Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Until Next Year. . .Some Time


Thank you all for stopping by these last three months. I hope you've been enjoying Take 25 to Hollister. I've been having fun taking photos, learning, and writing about stuff around town and the county. But, it's time for me to buckle down big time to make a deadline. No more fun for the naughty, at least for a while.

I'll be back on the 25 in six weeks, more or less. Until then, I invite you to pretend you haven't read any of the posts thus far. And, yes, please, I love reading comments.

May you have a Happy Christmas and a glorious New Year! Peace and Joy!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Flapjack’s Country Café

Whenever Dick and I go on a road trip, we like to start by driving over to Tres Pinos for breakfast at Flapjack’s Country Café. The owners, Karen and Phil Barrett, make and serve some of the best breakfast dishes around the area.

On our last visit, Dick devoured a delish Italian pesto omelet and I plowed through a heaping dish of Phil’s Corned Beef and Eggs. How heaping, you ask? I had a half-order and I took half of it home. (I probably could’ve eaten it all, but I was saving myself for a whole bunch of eating treats throughout the day, as it was my birthday.)

Both our dishes came with home fries and a huge, fluffy flapjack. Yum! You could have toast instead of the pancake, but, hello, it’s the Flapjack’s Country Café.

Did I mention the big mugs of coffee? Heavenly.

Flapjack’s offers a creative menu. The owners also offer choices for folks who adhere to a non-gluten diet. Check the offerings out for yourself. Breakfast. Lunch.

Just recently, Phil and Karen began serving “Sunset Suppers” on Wednesdays and Thursdays, between 5 and 7:30 pm. I went home with a copy of the menu. Grilled polenta, Pasta Marinara, Pasta Primavera, Chicken Cacciatore, and Eggplant Parmigiana are featured. I’m drooling just thinking of how they might taste, and in my mind, I’m thinking it will be very trés delicious. I’ve already decided that my first order will be the NY Steak plate: “Phil’s NY Steak, cooked to order with sautéed bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and garlic served with pasta marinara.” It’s only $16.50! What a deal for these times.

Tres Pinos is a few miles south of Hollister. Just head straight out on Hwy 25, or as we, locals, like to call it, Airline Highway. Tres Pinos is a very small hamlet. You won’t miss Flapjack’s at all. Just as you’ve slowed your car to the proper speed limit, you’ll see the restaurant on the left. You can park alongside the highway. You can also turn left just after passing the restaurant to park in its parking lot. If you need to buy stamps or mail a letter, the post office is right by the parking lot. I like to mosey over to read what’s posted on the community bulletin board. But, that’s for another post.

Some links to check out:
And, since you're in Tres Pinos, check out:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Christmas Contest

$1,000! Want to win it?

Some of the downtown merchants are currently sponsoring a “Where’s Rudolph?” contest. Here are the rules:
  1. Go to a participating store, restaurant, or other business. See the list below
  2. Find the picture of Rudolph.
  3. Ask for an entry form, fill it out, and turn it in pronto.
You can enter as often as you like. You can enter only once a day. You don’t have to buy anything to win. But, since you need to buy those Christmas presents or eat to sustain yourself, well, there you are.

The Contest ends on December 15. Get going!

The Merchants
The following restaurants are also participating in the contest:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Music!

Last night, Dick and I headed over to the Veteran’s Building for a Christmas concert. “Deck the Halls. . . fa la la la la. . .” Yep. We got to sing a bunch of first verses worth of Christmas carols with the Watsonville Community Band, the members all decked in their green and gold uniforms. It’s nice to know that there is an outlet for once-upon-a-time high school band members. One of the trumpet players was my seventh grade music appreciation teacher, who continues to teach and lead middle school musicians into one amazing marching band year after year.

“We are the Watsonville Community Band,” announced Eugene Smith, the condu
ctor, at the beginning of the night. “But we are not a Watsonville band.” The members hale from various cities in Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Benito counties, including Watsonville, Salinas, Ben Lomond, Gilroy, and Hollister.

