Fruit juices and smoothies offer respite from a brutal summer day
Of the few eateries that were open on the Fourth of July, Hernandez Farm—the 2-month-old juice, sandwich and produce shop on Eaton Road in north Chico—was one of them. My 12-year-old daughter Lydia and I rode our bicycles from south Chico to Hernandez Farm—spurred on in part by the good recommendation we had gotten from a friend of ours, and in part (an increasing part, as we rode along during the already-hot summer morning) to get something good to drink.
Hernandez Farm specializes in fresh juices, and non-dairy smoothies made with “no sugar, no ice,” as a sandwich-board sign in front of the venue advertises. Juice choices range from a simple one-fruit juice, such as apple, orange or carrot, to a mixture of all three, called Sunset Juice, to the Ultra Garden, which combines orange, carrot, apple, celery, cucumber and spinach. All juices run $2.75 for a small (9 ounces), $3.50 for 16 ounces, and $4 for a 24-ounce cup. Cucumber, kale and/or ginger can be added to any juice for no extra charge. I opted for a medium-sized Sunset Juice.
Lydia, after tasting the sample offered her of Hernandez Farm’s Tropical Mango smoothie (made with pineapple, mango, peaches and apple juice—kids’ size, $3; small, $4; medium, $4.75; large, $5.75), chose a small one. Other smoothie choices include Melon Mayhem (honeydew melon, cantaloupe, apple juice, orange juice); Berry Blue (bananas, peaches, strawberries, blueberries, apple juice); Bananas for Cherries (bananas, cherries and apple juice); and Festival Blend (papaya, pineapple, mango, strawberries, orange juice). For 65 cents, one can add protein powder as well. One of the special smoothies offered that day was The Hulk, made with apple juice, pineapple, mango, peaches, kale, ginger and spinach.
We also chose to split a sandwich from Hernandez Farm’s small build-your-own sandwich menu—turkey and pepper-jack cheese on multigrain bread with mustard, mayo, lettuce, tomato and red onion (all sandwiches are $5). After perusing the venue’s shelves stocked with pesticide-free (though not certified-organic) fruits and vegetables grown at the Hernandez family’s farms in Tehama County and Fresno, we relaxed in the tiny two-table dining area while we waited for our food and drinks.
The juice was, as expected, refreshing and delicious, although next time I will ask for no ice. Lydia’s smoothie was yummy, as she already knew it would be. Our sandwich had a rustic, homemade appearance, loaded with thick slabs of turkey and piled-high produce (the white turkey meat is cut from a processed turkey loaf, not from an actual turkey breast). It reminded me of something my mother would have packed in a school lunch for me.
As we ate, we chatted with a man who had come in from the heat in search of a drink of water, which the kind man from Hernandez Farm gave him in addition to a Hulk smoothie, which the man gratefully drank.
Before we left the cheery bright-green-walled eatery, we helped ourselves to two ripe peaches and a chubby purple eggplant from the “free” table near the entrance to the dining area. All in all, a very pleasant experience.