Take Me Down to Chino Farms

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Last weekend we hacked our way through the lush back country that is Rancho Santa Fe -- passing by countless gated mansions, horses, polo clubs, and general wealth -- to get to Chino Farms. THE Chino Farms, venerated by Alice Waters, who states in Chez Panisse Vegetables, "The Chinos have made an art of farming. For two generations now, they have tended their land with an inexhaustible aesthetic curiosity, constantly searching out new and old varieties of dozens of fruits and vegetables from all over the world, and planting and harvesting year round." For us, this had always been a necessary San Diego pilgrimage and we weren't disappointed.

The makeshift parking lot was already packed with BMWs, Mercedes, SUVs of Unusual Size, and a few random Jaguars when we drove up in our dusty little Nissan around 10:30 AM. Given that we had a full day of sightseeing ahead of us and weren't sure if we'd be eating beyond lunch at Bread and Cie, I was there to eat simply with my eyes.

What a feast!


I was particularly enchanted by the way the fresh herbs were arranged in individual pewter pots on glossy wooden shelves. Each herb had a neatly handwritten card to label it and there wasn't a black leaf or spear in sight.

I stared long and hard at the glistening lettuces and wished I had a way of preventing them from wilting in our car as we drove around San Diego. Visions of bounteous plates piled with delicately dressed salads rose before my eyes and I finally had to bite my lip hard and turn away.

It seemed a tragedy to walk away empty handed but I know myself -- once I got going, I would have wanted to buy four of everything they had. Next time we visit, I'm emptying my fridge ahead of time and bringing a large shopping basket. And a suitcase.

Chino Farms Vegetable Stand
6123 Calzada del Bosque
Rancho Santa Fe (off Via de la Valle, S6), CA

Fall/Winter: Tuesday-Saturday 10-4; Sunday 10-1
Spring/Summer: Tuesday-Saturday 10-5;
Sunday 10-1
Closed Mondays.