The Watsonville Community Band is one of the few adult community bands in the nation. It has been around since 1947! According to the Christmas program, anyone who plays (or played) a band instrument is welcome to join. The band performs yearly concerts, such as its Christmas Concert series, as well as participates in marching parades. Their performances are always free.

At last night’s concert, the band performed a selection of pieces, from an Andy Williams song, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” to the quietly moving “Ave Maria.” They also played the “March of the Women Marines,” which was composed in 1943 for the Women Reserve band. That piece was a head bouncer and toe tapper, but the coolest thing about it is the fact that one of the members of the band was part of the original Women Reserve band.

The “Night Before Christmas” was read by the conductor, surrounded by many of the tiny
children in the audience. Snap. Flash. Snap. Flash. Snap. Yep, the sound and blur of a photo op for parents and grandparents who smilingly crept up to candidly catch their kiddies. For the last piece, the audience stood and sang joyously loud (OK maybe some of us) with the band, after which Santa Claus popped out to give the kids candy cane sticks.

The concert was an hour long, and for an hour, I felt a sense of the warmth of small-town community. The Watsonville Community Band will be back to put on a spring concert for the town. I’m looking forward to it.

In the mean while, here are still a few more Christmas concerts in the co
unty to check out:
Christmas singing cheer can also be found at these events:

Christmas 2008
Hwy 25, Hollister, California

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Hollister and Bikers

Have you ever seen the movie The Wild One? A young Marlon Brando plays an "outlaw" biker named Johnny. He scoffs at trophy-winning bikers, yet goes through much of the movie clasping a stolen biker trophy in the same way that Linus clings to his blanket. Of course, Johnny could've been doing so facetiously because his character was portrayed as a misunderstood guy after all. That's how I interpreted it.

The Wild One was kinda based or somewhat inspired on an incident that took place in Hollister in 1947 over the July 4th weekend. It was a motorcycle rally that got out of hand. I would think it was a no brainer that some fights were bound to take place when 4,000 bikers rolled into town. They were there to enjoy some motorcycle races and to relax and party. Remember: It was a three-day Fourth of July weekend. The police force was few in number, but they had it under control. After all, about .02% of the attendants were arrested and charged with misdemeanors. Hullo. Nothing outlaw-ish about that.

Still, if you're a journalist, you can spin a pretty gol darn story. And, the newspaper reporters did just that. What probably made that Fourth of July incident famous was the infamous spread of staged photos in Life magazine. I'm not gonna go into the five W's of the event. You can click on these links for the history:
In 1997, Hollister merchants, the city council, or maybe both together, decided to hold a Fourth of July Independence Motorcycle Rally to honor the event's 50th anniversary. Since then, the rally has become an annual event. Next year's event is not sanctioned by the City because it lost taxpayers' money big time. But, you never know.

I have no idea what the annual event celebrates. Is it the romantic image of an outlaw biker played by Marlon Brando, the misdemeanor arrests of a bunch of bikers, or what? Could be why Hollister rarely makes any money off the hundreds of thousands of people who come into town each year for three days. Bad karma. But, suppose we were to celebrate the idea of WWII Vets letting off steam after a hard week of work, because that was what many of those 4,000 bikers were. It's a thought. Anyway, enjoy the trailer for The Wild One.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas Bazaars, Boutiques, and Etc.

It's the season for Christmas Bazaars, Boutiques, Crafts Fairs, Open Houses, and Etc. You can definitely count on finding a bunch of local ones in Hollister and abouts. Some are fundraisers, while others are not. Here's a list of some that are happening this week.

The Christmas Parade

My only complaint about last night's parade: I wished the evening air was cooler and crisper so it felt more like winter (and Santa) was a coming. ☺

We missed the first few floats, but we were fortunate to be there to see a mutt of a terrier steal the show away from the Sheriff’s float. The little dog stubbornly sat in the middle of the street or pranced precariously close to and around the sheriff’s car as it slooooooowly drove along, with the Grinch hanging out of its back window.

