Last Saturday, the mister and I went on a mini-road trip to Ojai, a sleepy little town about an hour north of Los Angeles. Our mission was to visit Bart’s Books and eat at Boccali’s, but there were several other mini-missions along the way.
Our first stop was at Bennett’s Honey Farm just outside of Fillmore. Bennett’s sells several different flavors of honey (including Sage, Cactus and Avocado, and the mister prefers the Eucalyptus) as well as other honey and bee products. The mister purchased a honeycomb square and when we got home later Saturday night, I found him in the kitchen already biting into it.
We didn’t stop this time, but we could have visited the Fillmore Fish Hatchery. My mom grew up in Ojai, so we would visit often and when we drove to Ojai during the day, we would always stop at the fish hatchery so I could feed the fish. If you have kids, and don’t mind stinky fish food hands, I totally recommend a stop.
Next, we stopped in Fillmore where they were having a Honey Harvest Festival and BBQ contest.
The town is really cute and we stopped into the Southern Pacific Depot right off the railroad tracks and looked around at some of the historic displays. Then we browsed through several antique stores, picked up a few books and a creepy portrait drawing (her eyes follow you around the room).
The next mission was to stop for some delicious farm-fresh fruits and veggies at one of the many stands along the side of the road. Normally I stop at Francisco’s Fruits which is near the Fish Hatchery, but this time, we stopped at the Loose Caboose because I needed to stop at look at the weird upside down trees.
We spent about $15 and got a huge beefstake tomato, 4 ears of corn, 10 small avocados, a three-pack of strawberries, 2 peaches, and a jar of salsa (mild, not the Butt Burner or the Whoop Ass).
And then we hit the road and took Highway 150 through the twisty mountain turns to Ojai.
In Upper Ojai, Edith’s Walnut Factory is set back from the road. There’s no sign, and it doesn’t appear to still be a working walnut factory, but I do love Edith’s 1980’s Sally Jesse Raphael glasses!
We drove straight to Bart’s Books because they close at sunset and we wanted to make sure we had enough time to really browse through the books. Bart’s Books is probably one of the most amazing bookstores. It is the largest independently owned and operated outdoor bookstores in the US. I love that even the outside walls on the sidewalk contain shelves full of books (all just 50 cents each), and after closing time, the store operates on the honor system.
The bookstore is basically built into the architecture of the house, with a majority of the books located on outside shelves.
According to the cashier, the most often repeated question is, “What do you do when it rains?” and the answer is nothing. It doesn’t rain very often in Ojai (gotta love that California weather), but when it does, there is hardly any wind so the books rarely get wet. The real damage is caused by the sun as can be seen in this wall of bleached white book spines:
Inside the house, the kitchen is stocked with cookbooks, books about wine, and books about food. While it doesn’t have as many cookbooks as this cookbook store in Pasadena, you can be sure to find a perfect recipe.
I loved this Chicken As You Like It cookbook – full of chicken recipes and I was tickled by how many times the owner stamped their information on the book (which included the front cover, the back cover, the inside front, AND the inside back.)
And I love how Bart’s Books always includes bookmarks with every purchase – I love all the different quotes!
We purchased two Alice in Wonderland books to add to my collection, the chicken cookbook, a book about flying saucers (for 50 cents), and some novels. Then we drove the couple blocks to downtown Ojai and walked through the arcade and did some window shopping to kill some time before dinner.
Once our stomachs started grumbling, we took the scenic route through the orange fields to Boccali’s.
The restaurant’s outside tables were packed, but inside was empty and since it was going to get dark and chilly soon, we decided to eat inside.
Now, what we should have done was order dessert first because Bocalli’s has the MOST AMAZING STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE! But we didn’t. We ordered a couple of glasses of Ojai white wine, started with an order of bruschetta, then split a pepperoni pizza, and then the amazing strawberry shortcake.
(note: this is a half order, we had the other half boxed up to go before it was served. Also note: this is not a very good photo, but the mister was whining that I was even taking a photograph and that he couldn’t just dig in and start eating.)
After dinner we set off for home and pulled over on a lookout to watch the sunset. Perfect ending to a perfect day.