Kage Baker was, as is well known (now) passionately fond of Santa Rosa plums. She liked stone fruit in general, but the Santa Rosa plum was like catnip and ambrosia to her. During their season, she would happily live on plums and bread – and I think the bread was just for ballast, lest a surfeit of divine plum-ness carry her off.
Although I am here in Santa Rosa – original home of the plum, and home of Luther Burbank who bred the thing in the first place – it’s not quite the season yet. I cannot find any plums yet in the local markets; nor even in the exquisite gardens of the original Burbank House here. I happen to be friends with two of the volunteers there – my hostess Carol is on the Board of Directors – but I think they would notice if I tried to raid the gardens; even if the plums were ripe yet, which they mostly are not …
But here in Northern California is one of the breeding grounds of hybrid stone fruit. Heritage varieties, too – the best cherries I ever had were growing semi-wild in someone’s back yard. They were a bi-colour yellow and red, so Kage always figured they were related to Queen Anne cherries – but they were bigger, and their sweetness had a strong overlay of honey. We never found out what they were, but Oh! They were good.
In the market yestreday I found Saturn peaches, those little flat round ones like pastel tires – Saturn nectarines, too. Red nectarines, yellow nectarines, white nectarines: and white nectarines are without doubt a faerie fruit, delicate and delicious beyond the ways of humankind. Local ripe cherries. Four kinds of apricots, including the red ones I had for breakfast. Those red ones are fantastic, by the way; as large as plums, deep red and velvety-furry on the outside and a deep glorious gold on the inside. The apricot flavour is strong and smooth; I had them with some perfectly ripe Camembert cheese, and fresh-ground coffee …
Life is so gracious in the North.
There is also a lively cheese industry here in the North, relatively unknown except to the natives and a very few cheese fanatics. Point Reyes Bleu Cheese has recently been finding a broader market (and deserves it; it’s an exemplary bleu) but there are lots of other treasures of the dairy variety. My personal favourite is the Rouge et Noir Cheese Factory, just northwest of Novato on the edge of the wetlands … you can actually get their wonderful cheeses at most Safeways up here. In L.A., you only find them in snobby cheese shops. I shall be making a pilgrimage out there this week, too, so I can eat cheese through the Convention.
And cherries. And apricots. And hilariously flat peaches.
As soon as I get my bumper re-attached.
Even around Santa Rosa I have a hard time finding those plums. Most often, places that claim to have them are really stocking pluots.
Marin school district used to take the 3rd graders on field trips to the cheese factory. I’ve had a lifetime addiction to their Camambert as a result…
Oh, God, Kate! I am such a stone fruit freak, and every pornographic word you wrote just “tweak, tweak, tweaked” me, so that I can hardly stand to sit here, without looking up the nearest farmer’s market and getting the hell there! I am, as DJ will attest, particularly a peach fan. A peach nut, actually. I have been known to eat three peaches at a sitting, mostly over the sink, wherre I can just wolf them down. Not a “sitting”, then, come to think.
Tomorrow! Tomorrow, DJ and I will head to our local farmer’s market, play a bunch of music and then spend every dime in the instrument case on peaches. Peaches and cherrys….. and, oh God, plums… and……
Got to stop, now.
Oh, good for you, Buffalo! Eat all you can while the season lasts – that’s my philosopy. I intend to take cherries and whatever else I can find to the Convention with me – snacks in the room, yes indeed!
If you find red apricots, get them. I recommend them highly.
We cut across from the 5 to the 101 the other day on the road that runs past Casa de Fruta. Didn’t stop there, but eventually hit the length of Ferguson road with a fruit stand every couple miles or less and pulled in for cherries. Ripe, deep red, looked like they were polished by cool rivers cherries. As you can imagine, they were mostly gone by the time we headed home so we stopped again on the way back even though the nice British lady on the GPS encouraged us to take the 101 straight home. No Santa Rosa plums, I fear. I even remembered to ask specifically. We got a big bag of salt water taffy instead. And more cherries. Great vacation!