Tassel flowers

COVID Journal: Reduced-contact lifelines

Thanks to these suppliers, my wife and I are really trying hard never to enter a market or store:

Just before the lockdown order came down we signed up for weekly CSA deliveries from Capay Valley farms’ Farm Fresh To You program. Besides fruits and vegetables, we can purchase eggs, single origin coffee, organic yogurt, and some specialty items, although more of those (especially grains and meats) are appearing as sold out as time goes on.

After using Instacart to deliver groceries from local supermarkets like Mollie Stone’s Market, we have since switched to weekly orders of non-local farm produce, meat, fish, dry goods, and miscellaneous household items using United Markets online “UnitedToGo” curbside pickup system. At the beginning of the lockdown, there was a four day wait for orders. Because their order system became overwhelmed, you now have to place an order exactly at 9, 11, 1, or 3 o’clock to have it ready for pickup in seven days.

One of the few pleasures in shelter in place that my wife and I abuse is our daily cheese and crackers pre-dinner snack. While we can order sheep and goat cheese from United Markets, we found out that the world’s best gluten free crackers can be ordered directly from The Organic Pantry Co. in packages of 6 boxes.

To go with the crackers you can order two pounds of goat cheese from the wonderful Cypress Grove Cheese Company in Arcata with free shipping!

And when we do get the nerve to drive with windows rolled up through our neighboring towns, we plead with shopkeepers to bring items outside to our car, and they oblige, grudgingly or happily. This lets us have a couple of non-home-cooked treats each week–the ever-popular Chinese Chicken Salad from Comforts in San Anselmo, and the magically light polenta scones and fresh baked Italian bread from Emporio Rulli in Larkspur.

For emergency supplies like disinfectants, medical devices, and masks, that you cannot find in markets or Amazon (which we are pretty much boycotting during the pandemic), I have turned to Ebay and Etsy. So far, knock on wood, I don’t think I have been scammed, although price gouging is part of that experience.

A Road Trip Update

IMG_8116After six weeks of venturing no farther from my house than the next town where the curbside grocery pickups were available, I arranged for a food run. It seems as though a lot of vendors that are putting food supply chains together seem to have settled on Friday afternoons as the pickup time. So the past Friday I hit the road and breezed through the beautiful agricultural landscapes that straddle the Marin – Sonoma county line.

Add these producers to my lifeline once a month then:

Wildflour Bread in Freestone, California, for whole wheat sourdough bread that is as good as any I have ever tasted. They were set up with the standard six-foot tape marking in the waiting line, and luckily the walk-up service was fairly deserted at 2 in the afternoon, when lots of their sweets were already sold out. But the bread…

Piezzi Provisions, a pop-up store on Highway 1 in downtown Tomales. I don’t know the history of this set up. They share the same building as the Tomales Deli and Cafe. You order ahead on the web, and choose from products from their suppliers, Tomales Farmstead Creamery for goat cheese, True Grass Farms, Stemple Creek Ranch, and Rossotti Ranch for meats, and Daily Driver for breakfast goods. There was one customer ahead of me but the town was abandoned, save for a few bikers spread six feet apart in front of the town post office.

I headed back south with a couple of ranch chickens and some goat cheese, and made a final stop at Fast Food Français, a restaurant-turned-take-out-supplier on Caledonia Street in Sausalito. Even though Caledonia is off the tourist track, “F3” is one of those neighborhood go-to places, so there was not exactly a crowd, but several people hanging around at five o’clock. I paid a premium for a pre-ordered “baker’s box” including impossible-to-find flour, baking powder, chocolate, sugar and other essentials that had gone missing from my pantry.

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