He was a dog that would not be caught, at least right away. At one point, he was surrounded by several people. The dog knew how to stop and go. He had them all in his hands. He had all of us who were hanging around on that that block in his hands as well. When we heard clapping and hurrahing at the end of the block, we knew the chap was caught.

The theme for the parade was “All I Want for Christmas....” I wouldn’t mind having that parade-stopping dog.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Annual Lights On Celebration and Parade

Is it just me, or are Christmas decorations going up even sooner?

I noticed the green garlands stretched above San Benito Street on Sunday morning. As we sped by the lawn in front of the parking garage, I saw that Santa’s Village was up as well. The Hollister Downtown Association is getting ready!

By this Saturday evening, November 29, downtown Hollister will be transformed for the annual “Lights on Celebration.” The trees will be lit along the main street, between South and Forth Streets, and the street will be lined with people as well to watch the parade of floats and cars and people waving and smiling from them. And, of course, bringing up the rear of the parade will be Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus.

The theme for this year’s parade is “All I Want for Christmas.” It will start at 5:30. There’ll be live entertainment happening before and after the parade, too. Stores will be also be open for the browsing and buying.

For me, the best part about the night is hanging out after the parade. After the last float goes by, people pile out from the sidewalks into the center of the street. Folks walk up and down the closed street, checking out the music, greeting acquaintances, and yakking and laughing it up with friends and family. That's worth the Christmas decorations being put up seemingly earlier each year.

Some links to check out about the event:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Canning Fans!

So, how many of you identified the thing or place in Monday’s photo? Forgot what it looked like. Scroll down or click here, and then come back.

See. They are industrial fans at the cannery on the corner of East and Hawkins streets.

Once upon a time, there used to be two canneries—Fairview and Hollister—one on each side of South Street. I don’t recall which was where. For the longest time, these canneries made up the biggest non-farming industry in Hollister—for all of San Benito County for that matter. The majority of the jobs, like the farming ones, were seasonal.

Each cannery went through several owners, going from the original locals to different corporate canning companies. The Hollister cannery eventually became San Benito Foods, while Fairview became Tri-Valley Growers. In the 1990s, Tri-Valley Growers closed and San Benito Foods took over its buildings and machinery.

San Benito Foods cans different tomato products. In my ancient days, the two canneries also processed spinach, peaches, and apricots. Maybe other stuff, I don’t know.

I often wondered where the canned products were sold. I’ve never tasted them. I read at the San Benito Foods Web site that their canned tomatoes are famously delicious. I wonder where. Maybe if I’m ever there, I can buy a can and find out for myself just how awesome they taste, if they do.

Some links to check out:

Monday, November 17, 2008

What is This?

I’ll let you know in a couple of day. Maybe. In the mean while, for those of you who are familiar with Hollister, take a guess.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Now We Lay Ourselves Down to Rest

It was bound to happen. I would take a photograph or two of one of my favorite local haunts as a kid—the Calvary Cemetery.

We moved next to the cemetery when I was a fourth grader. We lived on El Camino Paraiso. The English translation: The Heavenly Road or The Road to Paradise. I always thought whoever named the street had a wonderful sense of humor. Or, he was just perverse.

Since my deceased sisters were buried in the cemetery, my family visited it often. As I got older, I found myself pedaling my bike through the cemetery on my own. Where else could I find peace and quiet to think? Today, the remains of my dad and a few other relatives and friends of the family are also there. So, I continue to pop over now and then. I no longer live next to the cemetery, but it’s still only a few minutes away.

San Benito County has several cemeteries. Not such a big deal until I consider that the population was about 18,000 when I was a teenager, many years ago. Currently the population is around 56,000. Only three cemeteries may actually be in use, but what do I know. If you want to know more about some of the other cemeteries in this county, check out these links. Those interested in genealogy will be happy to know that some of these web sites provide a listing or database of the deceased.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Veterans Day

Versaille. Somme. Verdun. Argonne. Trieste. Marne. Calais. Black Forest. Liege. Those are all names of streets in a Hollister neighborhood. I’ve often wondered why they were picked. They are also all names of cities and other locales where battles took place and treaties were signed during the Great War.

