Swanton Berry Farm was the highlight of our road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco via the PCH. To find a place like Swanton – after you’ve had a string of bad meals, and almost given up on finding a good, wholesome place to eat – was like finding an oasis in the middle of the Sahara desert. Road trips make you hungry.
Two hours after we left LA, we were already hungry. The first stop, Solvang, a small “Danish” town, was a bad start. Every café was serving pancakes and lame sandwiches. Generally everything looked unappetizing, including the cheese Danishes. After that experience we decided to always be on the lookout for a farm, where we could pick or buy some local fruits and vegetables, instead of eating tasteless, overpriced food.
I apologize, but most of the time I am very skeptical about good reviews on Yelp and people’s recommendations. When it comes to food, I am a spoiled brat. Just because a restaurant gives a dish a pretentious title and charges 25 dollars for an entrée doesn’t make it good.
Like that restaurant in Cambria, Lily’s, where we went for dinner after we got a recommendation from a lovely local person, whom we met on the beach during a baby seal rescue. I have a feeling she hadn’t actually eaten in that restaurant for a long time. The food was dull, flavorless, and expensive. The grass-fed burger was dry, and had the texture of the sole of a flip-flop. And I have to mention the bread topped with apple chunks. What the F?! Someone has to tell them not to serve it anymore. I would have taken some pictures but I didn’t want to give the people around us the wrong impression that we are impressed by the food. God no. The kids were even more disappointed than us.
Anyway, this is not about Lily’s. I should remain positive now. From then on, until we arrived in San Francisco, we stick to farms and fruit stands. Fruits are always a better choice than yucky, nutritionless food. We discovered the best thing to do is to call the Chamber of Commerce of the town we were approaching, and ask if they know any local farm in the area. We were desperate for real food.
Located on Highway One, twenty-five minutes north of Santa Cruz, and one hour south of San Francisco, we found this magnificent, local farm, where you can pick some berries (mostly sweet, little strawberries this time of the year) or you can buy them at the farm’s earthy store, which also sell all kinds of berry jams, from all the berries that are grown organically on the farm. There is a cupboard with jams and crackers so you can taste all the flavors. We tasted them all. Each one of them was perfectly sweetened and had a unique flavor.
The Loganberry jam that we bought for $10 vanished in three days. It didn’t even make it back to our house. It was worth every penny and mile. The next day, I regretted that we didn’t buy the Olallieberry jam (Alex’s first choice) but I discovered I can buy their amazing jams on their website.
Their strawberry shortcake was divine, and was worth having a runny nose for a few days. My husband claimed that it completely redefined the strawberry shortcake for him. And, of course, the adorable, sweet, organic strawberries that we gobbled up in the car in the last forty minutes of our drive to San Francisco.
I loved how there is no cashier. You drop your money into a box and give yourself change. Everything about this one-of-a-kind, down-to-earth oasis was honest & good.
When you’re there, please don’t make my mistake; my taste buds are still dying of curiosity about those mini homemade berry pies which I wanted to try but didn’t. (They’re hard to see because they’re packed in a container, just like the strawberry shortcake.) Just put your allergies or weight concerns on hold for a few hours.