Shibumi

Shibumi

Los Angeles, USA

‘Did you manage to land a seat at Shibumi? Fine.’ This expected Downtown new opening is genius, since you have to find it as if it were a real izakaya in Tokyo, at the foot of some anonymous building on a signless road, as if they were all perfectly hidden. We are in Downtown, next to a car-repair garage on dark Hill St. A mouth-window shows nothing and you draw aside a dark Japanese curtain to cross the threshold. The long bar-counter and some small tables stand in sharply cool semi-darkness, while the music plays…

Serendipity

Serendipity

Valtellina, Italy

‘Serendipity’ is someone’s predisposition to stumble on fortunate discoveries, a word coined in 1754 by author Horace Walpole, who wrote it in a letter to an English friend living in Florence. It comes to our minds while we listen to Antonella’s story. She moved here from Venice, and here she takes care of her buen retiro, Il Dosso Maroggia, where she welcomes travelling guests and benefits this benevolent land as if it was her grandparents’ birthplace. Each morning we wake up in a room that reveals a woman’s instinct for beauty, we go down hundred-year-old narrow stairs and caress with the eye a wide landscape of slopes, plains and declivities enveloped by the first light…

Botanica Restaurant & Market

Botanica Restaurant & Market

Los Angeles, USA

Nowadays, in the metropolis worldwide there are these fantastic addresses enlivened by a vision of ‘healthful cooking’ and populated by slim hipsters. We have some reservations about them, but nonetheless they appear in our notebook. Well, sitting at eleven a.m. on the wooden bench outside Botanica’s window with a big cup of boiling daily brew and a thick slice of almond-orange-honey breakfast cake and roasted fruit now belongs to our new routine in LA…

OMAH APIK

OMAH APIK

Bali, Indonesia

There are landscapes that can communicate their therapeutic potential at a first glance. The view from the rooms of Omah Apik, is lost in the horizon designed by a multitude of rice fields and the high fronds of a dense tropical forest. A place that recalls and preserves the charm and beauty of one of Indonesia’s most visited islands, Bali. Born to host a large family, and only later transformed into a hotel, Omah Apik is a home where you can reconnect and discover a slow dimension of travel, in which be thrilled by the flowing of time simply by observing the changes of light reflected in the rice paddies from sunrise to sunset…

Palette Food and Juice

Palette Food and Juice

Los Angeles, USA

Beyond Los Feliz and Silver Lake, beyond Los Angeles River where one fly-fishes, to Atwater Village. That is where our sweetest and most elegant friend in Los Angeles, Kathy, took us. I hope you have already been there. The Eastside is genuine and contemporary, the signs on Glendale Boulevard range from department stores that sell 3-dollar t-shirts to the most advanced Californian bakery (Proof Bakery). Glendale Blvd is not so attractive, but in a few meters, we found some of our favourite boutiques in town (AVION Clothier, Individual Medley). Not to mention Palette, our idea of a fast casual lunch: a large ceramic bowl filled with any possible combination of corn, pulses, vegetables, proteins and sauce. The most unconventional dishes are bison bone broth and stewed meat, and the bison is clearly grass-fed in a well-known farm.

Zucker Bakery

Zucker Bakery

New York, USA

This small Jewish place, this tearoom – as we would call it – is the place that most of all reminds you of a familiar embrace, a sweet hold you know well and makes you feel contented even if it doesn’t last long. We spend time here as in a home parlour, ordering one of each type of biscuits, a round pastry with pomegranate jam, a meringue and coconut bar, and a spiced plait with dates. This is a quiet elegant place, that’s all. It is our hiding place in the East Village, or maybe in the whole Manhattan.

Villa Tereze

Villa Tereze

Marche, Italy

“The only true voyage of discovery would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes.” (Marcel Proust). Beyond hills that lean on one another at the horizon, sleepy national roads, harmonic rows of vines and iridescent olive trees, home vegetable-gardens and fallow fields. Beyond woods bordering between the slopes, where nature got the better of it, beyond friendly squares in tiny villages, and millenarian strongholds hanging on the highest rises, Renate often waits under the pergola for a Japanese musician, a Polish chef, or a London family to arrive

Patisserie Burrow

Patisserie Burrow

New York, USA

After Manhattan’s wonderful noise and eccentricity, you look for Burrow’s composure and silence. You will admire the symmetric sweets display with puff-pastry elephant ears, toasted-green-tea biscuits, nostalgic cherry granola, and almond croissants. Here, everything is reduced on a perfection scale and enjoyed in a tiny aesthetic peace. The owner and chef Ayako Kurokawa goes in and out the kitchen in her indigo linen apron, refilling trays with sweet and savoury morsels. She was born in Hokkaido, and she cannot tell how long she has been cooking these French, Breton, or simply Japanese delicacies in New York City. In the small lobby of the offices at 68 Jay Street, Dumbo, Williamsburg, NYC.