The Great War? Sure you've heard of it. The Great War took place in Europe between 1914 and 1918. Yup. World War I. Oh-oh, sounds like a history lesson coming on. It'll be brief.

This Tuesday, November 11, is Veterans Day. How many of you know that this holiday was originally observed as Armistice Day?

On November 11, 1918, the Allies—which were France, Italy, the British Empire, the Russian Empire, and the United States—signed a truce with Germany to end that Great War. Hence, Armistice Day.

People called that war the Great War because it was the largest, most devastating war up to then in history. Over 20 million civilians and military members were killed and another 21 million were wounded. Some teachers tell us we study history so that we can learn from our mistakes. Just what are we not getting right?

Until 1938, when Armistice Day became a federal holiday, the President proclaimed a national observance every November 11. In 1955, federal legislation was passed to change the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day. The reason was quite obvious—to honor the millions of veterans who had served in two more wars, namely World War II and Korean War. Since then, we have added to the veteran rolls, millions and millions more of men and women who had served in Vietnam, Persian Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and numerous other military conflicts. Thank you, all!

In Hollister, the local VFW branches will honor all military veterans from San Benito County with a parade through downtown. It'll take place at noon this Tuesday. Check it out, if you happen to be there.

If not, wherever you are on Tuesday, take a few minutes to reflect on all the courageous men and women who have served and are now serving in military services throughout the world. Also give pause to think about this thing called war, and another thing called peace.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Homecoming Parade

There’s a parade happening down San Benito Street this Friday afternoon. It’s the homecoming parade for Hollister High (officially known as San Benito High School).

Yep, lots of energy going on in this town this week. Big election (Hurrah for President-elect Obama!) and homecoming week. The JV and Varsity teams will be playing Palma High School, from Salinas, for their last home game.

FYI: The Hollister High varsity team is said to have the most unique mascot in the United States—the Haybaler or ‘Baler. I don’t know. I think the JV team’s mascot is rather matchless as well. It’s the Hayseed. To learn about how the ‘Baler mascot came to be, click here.

I haven’t been to a Hollister High homecoming parade in nearly 40 years. As a sophomore, I marched the mile or so of the parade barefoot as a bandaged up “Indian” holding an end of a blanket in which a fallen mate (made out of straw) laid. I was part of the Red Cross Club and we were pretending to be members of the opposing team who were clobbered by the ‘Balers. The other team had some kind of Indian mascot. I’m sure it didn’t make sense then either.

Ah, the memories. Anyway, if you happen to be in downtown Hollister this Friday, stay around for the parade if you can. It'll start at 2 p.m.

Hey 'Balers!

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Best of Bests Awards

The Pinnacle News published the results of its best of bests in San Benito County survey—aka the "2008 Pinnacle Awards"—last Friday. Click here to learn about the restaurants, stores, services, places, and events that Pinnacle News readers thought were the best.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Fruited Plains Mural

The next time you’re wandering in downtown Hollister, stop by Browns Alley. It’s on the west side of San Benito Street, between Sixth and Seventh. Right across from the Veteran’s Memorial Building, if you need me to be exact. And if you need to have even more precise directions, click here for those coordinates.

There, in Browns Alley, on the side of the historical Grangers Union Building, you can view a truly awesome mural that celebrates the agricultural heritage of Hollister, San Benito County, and, for that matter, the whole state of California.

The mural was painted by students from the Gavilan College Art Department, under the direction of Muralist and Gavilan Art Instructor Arturo Rosette (also known as the artist r2row). It was completed this summer.

Because of the narrowness of the alley, it was difficult for me to get the full effect of the mural. The best view, I think, is from inside Knife and Fork, while sitting and sipping a cup of coffee.

