Before I hopped on a plane back to Austin, Texas on Saturday afternoon, I drove north from La Jolla, California to the famous Chino Farms in Rancho Santa Fe (about 30 minutes from where I grew up).
Legacy Bay Area wine merchant Kermit Lynch and slow food revolutionary and restaurateur Alice Waters were celebrating their new books: his, a 25th-anniversary re-issue of Adventures on the Wine Route and hers, a second volume in the series The Art of Simple Food.
Above: Alice Waters did a lot to put Chino Farms on the map. When I was a kid growing in San Diego county, it was a weekend destination for great produce out where the ultra-rich lived (and still do live). See this NY Times article from 1988.
It wasn’t surprising to see the lines of admirers, 40- and 50-persons deep, who had gathered for a frontispiece dedication and autograph. After all, Kermit and Alice, who frequented the same nascent enogastronomic circles back in the day, have arguably done more than anyone else in the U.S. to introduce bourgeois and otherwise uppercrust consumers to the pleasures and health-enhancing properties of the Mediterranean lifestyle.
Above: The produce at Chino Farms is expensive and worth every penny. The high-end restaurant Market, just down the road, sources most of its ingredients from the celebrated fruit and vegetable stand. I highly recommend both.
When you journey to Chino Farms, you drive past an unending landscape of California ranches, exclusive country clubs, and polo stables etc.
Rancho Santa Fe hosts and boasts one of the world’s richest and most conservative communities. Ann Romney, Mitt’s wife, stables her dressage horses there and often shows them at local competitions.
If you venture behind the stand at Chino Farms, you’ll find the converted shipping containers where the migrant workers sleep. As my friends’ Jayne and Jon’s daughter Romy led us back there to play, you could see the workers’ boots and work clothes piled into cubbies.
The Marxist irony wasn’t lost on us. The microlettuces of wrath?
But Kermit and his wife Gail Skoff were so nice when we finally made our way to him in line and the mostly Garganega and Trebbiano blend from Corte Gardoni was delicious to sip as we watched the facelift crowd mill around the wine and food celebrities.
Kermit and Alice literally paved the way for the wine and food revolution in this country. We owe them so much.
A $7 tomato was well worth the price of admission and the chance to brush shoulders and share a glass of wine with them…
Thanks to Jon Erickson for the photos. Jon and Jayne feature of number of Kermit’s excellent, value-driven wines on their list at Jaynes Gastropub, which is located in a much-lower-rent district of San Diego.