May 10, 2011 | 20 Comments


I’ve been a hot mess lately. My hair is as crazy looking as it was when I stepped out of the shower this morning. At home, a huge pile of clothing sits patiently on the chair in my bedroom (as it has for over a week), waiting to be folded. Books and several hundred pages of hand-written and typed notes from this semester are haphazardly thrown in my backpack. I have an overflowing sink of emails to read and respond to. I have yet to bake my mother’s birthday cake (did I mention that her birthday is TODAY?!). And my “To-Do” list? I’ve disregarded it completely.

Final exams have made their way into my life, and although I should be studying right now, I need to procrastinate before I pass out from pushing myself into doing too much work. I know, writing seems like work, but I need to write about something entirely unrelated to school. I need this.

San Francisco & Driscoll's Berries Farm |

I recently took a trip to California; it was my first time there and I had everything planned in my schedule book. Post-its with directions, flight information, and questions covered both days in my agenda. So, why two days in California? The lovely people at Driscoll’s asked to fly me in to visit one of their berry farms and attend the Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival. I couldn’t say no to such a great opportunity. I was honored that they asked me.

The morning of the flight, I arrived four hours early, I roamed around, sat, and walked to three different gates; my flight kept getting re-assigned a new gate. At least it kept me busy. Twiddling my thumbs is not my idea of having a great time.

Fast-forwarding to walking off the plane, and walking through San Francisco Airport, looking for the BART, I walked into an open area. I breathed in the California air and smiled. After taking the air shuttle to the BART, I phoned nearly every member of my family. My mother told me to have a great time and she constantly “reminded” me by text (probably 15 times during my entire trip) to watch out for creepers, “You’re a handsome guy, and a lot of weirdos would want to tap that.” My mother is a character.

After arriving at the BART station, I walked up to the ticket machine. The machine was all sorts of confusing; I hopped to different machines thinking that each was out of order; after about 10 minutes of trying; I soon learned that if you put in some money, the machine starts working. I think they need to speak to the MTA about where they get their machines.

San Francisco & Driscoll's Berries Farm |

After my machine adventure and dumping my stuff in the hotel room, I took my schedule book, my backpack, and my camera with me. I walked to Chronicle Books, which was another adventure. I was lost in a city that I’ve never been to. I asked cab drivers if they knew where the bookstore would be. Of course they didn’t. Finally, after stopping 5 or six cab drivers, one knew exactly where the store was. The bad part? He was probably one of the most expensive cab drivers on the street.

The store was all sorts of amazing. I met lovely people there. There was also a big sale, so naturally the store was packed. Chronicle publishes amazing books. The end.

San Francisco & Driscoll's Berries Farm |

After visiting Chronicle Books, I decided that it was time to get some food. I walked to the nearest train station. Tartine Bakery was on my mind (and on my schedule). After getting lost, once again (Story of my life. Really.), I finally found the bakery. The bakery was packed. I peeked into the back of the bakery, as I waited on line. I looked around. In other words, I people watched and admired a bread bag in the corner of the bakery. I still want one.

San Francisco & Driscoll's Berries Farm |

After waiting for a couple minutes, I was asked what I’d like to have, I quickly ordered just about one of everything in sight. At the register I saw more food that I hadn’t seen when I was on line, “Can you also include this, that, and that?” I walked out with two bags of food. I’m pretty sure that everyone in the bakery was looking at me.

While walking back to the BART station with two bags in one hand, and an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie in my other hand, and a camera around my neck, I stopped to admire everything around me. The sun flooded the streets with its warm light. The breeze was cool and inconstant. On both sides of the street, people walked in the same direction that I did. Where were they going? To the station? To the bar? Maybe a restaurant? My inner voice shouted, “Stop being so nosey, and keep walking!”

After a couple stops on the train, I arrived back at the hotel. I ran to my room, took off my shoes, washed my hands and placed each of the containers of food in front of me. I shoveled the food into my mouth as if I’d never seen the stuff before. I don’t normally do “restaurant reviews,” but you need to make it a point to visit Tartine Bakery at least once in your life. You’ll thank me for this.

San Francisco & Driscoll's Berries Farm |

After eating, I showered and fell asleep on the bed editing photos from the first day in California. The next morning, two alarms went off at 4am. I woke up and got ready to meet some awesome folks.

We met in the lobby of the hotel and a few of us stopped at Starbucks. Amy (Hi Amy!) bought me an orange juice. She’s awesome!

San Francisco & Driscoll's Berries Farm |

We all headed to the Cassin Ranch, a Driscoll’s berry farm in Watsonville. We had breakfast together and ate with Steve, Driscoll’s head berry farmer, and Dr. Phil Stewart. We picked their brains a bit. We took photos. I pulled a food blogger move and stood on a chair to take a photo of the food I was eating. It didn’t quite make the cut for this post.

San Francisco & Driscoll's Berries Farm |

We tasted different varieties of strawberries and learned that each variety has a unique taste and texture. My favorite has to be their variety of the Mara des Bois. It has gorgeous green leaves and the entire berry is a beautiful alizarin crimson red. It has different layers of flavor- it has a deep floral grape-y taste and has a perfect balance of sweetness and tang.

San Francisco & Driscoll's Berries Farm |

After taste-testing and picking Dr. Phil’s and Steve’s brains, we headed out into the fields. There were many varieties of berries around us. We learned about raspberry and strawberry breeding from Dr. Phil and from the berry farmers.

