Saturday, September 08, 2007
Nuts and Fate
The open roads of California beckon those with a love for road tripping. Long, empty stretches still exist where you can cruise at top speed for miles, seeing nothing but the lay of the land to the horizon.
One particularly dusty and flat portion through the San Joaquin Valley on CA Route 46 happens to be home to the almond and pistachio producing capital of the world. About 90 miles inland from Cambria (the bottom of the Big Sur coastline) heading eastward, you approach what looks like an abandoned service station near the town of Lost Hills, CA. This ramshackle gem is Blackwell's Corner, a small shop with a large variety of local nuts in a range of custom flavors. Blackwell's is the only retail outlet in the area where more than a million pounds of nuts are distributed worldwide daily.
Blackwell's Corner's other claim to fame places it squarely in America's pop-culture firmament: The is the site where James Dean made his last stop before his ill-fated Porsche crash in 1955.
High winds, dust devils, tumbleweeds and a large free-standing painted mural of James Dean greet you as you step out of the car. Inside, Blackwell's has a general store vibe selling nuts, sauces, salsas, olives, James Dean memorabilia and tchotchkes galore. The almonds and pistachios are the highlights, though, available raw, roasted and specially seasoned in chili lime, garlic onion, cinnamon honey, cappucino, raspberry honey, butter toffee, hot & spicy, and orange honey flavors to name a few. Their prices are pretty good at $6.89/pound for almonds.
If you wish to taste Blackwell's nuts yourself, but don't have a California road trip planned, visit their website to have them shipped to your door.