There are several murals to view in Hollister. For another downtown mural, click here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pedaling around San Benito County

One of the first things that hubby Dick and I did after moving down to Hollister was to buy ourselves beach cruiser bicycles at Muenzer’s, which is the oldest sports shop in town. Hey, I can imagine I'm heading to the beach. :-)

Sometimes as we're riding around, we hear a guy call out to Dick, “Cool bike!” The guy can be a young geezer or an old lad. I think it's something to do with the manly flames on his bike. Now and then I get a middle-age gal say, “Cute bike.” And I know she's just taken herself back in time to when she was pedaling away on her precious pink bicycle.

Whenever we can, Dick and I hop on our cool and cute bicycles to do errands or to just tootle about for fun and sun. Our longest cruise has been to and from Tres Pinos. We think about going to San Juan Bautista, Dunneville Corner, to the end of Lone Tree Road, and other places around the county.

Since gas prices have gone up, we’ve noticed more people on bikes. Maybe with more bicycle lanes, even more kids and adults will choose to pedal to the store, church, library, wherever. Now, that’s a nice segue to the fact that the San Benito Council of Governments (COG) wants and needs public input into what the county Bikeway and Pedestrian Master Plan should look like.

If you'd like to put in your two cents about this plan, you can take a survey online at COG's web site. There’s a deadline on the survey that has come and gone, but since the Hollister Free Lance reports that COG is still seeking public opinion, I’d say go ahead. If you don’t want to assume, which is probably a good idea, then e-mail or call COG about the survey.

As a reward for taking the survey, you’ll be entered into a raffle to win a $100 Target gift card. Who couldn't use that? If I win, one of the things I would buy is a bicycle bell. Ding. Ding.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

If It’s Saturday, It Must Be Farm Day

We live in an agricultural area where some organic produce is grown. Yet, when Dick and I moved to Hollister five years ago, one of the things I really missed about living in the big city area was being able to buy organic produce year round. Ironic, isn't it?

Between May and late August, we are fine. The local farmer’s market comes to downtown Hollister every Wednesday afternoon. It’s a small market, which seems to get smaller each year. The unfortunate thing about farmer’s markets is that the cost of fruits and vegetables are higher than in the stores. I think it’s worth paying the extra pennies for lettuce, tomatoes, squash, onions, potatoes, apples, artichokes, and so forth to feel, smell, and taste them the way that they are created to be.

A couple of winters ago, we learned that the Pinnacle Farm (aka Phil Foster Ranch) in San Juan Valley opens it farm stand every Saturday morning. FYI: Pinnacle Farm sells its certified organic produce to Whole Foods Markets. The farm stand is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. It's located on Duncan Avenue, between Bixby Road and Lucy Brown Road. For specific directions, click here.

We go this farm stand almost every Saturday, throughout the year. Early or late, it doesn’t matter. The produce is fresh. If some things are low, just ask, and they’ll replenish the stock if they have more on hand.

I wrote a note back in September that we had bought potatoes, onions, garlic, yellow cauliflower, watermelon, cilantro, carrots, apples, zucchinis, and a few other things for just over $20. I would've spent much more for the same amount, if I bought the food at Whole Foods in Monterey or San Jose or at the Staff of Life in Santa Cruz.

There are a few other farm stands just outside of Hollister. Along with produce, which may or may not be certified organic, they sell other food products. Swank Farms and Casa de Fruta also offer fun activities for kids and adults to do.
Today is Saturday. We’re off to the farm.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Maverick BBQ Restaurant and Lounge

If you’re drooling for some delicious, slow-smoking BBQ the next time you’re in Hollister, I’ve got the place for you. The Maverick BBQ Restaurant! Most times, when Dick and I need a BBQ fix, we head there. We like the light, but rich BBQ-y, taste of the meats. To put it another way, the meats don’t taste greasy or feel heavy in the tummy afterwards.

The Maverick has been around since 2004. It’s located in the former train depot, at the end of Fifth Street. You can eat your BBQ in the restaurant or lounge (the bar), or order take-out at the window. The Lounge is also where we like to go when we want to drink a martini or some other drink that’s not a margarita. The bartenders make a drink worth coming back for. It’s a good thing we don’t drink much anymore. The restaurant part is at the north end of the building, while the lounge is on the other side of take-out window.

