I know, I know, I know. I’m supposed to live in the now and appreciate Korea before it’s all gone. But I can’t help romanticizing about all the things I have refused to let myself think about this whole year-my favorite things back home. So here’s a list of my favorite places and eats from home, in Midtown, Sacramento.
And hey, if you’re ever in the midtown area, as you probably should be, this list will tell you where to go and (most importantly) what to eat.
1. The Co-Op. I am a grocery snob. I don’t care that shopping at co-ops is more expensive. If I can eat well and enjoy the shopping experience and know about and support the organization I am funding then I will gladly eat less. I’m especially partial to the one in Davis because those are my old stomping grounds, but the Sacramento Co-op boasts it’s super fancy all-organic produce section which is awesome. Also, their deli is unbeatable. I can’t wait for fresh hummus and kombucha and crunchy baguettes and goat cheese!
2. Old Tavern’s $2 cheeseburgers. So, on the complete opposite end of the food spectrum from the co-op is this little tiny greasy amazing drunk food gem. Cuz ya gotta have a balanced diet. Maybe they were $1. Or $5. I can’t remember. All I can remember are all those nights when a cold beer with a cheap simple cheeseburger from this sleezy dive bar never felt so right.
3. The Sandwich Spot. I’m sure all the sandwiches are really yummy, but after eating the Fast Eddie I will never bother with another sandwich again. Ever.
4. Crimson and Clover. I wasn’t actually going to put this on my list because I feel very territorial about this little vintage shop and don’t want other people gleaning the place of all the good stuff and making prices go up. I discovered it in college and it opened up a whole new world of alternative clothes buying and fashion loving. Before finding this awesome shop, I wore what the people around me dictated I should wear. I was never comfortable in my clothes, and I hated how the cheaply made clothes from big name brands were so popular and so expensive. Fashion was this expensive, distant thing represented by angry looking models with tiny dogs. When I went to C&C’s shop that one fateful day, I realized there was a whole community of people who were just wearing whatever the hell they wanted to wear simply because it felt good. Joining in was incredibly liberating. C&C’s selection of clothes and bags and underling things and decor tidbits is all authentically one of a kind vintage goodness and they sell it at extremely fair prices, unlike other trendy spots that jack up the price of something in an effort to heighten their status and fool you into thinking the product is actually worth said price. But all diatribes aside, C&C is probably my favorite place in midtown. I cannot walk inside without finding something I cannot live without.
5. Coffee. Sacramento is filled with a variety of quintessential coffee shops patronized by hipsters smoking cigarettes and reading books. Say what you will about the hipster movement, but I think the bottom line for me is that there are chumps in every stereotype but this doesn’t mean you should throw out the baby with the bathwater. Truth is, hipsters are just hip people with a sense of style and there is no better way to spend a lazy morning than soaking up the vibes at Old Soul among well dressed thoughtful people sipping delicious tea and coffee and munching on sandwiches from behind the veil of an actual newspaper.
6. Bows and Arrows. Crimson and Clover was my first love, but Bows and Arrows is like my best friend. Just as a morning spent at a local coffee house is a morning well spent, an afternoon on the flowery back porch of B&A with a sparkling beverage and a peach and bacon sandwich is ascension. You should also be prepared to go shopping, because after a mason jar of wine all those clothes and bags are gonna be looking five times as cute as they already are.
Oh god, I’m so afraid for my budget back home.
7. Trader Joe’s. Co-op = produce, but Trader Joe’s = cheese. True, the Co-op has some of the best gourmet cheese in California, but just as delicious are the privately labeled cheese over at TJ’s and they come with a much lower price. I cannot wait to raid the goat cheese and to grate real Parmesan over some steaming bowls of pasta and to slice up some brie and fruit and to munch on Jarlsberg and white cheddar with apricots and beer cheese and stinky melty Raclette and Mimolette. Also, I miss the french vanilla yogurt.
8. Being a reporter. I totally took my gig as a political reporter for granted back home. As a beginner, I didn’t know the least about how politics worked and I spent a lot of sweat and stress trying to catch up. After a year of constant near-heart-attacks trying to peddle and perfect story ideas, I was feeling pretty lost in my goals as a reporter. But I’ve spent this year studying up and watching the headlines so I’m all geared up and ready to give it another go-round. My only hope is that I’ll be able to find a decent part-time job to sustain me while I find paying venues for my stories again.
9. Biking. Just this morning, I found out that they are actually re-vamping the bike lanes in my neck of the woods and I couldn’t be happier. No better memory than driving around on a nice day with my friends on bikes. Whether we’re going to a bar, commuting the work, or just out for an aimless Sunday spin. I really miss the tranquility of biking the grid on a slow day.
10. The smell of the air. Sacramento is actually known for having really bad air quality, but all of California still has this very refreshing and invigorating smell. It is, without exaggeration, the smell of paradise. It’s not even so much the smell itself but also the energy and feel of California life. Every time I have left California and then arrived back at the airport, I am greeted with the instantaneous rush of good vibes of freedom. This is by far the biggest thing I have missed about home and I cannot wait to feel it again.