Eat Mendocino

2 women, 365 days, 3,878 square miles


Harvesting Sea Salt on the Mendocino Coast

Today we discovered the North Pole, and that Santa does exist – in the form of crystallized salt formed on tidepools on the rocky shores of the Pacific Ocean. For those of you who have been following the salt saga, you know that it has been our most finite resource in the last seven months. I have come to call salt, “white gold.”

Today, we set out on a salt mission, backpack loaded with spatulas.

Searching for sea salt

In this video, I demonstrate our unabashed excitement at discovering some salt deposits.

And in this one, Gowan is delicately harvesting sea salt like the mermaid that she is.

As we scooped up these precious crystals, I looked at Gowan and said, “we are totally winning.” She agreed. No matter what else we have accomplished in the last 7 1/2 months, this is monumental. Salt security means that a locavore can rest easy, and harvesting it ourselves basically means that we are Santa Claus. Tonight we will sleep like babies.

1 Comment

A Ukiah Haiku


Today’s mission was to find as much inland fruit as I could, in-between throwing on heels for work meetings and pounding glasses of water. I bought seven pounds of figs, which are my absolute favorite fruit ever (I’m Greek, duh), and then some friends invited me to harvest plums. Probably hauled about five pounds – some yellow, some red. Good thing I’m not afraid of canning anymore because I’m going to be making jam all weekend.

Harvesting Plums in Ukiah

When you spend all day gathering fruit, you are prone to poetry. And, when in U-k-i-a-h, you must write haiku, obviously.

The weight of fertility

Summer’s swollen fruit
Bend tree bones and test limbs
Like sweet milken breasts

Mendocino plums


This is what grocery shopping looks like

A locavore’s Saturday morning does not involve sleeping in. Mom and I were up early and on the road by 9 to do go on a scavenger hunt for groceries in the Anderson Valley.The Apple Farm

First stop was The Apple Farm in Philo. Pretty sure it’s the cutest farmstand of yummy in the world, with a beautiful pastoral backdrop of barn, apple orchards and the Navarro River nearby. Cuteness aside, Gowan and I had an apple cider vinegar emergency this week, and this is our supplier, so this was a serious visit. When I arrived there was only one bottle on the shelf, so I had to hunt someone down to open another case for us. Phew. Also picked up the first apples of this season!

Next we went to Gowan’s Oak Tree farm and I got a bag of yellow peaches and some walnuts.

Then, to retrieve milk and butter and pop in at the Boonville Farmers’ Market where I discovered some precious duck eggs and a free-range chicken. I also met a farmer who has five laying ducks for sale, so now I just need to convince Gowan to build a pond and a horse stable…

At the Farmhouse Mercantile in Downtown Boonville I discovered this useful vintage diagram. Must study up so I can impress Gowan with my horse knowledge as I fantasize about my future in the saddle.

Vintage drawing of horse anatomy

On the way home we stopped in at Balo Vineyards‘ tasting room and picked up a bottle of Pinot and some Pennyroyal Farms blue cheese. Next time, we’re staying to play bocce ball.

All this and we made it home in time to enjoy a lovely afternoon in Mendocino.

Mendocino headlands

Not exactly your typical stop for groceries, but a lovely way to spend a warm summer morning and a wonderful occasion to put on a sun dress. Instead of rushing through the store aisles in my pajamas, trying not to get stuck in conversations with acquaintances, I look forward to these food forays. You feel differently when you’re going right to the source for your survival; you look forward to the smiles that await you and the brief moment to connect to other human beings who have become part of the ecosystem of your life in this great unending cycle of food and compost.


How the jars fill up

After a week of not seeing Gowan (which feels like an eternity in locavore time) we made a dinner date for tonight. When comparing kitchen stock and discussing who would bring what, Gowan asked the dreaded question, “Do you have salt?” I hesitated to answer, because I knew my stores were running low, but I didn’t know how much she needed. Salt for a meal, or salt to make 4 gallons of fermented veggies? Before I could answer, there was a knock on my door. And this is what I found when I answered:

Salt Angel

A salt angel. Truly. My friend Aleya spontaneously decided to drop by with a gift of sea salt that she had harvested last year. Her timing was beyond serendipitous. I returned to the computer and replied to Gowan, “I have LOTS!!!”

This is how the jars fill up. One by one, when you least expect it. I have described this project as a leap of faith, but it is also defined by the many leaps of generosity and kindness that happen all the time, in the most perfect of ways. The best part about Aleya’s gift wasn’t discovered until after she left.

Message from a salt angel

Nothing like a love note on a ball jar lid! These little gifts of sustenance and gratitude have been one of the most profound parts of this eat local experience. We have abandoned convenience and control and opened the door for surprises and miracles. This is not to say that there is not an incredible amount of planning, coordination and intention behind our food life. But, we have also unleashed a new force of unexpected generosity by inviting people into our kitchens through sharing this story. Some of June’s surprises: a fresh-caught fillet of ling cod, a couple pounds of speckled bayo beans and a bag of goji berries grown in Willits!
Goji Berries

I think these gifts are so touching because food is intimate. We need it to survive, so it reveals our vulnerability and our mortality. What we eat and what we grow and forage also reveals something about our lives. Food reflects culture, history, class, tradition and of course, climate.  I stopped by my accountant’s office today and the receptionist exclaimed, “You are famous!” I dismissively laugh at this, but am always delighted when someone wants to talk food. She starts by saying she wouldn’t want to give up cookies, and I assure her that cookies are definitely part of our diet. She also shares that she’s growing peas, and wants to give me some if she has extra. This, too, is how the jars fill up. These food offers always make my heart smile because I know that feeding us is also an endorsement for a new and different food future. One where we talk about food, we share with strangers and we are not so afraid of intimacy.

Next I go to Gowan’s, where her jars are full of delicious fermented veggies from her garden.

Gowan's fermented veggies

Jar 1 features a green garden medley of onion blossoms, peas, zucchini and red pepper. Jar 2 is sweet red onions and beets. Both are done in a saltwater apple cider vinegar brine.  Thanks to Aleya’s salt, the jars will keep filling up. Gowan also has two dozen duck eggs for me, which were graciously transported over the hill from Ukiah by Supervisor Dan Gjerde. How’s that for public service?! Then we go back to my place to feast on a huge pot of those delicious bayo beans and make a batch of candy-cap custard ice cream with roasted bay nuts. We were too excited to photograph the ice cream. Now, we go to bed with full and happy bellies. Thank you to all of you who have helped fill us up. You inspire us.