The Earth is about 24,867 miles wide. Do you want to know how I can make such a bold, but assured, claim? Well, it's because I drive by a Casa de Fruta (CdF) (10021 Pacheco Pass Highway, Hollister) billboard on my way to/from SJ/Monterey that tells me so. For years I have driven by that sign, many others, and the actual Casa collection along Route 152. Have I ever stopped? Nope. I blame my parents for wanting to get to Grandma & Grandpa's faster. Or maybe they knew what mecca lay within CdF's walls...
A while back I took a half day at work and drove down to Anaheim to visit Kerry, Fran, and Jacquelyn. For my own sanity, I decided to not stress about getting down there as fast as possible. This was my first time driving the back road between Monterey and Los Banos. Usually I have to drive from SJ to Gilroy, and then over Pacheco Pass to get to Highway 5.
Who knows if I was already getting antsy after 40 minutes of driving OR if my excuse that "I've been needing some bananas" OR if I could rationalize "I've never been, after all..." Nevertheless, I decided to pull of the road - boy am I glad I did! Casa de Fruta's namesake building was out of this world! This was, hands down, the best fruit stand I've ever been to!
When I walked in, I gawked at the sheer size of the place. You start in the fruit section. They feature the best apricots, peaches, plums, apples, dates, prunes, cherries, and berries from their own orchards. Lots of their fresh fruit is dried and prepared for either dried fruit snacks, dried fruit/nut gifts, or to be covered in chocolate MMM. Can you say chocolate covered raisins?
CdF also has a HUUUUGE selection of fresh garlic, fudge packs, jams, jellies, honey, and hot sauce. The picture above shows just one of the many shelves that feature these bottled goodies. I really wanted to buy a hot sauce, because that's just how I like things ;) But I didn't because the prices were kind of high. And, well, I am cheap sometimes. Next time I will probably buy one, perhaps Dave's Insanity Sauce? They also sell Mesquite Flour, which is gluten-free and high in fiber. Might grab some of that as well because it's supposed to add "an unbelievable flavor and aroma in all your baked goods."
According to their website, CdF is a "true American success story that blossomed from the roots of an immigrant Italian family. Since 1908 when the original ancestors planted the first orchards in the Pacheco Valley, CdF has grown into a diversified operation encompassing a variety of business ventures. In the 1940's three teenaged brothers... opened a cherry stand on the Pacheco Pass highway. Encouraged by their mother... the young entrepreneurs expanded their operation into what it is today."
My favorite part of this whole endeavor was the candy/chocolate section. They had rows and rows of amazingly delicious looking treats. Cheesecake, apple caramels, butter toffee pecans, pistachio brittle, you name it! Just take a look at those decadent chocolate covered strawberries!
I purchased some trail mix, chocolate covered raisins, mint malt balls (this was 3 days after I died in heaven over Carmel's Cottage of Sweets' peanut butter malt balls OH MYYYY), and a bundle of bananas. My calves were cramping up at night so I desperately needed to stock up on potassium for my Anaheim trip. TMI? Sorry... it was really painful though! (FYI: adding bananas to my diet, along with potassium and magnesium pills, fixed the calf cramps WAHOO)
There are even more buildings in this area. (Read more reviews here on Yelp.) There's a Casa de Coffee, Casa de Diesel, Casa de Choo-Choo, Casa de Sweets, Casa de Wine, and an RV park. The restrooms at the gas station are labeled Casa de Restrooms. They sure know how to roll with a theme!
I got back on the road, snacked on my goodies, pumped potassium into my system, and cranked up the road trip playlist (music courtesy of Nicole's recommendations). I definitely plan on stopping here the next time I roll through. I'll just give myself an extra half hour of drive time.