Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Good Friends, Great Food, and Cheesy Goats

Somehow as we migrated northward along the California coast we ended up in the little town of Pescadero.  If I remember correctly, our destination was the result of a restaurant recommendation from a blog acquaintance (Fred) who told me about green chili soup at Duarte’s Tavern.  (In case you haven’t noticed, sometimes our destinations are solely related to food.)  As luck would have it our friend Nancy, who joined us on a previous Africa trip, was game to drive down from her home in San Francisco and rendezvous for lunch. She suggested Duarte's Tavern.  Great coincidence.

On the way into town for our lunch date, we stopped at the Pigeon Point Light Station.  What is it about lighthouses that fascinate us so much that we always feel compelled to pull over and take a look?  Pigeon Point sits majestically perched at the juncture of where crashing surf meets high coastal cliff.  This dangerous point of land, originally known as Whale Point (because of the migrating gray whales), was the scene of many shipwrecks including the vessel Carrier Pigeon who ran aground on her maiden voyage and inspired the renaming of the land to Pigeon Point.  The need for a light and fog signal was great and in 1872 a first-order Fresnel lens (the most powerful of the day) was lit atop a 115-foot structure making it the tallest lighthouse on the California coast.

Lunch at Duarte’s is a must in Pescadero.  It was voted “An American Classic” by the James Beard Foundation and people flock to the acclaimed restaurant where the wait can be up to an hour on a busy weekend.  Betsy and I ordered artichoke soup (which they are famous for but was not that great) and green chili soup (which was excellent) along with fried calamari.  It was great to catch up with Nancy since we had not seen her in two and half years and meet her friend, Donna.  Sorry our time was so short but maybe we will get together again in the Fall.

Donna, Nancy, me, and Betsy

After lunch and a brief stroll around town, we headed to Harley Farms Goat Dairy.  The farm is a magnet for tourists and lovers of goat cheese.  Welcoming signs from a whimsical little girl and a goat guide you lovingly to the nine-acre farm.  The working farm is alive with activity and it is hard to decide where to start – outside at the goat pens, in the tasting room, or at the lovely farm store that makes you want to buy a pitchfork just because they are so attractively displayed.   

The farm was started by Dee Harley who takes great pride in being a farmer and boasts about her flock of nearly 200 American Alpine goats.  The story started some 20 years ago when Harley (who was working at a nearby farm) agreed to take care of six goats for the winter.  These goats were the catalyst that sparked her love for goats and future success that includes awards and blue ribbons from the American Cheese Society and the World Cheese Show.

Harley Farms has evolved into a destination on the San Mateo coast.  The farm allows visitors to generate a connection with their food by experiencing the daily beat of a working farm.  Goats mill about the barn or graze leisurely in the picturesque pastures and wait their turn for a trip to the milking parlor.  The cheese produced from their milk is smooth, tangy, and richly delicious which has gained many accolades for Harley and her goats. 

The farm’s buildings were erected in 1910 as a cattle farm and have been wonderfully restored and are essential parts of the farm.  Inside the cheese tasting room, you are free to sample the many varieties of gorgeously displayed goat cheese from chevre, fromage blanc, feta, and ricotta.  The farm is a hub of activities with tours, school visits, cheese making classes, and culinary events.  Our favorite was the restored hayloft where they have monthly gourmet dinners and lunches and is also for rent for private events.

A trip to Harley Farms is well worth a stop whether you are shopping for some delicious cheese or you just want to pet a goat – I was happy to do both.

Wait a minute, you didn't think we were done with our day of food finding yet, did you?  Tonights dinner was going to be cheese, bread, and wine so we headed back to downtown Pescadero to pick up some artichoke bread.  The place to go for baked goods is Arcangeli Grocery Co. and you don't need a GPS or smart phone to find it....just let your nose guide you.  The waft of warm baked goods gingerly fills your nose and sends your culinary senses into a tailspin.  Don't try to suppress your desire for gooey, doughy, soft, herb-licous baked goods and pretend carbohydrates will kill you.  Just walk in with your shoulders back, head high, and fill your basket.  The bakery has been in Pescadero for over 70 years and specializes in "country-style Italian artichoke and garlic breads" and does them very well.  For those of you with a sweet tooth, your desires can be fulfilled with the lovely pastries, muffins, and rolls.

Whoops, still not done with our food quest.  Time to pick up a sweet treat for after our European-style dinner.  I read about this place called Pie Ranch and loved the grass roots concept that is the basis of the farm.  Three friends purchased a pie-shaped piece of land and started a farm that brings in local youth who participate in the farm-based programs and activities to get a better appreciation for where their food comes from and how it is produced.  The farm produces all the ingredients necessary to make pies, from wheat for the crust, fruit for the filling, chickens for eggs, cows and goats for milk and butter, and more. The farm also offers one-year farmer apprenticeships for those interested in learning about sustainable agriculture first-hand.  Visitors are welcome to stop in and purchase seasonal foods grown on the farm or pick up one of the many prepared baked goods that were produced from the farms crops.  And once a month they host a community work day where volunteers spend a few hours working on the farm and are rewarded with a potluck dinner and rockin' barn dance.  Too bad we were not in town for that event, a number of locals told us how much fun it was.  A night of dancing might be a good way to work off all the calories we consumed in Pescadero.

Hope you enjoyed our day in Pescadero.  We love hearing from you so please leave a comment.


  1. Hi,

    What a wonderful day you had with lots of good things to eat. I currently live in Northern Ca over in the East Bay and will have to check these places out. Really enjoy following your travels.

    Take care,


    1. Thanks Tina! Let us know if you are ever in our neck of the woods, we love meeting fellow travelers.

  2. This looks like a fun town! Thanks for all the places to visit.


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