New owners took over the Maverick this summer. I didn’t think it was possible to improve on the best. But, hey, they did! The tri-tip is more moist, the pork ribs have more meat. The garlic bread, beans, coleslaw, and potato salad—Oh, my! They all taste better. More oompfh. Sorry, former owners.

The portions are still huge. Dick, my mom, and I share a two-meat combo take-out dinner, usually the tri-tip and pork ribs combo. The order comes with beans, garlic bread, and your choice of coleslaw or potato salad. We go with the coleslaw and ask for a pint of potato salad. Depending on how huge an appetite Dick and I have, we may or may not have leftovers.

The downside about the restaurant is that if we want to eat BBQ on Monday or Tuesday, we can’t. (Well, we could, but why should I spend hours cooking for a mediocre result.) Maverick is open from Wed to Sun for both lunch and dinner. The new owners have expanded the menu to include other delish items. Here are the links for their menus:
For a review of Maverick by others, check out either of these links: Yelp and Yahoo Travel.

For reviews by yours truly of other restaurants, check out: Progresso Tamale Parlor and Happy Cafe.

(Thank you, Dick, for checking my grammar.)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A little bit of thunder and rain. Yippyy!

A loud Ka-POW! woke me up early yesterday morning.

“Is that thunder?”

Dick reassured me it was. I was happy. It has been a long while since I had heard something like that.

A few seconds later, I heard a steady beat on the roof. “Is that rain?”

“Yes,” said Dick. “Rain.” Deliriously joyed, I fell back to sleep.

Unfortunately, the next time I woke up, the day was brightly shining. The ground and pavement were wet so that was good. Needless to say, the plants were happy, happy.

You bet rain is a big thing. We're going through a d-r-o-u-g-h-t, again. Normally, the rain would’ve stayed throughout the whole weekend and maybe even into the following week. For now, we look at the billowy clouds with hope.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The 25, The Bolsa—Same Difference

The route into Hollister from the north is via the two-lane Bolsa Road. California State Highway 25, to be more precise, says hubby Dick. That, I suppose, is a difference between having lived here as a kid and now as an adult. Also the difference between being an old-timer and one fresh-off-the-highway. You say "Highway 25," I say "Bolsa Road." Potay-toe, po-ta-tah. Toe-may-toe, toe-mah-tah. By the way, there are tomato fields on the Bolsa. Not the road, but the area.

Bolsa is the Spanish word for pocket. No doubt it comes from Rancho Bolsa de San Felipe, of which the route and surrounding land were part during the once-upon-the-time of Spanish and Mexican dons. I've read that this pocket of land was known for its swamp, willow grove, and ravine. During heavy rains (remember those?), Bolsa Road can get so flooded that it has to be closed. That can be maddening when you need to get in and out of town, but still the flooded plain is a beautiful sight to behold.

It's 12 miles between Hollister and Highway 101 by way of the Bolsa. Twelve miles out to the real world. Twelve miles back to living far, far away. I’m not kidding. When movers from the Bay Area drove our belongings here, they panicked at the instant sight of no buildings, no freeway exchanges, and no sound walls as they turned onto the Bolsa. One mover called his honey and said he was half-way to Los Angeles.

On the Bolsa, you drive 12 miles of flat land, first viewing row crops, next cows out standing in their fields, and then row crops again. As you get closer to Hollister, you see a few orchards too. And, yes, there used to be a lot more orchards and on both sides of the road.

Being older and having lived for many years of adulthood out in the real world of freeways and noise, tall buildings and noise, urban crowdedness and noise, I appreciate the drive through space that is the Bolsa to seemingly far, far away of Hollister. Who knows how much longer this luxury of nothingness will last. Just within the past five years different developers tried putting up an Indian casino and a Sun City along the Bolsa. There’s still talk about building a brand-new town on the Bolsa, nearer to highway 101. I don’t even want to try to imagine it.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Progesso Tamale Parlor

The Progresso Tamale Parlor on Third Street is definitely a part of Hollister’s history. It has been around since 1939. For many old-time and once-upon-a-time locals, it is the restaurant to go to for Mexican food. For me, it was the first sit-down restaurant that I ever dined at. I was probably in sixth or seventh grade. My brother was taking my parents and me out—his first treat, of many.