Woodspoon

Woodspoon

Los Angeles, USA

Downtown LA is our wonderful compromise to be halfway between the Arts District and Silver Lake – that is, where we like to wander in Los Angeles. What is brilliant about it is that every time we come back, we find a bunch of new places we can walk to and have dinner in, after a warm shower, when driving somewhere else is the last thing on our mind. It kind of feels like being a young neighbourhood couple. Our friend Carl suggested Woodspoon when one of our favourite restaurants in Little Tokyo closed…

Manuela

Manuela

Los Angeles, USA

Maybe LA’s Arts District exists as a neighbourhood since Hauser & Wirth, a sophisticated contemporary art gallery as large as a couple of museums, opened at 901, East 3rd Street. Manuela opened one year later as the perfect rendezvous. ‘Whitsell’s rural sensibilities settling into one of the most urban spaces on the West Coast’ (Jonathan Gold, Los Angeles Times). Chef Wes Whitsell comes from the South, from Texas, his bag full of verbs that suit perfectly a small future meal: in-house smoking, fermenting, preserving, pickling. There are a chicken house where twelve rare-breed chickens live, and a planting garden where home vegetables grow. All this inside the walls of an ambitious art space. There is a work by Paul McCarthy behind our table. ‘You Ain’t Done Yet’ is the title of the dessert menu. We will end up in the garden, plunging our big brass spoons into honey and roasted-strawberry ice creams, sitting at a table for two on broad mid-century chairs with wooden armrests and light dusty-pink velvet cushions. Just as in the wisest projects, one thing leads to another – the restaurant invites you to spend some time over the art book and in the exposition, and vice versa.

Bread Lounge

Bread Lounge

Los Angeles, USA

It is Downtown Arts District’s bakery. You could miss it the first time, since it hides in the busiest crossing on South Santa Fe Avenue. Let’s say you will have to go there on purpose. For the Balkan Borek, puff pastry triangles with sesame, rightly scorched, very crumbly, and filled with feta cheese, spinach and onion. For Challah, the Jewish Friday plait bread, and for the big breadsticks with Kalamata olives and za’atar, a mixture of herbs, marjoram, oregano and thymus. Homemade middle-eastern delicacies and perfect baguettes, worth a Saturday morning line, among young people from the neighbourhood studios.

La Rustita

La Rustita

Marche, Italy

Empty beaches, closed chalets, deserted promenade. In autumn, the Adriatic Sea is tepid and good-natured, vaguely sad, and only belongs to a few. Above all, to those who live there and can enjoy the last days of sun sitting in the courtyard of a port trattoria at lunch. In Fano, young people love to meet at La Rustita, and so do we. We eat seafood salad, grilled squids, fried fish, mixed salad and white wine of the house between white wood and salty breeze.

Taverna della Rocca

Taverna della Rocca

Marche, Italy

La Taverna della Rocca has the fragrance of my childhood Sundays: long tables and meals that resembled a ritual; the smell of dense meat sauce – cooked slowly – and of hand-rolled egg pasta that characterised the holiday; the smell of grilled meat. The only ‘eccentricity’ here are the piade sfogliate grilled and served with wild herbs and local toma cheese (the house women are quite proud of them). An ode to dedication and simplicity.

Confiteria Bristol

Confiteria Bristol

Buenos Aires, Argentina

A boy and a girl walk on via Esmeralda. At the end of February, though the summer is about to end, the air in Buenos Aires is still torrid. They have just arrived and today they have no destination. The small Confitería Bristol is the address they are not looking for. The girl orders two vegetarian empanadas, and the boy three with meat, with no hesitations. In front of the convex windows of the confectioner’s that since 1952 lives on the domestic rituals of the local upper middle class, they speak with the man at the counter – a Peruvian who learnt the trade as a boy – and with a distinguished woman whom the confectioner introduces promptly as a regular customer and granddaughter of President Avellaneda. These delicious turnovers of crumbly wavy pastry – the girl will learn to mould them with greater and greater skill – are the main course of an improvised picnic on a bench in the small park in front of the Palacio de Relaciones Internacionales. She bites them slowly, while he wolfs them and smiles with eyes wide open, as he did when he was caught doing some prank as a child. Buenos Aires was his world back then; now it is the city where he goes back and takes his new love.

La Bamba de Areco

La Bamba de Areco

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Only the pampas’ prairie beyond Buenos Aires’ north-western suburbs can silence the enthusiasm that Big Sur glaciers stirred in us. We have just left them. It is a summer Sunday; the wind pampers the trees’ foliage with deep hypnotic caresses. At the end of a dirt road, a young gaucho awaits us near the gate, as sculpturesque and fierce as the horse he controls with minimal moves. We follow him up to the entrance of a purple residence edged in white, along an intimate procession that cuts in half the neat land at sunset. Everything in this maternal rural landscape seems to be cautiously dancing with ancestral moves. The grass is greener, and the sky is airier and higher. This Land has become, also for us, a promise of happiness…

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