Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Southern California Must-See Number One (Santa Monica Farmers Market)

“Sort-of-Sabbatical” Day Four, Wednesday June 6

Touring in a urban area is a first for me.  I won’t plan anything too challenging for today, because I need to work on developing completely new skills, such as juggling various vehicles in small spaces to free my motorcycle from the carport, and managing a gate remote with gloves on, getting it stuffed back into my tank bag, and riding out before the gate closes again.  Plus there’s that pesky phenomenon of southern California traffic.  I lingered longer than I would have liked over my coffee waiting and waiting some more for all the red lines indicating stopped traffic on Google Maps to abate.  I’m not quite ready to lane split yet.  But I eventually do reach Santa Monica, and I feel like a pro when I score free parking - on market day, no less!

Santa Monica Farmer's Market (1)

Santa Monica Farmers' Market

 Santa Monica Farmer's Market (3)

I’m walking and tasting, walking and tasting.  The stone fruits – so tempting, but they’re just not at their prime.  The strawberries, they’re all over the map, although the Chandler variety (one of my favorites) is holding its own.  But it’s the “Eran G” cherries that stop me in my tracks, with their perfect balance of sweet, tart, and full cherry flavor.  I really don’t think I’ve ever had a cherry this good before, and there’s no question what I’m having for my ocean side snack.  

Santa Monica Farmers' Market (2)

But I want more than just cherries, so I question a baker sternly as to the ingredients in his croissants.  Butter?  Gluten?  There had better be, or I’m not interested.  He assures me, but it’s really not even close, and shouldn’t even be referred to as a croissant at all.  You win some, you lose some, I guess.

After my snack, it’s time for a walk on the pier.  It’s got everything – a roller coaster, boa constrictors, musicians, a Ferris wheel, and if I want, I can even take a trapeze lesson!

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier Trapeze School

I am actually quite tempted, but at look at my watch tells me I don’t have time if I want to get back to Pasadena before the real traffic storm hits.  Even so, no matter what time of day, it seems inevitable that traffic will be at a standstill at some point, and – oh, how quickly caution gives way to impatience! – I dive between the lanes just a moment here, a moment there because, well, I can!

Though I have successfully demonstrated my new skills, even a bit more smoothly this time (back through the traffic, back through the gate, vehicles re-juggled like a logic puzzle), my day is not over.
First a hike…

Echo Mountain Hike Pasadena
Yep, you yell into this thing and get a spectacular echo.

… then a well deserved dinner!  Polish food is delicious, but not particularly pretty on the plate.  But Polish Polka Restaurant is simply charming, and the proprietors hail from the same town as my Pasadena host.

Polka Polish Restaurant
Not shown: sorrel soup, a little salad, potato dumplings, beef gulasz, kielbasa, pierogi, veggies (actually we couldn't figure THOSE out - corn is definitely not Polish, but no matter) and nice cold beer (Zywiec) to wash it down.  All just fabulously delicious, but the sorrel soup took the prize.


PhilB said...

Excellent. Splitting lanes out there really is a lifesaver, and a necessary skill for anyone who spends much time on those roads.

The secret to a good croissant in SoCal is to find a donut shop run by Cambodians, and get there fairly early. Much of SE Asia was French colonies at one point, and they have retained some of the skills and culture.

Paula said...

Yes, I've always been fascinated by the French techniques hidden in SE Asian food (caramel, for one.) But it would not have occurred to me to seek out a Cambodian bakery for a croissant! I do, however, enjoy making my own, but not while out riding, of course.

Randy Seiber said...

I Can't Believe that There is not ONE Thing About The Corral Pink Sand Dunes On Here Yet:-}}} Randy

Paula said...

I think I have about 20 more days of reports before I get to the Sand Dunes! Doesn't help that my hard drive has picked this week to die, and the back up I'd been counting on is calling itself unreadable. Harrumph!
I did finally get the XT out of a true blue OHV trail today (Shoshone Trail network, near Logan, UT). Just got in this moment! The XT and I both remained standing. Yay!

Paula said...

...out *ON* a true blue OHV trail...