"California"

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.

Izakaya Rintaro

Izakaya Rintaro

San Francisco, USA

Those who have been to Japan know how a typical restaurant, its Chef and the steam of its kitchen, along with the quiet cheerfulness inside, can camouflage themselves perfectly and disappear behind a street number. 82, 14th Street looks like a deserted address, but when you cross the small court made of bamboo canes, coloured windblown paper-carps and rows of lit lightbulbs you are in a perfect Japanese izakaya, with hundred-year-old cedar wood alcoves and yakitori sizzling on coal. More than every single piece of pottery, more than the small portions of ‘food of the house’, more than the delicate and skilful service, the atmosphere and the right music will be the cult things about this Mission District jewel in San Francisco.

Cotogna

Cotogna

San Francisco, USA

We always ask to seat at the marble counter, in front of the embers and of the Italian pizza oven, and in front of the youngest chef, who attends to leavened products and spreads shiny melted butter on a long strip of homemade focaccia that lies on the long wooden chopping board. We have the focaccia with the soft ricotta of the house, which is cooked in the oven in a large fig leaf inside a cast-iron pot and served with silky honey. One of the highlights of the Italian country cuisine of Chef Michael Tusk (two Michelin stars for Quince, the elegant next-door restaurant) is the handmade tortellone – filled with ricotta and creamy yolk – with melted butter, abundant Parmesan and pepper. Salted fireworks for two Italians who, in the U.S.A., book a table in an Italian restaurant only in California.

Four Barrel Coffee

Four Barrel Coffee

San Francisco, USA

First, you need to complete your morning pilgrimage to every single coffee temple in San Francisco. There, young good-looking tattooed employees grind and roast coffee beans every day, then sort trolleys of blends of the house to the best restaurants in town, where people talk about the aromatic shades of lilac, peach, or winter melon of any single-origin from Ethiopia, Colombia and Brazil, and drink tall hot mugs at breakfast while reading the (digital) morning newspaper. Then, you will go back daily to Four Barrel, on Valencia Street, because the staff are honest and sexy. You are only a few blocks away from Tartine Bakery, but by now your ritual consists of the drip coffee of the Slow Bar and of the sweet ginger and caramel bun you like to tear with your hands…

Café Gratitude

Café Gratitude

Los Angeles, USA

Whoever makes of a fancy, healthy, organic vegetarian diet a lifestyle, a passion or a study, should not miss sitting on one of Café Gratitude’s benches. You can find it on Larchmont Boulevard and on Rose Avenue in Venice. There is no need for suggestions about the menu, since any choice will stir up your authentic gratitude.

Norms

Norms

Los Angeles, USA

Sooner or later, you too will discover (or enjoy again) Los Angeles. Among the many wonders of this city, we suggest having a meal at Norms chain’s first diner. Design and architecture of the Fifties with many original elements, a neon sign that stands out against the sky of La Cienega Boulevard, pastel glasses, an old-style menu, and the genuine Americans who people it will take you on a journey to a lost America. Since 1949, open 24/7.

Superba Food + Bread

Superba Food + Bread

Los Angeles, USA

You would not imagine such a diner to be in a parking on Lincoln Avenue (Venice Beach). Airy, fresh, graphical. Avant-garde. Forest green and off-white metal, white marble, bright wood. A minimalist design coloured by folkish details (Navajo blankets, fresh wild flowers, denim seats). Contemporary Californian cuisine. Not far from here, on Rose Avenue, you will find the first Superba Snack Bar, open for dinner and for the weekend brunch.

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