By L.E. Leone
CHEAP EATS Hey now, don't forget about the Cotati Accordion Festival this summer. Every summer I tell you about it, and every summer you forget to go. I know because I live in Sonoma County and I've never been there either.
But of all our great country's famous yearly thematic bashes that I haven't ever once attended, the Cotati Accordion Festival is by far my favorite. It's ridiculously fun, you can just tell. Mark your calendar: Aug. 26–27, downtown Cotati in the park with the statue of the accordion player, off 101 North less than an hour from the Golden Gate Bridge. You can't miss it.
Me, I'm missing it. I'll be in Idaho, like I am every August on that weekend, except this time instead of playing at the Council Mountain Music Festival, I'm going to be a professional cook for the first time ever. Boy am I nervous — and excited. Cause while my friends are recording the score for a movie, I'm in charge of feeding them and cleaning up and stuff, which will be like a dream come true for me, provided that one of the onions turns into Burl Ives and lectures me on dental hygiene while pointing ominously at a banjo.
One thing about driving a pickup truck is that every now and then you can have a bicycle in back, instead of bales of straw and sacks of feed and scrap wood. Get this: my pickup truck kerplunks on me early morning one morning in Rohnert Park on my way to Kaiser to get blood tested, and what do I have in back but ... my bike!
So I biked to my bloodletting. I was fasting and needed coffee bad. And Pop-Tarts. Then, after all that, I biked down to Cotati, to the park with the statue of the accordion player in it, and I called my closest geographical girlfriend, Orange Pop Jr., in San Rafael and convinced her to come rescue-slash-have-lunch with me.
I want to tell you a secret, San Francisco. Sonoma County has bigger burritos than you do. Example: Rafa's in downtown Cotati, just south of the park with the statue of the accordion player, where OP2 and the chicken farmer sat outside under an umbrella on a beautiful day, talking about boys and of course chickens and, um, farming.
It's a full-on Mexican restaurant, great atmosphere inside and out. Our waitressperson "she'd" me. Then she mal-recognized her "mistake" and apologized profusely and I had to comfort and reassure her that in fact she had made my day, as she all the while played with my hair. This was pretty cool.
Like my new pal OP2, the burritos are LA–style, which means that you have to ask for rice, if you want it. Which we did, but even without, Rafa's burritos are about as big as ... well, they're two-mealers, and they run from $4.75 to $7.50, with chips.
Afterward, OP2 drove me to San Rafael and put me on a bus for the city, and I BARTed to West Oakland and borrowed my sister-in-love's pickup truck just in time to drive back home and close my chickens in before foxes ate them. So that was a pretty transportational day for me.
But I have another brother who you haven't met yet. His name is Santa Claus and he's only 12 years old. Defiantly, he has two kids, a decent job, and a neatly trimmed beard and mustache. I picked him up at the airport a couple days later still with Deevee's truck, and his luggage consisted of parts for mine from our family's own private backyard junk yard in Ohio. Bless my brothers, I'll be back on my wheels in no time.
Anyway, Nick's his real name. It was his first time in San Francisco, so I took him to Oakland — to Penny's Caribbean Café, which is in Berkeley, technically. But I refuse to believe it.
Then I took him to Oregon, where people dance. My new favorite truck stop is Mollie's in Klamath Falls, not because they used to make a 12-egg omelet, but because they still do make chicken fried steak omelets. It has Swiss cheese inside, and gravy and gravy and gravy all over the top of it, and comes with hash browns and biscuits.