiliar car where you can’t find the controls and suddenly it’s raining and
the windows are fogging up and there’s a detour sign holy crap it’s dark in this
parking garage where are the LIIIIGHTS?
I also whacked my head on the trunk. But
once we got that little adventure over with it was totally fine.
I had lunch at a tapas restaurant called Zuzu’s on
right by the river. I thought it was odd that they mainly had
Spanish wines instead of stuff from local vintners, but they did offer one wine called Diogenes
that the chef makes himself. Of course I
tried that one and it was fabulous. The
food was great too. My favorite dish was
the boquerones, white anchovies on sliced eggs on toast. So good.
I walked the wine off (one glass doesn’t usually get me, but
I was operating at reduced capacity due to a head cold.) This took me to an old
grain warehouse now full of shops including an adorable bakery where I had two
mini cupcakes. I got a pumpkin cookie to
go; as I write this it’s safely ensconced in my purse waiting for me to devour
is a cute town, lots of sweet brightly-painted Victorian houses, a turret
gracing a roofline here and there. My favorite was a fabulous house with an orange tree and some camellias in the yard, a
great front porch, and purple windowsills.
I made friends with a happy fat cat before heading back
to my car and starting on the road to my next destination, a very special stop
When I was young my mom bought me a copy of Alice Waters’s
“Fanny at Chez Panisse” for my birthday. This is an illustrated storybook about Alice Waters’s daughter Fanny
growing up at the restaurant her mom started in Berkeley, Chez Panisse. It also includes recipes theoretically
designed for children but most of them are more complicated than what I would
bother with even now. The one recipe we
do consistently use from that book is the one for 1-2-3-4 cake. It became a fast favorite and every year my
birthday cake is 1-2-3-4 cake.
When I first got to Vallejo I
hadn’t thought I would be renting a car, so the idea of going to Berkeley hadn’t even
crossed my mind. But then, as I watched
the news one night, there was a short piece on Alice Waters and her push for
locally grown food in public school lunchrooms, including references to her
restaurant and farm in Berkeley.
An idea formed.
I was able to book a table at the upstairs restaurant at
Chez Panisse for early in the evening, so around five I found myself in the
charming town of Berkeley. It’s lucky I decided never to apply for
graduate school there because I would never get anything done: Berkeley is full of coffee shops that look
perfect for sitting all day with a notebook and a laptop.
I found Chez Panisse without too much trouble, feeling so
excited as I made my way under the arch at the entrance. I often feel that I lead a charmed life, and
arriving at a restaurant that is a lasting part of my life but I had hitherto
encountered only in watercolor is one of the most enchanting things I have yet
When it was time to leave, I left a little note about how much I love 1-2-3-4 cake and “Fanny at Chez Panisse,” thanking them all for a great and memorable evening.
Later I drove across the Bay Bridge, sneaking glances at the lighthouse on Alcatraz and at the Golden Gate bridge just barely visible through fog at dusk. There is truly no other way I would have wanted my trip to end.