"California"

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…

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…

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.

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.

Sqirl

Sqirl

Los Angeles, USA

Savory breakfasts consist of rice (Kokuko Rose Brown Rice) served in a soup plate with sorrel pesto, available in two different versions: a gentler one, steam-cooked with candied Meyer lemon, poached egg, sheep feta and radish, and a stronger one, sauté with shallot, mint, coriander, cucumber, ginger, house-made sausage and sunny-side-up egg. Sweet breakfasts are made of an oversized, thick, burnt Brioche Toast, with a generous portion of ricotta cheese and overflowing seasonal jam. Squirl serves savory and sweet breakfasts until 4 PM, but you will still find quite a few people queuing at that time. Hidden behind a flowering Pink Trumpet Tree on the edge of the Silver Lake neighborhood, it is our favourite pace in L.A.. Please share.

Ojai Rancho Inn

Ojai Rancho Inn

California, USA

We are hatching a plan to get summer residence in Ojai. We have already met new friends, straightforward and peaceful as only adults on vacation can be. Playing on the boules court close to the swimming pool and the tepee tent we met Chris. Thanks to his Shelter Social Club, Chris is showing us, one after the other, must-see examples of hospitality along the Central Coast. On that same boules court we met Branden, who bought eleven shiny Airstream and gathered them in a nearby area. The Airstreams, each with a palm tree and a hammock in the shade, will be available for renting for one or more days. It is as if Ojai, this hippie town that makes you think of a rainbow, combined together all the things we love of the Central Coast: endless fields planted with fruit trees, cactuses, farmers’ morning markets, both an exotic and a Mediterranean flair, refined gold jewelry and black diamonds, Mexico, Peru, USA, enterprise of the best kind. At Rancho Inn, ask for the closest room to the swimming pool and Chief’s Peak and stretch your tie-dye curtains to protect yourself from the hot weather, which, here, smells like the Mediterranean.

Santa Cruz Dream Inn

Santa Cruz Dream Inn

California, USA

There are some places you could draw for a child even without having visited them. You could depict all their attractions and start telling a story about them. Take Paris, Las Vegas, Venice, New York or Varanasi, for instance. Santa Cruz is a funfair with cherry-red rollercoasters on a wide beach full of palm trees and surfers. There is also a huge, semicircle-shaped hotel overlooking the ocean, with orange beach umbrellas and lemon-yellow deckchairs. When you arrive at the Dream Inn Hotel you find everything is in the right place, even crazier, sweeter and more “Sixties style” than in your drawing.

Farmer and the Cook

Farmer and the Cook

California, USA

There are no reasons why one should not come back to the Farmer and the Cook every hour of the day, every day. After the yoga class with live music in the nearby studio or a visit to the farm located just across the street, for instance, or riding a bike down the green cycling route which runs parallel to the village, or on Sunday night, to eat the wood-baked pizza topped with vegetables grown by Steve in his garden. Swiss Chard Enchilada (two corn tortillas stuffed with beet, pumpkin, cashew cheese, red onions and a sauce made of pumpkin seeds and home-made chili) and Banana Bread served in the morning can become addictive. This Mexican vegetarian cafe-market is perfect for Ojai and has everything that can make one happy.

Inn at the Presidio

Inn at the Presidio

San Francisco, USA

Old-world brick red, snow white and eucalyptus green California. If there is an image of San Francisco that makes us think of the words ‘home’ and ‘America’, it is us enjoying the view from the first floor of this inn – built in 1903 as a military office with the classic wooden colonnade. Outside the large horizontal window in our suite, we can see the strip of quiet and slightly leaning asphalt that reflects twin single houses bounded only by short-grass gardens and no gates. For centuries, Presidio was the neighbourhood of the US Army officers, and it is the green park area on the map where the magic red bridge begins, the Golden Gate Bridge that takes you to Marin County like a rainbow that ends into our pot of gold north of San Francisco, i.e. Muir Woods, Bolinas, Mt. Tamalpais, and Point Reyes.

Alamo Motel

Alamo Motel

California, USA

I am halfway through my journey in California and I have 48 hours to spend in the corner suite at the Alamo Motel. I will use the aquamarine tin jug to cook over a low heat the strawberries I picked in the morning at the farm (The Farmstead); I will string a clothesline between two branches of the fruit tree in my back patio and hang my laundry out in the sun; I will play an LP disk quietly in the dining room; I will organize my travel notes and turn on the colorful lights in the garden before the night falls. Tomorrow is Monday. All bakeries in town will be closed, there will be no yoga classes at the Gentlemen’s Club, the sun will not shine on the vineyards of Santa Inez Valley, but Los Alamos, with its single main road and this perfect motel, is not just a place of transit. Password: Remember the Alamo Hotel.

Saison

Saison

San Francisco, USA

It may be the most expensive dinner of a lifetime, but the seasoned reserve caviar – with smoked salt of the house – will be served in an ancient French-crystal sugar bowl, the pickles of the best trout sashimi in a miniature jewel case, the farm herbs infusion (the family farm is one hour north of San Francisco) in the shape of a tiny bouquet of wild flowers in a porcelain and pure gold tea cup, and the violet asparagus bare and simply browned on a live flame. The man sitting at the closest table is a regular who comes here alone, wearing a 70s crimson suit perfect for a unique and extremely elegant rendezvous. Ask to be seated as close as possible to the long shiny steel tables of the open kitchen where the Executive Chef leads his team of industrious bees in a precise dance. Three Michelin stars and no dress code… Come as you are.

Happy Girl Kitchen

Happy Girl Kitchen

California, USA

Come rain or shine. Whatever the weather in San Francisco, the Saturday morning farmers’ market in the historical Ferry Building along the Embarcadero will be joyfully crowded. When it rains, the Happy Girl Kitchen’s stall and its founders, self-assured thirty-year-olds, will make any single glass-pot shine, whether it contains Meyer lemon marmalade, fruit syrup, or freshly picked pickles. ‘Your mission in the next few days is to find us in Pacific Grove,’ they tell me. I will go there on purpose a couple of days later, driving south from San Francisco, towards the Big Sur. I will find a bright café, the Arcade Fire filling the air lightly, Cayley – the sweet baker with a denim apron, a peaked cap and round glasses, and the best freshly picked and fresh smelling meal in the Monterey Bay.

Camino

Camino

California, USA

After you spend a few days wandering outdoors in the Bay Area, an open fire will not be a discovery anymore, but Camino’s is highly imaginative. A lively wood hearth, as big as the mouth of Pinocchio’s whale, and a large counter where Chef Russell Moore’s kitchen team prepare the orders of an extraordinary brunch: two perfectly fried eggs, the best herbs sausages of the house, brandy-coloured potatoes cooked in duck fat, thick doughnuts with roasted apricots, and a homemade jam of vegetables. A copy of ‘This is Camino’ will go straight into your bookshelf. Allison is the woman in a simply perfect duo, and Oakland a joyful-tale place to which you will think immediately you have not devoted enough time.

1 of 4
1234