Social Ride: Lunch at 54 Mint Il Forno

OMG, that pesto lasagna rocks!!!

Mmm, that pesto lasagna was delicious! Not to mention the panini, cannelloni bean soup, and heirloom tomato bruschetta. But I’m jumping ahead…

The September Social Ride brought out nine folks and interestingly none of us were from San Francisco; everyone hailed from the East Bay—Kensington, Walnut Creek, Livermore, and Orinda. And it was almost a completely “new’ crowd, with only Roger and I having done Social rides this summer.

Luckily we got an early start at Lafayette BART because it turned out to be a fairly typical, hot summer day in Contra Costa. It also happened to be weekend of the Lafayette Art and Wine “Festival” (a.k.a. your suburban typical street fair) so the downtown was blocked off and traffic was promising to be nightmarish if you were in a car. We headed out to Walnut Creek and quickly got on the Iron Horse Trail heading north before diverting onto the Contra Costa Canal Trail. Those of you who have the misfortune not to reside in Contra Costa County may not realize that we have a canal system that was originally designed to pump Delta water to the farms and orchards that used to cover the area. One of them is the Contra Costa Canal and it makes a horseshoe-shaped loop through the county and has an accompanying multi-use path that is managed by the East Bay Regional Park District. It’s a great way to get around and mostly avoid car traffic. Also, EBRPD has done a lot of repaving this summer to get rid of the cracks and jolting roots from the trees that line the canal, making the ride even more pleasant.

After rolling north all the way to Highway 4, we got on city streets and toured the Contra Costa County Animal Control Shelter, CCC Sanitary District, and the CCC Gravel/Asphalt Yard before fleeing back onto the Iron Horse Trail going south. We kept to a conversational pace and there was a lot of yakking going on. What did we gab about? Oh, things like: David’s horrible LifeCycle crash but then awesome ALC bro’ deal on a sweet new Cannondale Synapse to replace his mangled sled; the loveliness of working in the California State prison system; why French people don’t invite you to their house; more Kaiser horror stories (as if I hadn’t experienced enough already); how much used Vitus frames go for on EBay; Derek’s butt. You get the picture: nothing important and only the absolutely vital! As Bobby Troup said, “They all meow about the ups and downs of all their friends; The who, the how, the why — they dish the dirt, it never ends.”

We got to 54 Mint Il Forno in downtown Walnut Creek just before noon. It was time for a break, as it was really starting to heat up. 54 Mint Il Forno opened a few years ago originally as the bakery site for the restaurant. But now they serve dinner as well as lunch. Why these Italians left their home to serve real Italian food to Californians, I don’t know but it’s been a grand blessing for us. When you walk into their small storefront you get to gaze at the gallery of Italian sweet, baked goods and also some things that look almost French such as bignés (= beignets in French) and éclairs. Surprisingly only Cameron immediately ordered some Italian cookies proving that he lives by the adage that life is short so eat dessert first. The rest of us swooped on the various kinds of panini, lasagna, salads, and in my case the soup and bruschetta. It was a mountain of food and more of us would have gorged on the sweets afterwards but honestly we were all mighty full.

After lunch Derek and David headed back to Rossmoor, Joe and Lamberto headed back to their place a few blocks away, and the five of us rode back slowly to Lafayette BART in the 90+ degree heat. The average speed was about 11 mph, a tad faster than the 8-10 mph in our ride code but easily within the ability of this group. Next month: Speisekammer in Alameda for German food!