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Apr 15, 2013 01:33 PM

Stockton area

Any suggestions for Saturday in and around Stockton? Spouse has work to do and I'll have a car to explore most of the day. Looks like Stockton has an interesting Asian farmers market in the morning, which I hope to catch, and I've never been to any of the wineries in the surrounding Lodi area. Any ideas would be appreciated.

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    1. The farmers' market downtown is still bustling with seasonal produce and fish. It still has a really heavily asian slant (sorry) - you won't find stuff like beaded jewelry or exotic honeys like you might find at suburban FMs - and it's pretty common to see owners of asian restaurants stocking up. Go early. The best selection can be had before 8 AM.

      While you're driving toward Lodi, stop at any one of a number of strawberry stands set up alongside strawberry fields. Those berries will have been picked that day, and they're WAY better than any you'll find in a grocery store. (Don't bother with the stands on street corners - who knows where those berries came from?)

      I'm not much of a wine drinker, but my oenophile friends like nearly all the wines produced in and around Lodi, so I'm not sure it matters much. The Lodi Wine and Visitor's Center has a Lodi Wine Trail map that may be helpful.

      1. Thanks much to both of you. Unfortunately we won't get there early enough for the farmers market, though maybe the tail end. Thanks for the strawberry tip, and I'll see what I find in Lodi.

        1. Macchia winery has some truly sensational "jammy" reds. Another interesting stop might be Lockeford Meat and Sausage. The sausages are really great. It is an old time butcher shop that makes their own sausages and they have a wide variety. Most of their sausages are quite large (8-10 oz.). They are delicious and they freeze really well.

          1 Reply
          1. re: RestaurantRex in CH

            Thanks. I didn't see this until afterward, but next time. Seems there are some interesting places and very good wineries without the crowds.

          2. Thanks for all the ideas and here's my rambling report:

            As it turned out, I drove spouse and colleagues to their noon meeting, so completely missed out on the farmers market. With only 4 hours to explore, I decided to check out a few wineries and to see what I could find out about how the very old Pakistani community in Lodi (predates independence) is expressed in local food. And get ripe strawberries.

            I decided to head straight to 99 and Lodi, but was starving and pulled over for a wood-burning grill in front of a Mexican grocery on Alpine Ave. Grilled ribs weren't ready so I bought what appeared their local special - a jalapeno stuffed with queso fresco, wrapped in bacon and grilled (very tasty) and a grilled chicken hindquarter (a little dry but also tasty) for about $4.

            Once I hit 99 I saw my mistake, as it's just a walled highway, got off at Kettelman and headed past strip malls toward downtown and the Visitor Center (aka Wine and Roses).
            On Pine St. I stopped at Jeremy Wine, an attractive storefront. As they poured their wines, the young husband and wife team gave me a better map and helped me figure out a route to cover all fronts. I liked their wines and left with Albarino, Barbera and Tempranillo.
            Next visit I would go to Wine and Roses, but with limited time, I decided to head straight to the wineries. M2 is another small artisan winery located in an industrial mall off Turner Rd.and the tasting room was lively. They make different blends and varietals, including a Viognier. I liked their style and left with an old vine Zinfandel.
            btw - I often hear that Zinfandel is king in the Lodi area, and maybe it is, but that day I saw and tasted other fine hot weather varieties. Barbera, Tempranillo and more.
            St. Amant was in another industrial park nearby, but, even after I got through the chain link gate, it wasn't easy to find. Once I got there, I had the cofounder (mother of the current winemaker) to myself and was glad I made the effort. St. Amant's has a variety of grapes from Lodi and Amador, and they are one of the few who make Verdelho - a bright Portuguese white. She is proud of their ports, and I especially liked Tawny Port. On my way out negotiated for gate space with a party in 2 cars who worried whether they were in the right place for St. Amant.
            Klinker Brick has a big and busy tasting room/gift shop surrounded by vineyards and lots of people were having picnics. Their old vine Zins are excellent.
            But I was ready to check out the kabob place in a strip mall off Cherokee. Not part of the long-standing Pakistani community, as it turned out, but it was good and run by an Afghan immigrant family. Spicy lamb plate with hummus, salad and flat bread for about $6.
            Then I stopped by Rice & Spice - a small strip mall grocery, 1030 S Hutchins St. If I lived there I'd be a regular. Big bags of rice, halal meats, and shelf after shelf of pulses, beans, spicy snacks and a refrigerator full of pastries (made in the East Bay) and varieties of cheese. Very pleasant guy confirmed what others had been telling me - that the Pakistani community pretty much cooks at home. But he plans a deli section, and that would be worth a stop next visit.
            After that it was straight down Hutchins to the Asian farm stand at West Lane and Harney for fava beans and a bargain flat of truly delicious ripe strawberries. West Lane back to Stockton and then home.
            Thanks again for your contributions to a good day.

            8 Replies
            1. re: Kayde

              You hit what might be the most reliably good produce stand in the area. I think they still grow everything they sell on that corner parcel (20 acres?). Unfortunately, it's slated for development in the not too distant future. The cherry orchard across West Lane produces fantastic cherries, too, but you were just a bit too early for those.

              1. re: ricepad

                It was great produce and I'm sorry to hear it may soon be gone. It would be worthwhile to plan a return around those cherries.

                1. re: Kayde

                  The cherries are definitely worth it. The Stockton/Linden area grows some really outstanding cherries. I grew up in the area, and take them for granted. There are orchards within about a 10 minute from my front door!

                  1. re: ricepad

                    Just this week I started seeing cherries offered from trucks in the East Bay. Given year-to-year variation, around when is the cherry season in Stockton/Linden? Are they mainly Bing, pie or Rainier? I'd go out of my way for good cherries, and the season is short. Does the orchard on West Lane have a stand or u-pick? Any other recommendations?
                    Thanks much.

                    1. re: Kayde

                      Cherries should start coming in soon, probably another two weeks or so. There's are orchard stands on both southern quadrants of the Highway 99/Hammer Lane interchange. There's also a stand on West Lane about a mile south of Harney Lane on the east side of the road (it's at the very southern end of that orchard).

                      I'd say most are Bings, but Royal Anns and Rainiers are also common (Bings come in a little later than the others), and there are a couple of other dark varieties whose names escape me. I don't think sour cherries are a very big crop in the area, tho.

                      1. re: ricepad

                        There aren't a lot of sour cherries grown in California. Season's short, quantities are limited, when there are some at a farmers market often they sell out quickly.

                      2. re: Kayde

                        Thanks for all the cherry tips. In a few weeks I'll be back from Wisconsin (where there are lots of sour cherries later in the summer) and would like to return to Stockton/Lodi before it gets too too hot. Maybe early June.

                        1. re: Kayde

                          I stand corrected...I saw the first roadside stands yesterday.