Destination Shopping: Gustine, California

Gustine lies in the heart of California's Central Valley. Nicknamed for a cattle baron's daughter and her habit of getting "gussied up", Gustine is a dairy town slowly losing agricultural land to housing developments. It is also home to 99% BitterSweet and family.

When I first moved out to this tiny little town I was pretty sure there was no grocery store at all. I had resigned my self to driving 40 minutes to the next largest city to unhappily shop at a mediocre chain supermarket. Yep, it would be quite a change from taking a 20 minute drive to Berkeley Bowl or walking 2 blocks to the Oakland China Town to shop at the local mom and pop market. How I miss watching the geoducks trying to escape their tanks and listening the kids trying to name every turtle.

Upon a short drive through this speck of a town I discovered that we did, in fact, have 2 grocery stores!

There is Nob Hill, which seems like they charge an $80 cover just to walk in the door. It's way over priced and offers mid to low quality meat and produce and an unspeakable sea food selection.

Then there is a small Diamond Foods tucked back out of the way, but I can't bear to walk in the door. The store is absolutely filthy.

Thankfully, within the first few weeks of living here, I discovered Contended Acres.

It is a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and Farmer Bill puts up a stand twice a week for anyone (even if you're not on the CSA list) to stop by. Each CSA works a little differently, but basically each week you get a basket packed with a variety of fresh seasonal veggies and fruits. You can find more information on a CSA near you here.

Every Thursday and Sunday morning you can see Farmer Bill's little umbrella and table set up at the end of his long driveway flanked by happily growing organic produce. It is really a treat to take the kids out there and choose the fresh-out-of-the-ground veggies we will eat that week.

Bonus: Farmer Bill sends out monthly emails about the garden and what he will have to offer. He signs them "Who's Your Farmer?"

How can you not love that? He even let the kids play on the tractor!

Another little gem I discovered out here is Wolfsen's Meat and Sausage Company.

There is something exciting about walking into this place and coming face to face with over 60 different kinds of house made sausages.

The sausage flavors range from German bratwurst to Veal/ Fig/Gorgonzola. The hot dogs are a must (best I've ever eaten)!

They also offer various hand cut steaks,  house cured and hickory smoked bacon and we can't forget about Dottore Gustavo's favorites: Kentucky bacon and the spicy beef jerky.

There is usually a line out the door at lunch time for the sandwich menu.  The hot tri-tip and corned beef sandwiches are sinfully delicious.

Wolfsen's is a destination spot for anyone in the Stanislaus and Merced county area. It's just a 20 minute detour off of I-5 south and a great place for lunch on the way to LA or Gilroy.

~99% BitterSweet


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