Berry Picking, Greek Festival, and more

On Sunday, September 5, 2010, Di Yin and I drove to the coast to go berry picking.

On the way, we stopped by Pigeon Point lighthouse (technically Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park) on the coast. Though I'd driven along highway one past it a couple of times, I'd never previously stopped. It turns out it's worth a stop for its wide-angle panoramic view of the crashing waves on the coastline. Next to the lighthouse is a small hostel, notable because the back patios of the rooms open onto the view. Sorry I didn't take pictures on this outing.

We couldn't go in the lighthouse, which is over a hundred years old and mostly closed for maintenance, but we did get to wander through the attached small interpretive center. The center describes the history of the lighthouse and the ships that navigated the coast. I liked the machine that shows how the foghorn sound changed over the decades. The noise, if I recall correctly, that the lighthouse made in the 1920s and 1930s sounded to me like a cow in distress. Also at the center I learned that the lighthouse is the tallest on the west coast (though frankly I don't think of it as particularly tall).

After the lighthouse, we drove the few miles to the farm. We picked at Swanton Berry Farm at Swanton Coastways Ranch. We found ripe blackberries hard to find; I guess it was not quite the season. The strawberries were definitely easier. Also, I was a bit embarrassed to learn that strawberries and blackberries are not the same type of plant as I'd always assumed: strawberry bushes are low to the ground whereas blackberry plants grow as tall as a person. Incidentally, on the way to the blackberry orchard, we passed a section of baby kiwis in trees. Neat! I'd never seen a kiwi tree before.

While in this section of highway one we'd planned to go hiking at Año Nuevo (Ano Nuevo) State Reserve, mainly to see its famous elephant seal habitat. However, it turned out we were too late--that part of the park was already closed for the day--so instead we hiked a different part of the park. We walked on an elevated wooden walkway to beach, then walked up and down the beach, dodging some strange seaweed with ends that looked like fruit.

On the way home, we decided to stop for dinner at the Belmont Greek Festival. I've been to this festival three times before (2007, 2006, 2005) so know it pretty well. It was the same as always. The gyros we had were great (as I expected). The calamari was decent and certainly freshly fried. The calamari consisted of both tentacles and squid bodies; I thought the tentacles' breading was slightly overcooked. We also had a Greek salad: decent as usual; I appreciated that it omitted the feta cheese.

As for desserts, there was the usual varied spread. The galactoboureko (phyllo dough filled with custard, like good quality tiramisu custard) was good. We brought home an indokarido, a spongy cake (semolina supposedly) soaked in honey and covered with coconut flakes. I liked the honey but there was too much coconut for me. The baklava which we also brought home was quite good, with a nice balance between phyllo dough and nuts.

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