After living awhile in San Francisco, it's easy to forget that other parts of the country- like the tiny Missouri town where my grandparents live- don't have access to year-round local produce, super-freshly roasted coffee, and other SF luxuries. Every winter I pack my suitcase with cold-weather gear and as much fruit & coffee as I can carry...
- The local citrus is amazing right now, especially satsumas, clementines, and Meyer lemons. Nothing helps balance rich holiday food and winter storms like a little burst of sunshine.
- Many local markets like Bi-Rite sporadically carry intriguing citrus fruits such as Buddha's hands, sweet limes, and bergamots.
- The persimmons are out of control around here, and are rarely seen in many small-town markets (in my experience).
- Locally grown pomegranates are gorgeous, sturdy enough to travel with, and often hard-to-find.
- Put those sweaters to use! All the fruit I've traveled with has arrived unscathed. I put them in a plastic bag (just in case!) and then wrap the bags in sweaters in my suitcase.
- Tell your local produce expert when you need the fruit to be ripe, and they'll help you pick out the perfect specimen.
- You can usually buy coffee beans that were roasted, like, yesterday, so they'll be fresh throughout your holiday travels.
- I always put the bags of coffee in large ziplock bags so my clothes don't smell like coffee. Of course, that wouldn't be entirely bad!
The best part is that you'll have plenty of room in your suitcase to fill with local specialties for the trip back to San Francisco. I've returned home with gorgeous dried squash, cheerful branches of bittersweet, Amish bread, and my grandma's cookies. (Note! Please see the Department of Agriculture's guidelines for what you can & cannot bring into California.)
Image: Tess Wilson