A view of the Oregon coast.
Gleneden Beach, OR. — If all you know about this state is its artsy, quirky city of Portland, take a drive to the central coast to see a whole ‘nother side.
That’s just what I did when I was invited with a few other food writers a few weeks ago to stay at Salishan Spa & Golf Resort, following its multi-million-dollar renovation and opening of its new restaurant, Samphire.
The hotel is about two hours from Portland. Its 250 acres of forested land hug the rugged coastline that gets its share of sunshine and misty days at this time of year.
The view outside my room at Salishan.
The 500-case wine cellar at Salishan.
You’ll be relaxing in no time at the spa.
The 205-room property was developed in 1965. The cozy, rustic-chic hotel is decorated with $500,000 worth of art, created by Native American, and other Oregon and Washington artists.
Enjoy soft serve and a whole lot more at Handline.
Sebastopol, CA — On a summery day in this Wine Country town, there’s no better place to plant yourself than at a table at Handline, the sunny restaurant that opened last year in an old Foster’s Freeze.
Restaurateur Lowell Sheldon and his girlfriend Chef Natalie Goble also operate the decade-old Peter Lowell’s nearby. I was invited earlier this spring to be a guest at both of the restaurants.
You’ll almost always find a crowd at this breezy restaurant, which has plenty of outdoor seating and windows that open completely to let the outdoors in. Order at the counter, then find a table, where your food will be brought to you.
The small parking lot fills up fast, so go early, if you can.
The fun interior.
It specializes in California coastal cuisine. Much of the produce at both their restaurants is sourced from their own farm, which grows everything from tomatoes to squashes to kiwis. Goble learned the art of tortilla-making from the folks at El Molina Central in Boyes Hot Springs. Like them, she also starts with masa made from scratch, which makes all the difference in bringing out the true corn flavor.
Ca’ Momi holds three certifications for authentic Italian pizza.
Veneto-born Chef-Restaurateur Valentina Guolo-Migotto proudly says that when Italians dine at her Napa restaurant, Ca’ Momi, they tell her the food is better than what’s in Italy.
That pleases her to no end.
It’s easy to agree heartily after eating there, too, as I did earlier this spring when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.
This is one of those places, where you want to shout to the rafters, “Where have you been all my life?”
Because it is that glorious.
It is a touch of Italy — the real Italy — in the Napa Valley.
The fun bar, well stocked with Italian amaro.
It’s always “movie night” here.
The rustic downtown restaurant makes most everything in-house, even its own wines, beer, vodka and gin. They’re also experimenting with making amaro, the bitter Italian herbal spirit, of which they have a large selection to choose from.
A fun place to indulge your cravings for seafood.
Connie & Ted’s
Chef Michael Cimarusti has the utmost reverence for seafood. After all, his haute Providence has won every acclaim imaginable for its attention to seafood.
Now comes Connie & Ted’s, a West Hollywood seafood joint at the other end of the spectrum, a modern-day clam shack that treats seafood with equal esteem but in a much more laid-back atmosphere.
On a sunny day (which of course is most every day in Los Angeles), there’s no better place to be.
A mid-century-modern look at Connie & Ted’s.
A trio of chowders.
Clam bellies and perfect onion rings.
There are three chowders on the menu: New England, Manhattan, and Rhode Island. The best part is you can get a sampler of all three ($11), which comes with baby doll-sized oyster crackers.
Mussels, clams, lima beans, cherry tomato and chile — a third-course on the Taco Maria prix fixe.
I may have been in Los Angeles last month for only four days, but I did some major eating in that short time. Come along for a taste.
In a building inside SoCo design complex in Costa Mesa is the OC Mix, a mini marketplace of fun trendy shops and small cafes.
It is here you will find Taco Maria. Its artsy locale is fitting because this is high-concept Mexican food by a chef who used to cook at Coi in San Franciso and Commis in Oakland.
Nope, this is not your standard enchilada- or burrito-drowned-in-cheese kind of place. While it serves a la carte lunch, it turns into prix fixe-only at night. And what a fine parade of dishes you’re in for with the $75 four-course meal (wine pairings are $35 extra), which is quite reasonable for what you get.
Sitting at the counter, you are up close and personal with the cooks preparing your food.
Each course offers a choice of two dishes. So if there are two of you dining, you can order the entire menu and share tastes of everything, which is what my husband and I did. Sit at the counter in front of the small kitchen, and you can watch the cooks in action.