After a late night of driving, we safely arrived in Visalia at 2 AM. Sleep was definitely on our minds and Security Guard John welcomed us and even helped us with our bags.
We found ourselves full of energy in the morning and Danika met us to take us to breakfast at the Corner Café. We enjoyed tasting their Green Chile Omelet, French toast, biscuits & gravy and their sausage patty (size of an 8 in. plate). Their portions are generous, and owner Byron told us that everything is made from scratch and fresh (nothing frozen)
On to The Methodist Church and a spirited message from Pastor Steve about seeing beyond the “façade”. Did you know that 35% of the Sermon on the Mount is about Seeing?
At the next stop, Fugazzi’s rolled out the RED carpet ( really)for us. Many city officials and other guests were there to greet us. The band “Borrowed Time” played great dance music. What an appropriate name for us- we’re wondering if that is what kind of time we’re on right now??
Hey! We forgot to mention Country Inn of Albuquerque, NM
They put us up on the way here!
We have to share the original little message that mayor Bob Link shared as he welcomed us. “It’s traditional for visitors to be given the key to the city. Instead, we’re giving you a silver spoon and fork. First, we really want to make the connection between farm and fork…much of the food you eat here, probably even the food you ate elsewhere came from the valley. Second, they are sterling, The best, because we believe that we truly do have the best food in the country. They are antique, because we are one of the oldest cities in the state and they are eclectic. Non matched, because that’s what our restaurants are- a unique, eclectic mix of eaters that we believe are unmatched in any small town in America.
A great platter of appetizers were tastefully presented . The selections included fresh spinach dip,grilled tacos, coconut prawns and fugazzia pizza.
The afternoon included a visit to Naylor’s Organic Family Farm Stay. We toured the orchards and got to pick peaches, nectarines and plums. One hint we learned was that the peach should be perfectly round-if it isn’t, it wasn’t ready to pick. Farm Stay is a concept where a farmer allows people to come to their farm and stay and pick and learn about the fruit they pick. They presently have two cottages set up for rent.
We traveled on to the McKellar’s farm. Citrus fruit (Navel and Valencia oranges) is their product and the farm has been in existence since 1927. They participate in the agri-tourism program-B&B. They are active in the Family Farm Fresh program and showed us how they process the orders. A portion of the property is available for weddings and receptions. For 80 years old, Mr. McKellar is quite industrious and very unique individual.
The A & W Root Beer truck came to the farm and set up and served us delicious root beer floats. We weren’t really hungry but it was yummy. Craig Van Horn is the owner and his A &W in town is the #1 stand in the US.( Note: A&W stands for Allen & Wright)
After a brief break we went to Vintage Press for a tremendous meal. Jim had halibut and I had salmon. The presentation was awesome.. The meal concluded with a scrumptious piece of cheesecake with warmed peaches on the side(yes it was some of the fruit we picked).
Almost forgot, The good folks in Visalia, CA made us a video:
The next day was set aside and advertised as Dine Out Vissalia to boost the local economy by eating out of this day while The Fun Finders are in town. Some restaurants are normally closed on Mondays but opened for the occasion. The Fun Finders are having a ball in Visalia- getting more and more “Rolly poly”. Go to dineoutvisalia.com to check out the special dine out for the town on July 11 that was held today in honor of the Best of the Road visit.
We started out with two breakfasts Tazzaria and Valhallo. We had an excellent Greek skillet with fresh basil, tomato and feta and waffles with peaches at Tazzaria’s.. Also sampled the oatmeal muffins where the recipe can be found in Bon Appetit, Nov. 2010.We loved the Aebleskivers at Valhall0.
Several other samples were tasted that were delightful from this mother//daughter owned restaurant. I loved the wall of identified pie plates where they were turned around backwards if that pie wasn’t available. They even had a “train” room for families with children , complete with toys for entertaining the children.
We then toured the Bravo Farms Chees Company where we saw the lengthy process of cheese making explained and being done. What an interesting place with a very tall tree house in the patio area. Other interesting sight made us want to return at a future date. Worth a visit
On to the Visalia Rescue Mission where we were shown the entire operation from the meals to the thrift store processing. What a wonderful mission. Check it out at www.VRMHOPE.org.
Time to eat with Lunch at Gozen Japanese Cuisine. Our first time for Sushi and it was presented in a large wooden boat. Both cooked and raw sushi were offered. We will definitiely have it again as we were pleasantly surprised at the great combination of flavors. Following was Teppanyaki (meaning royal dining) It was indeed, prepared right before our eyes by Johnny. Johnny was full of talent, flare and personality. Truly a dining experience “Fit for a King.”Our favorite items were the steak and the scallops. The Wehona Packing house was the next stop, where they process peaches and plums. They also have a separate section for processing organic products. What an operation. We even saw how the little sticker manages to get on the fruit.
Traveling in the country we saw many more crops being produced, including alfalfa,almonds,kiwi,pomegranats, and eggplant.
The evening consisted of a Progressive Historical Walking Dinner in Downtown Visalia with a local .historian giving interesting information about each of the 5 restaurants ..The population of Visalia was 60,000
18 years ago and it has now doubled Restaurants were all top notch with special items chosen by each restraunteur to make for the complete meal. Restaurants included The Double L, Salazars, Tommy’s, Café 225, The Depot and Jack & Charlies. The wonderful evening was topped off with delicious homemade cotton candy being placed in the middle of the tables for us all to reminisce back to our past and going to the fair. We were presented with a personalized collection of the Dine Out Visalia July 11 celebration and 2 beautiful personalized red (our team color) aprons. What more suitable memento of this culinary experience here in Visalia?. .