A fabulous place to sample exquisite produce is the farmers' market in San Rafael, just off Highway 101 in Northern California.
Every Sunday from 8 a.m. until about 1 p.m., more than 150 farmers from as far south as Fresno gather downtown in the sloping parking lot behind the sprawling Marin Civic Center designed in 1957 by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Under bright blue-and-white tents, they sell all sorts of fruits and vegetables, including many exotic, organic, and heirloom varieties, eggs, cheese, smoked fish and sausages, freshly pressed olive oils, local mustards and chutneys, fudge, and much more -- most at surprisingly inexpensive prices.
The mesclun here is so popular that one farmer sells it in bulk from a plastic children's wading pool. There's also a food-related art fair with 30 to 40 juried craftspeople on a typical Sunday.
Sunset magazine called this the best farmers' market in the state. The New York Times called it one of the 10 best farmers' markets in the nation. And it's open year-round, even in bad weather. Come early!
For information and directions, see www.marincountyfarmersmarkets.org/srcc.htm.