When I'm on the road in West Virginia, my favorite drinking while driving indulgence is RC Cola. If I can find it in a bottle, so much the better. Pair that with salty, crispy Wise Potato Chips (available only on the East Coast), and I really do think I'm all that and a bag of chips.
But when I'm on the road from LA to Sacramento and SF on that endless stretch called the I-5, I don't find general stores stocked with ice-cold pop or Wise Owl potato chips. So what did I munch and sip while driving along this arid route, where dust clouds are more common than cumulus clouds?
I filled a Nalgene bottle with home-brewed, sweet green tea. It's the drink of choice of half-Japanese, all Hillbilly transplants from West Virgnia to California. And instead of chowing chips, I munched on high-protein snacks like beef jerky, pistachio nuts and dried mangoes. It's all healthy, but somehow it seemed a little wrong for the road.
When I arrived in Rocklin (a suburb of Sacramento), my friend Barbara made sure I had my favorite breakfast: Greek yogurt with fresh berries, orange zest and a tiny bear squeeze of honey.
In San Francisco, I tried Bar Tartine for dinner. I paired a glass of White Bordeaux with raw scallops and thinly sliced radish and seaweed in a delicate sauce. When I was down to the last little scallop, I cut it into teeny-weeny bites so that I could draw out the experience. The lady sitting next to me at the bar had the same dish, and our simultaneous "mmmmm's" of pleasure were becoming a little embarrassing.
The rest of the menu blended sophisticated, high brow ingredients (e.g. quail egg, foie gras) with down-home, low-brow items (e.g. ramps, bone marrow, pork belly). Yes, you read that correctly - bone marrow.
Canines have been sucking out the fatty marrow from bones for centuries. My friend Mara uses the roasted marrow bones for the base of the richest soup you'll ever taste. And I learned last year that bone marrow isn't just rich in flavor. It's packed with stem cells, the miraculous little components that become red or white blood cells and platelets. What I didn't know is that you could roast three small bones, put them on a plate with a tiny scooping spoon and two pieces of toast and call it an appetizer for $13. Live and learn.
(I thought briefly about performing a "bone marrow transplant" by moving the bone from my neighbor's plate to my own, but I stayed focused on my scallops. Sometimes I can't resist a little cancer humor.)
Dessert was an across-the-brow favorite: chocolate souffle with a side of sour cherries, a crackling of toffee and a topping of homemade vanilla ice cream.
The real treat came after dinner, when Valencia St. became the parade route for the pre-Gay Pride parade on Sunday. Thousands of proud revelers packed the streets. When the scallop-loving woman next to me announced that there were "dykes on bikes," I looked askance, but she assured me that was the group's official moniker.
I won't describe all of my SF meals, but I will say that breakfast at my friend Sisi's came with one of the best views in the city.
A Room with a ViewOn the way back home, I was out of iced green tea, pistachios, mangoes and jerky, so I devoured miniature chocolate chip cookies from Tartine Bakery. When those were gone, I refueled at Foster Freeze with chilli cheese fries and a root beer freeze. Now that's road trip eating - junk food guaranteed to put some junk in the trunk.
What's your favorite road-trip indulgence?