After my total food-out in the Bay Area last week http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/910277 , it was finally time to drive back home to Las Vegas. I wasn't about to lower myself to ordinary road food on the long trip back, so the first stop was at Andy's Orchards in Morgan Hill, to pick up a flat of dead-ripe heirloom stone fruit. We can occasionally get great produce locally that's been brought down from the Bay Area, but it goes for a very premium price ($7/basket strawberries, $6/lb peaches, etc), and we can't get good stone fruit in flat quantities at all. IMO Andy's fruit meets or tops any stone fruit available at Ferry Plaza in SF.
So I picked out an assorted flat ($20) with sugar-sweet and flavorful white and yellow nectarines and various peaches. Then I found out they had just picked some flats of Angelus -- one of my favorite non-commercial peach varieties. I couldn't resist buying a flat of those as well, even though there's no way the two of us could finish all that ripe fruit. I cut up and froze a lot of those Angelus peaches the other night.
Since my intention to get good BBQ in the Bay Area had previously been thwarted by the eastbay clog-the-freeway protests, I decided upon a major detour through Salinas, to get a couple of pounds of brisket from Salinas City BBQ to bring home with me (I ate lunch there as well). Having written about this place previously http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7053... , I see no need to repeat myself, other than to say that it met all my expectations -- it was tender and smoky with great bark and flavor, and was as good as the BBQ I'd had at Black's in Lockhart, TX http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/527524 , and much better than what I got at Smitty's. BBQ is by nature inconsistent, but the 'Q at Salinas City has been great both times I went. After stowing the 'Q in a well-iced cooler, I continued on.
It's dinnertime, and I'm passing through Tehachapi. Didn't want to unwrap all my carefully-packed BBQ from Salinas, so I decided to try the local joint, Red House BBQ . The place was slammed, despite it being Wednesday night. I picked up a pound of their brisket, and ate some of it in the car before driving on. It was different, but quite good. It came lightly sauced despite my request for sauce on the side. No visible smoke ring, but incredibly tender and juicy, with a nice rub and a very mild smoky flavor. It almost reminded me of deep-pit BBQ in its tenderness and flavor. I couldn't get any info on how they cooked it, other than "smoked for 10 hours", but in fairness, they were too busy to really talk. I guess purists might say "No smoke ring, so it's not real BBQ", but whatever it was, it tasted great. GF also liked the Tehachapi BBQ almost as well as that of Salinas City.
Special thanks to Melanie Wong for her earlier detailed reports on Andy's Orchard and Salinas City BBQ -- I never would have known about them otherwise.
Photos: Mixed stone fruit and Angelus peach flats from Andy's; Salinas City BBQ; Red House BBQ