Being a rather shy kid who stressed out when in public, I don’t remember much of that first restaurant outing, other than small tables, night fall, and lights that reminded me of Christmas (maybe it was around Christmas). Last Saturday, after a fun day at the county fair, Dick and I decided we’d eat at Progresso. All I can say is: What took me so long (over 40 years) to go back to eat there?

Right off, we got a basket of chips and salsa. My first chip was a flour one. Nice surprise. Never had that before. Several chips later, I came across a corn one. How cool to have both. The salsa had just the right amount of heat.

I ordered the chile relleno dinner, one of my standards for testing out new restaurants. The dinner came with rice, beans (refried or whole), and either salad or soup. The choice that night was cactus soup. Dick’s order was a combination of chile relleno, cheese enchilada, and beef taco. A lot of food, but he managed to polish all but a bit of rice.

The cactus soup was double yummy. The beef broth was rich and tasty with cactus bits in every spoonful. I’ll be sure to have that again. The refried beans were the kind I like. Thick and flavorable. They would be perfect to wrap in a tortilla and then deep-fry. I don’t normally like the rice that comes with a Mexican meal. It usually tastes bland and I think it shouldn’t because it’s red. Progresso's rice was yummy. To top it off, the cook had put a black olive on top of the rice. That made me feel warm and comforted. Black olives were treats when I was a kid, and my Auntie Virginia always put black olives in her tamales.

The chile relleno was mild, did not ooze of cheese, and tasted more of the egg batter than the chile itself. The dark sauce, my favorite part, reminded me of my Aunt Virginia’s cooking. The chile relleno was not one of the best ones I’ve ever eaten, but I would order it again if I’m in the mood for a chile relleno when I’m at Progresso.

Yup. I’ll be going there again, and I won’t wait another 40 years to do so. I have heard raves about their tamales for years. That’s next up to try.

Be sure to check out the Progresso web site. Along with seeing a menu and reading about its history, the owners posts recipes for tamales and other foods.

For another Hollister restaurant review, check out: Happy Cafe.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Hanging Out at the County Fair

A pocket holder for band-aids from Hazel Hawkins Hospital.

A yellow rubber stress reliever from the Seniors Council.

A box of cute note cards, by students of San Benito rural schools, from the E Cubed Foundation.

Trail maps of Henry W. Coe State Park http://www.coepark.org.

Six raffle tickets for a hand-made quilt fundraiser by the Community Pantry.

Those were a few things that we brought home from the San Benito County Fair. That and a cozy feeling of being relaxed and protected from realities, even when passing by the NRA, the Democratic and Republican parties', and the various law enforcement booths. It was ironic, though, that no one was manning the bank booth when we passed by.

I didn’t bring home an honorable mention ribbon like I had hoped. Qué bummer. Maybe next year, I’ll enter different crafts and flower arrangement categories to expand my chances for a ribbon.

There was quite a lot of good stuff to see, especially among the children’s entries. My favorites were

. . .the vegetable animals

. . .the flag made of marshmallows

. . .the white chick who reminded me of Phyllis Diller

. . .the ceramic piggy and the real piggy named Oreo

. . .the cake made in the shape of a ladybug

. . . the humongous pumpkins

. . .and these two gentle horsemen!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Wanted: Rain!

On Friday, we had a rare sighting—potential rain clouds!

On Saturday morning, we woke up to a rare sound—rain!

The news reported about an 1/8 of an inch of rain for Hollister. Hardly enough. But it’s a start. And we hope that is what it is!

For a great local resource for water conservation, check out Water Resources Association of San Benito County. The nonprofit organization offers rebates to folks who buy water efficient washer-dryers, toilets, and other things. They also perform free assessments of leaks and such for residents.



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