Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Scream Sorbet: Fruity Frozen Farmers Market Delight


Scream Sorbet is sharing the love at 17 farmers markets in the Bay Area: The love of true, pure, frozen flavors. Their mission is to make the best sorbet in the world, and I think they may be doing it! Imagine local, seasonal, mostly-organic fruit transformed, at the peak of perfection, into a dense, smooth, creamy scoop of frozen delight. Just fruit, sugar, water and--occasionally--pectin.

They are just beginning to usher out the vibrant winter citrus flavors (goodbye, Meyer lemon, Oro Blanco grapefruit, and lime-mint) and welcome the luscious flavors of summer (hello apricot, cherry-rhubarb, and strawberry). Some flavors know no season: chocolate (made with top-of-the-line Blanxart organic chocolate), cashew-caramel, pistachio. These nut flavors are astonishing: so creamy and thick, you'd swear a cow was involved.

Six flavors are featured at each farmers market, a teasingly small fraction of the 35 listed on the website. Many flavors are inventive, even visionary: I tried the coconut-lime-Thai basil and was dazzled by the interplay of tangy lime and herbaceous basil embraced by round buttery coconut milk. On my wish list: saffron-almond, coconut-lemongrass, beet-lemon, and pomegranate-blueberry. And the other thirty flavors.

They work the magic in an Emeryville catering kitchen and roam the Bay Area, from San Rafael to Monterey, where I was lured in by their very generous sampling policy, characterized by the following phrases: "anything else?" "try another" "here, try this."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Fort Ord: Mountain biking among the wildflowers


Seldom have I seen a valley as a hawk does. As I approached one of the many crests on a steep fire road in Fort Ord, a former military reserve now open to the public, a hawk slipped over me on the breeze. I turned to watch it coast down the length of the whole valley, curving from ridge to ridge like a skier, never once flapping a wing, just riding the drafts as they effervesced over the slopes. It cruised over hills faded from green to brown like worn velvet, smudged with lavender from the distant lupines, circled over a small wetland and gained altitude again, effortlessly.

The dense woods of Oregon, which I love, would never offer a show like this. The bird would appear briefly overhead and vanish behind dense boughs, its path a mystery. Each raptor would have it's own strategy: the California hawk glimpsing prey from a great distance and approaching with stealth, the Northwest bird employing lightning-quick reactions to nab a creature unseen until the very last moment.