When I moved to California in the mid-1990s, I can’t say what I first noticed. The Tie-dyes or bikini clad women (certainly not where I was, at Stanford, to my great disappointment). But I certainly can say that some of the high-end grocery stores really shocked me—especially in some of the richer parts of the Bay Area.
I wasn’t here but a few weeks when I found myself in the dairy aisle in the store at the Stanford mall. I heard someone say “I could spend $200 on cheese like that!” emphasizing the line with a snap of the finger. I looked over to discover the speaker was a 14 year old boy talking to his friend.
I thought of this when we found ourselves in the Mill Valley Market last weekend, on the way for the July 4th weekend out of town. First we walked down a huge aisle of prepackaged salads. We’re not talking floppy lettuce drowning in congealed diary product here. Offerings included the spicy thai chicken salad, Mendocino Turkey with toasted almonds and grapes, and baby mixed greens. Most ran about $7.99 for a pretty decent helping. Mill Valley Market also offers catering, and advertises that much of their food is locally and sustainable grown.
But this being summer in the Bay Area, it was cold outside around 7 pm. We wanted hot food. The hot bar ran $7.99 a pound, which is quite reasonable. Never mind that I soon piled up my box with nearly two pounds of food, more than I could eat in a sitting with help. I think the mainstay of my box was chicken cacciatore, which I think they said was made with organic free-range chicken (I was hungry and in a hurry). There were also a couple types of pasta, including a very nice mac-n-cheese. I finished off by stuffing all the unfilled parts of the box with roasted vegetables.
There was also a curry I’m told was quite good. We were parked on the cute little central square of downtown Mill Valley, within sight of several open tables. But it was so cold we ate in the car.
There was also a huge variety of the desserts, including some dairy and wheat-free items. We settled on a huge brownie ($2.95), locally made and “too chocolately,” according to Conner. I countered that there was no such thing. As he carefully divided it into three pieces (one member of our party abstained), I said it was fine if my piece was a little bit smaller than the others. My girlfriend’s daughter Sofia, all 65 pounds of her, replied “It’s ok if mine’s a little bigger.”
So we munched away as I drove basically vertically up through the redwoods, following the route back to the highway that Maggie (my GPS unit) said was the most direct way back to the highway. Apparently my GPS thinks the world has only two dimensions. But that really has nothing to do with food.
Mill Valley Market
12 Corte Madera Ave. Mill Valley, CA
415 388 3222
Mon – Sat: 7:00 am – 7:30 pm
Sunday: 8:00 am – 7:00 pm