San Francisco & Driscoll's Berries Farm |

After noticing that we were a bit off schedule, we headed out to the Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival. Tracy and I stuck together. We ate weird things together. We people watched. Let’s just say that I am a bit obsessed about pointing out all of the plastic surgeries people have gotten. I’m pretty good at it.

San Francisco & Driscoll's Berries Farm |

We saw Molly and then she showed me Princess Beatrice’s hat from the Royal Wedding. I laughed. A lot.

Later on, I sat in on a Jaques Pepin cooking demo about eggs. He and his daughter were cooking together. They’re both hilarious.

After the demo, we met more people (I met Chef Anne Burrell. Photo courtesy of Tracy), and then headed to the airport. I got past security with a pound of strawberries from the Cassin Ranch in my backpack. I’m pretty sure that isn’t illegal, but it’s kind of cool to say that I smuggled Strawberries from a different state, right? I think I might be alone on this. That’s okay.

So, that was my trip. It was all sorts of fun. I ate a lot. I laughed a lot. I met cool people. I people watched and laughed some more. And I now I am craving for a Mexican Wedding cookie from Tartine bakery and I still want that bread bag. And I want a berry farm.

San Francisco & Driscoll's Berries Farm |

San Francisco & Driscoll's Berries Farm |

San Francisco & Driscoll's Berries Farm |

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  • Reply Brian @ A Thought For Food May 10, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your incredible trip with us. Your time at Tartine sounds a lot like ours. Good luck with finishing all of your work!

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  • Reply tracy May 10, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    I had such a blast with you Kam!! So nice to meet you and eat weird/good things with you. You should totally check out LA next time you are in CA….the plastic surgery spotting is AMAZING.

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  • Reply Belinda @zomppa May 10, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Oh, wow – they seem to make all the strawberries. I was just at Tartine as well, and it definitely lived up to the hype. Happy birthday to your mom!

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  • Reply Katy F May 10, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    I would have absolutely done the same thing in Tartine. Or any bakery, really. I’ve never been to Tartine, but it is on my to-do list. :) And one of the perks about going to culinary school is that people don’t judge you quite as much when you do things like purchase the contents of a bakery or eat four croissants you made in class or admit your addiction to cake. :)

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  • Reply Nisrine M. May 10, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    It’s my dream to visit SF one day. There are countless restaurants I want to try there. Glad you had fun. Thanks for sharing!

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  • Reply Megan Gordon May 10, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Fantastic-ness! Great photos, Kamran. Looks like you had a fabulous time, and I still can’t believe we didn’t connect. Next time, next time (hang in there with school–almost done!)

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  • Reply Lisa { AuthenticSuburbanGourmet } May 11, 2011 at 12:26 am

    I really enjoyed your post. Being a Bay Area native and resident, the BART thing can take a bit of getting use to but overall it is a great way to get around. Tartine is amazing and I agree the Mexican Wedding Cake cookie is too die for. I too was at the Pebble Beach Food and Wine – what a fun experience, great people watching with some terrific food and divine wine. Glad you enjoyed your stay in beautiful California!

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  • Reply J. @ kawaii kitchen May 11, 2011 at 7:25 am

    Beautiful pictures and beautiful post! Thank you for sharing this, it’s really fun to read about your experiences in California. I laughed about your description of “pulling a food blogger move” because that’s something very familiar to me, although I’m kind of a newbie to food blogging.
    Oh, and good luck with all your work to do … ;)

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  • Reply Lan May 11, 2011 at 10:31 am

    “You’re a handsome guy, and a lot of weirdos would want to tap that.”

    best mom line. ever.

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  • Reply Allison May 11, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Sounds like an amazing trip! I love hearing how others explore California. It makes me look at the state I live in with new eyes.

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  • Reply Eliana May 12, 2011 at 9:51 am

    Sounds like an amazing trip Kamran. Thanks for sharing it with us. It’s making me want to go back to SF very soon. It’s such a wonderful city.

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  • Reply Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction May 12, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Sounds like such a fantastic trip… Glad you shared it with us. Love all of your photos!

    PS – Good luck with your finals :)

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  • Reply Jeff May 14, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    I started my own blog as a procrastination tool from final exams… I never thought about escaping to California though! Good idea!

    I love the photos, it really makes me want to get a convertible and do some travelling!

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  • Reply [email protected] May 24, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    I’m in the same situation as you, I really should be studying right now.That’s awesome that you were in California!! Let me know if I can send you a package from Tartine. haha I love that place! I aslo love people watching. :)

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  • Reply Susie May 25, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    So if you blog to procrastinate on your studies, and then I read your blog, am I an enabler? An accomplice? What about once I post my comment? Sorry, man!

    • Reply kamran May 26, 2011 at 2:08 pm

      Haha! Totally an accomplice ;)

  • Reply Stephanie June 3, 2011 at 11:12 am

    What a wonderful post! I am so jealous of all the berries…little jewels they are!

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  • Reply Irvin @ Eat the Love June 6, 2011 at 3:23 am

    It still kills me that I didn’t have time to hang out with you when you went to Tartine that day, as I literally live two blocks away from it! Grrrr.. But at least we got to hang a little at the Pebble Beach Food and Wine event and then more at the BlogHer Food event.

    Sounds like you had a fun time out here in California though! Come back soon. I’ll try to carve out more time to hang next time…

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  • Reply Laura July 3, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    You want to start a berry farm? I’m in! ;)
    p.s. I too would want a bread bag! Haha!

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