Eastside Road, August 14, 2010 —THREE DAYS AND TWO NIGHTS on the road, even in California, even in an area that's generally hip and all that, reminds you that this country is abysmally deficient in the matter of coffee. This morning's breakfast was taken at a place recommended as perhaps the best in Grass Valley: Lindsey's latte was bitter and unpleasant, and my "normal" coffee was hardly any better. The cappuccino I'd had the day before was even worse. These indy cafés are enough to drive you to Starbuck's, where the machines, at least, are generally kept fairly clean. There's nothing worse than the rancid coffee-and-machine-oil stink-flavor imparted to even a decent blend and roast by these espresso machines (and their grinders) which, however expensive and technologically up-to-date they may be, seem never to be cleaned: it's as if splendid wines were to be poured from decanters never rinsed, from year to year, introducing the deadliest of vinegars to the rarest of vintages.
Lindsey and I ordered the simplest of breakfasts: an English muffin and one egg, over easy, for her; exactly the same for me, except two eggs. What could go wrong? Well, he brought me only one egg. In fact, he was doing me a favor.
We stopped for a lunch of sorts in Auburn, where Lindsey's iPhone promised an organic, sustainable, thoughtful bakery-cum-café. And here in fact I had a decent albacore tuna sandwich on rye bread, with a hint of horseradish in the mayonnaise; and we washed our sandwiches down — in truth they were a little dry — with a tasty Meyer lemon lemonade. (We had miles still to drive.)
What did we feel like doing for dinner, once home? You won't be surprised: toast rubbed with garlic, drizzled with olive oil, salted a bit; and a nice green salad. A handful or two of cherry tomatoes. Some of our nectarines afterward.
Rosé, Syrah, Lucchesi Vineyards (Nevada County), 2009
The bad coffee: Carolines Coffee Roasters, Grass Valley; South Pine Café, Grass Valley