KnorQ's Kitchen

Serial Hobbyist

Category: Fresno

Tour de Fresno: Farmers’ Market – Blackstone and Shaw

Ma and I had a pretty amazing Tour de Fresno: Water Protest, Tour de Fresno Downtown, The Buddhist Temple, Margaret Hudson’s Studio and Forestiere Underground Gardens….. We wound the day down with a trip to Fresno’s Vineyards Farmers’ Market on Blackstone and Shaw. After the water protests, I had a whole new appreciation for California’s Central Valley’s capacity for producing food. The market is delightful – farmers of a variety of ethnicities sell gorgeous produce. We made a good dinnerĀ  based on the fresh produce we bought that night. The market takes place Wednesdays and Saturdays under a lovely arbor on Shaw and Blackstone — one of the only pieces on land on this stretch that is not developed as a strip mall.

Fresno Farmers Market Shaw

Tour de Fresno: Margaret Hudson’s Studio

Tucked away on fireplace mantels, bookshelfs, top of entertainment centers and gardens of Fresno’s burbs it is likely you will find a small clay smiling animal figurine that appears to be born out of the Craftastic 70s. This, my friends is the work of Margaret Hudson. I have amazing memories of visiting her studio as a child and being encouraged to play with dirt. It was lovely. The figurines are a source of a long running inside joke with some of my sistas of the valley. I won’t go into it here but if you want a piece of Fresnocana you can purchase a clay quail for $10. I did. Yet another sign that I am getting old and sentimental. Margaret’s studios are open to the public. Ma and I went on our Tour de Fresno and here are a couple of shots:

Margaret Hudson - Earth Art Studio Garden

Margaret Hudson - Earth Art Studio Garden

Margaret Hudson - Earth Arts Studio Workshop

Margaret Hudson - Earth Arts Studio Workshop

Tour de Fresno: Forestiere Underground Gardens

Me and Ma’s Epic Tour de Fresno included a trip to one of the (literally) coolest places to go in Fresno — Forestiere Underground Gardens. Built by Sicilian immigrant, Baldassare Forestiere, the Underground Gardens were carved out of Fresno hard-pan by an incredibly hardworking day laborer who was a skilled, self-taught engineer and horticulturalist. Baldassare started digging into Fresno in the early 1900s to create a home. By 1923 he had dug out over 10 acres of land and turned it into a maze of an underground complex that was engineered to be 10 degrees cooler in summer and warmer in winter. The garden/home is a study in self-sufficiency. Water holding chambers fed the bathing quarters, a fish pond and the fruit trees that were planted below ground and grew up through skylights. Although the walls were dirt, the complex was not without a ballroom. In his spare time, Baldassare grafted trees so different kinds of fruit grew on one tree. A devout catholic, he often designed his different living chambers with themes of 3 – representing the holy trinity. All of this was created after getting off work as a day laborer. In Fresno. In 100 degree heat. The guy is a badass. From the surface, Forestiere Undgerground Gardens is unassuming. Swallowed by Fresno sprawl, the home and gardens are now situated on a busy road and rubs shoulders with Burger King, McDonalds and In and Out Burger. I highly recommend a visit if you are in the area — the place is amazing and a true testimony to what people can accomplish when they get a serious hair up their ass.

Forestiere Underground Gardens

Forestiere Underground Gardens

The Incredible Baldassare Forestiere

The Incredible Baldassare Forestiere

Forestiere Gardens Above Ground

Forestiere Gardens Above Ground

View from the ballroom of Forestiere Gardens to one of the courtyards

View from the ballroom of Forestiere Gardens to one of the courtyards

Trees were planted underground and grow up through skylights, notice the Fresno hard-pan rocks used to construct the walls

Trees were planted underground and grow up through skylights, notice the Fresno hard-pan rocks used to construct the walls

This is where Baldassare bathed. I like it

This is where Baldassare bathed. I like it

The home is a maze of courtyard and living spaces

The home is a maze of courtyard and living spaces

Forestiere Kitchen -- Imagine how cool, yet soggy it was when it rained

Forestiere Kitchen -- Imagine how cool, yet soggy it was when it rained

Tour de Fresno: Downtown

Ma braved the 103 degree heat to join me on my tour de Fresno. Our first stop was downtown Fresno where we visited the Fulton Mall, The Buddhist Temple, the water protest at city hall, the Santa Fe Rail Depot, the Basque Hotel and other sites. The Fulton Mall is a neglected Fresno treasure. One of the nations first pedestrian malls, its midcentury architecture and landscape has gone untouched and sadly, the mall has fallen short of its mission to build community and serve as a destination spot in downtown Fresno. What could be thriving spot for arts, cafes, clubs and restaurants is now home to vacant store fronts, ammo shops, and retail outlets pushing polyester dresses. The mall was completed in 1964 and features modernist sculptures, tile mosaics, tiered garden beds and water fountains. Amazing. I did not take many photos but if you want to read more about the history and the art, the downtown association of Fresno has put together an excellent website and walking tour.

Clock Tower at Fresno's Fulton Mall

Clock Tower at Fresno's Fulton Mall

Fresno's Crest Theater

Fresno's Crest Theater

Fresno's Security Bank Building

Fresno's Security Bank Building

Hotel Californian

Hotel Californian

The Fresno Betsuin Buddhist Temple -- The building is on the historic registry but members of the temple are moving to a new location in 2010

The Fresno Betsuin Buddhist Temple -- The building is on the historic registry but members of the temple are moving to a new location in 2010

Across from Fresno’s City Hall is the old Santa Fe Rail Depot The rail depot still serves as the Amtrak station and was beautifully restored a few years ago with nice tile work and wood details. Shepherds Inn, just across the street is a Fresno classic – an old hotel that served Fresno’s Basque community — you can still get a traditional Basque meal in the restaurant and Picon Punch at the bar. Meals are served family style at community tables with red checkered table clothes

Fresno Santa Fe Rail Depot

Fresno Santa Fe Rail Depot

Shepherds Inn

Shepherds Inn